Friday, 31 January 2020

The Supernova of 1006.

Part II: The Twrch Trwyth Constellations

The Comb, the Scissors and the Razor


Fig iiii. The Claws, the Sting and the Legs resting between the two ears of The Beast.45

I have argued that the author of Culhwch considered that the giant boar which Dillus 'singes' over his fire is to be identified with the constellation Therion, I now want to demonstrate that this celestial boar, the constellation Therion, which contains the site of SN1006, is also supposed to be, in the scheme of the author of 'Culhwch and Olwen', the mythical giant boar Twrch Trwyth.

Arthur tells us that the 'meaning' of Twrch Trwyth was that 'He was a king, and for his wickedness God transformed him into a swine'.'46 It is hard not to be reminded of the story of Lycaon the king of Arcadia who, for his sins, Jupiter transformed into a wolf, hence modern Lupus.47 This tale and its connection with the constellation Therion/Lupus may be much older than is generally supposed, maybe as old as the late Roman period.48 Thus the tale of the transformation of Lycaon into the Wolf constellation could have entered the 'Celtic Insular' learned tradition from an early period. Might it have influenced this Welsh tale?49
Whatever the answer, I think that the author of Culhwch was referring to the constellation Scorpius, which lies immedeately above Therion, when he described the Razor, the Scissors and the Comb which lay between the two ears of the Twrch Trwyth. I think that these 'precious objects' correspond thus: the Sting = the Razor, the Claws = the Scissors and the Comb = the Legs. These last, the Legs of Scorpius, lay between the two ears of Therion, which I have just identified as the giant boar being 'singed' by Dillus the Horseman or otherwise Centaurus.

Scorpius, was always considered as a single constellation, but the various parts - claws, head, body, tail and sting etc. - have from very early times been accorded special recognition, the Claws in particular recieved much attention, but it was 'the Romans (who) finally distinguished the Claws as a separate constellation to which they gave the name Libra ("balance")' which they depicted as two pans, in place of the claws, dissected by the ecliptic.50 So it is easy to see how the Claws can become scissors, it's such a natural analogy, likewise the Scorpion's many legs between the two ears of the Beast may instantly be understood as a comb, and the sting in the tail of the Scorpion as a visual metaphor for the razor is matched in the shape of the tusk of Yskythrwyn Penbaedd, the razor originally demanded by Yspyddaden Pencawr for his 'shave'. In other words these are clever and humourous visual puns, naturally arrived at; but it is a thin disguise, designed to reveal, ultimately, the author's barely concealed agenda.

Menw son of the Three Shouts and Gwrhyr Interpreter of Languages


Fig v. The Little Bird above the lair of the Beast with Claws, the Sting and the Legs between his two Ears.

Following the hunt for the Chief Boar Yskythrwyn,51 Arthur sends his servant Menw vab Teirgwaedd to the lair of Twrch Trwyth in Esgair Oervel to see if the comb, scissors and razor are between the ears of the beast; but as far as the narrative is concerned the episode is utterly without point, as the author himself acknowledges, for it is already known that this is the case. The question must be: For what reason does the author include this redundant episode?

Both Hyginus and (pseudo) Eratosthenes recorded the same tale for the origin of Corvus. In both texts the constellations Corvus, Crater and Hydra are placed under a single heading (they are often described as a super-constellation). Here is the version from the Catasterismi:

This constellation is well-known from a famous episode. Each god has a bird as an attribute, and the crow is the attribute of Apollo. Once, when the gods were preparing a sacrifice, the crow was sent to bring a libation from a certain spring which was considered most sacred before wine was invented. Seeing a fig tree with unripe fruit near the spring, the crow waited until the figs were ripe. After a number of days, the crow ate the ripe figs, then realized his misdeed, snatching up the water-snake from the spring, the crow brought it back, along with the water-cup, alleging that the water-snake had daily been consuming the water from the spring. Apollo, however, knowing the truth, imposed on the crow the punishment of thirsting among men for a long period of time... In order to provide a clear warning about sinning against the gods, Apollo placed among the stars the image of the Water-Snake [Hydra], the Water-Cup [Crater] and the Crow [Corvus], and depicted the latter as if prevented from drinking or approaching the Water-Cup. (Hyginus has: 'The Crow appears to be shaking Hydra's tail with his beak, in order to gain access to the Water-cup').52

Compare this to the episode in Culhwch and Olwen which describes the visit of Menw ap Tiergwaedd to the lair of the Twrch Trwyth :
And after Yskithyrwyn Penbaedd was killed, Arthur and his host departed to Gelli Wic in Cornwall. And thence he sent Menw the son of Teirgwaedd to see if the precious things were between the two ears of Twrch Trwyth, since it were useless to encounter him if they were not there. Albeit it was certain where he was, for he had laid waste the third part of Ireland. And Menw went to seek for him, and he met with him in Ireland, in Esgeir Oervel. And Menw took the form of a bird; and he descended upon the top of his lair, and strove to snatch away one of the precious things from him,but he carried away nothing but one of his bristles. And the boar rose up angrily and shook himself so that some of his venom fell upon Menw, and he was never well from that day forward.53

Fig vi. Corvus and Hydra. '...but all he got was one of his bristles'
The same motifs are present in both tales: Apollo/Arthur sends the crow/his servant on an errand.54 Though it wasn't part of his original task, the crow/little bird snatches up the sinuous body of the water-snake/the boar's bristle. The little crow was punished – his throat was made sore/he was never well from that day forward. Note too that the motif of transformation as a punishment for sinning against the gods or God is also present in both tales. It looks to me as if the Welsh author is testing, and jesting with, his readers; he is comparing the huge serpent Hydra, in Corvus the Crow's beak, to one of the bristles of the enormous boar Twrch Trwyth which Menw, in bird form, holds in his beak. This is a visual pun, comically exaggerating the boar's great size, (Hydra is the most extended of all the constellations) measured against this 'little' bird constellation of only seven stars.
Earlier in the tale, in the 'catalogue of the court', an apparantly non-sensical characacter called Medyr vab Methredydd (Aim son of Aimer) is invoked by Culhwch where it is noted of him (in the voice of the author) that 'from Gelli Wic he could, in the twinkling of an eye, shoot the wren through the two legs upon Esgeir Oervel in Ireland'. Is there a suggestion here that the author is hinting that the bird form which Menw adopted on his visit to Esgeir Oervel was that of the wren, the tiniest of birds?55 In fact the English word 'wren' comes from vran or bran, Welsh for crow or raven and the wren is known in Welsh as cutti vran meaning 'little crow', which corresponds with the name Menw vab Teirgwaedd - Little son of Three Cries (Caw! Caw! Caw!) fairly precisely. It may also be intended as another joke.56
The answer to the question, 'For what reason does the author include this redundent episode?', posed at the begining of this section therefore is, that our author wanted to describe an image which could be fixed in the mind. Having already drawn for us images of a great fire (SN1006) on the horizon far to the south, where Dillus the Horseman (Centaurus) is singeing a wild boar (Therion),and above this the Maiden (Virgo) in her father the healer's house (Ophiuchus) he now wishes to extend this ensemble and not without humour, to include: A giant boar (Therion) with a razor, scissors and comb (Scorpius) between his two ears and above him a tiny bird (Corvus) with an enormous bristle (Hydra) in its beak.
Fig vii. 'if you can speak, I'm asking one of you to come and talk to Arthur'.57
A little further on a 'doublet' of this episode occurs. Arthur sent Gwrhyr Gwalstawd Ieithoedd (Interpreter of Languages) to try and talk to Twrch Trwyth. Gwrhyr, like Menw son of Three Shouts, had the ability to turn himself into a bird. So now the author wants us to imagine a talking bird, in other words a Corvid, above the lair of the beast with the razor, scissors and comb between its ears. But there are several other hints, which strongly suggest that we are here dealing with 'star lore':
Gwrhyr went in the shape of a bird, and settled above the lair of the boar and his seven little pigs. And Gwrhyr Gwalstawd Ieithoedd asked him, 'For the sake of him who shaped you in this image, if you can speak, I'm asking one of you to come and talk to Arthur'. Grugyn Gwrych Eraint (silver-bristles) answered; All his bristles were like wings of silver, and one could see the path he took through the woods and over fields by the way his bristles glittered.58
Hygwydd, the Cauldron, the Smoke and the Ship
Fig viii. Hydra carrying the Cauldron, (smoke rising beneath it) on his back to the ship Argo.
Our author now wishes to further extend this complex series of images to include several more constellations. He does so, by slightly altering our focus westward, with the episode which follows immediately on from Menw's adventure in Esgair Oervel, and in which Arthur begins his campaign to acquire the cauldron of Diwrnach the Irishman. So, having asked for the cauldron and been denied it twice, Bedwyr decides to take matters into his own hands:
Bedwyr stood up, took hold of the cauldron, and placed it on the back of Hygwydd, Arthur's servant. The latter was a brother by the same mother to Cacamwri, servant of Arthur. This was his regular job: to carry Arthur's Cauldron, and to build a fire under it...
Arthur and his men took the cauldron - full of Irish treasures - and entered the ship before their very eyes. They disembarked at the house of Llwydeu son of Cel Coed at Porth Cerddin in Dyfed. And "Cauldrons Measure"is there.59
Now, the boar's bristle, Hydra, becomes Hygwydd, the cauldron stands for Crater, the ship Prydwen is meant for the ship Argo and the fire kindled beneath the Cauldron is the 'smoke', actually another visual pun on the spray from the Clashing Rocks, into which the Argo sails. Compare also Hyginus' tale for the origin of Crater, which is in the same section as the origin tales for Corvus and Hydra: When the king ... 'discovered what had happened...he ordered that Mastusius be thrown into the sea, along with the wine-jar. For that reason the sea into which he was thrown was called Mastusian in his memory, and the port is to this day called Crater [“wine-jar”]. The ancient astronomers configured it among the stars...' 60
Dunking Twrch Trwyth in Severn.
The events which occur in the Severn Estuary are described in fine detail:
And first they laid hold of his feet, and soused him in Severn till it was flooding over him. On the one side Mabon son of Modron spurred his horse and took the razor from him, and on the other Cyledyr the Wild, on another horse, plunged into the Severn with him and took from him the shears.61
These events correspond with breathtaking precision to the following tableau of constellations: The holding of Therion by the leg and his dunking in the Celestial River, (Via Lactea). Attacking on the one side is the Horseman Sagittarius who is nearest to the sting (the razor). On the other side, the attacker is another 'wild' Horseman, (Centaurus) plunging into the Celestial River, and nearest the Claws (the shears). The quantity and complexity of pictorial correspondences here would be remarkable if it was down to sheer coincidence alone, but for me it is obvious that this episode is a word picture describing the classical celestial imagery similar to that in fig viiii.
Fig viiii. The two 'Wild Horsemen' either side of The Woodland Beast with the claws, legs and sting between his ears, who is being held by the leg and 'dunked' in the Celestial River
Conclusion

I think that the author of Culhwch ac Olwen was in possession of a first-hand account of the first appearance, at about midnight on the Calends of May, 1006 of the brightest of all Supernovas. He sought further information regarding the position of this heavenly portent of the 'End of Days' in manuscripts on astronomy, and was subsequently influenced by several staple texts in both Greek and Latin, known or suspected to have been in circulation in Wales amongst learned ecclesiasts during the period which most experts assign to the composition of Culhwch ac Olwen. What I have in mind are: the Catastersmi or The Constellations by pseudo Eratosthenes, the Poeticon Astronomicon or Astronomia and the Fabulae by Hyginus, the Phaenomena by Aratus of Soli,The Dream of Scipio by Cicero and The Commentary on it by Macrobius, and, just possibly, theBibliotheke (The Library of Greek Myth) by (pseudo) Apollodorus.62 He must also have had access to Ptolemaic constellation charts for the Northern and Southern celestial hemispheres, such as the Aratea which traditionally accompanied these texts and which were circulating north western Europe from the earliest medieval times. None of this material would have been out of place in the libraries and the scriptoria of 11th century Welsh monastic settlements or clasau, such as Llancarfan and Llanbadarn Fawr,63 where Astronomy was taught as part of the Quadrivium, and where manuscripts on Astronomy were not just kept but also copied and produced. In short, if it was the aim of the author of 'Culhwch and Olwen' to encode information on the celestial site of SN1006 into his tale, then he would have found the relevant material to hand and was, in any case, already familiar with it. 

Plumlumon, at 52°25’N - the most northerly limit for the visibility of SN1006 - was one of the few places in Britain where the supernova might have been clearly seen, as it provided an elevated, uninterupted, dark sky view of the southern horizon.64 The description of Dillus the Horseman’s campfire ‘far away to the south’ is, I suggest, based on an eye witness account of the upper limb of the apparent ‘disc’ of the supernova, (‘two and a half to three times that of Venus’ and 250 times more bright than the brightest star Sirius) dissected by the southern horizon. It is possible that the original observer was a monk based at the nearby monastic settlement of Llanbadarn Fawr, (just 12 miles distant) where observing the stars to determine the dates of feast days and the times of prayer must have been habitual.65

The author of Culhwch ac Olwen, whatever else was on his agenda, was purposefully ’encoding’ an observed astronomical phenomena into his narrative. The image he gives of Dillus the Horseman singeing a wild boar over a fire is transparently an image of Pholus the Horseman singeing a wild boar over a fire, otherwise known as the constellations Centaurus, Therion and Ara. He accurately gives the celestial position of these constellations as being in the south. He uses pit digging and pressing down as a metaphor for the precessional motion of these constellations and he draws our attention to an epoch when the Horseman (Centaurus) was buried up to his neck in the Earth, precisely the position of these constellations at the time of the supernova of 1006.

The episode of the acquisition of Dillus’ beard which is used to make the (braided horse-hair) leash
to hold Drudwyn the whelp of Greid (Scorcher) son of Eri66 is obviously linked to the episode immediately following where, instead of the promised quest for Drudwyn, the author has placed a story which ends with a fight every May the First until Judgement Day. He thus provides the precise date of the first appearance of SN1006 and then tellingly associates this date with an apocalyptic reference, echoing the almost universal millennial reaction to the sudden intrusion of this new blazing star into the sky67 The inclusion in this tale also of the British figures Creiddylad and Lludd Llaw Ereint, whose Greek counterparts Kore and Asclepius just happen to be represented as the constellations Virgo and Ophiuchus reinforces this assessment.

In Part II I have presented a selection of incidents, (space does not allow a full rehearsal) from the 'Achievements' which corroborate and provide weight to the above conclusions. But there are more examples, for instance: The Twrch Trwyth diving into the sea from the southernmost point of the British Isles and his mysterious disappearance into the southern horizon is really the gradual disappearance of Therion into the southern horizon due to precessional motion. And, Arthur (Phoebus Apollo - the Sun) at the entrance to Uffern (the Infernal Regions of Dis), throwing Carnwennen – 'little white knife' (the Ecliptic or possibly Mars) and splitting the witch into two tubs (Libra).68 There is also a sizeable list of the names of major characters which correspond closely with the constellations near to SN1006: Dillus the Horseman –Φόλος the Horseman . Drudwyn or Fierce/Bright hound of Scorcher son of Eri – Scorcher hound of Orion. Kreiddylat – Kore/Virgo. Yskythrwyn – ΎςΚαλυδωίος (The Caledonian boar - Therion?). Little son of Three Shouts – the little Crow (Corvus). Hygwydd – Hydra. Osla Big-Knife – Orion (Osiris) and his Sword, not to be exhaustive. 

The evidence suggests that the Welsh Author's motive was to encode into his narrative both the celestial and the temporal position of the potentially apocalyptic event of the sudden appearance ofthe brightest star ever seen, on the southern Welsh horizon on May 1st 1006 and it is worth quoting here the views of Mark Williams once more regarding the occurence of unusual celestial portents in early medieval Irish saga, but which I think applies equally well to this early Welsh prose tale:

...the embedding of expected celestial portents or events within a narrative seems on occassion to have prompted the annalists to set their own actual observations within a narrative framework, turning records of comets, eclipses and unusual meteorological phenomena into fantastical miniature stories. But the annalists seem to have gone a stage further, and begun to recast these apocalyptic miniature stories in Irish terms, with echoes of native mythology...this tendency to disguise celestial portents which are actually apocalyptic under a native cloak is more widespread than has been acknowledged, and that the imagery of apocalyptic celestial portents can also be found in native saga.69

In Wales, as in Ireland, the recording of unusual celestial events was a feature of annalistic entries over a prolonged period and the following was recorded in the Brut y Tywysogion:

A.D. 1030.—A wonderful light was seen in the sky during the night, which rendered it as light as day. That year Joseph, bishop of Teilaw, ordered that no work or occupation should take place on the Sundays and holidays, and obliged the priests to learn to read the Holy Scripture without payment or gift, and to abandon controversies.70

Perhaps surprisingly, there are no entries for 1006 or 1054, even though SN1054 was indisputably visible from Welsh latitudes. However, this particular entry is curious, and one could speculate that it may represent a later attempt to make obscure the entries for 1006 and 1054.71 There was, of course, a well known eclipse on August 1st 1030, (partial in Wales) but I can find no other records for a supernova or a comet from this year, or anywhere near it The movement of the North geomagnetic pole had caused the auroral oval to be far from Britain during the early eleventh century, making it highly unlikely that this is a record of the Aurora Borealis. It may not be coincidental that the year 1030 is precisely mid-way between 1006 and 1054.

Finally, I think that the record of SN1006 in Culhwch and Olwen probably started life in an annalistic context soon after the event, in its simplest form it may have read: A great smoke far towards the south, like a giants campfire, between the Horseman and the Beast was seen from Plimlumon Top. This would reflect the widespread practice of astronomical observation in British, Irish and European monastic communities in expectation of the cosmic portents of Doomsday.72But like the supernova of 1054 and the comet of 1066 it did not presage the 'End of Days', and the obscuration of the Ros Ela entry for 1054 in the Irish records is, Breen and McCarthy suggest, a somewhat later reaction to the (embarrassing) failure of these apocalyptic predictions in 'Revelations' and in later apocryphal works, to materialize. ICulhwch and Olwen someone undertook to preserve the record of SN1006 outside of an annalistic context, where, just as in the Ros Ela example, the apocalyptic material and the astronomy are covertly or cryptically presented, 'under a native cloak', but here, in at least seventeen sequential episodes and parading as fantastical prose.

Notes
1 This image is from Mercator's celestial globe of 1551. Celestial globes show the constellations as if seen from God's eye-view. Mercator has labelled these Constellations as Centaurus Chiron and Fera Lupus, but elsewhere they are known as Pholus (Φόλος) and Therion respectively.
2 'About 1100' is commonly given. For instance 'Culhwch ac Olwen,The Triads, Saint's Lives'. By Brynley F. Roberts. In The Arthur of the Welsh. The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Welsh Literature. Eds.Rachel Bromwich, A. O. H. Jarman, Brynley F. Roberts. (Cardiff UWP. 1991). But see The Date and Authorship of Culhwch ac Olwen: A Reassessment. Simon Rodway, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies. No. 49. Summer 2005. Editor Patrick Simms-Williams.
3 Culhwch and Olwen. An Edition and Study of the Oldest Arthurian Tale. Edited by Rachel Bromwich and D. Simon Evans (Cardiff. University of Wales Press. 1992).
4 For a full description see: Culhwch and Olwen. Edited by Rachel Bromwich and D. Simon Evans. Also: The International Popular Tale and Early welsh Tradition. Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson. (Cardiff. University of Wales Press. 1961).pp 73 - 74
5 By e.g. Hyginus, (pseudo) Eratosthenes and Aratus. See The Seven Liberal Arts: A Study in Medieval Culture. Paul Ableson. (New York. Teachers College, Columbia University. 1906).
6 Star Myths of the Greeks and Romans: A Sourcebook. Theony Condos. (Phanes Press. 1997). p 23 '...there are certain myths, attested only in literature similar to The Constellations, which most scholars believe to have originated from the relative position and movement of two or more constellations in the sky'.
7 Callimachus, Hymns and Epigrams. Lycophron, Aratus. Translated by A.W and G. R. Mair. Loeb Classical Library Volume 129. (London. William Heinemann, 1921).
8 See for instance The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville.(III.lxxi). Translated with Introduction and Notes, by Stephen A. Barney, W. J. Lewis, J.A. Beach and Oliver Berghof. (Cambridge University Press. 2006). pp 104-105.
9 Culhwch and Olwen. Bromwich and Evans. P 59, note 579. He would not be the only member of the family of Don to have been elevated to the constellatons; Gwydion son of Don, Aranrhod daughter of Don, Lleu Llaw Gyffes and Don herself were traditionally associatiated with The Milky Way, Corona Borialis, Perseus and Cassiepia respectively. I will explore the astronomy of Math vab Mathonwy in a seperate paper.
10 The standard discussion is in The International Popular Tale and Early Welsh Tradition. Kenneth Jackson. Pp ?
11 See Culhwch and Olwen. Bromwich & Evans and The International Popular Tale and Early Welsh Tradition. Kenneth Jackson. for the connection with Jason and the Argonauts.
12 But see below. For a comprehensive list of names associated with Therion see Star Names Their Lore and Meaning.Richard Hinckley Allen. Dover 1963. pp 278-279.
13 A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. Donald H. Menzel. (Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1964). Menzel was the Director of Harvard College Observatory.
14 The Stargazers Guide. How to Read Our Night Sky. Emily Winterburn. (London. Constable. 2008). Emily Winterburn was the Curator of Astronomy at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
15 The Supernova of 1006. F. Richard Stephenson, David H. Clark, David F. Crawford. (Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 180.1977), p.567-584.
16 My translation.
17The Mabinogion. Translated, edited and introduced by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones. (Everyman’s Library. The Millennium
Library. 2000).
18 I.e. 'The Red Book of Hergest' and 'The White Book of Rhydderch'. Dissull = Dillus. A scribal error which both manuscripts inherited from a common ancestor.
19 The Companion Tales to the Mabinogi. Legend and Landscape of Wales. Trans. J. K. Bollard. (Gomer Press 2007).
20 See The White Book Mabinogion: Welsh Tales & Romances Reproduced from the Peniarth Manuscripts: Ed. J Gwenogvryn Evans. (Private Press, Pwllheli. 1907). Pp 247 - 248, columns 494 - 495. Where the text is taken from the Red Book of Hergest columns 837b -837c.
21 The Mabinogion. Jones & Jones. My parentheses.
22 Namely Pholus, the traditional host of Hercules and Cheiron, the friend and mentor of Hercules. So he could not have hunted in company with the centaurs as Menzel suggested.
23 Hyginus. Fab. [2.5]. p.31 Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabulae, Two Handbooks of Greek Mythology. Trans. R. Scott Smith and Stephen M.Trzaskoma. (Hacket. 2007). Dillus the Horseman is specifically described as 'singeing' the boar; this is a method used to de-bristle rather than to roast boars, which suggests that Dillus the Horseman, like Pholus the Horseman, had a penchant for raw meat. Recall too that Cyledyr the Wild, another Horseman, ate his father's heart, though we are not told if he ate it raw.
24 Star Names. Their Lore and Meaning. Richard Hinkley Allen. (New York. Dover Publications, Inc. 1963 ). pp 148-155.
25 Significantly, this may be compared with examples of garbled Greek words to be found in four works known to have been produced at Llanbadarn-Fawr towards the end of the 11th century , namely the 'Life of David', 'the 'Psalter' and the 'Martyrology' by Rhygyfarch ap Sulien and the 'Macrobius Manuscript' MS Cotton Faustina C 1. (See Science and Phlosophy in Wales at the Time of the Norman Conquest; A Macrobius Manuscript from Llanbadarn. Alison Peden. (Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 2 (Winter 1981)). Ed. Patrick Simms Williams. See also Welsh Literature and the Classical Tradition Ceri Davies, (Cardiff. University of Wales Press. 1995). Cicero's Somnium Scipionis and Macrobius' Commentaryupon it were a primary source for knowledge of Greek Astronomy throughout the Middle Ages, consequently the examples in the Macrobius manuscript and in the computistical Tables attached to the 'Psalter' are interesting because it shows a Welsh monk (Rhygyfarch) attempting, but failing, to translate Greek words into Latin within texts which are largely astronomical in content, which is precisely what I am suggesting has happened with the Greek Φόλος and the Welsh Dillusin Culhwch.
26 Bollard. 2007, following Bromwich and Evans - following Sir Idris Foster. See Culhwch ac Olwen. Bromwich & Evans.
27 Precession of the equinoxes or precession of the equator. 'is a slow revolution (0nce every 26,000 years) of the whole field of stars from west to east about the poles of the ecliptic' See The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy. James Evans. (New York, Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1998). pp 245 – 248. Pliny said that Hipparchus of Bythinia discovered precession after witnessing a supernova
28 The Supernova of 1006'. Stephenson. Clark. Crawford.
29 Ibid.
30 Ibid.
31 Stellarium is free planetarium software, first developed by Fabien Chereau.
32 Image Credit: NASAESA, Zolt Levay (STScI)
33 The Supernova of 1006'. Stephenson. Clark. Crawford.
34 The Supernova of 1006'. Stephenson. Clark. Crawford.
35. In Drudwyn the whelp of Greid son of Eri or Fierce-White the whelp of Scorcher son of Eri we surely have a barely underhand reference to Canis Major the Great Dog and its lucida the brightest star Sirius - the 'Scorcher' the Dog Star of Orion, which Aratus described in the Phenomena '… the tip of its jaw is inset with a formidable star, that blazes most intensely: and so men call it the Scorcher.
36The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales. Trans. Ed. and Introduction, by Patrick K. Ford. (University California Press. 2008). My italics.
37. E.g. in Lludd and Llevelys and Math vab Mathonwy. Great importance was attached to this date; in Wales it is Calan Mai, in Ireland Beltane, the first day of Summer, one of the four cross-quarter day festivals of the Celtic year and, as Professor Stephen McCluskey has noted, it has a special connection with the Virgin Mary.
38. The Supernova of 1006'. Stephenson. Clark. Crawford.
39. From early Christian times Virgo was also associated with the Virgin Mary.
40Christus und Asklepios. Erich Dinkler. Heidelberg. (Carl Winter Universitatsverlag. 1980). The temple of healing at Lydney overlooking the Severn Estuary dedicated to Nodens has been recognised as a British version of anAesclepium, originally a Greek temple of healing named after the healer god Asclepius or Aesculapius, son of Apollo and Coronis.
41. Dinkler noted ‘the shrine of Nodens at Lydney was built in the last third of the fourth century, and its great days extended well into the fifth, long after the adoption of Christianity as the official state religion. Thus providing a vehicle for the retention and transmission of this knowledge.
42.Fiery Shapes. Celestial Portents and Astrology in Ireland and Wales, 700 -1700. Mark Williams. (Oxford University Press. 2010). Quoting McCarthy, Daniel & Breen, Aiden. Astronomical Observations in the Irish Annals and their Motivation. (Peritia Volume 11. 1997).
43. Fiery Shapes. Mark Williams.
44. This image has been put together using Adobe Photoshop 7. The ‘supernova’ is taken from astronomer Tunc Tezel’s carefully constructed ‘photograph’ of the event, in celebration of the millennial anniversary of SN 1006. By utilising the background stars as a template I was able to accurately place Tezel’s supernova onto a screenshot of the Plinlimon night sky at about 12.30 am May 1st 1006, from the open source planetarium for the computer ‘Stellarium’. The terrain was added from another screenshot, this time using Google Earth‘s ‘eye-level’ gadget. The image is looking south from an altitude of 742 metres from Plinlimon top, 52°28'N, 3°47'E. I have pictured the supernova at (approx) maximum altitude above the southern horizon, and its position has been checked against the schematic drawing ‘the apparent path of the star’ by F.R. Stephenson, D.H. Clark and D.F. Crawford in their paper ‘The Supernova of AD 1006’
45 'Map of the Heavens'.Giovanni Antonio da Varese. 1575. Ceiling Frescoe, Villa Farnese.
46 The Mabinogion. Jones & Jones. p.116. Yspaddaden says that the boar was Twrch Trwyth mab Taredd Wledig(wledic = king, ruler). P104.
47Hyginus. Fab. 176. Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabulae, Trans. Scott Smith and Trzaskoma. Hacket.
48Stargazer's Guide. Emily Winterburn
49 This is not to doubt the British and Irish provenence of the Twrch Trwyth's association with kingship. Still, ifCulhwch's author were a monk it would be hard to argue that he had not read Hyginus' Fabulae, which contains the story of the transformation of Lycaon, the text was certainly current in Wales at this time.
50 Star Myths. Theony Condos. The author of Culhwch does not neglect to draw a picture of Libra, but more on this later. See also Martianus Capella and the Seven Liberal Arts. Volume II. The Marriage of Philology and Mercury. Translated by William Harris Stahl and Richard Johnson with E. L. Burge. (New York. Colubia University Press. 1977).(Bk.VIII. 839.)
51 The hunt for Yskythrwyn chief of boars should be compared with the hunt for ΎςΚαλυδωίος, or the Caledonian boar. Apd. 1. 66 _71
52 Star Myths. Translation by Theony Kondos. Apollodorus and Hyginus relate an altrnative origin for Corvus which explains how the Crow's colour was chnged from white to black
53 The Mabinogion. Translated with notes by Lady Charlotte Guest.(Bernard Quaritch, 15 Piccadilly. 1877. Facsimile Edition. John Jones Cardiff Ltd. Republication first edition, November 1977).
54 Arthur fighting the giant boar Twrch Trwyth (Therion) for the shears (the claws) for nine nights and days mirrors the nine day heliacal passage of the Sun through Scorpius. See Allen, Star Names p.???
55 Elsewhere, in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, it is Llew Llaw Gyffes who hits the wren 'between the sinew of its leg and the bone' as it is about to alight on Gwydion's magic ship (Argo Navis), hence Llaw Gyffes - Skillful Hand, this cross reference is highly significant and I explore this in a seperate paper on.the astronomy of Math vab Mathonwy
56 Welsh Folk Customs. Trefor. M Owen. (Gomer. 1994). Also Dryw bach, noting Menw's druid-like abilities.
57 The Mabinogion. Translated with an Introduction and Notes. Sioned Davies. (Oxford University Press. 2007).
58 Ibid.
59The Mabinogi. P. K. Ford.
60Star Myths. Condos.
61 The Mabinogion. Jones & Jones. It is interesting that the author chooses these two names as his 'horsemen' here. Gruffydd thought Modron (mother of Mabon) was to be identified with the Horse-Goddess' Epona, who 'was portrayed sometimes in the form of a horse'. See Rhiannon. An Inquiry into the First and Third Branches of the Mabinogi. (Cardiff. University of Wales Press. 1953). As regards Cyledyr the Wild, 'wildness' is of course the defining characteristic of the raw meat eating centaurs.
62 Perhaps also The Marriage of Philology and Mercury by Martianus Boethius. Book Vol. II. VIII. Astronomy. Particularly the section on simultaneous risings and settings.
63 Prime contenders both for the origin of Culhwch.
64 This is corroborated by estimates for the height of the supernova above the horizon at Cairo (30°N), where it was 23° above the horizon, and St. Gallen ( 47°.25'N) where it was 5° above the horizon
65 There is much evidence for a preoccupation with Astronomy at Llanbadarn Fawr. For example,'The Computus Fragment', the LBL MS Cotton Faustina C 1. II (fols 66-99)., Rhygyfarch's 'Psalter' and Ieuan son of Sulien’s copy of the De Natura Rerum of Bede and his poem in praise of his family which paraphrases Boethius.
66It is apt that the leash made from the beard of the giant Horseman constellation is required to hold the gigantic Dog constellation
67 An interesting comparison ought to be made with the modern Millennial ‘End of the World’predictions put forward by Harold Camping, and the global responses they have elicited. By complete coincidence, as I write, the time now is 4.30pm, May 21st 2011. Camping has predicted that the End Time will occur in an hour and half from now. Fingers crossed...
68 For the celestial location of the cave in the uplands of Uffern - the Infernal Regions, with its centaurs and the Lernean Hydra lurking nearby, see Commentary on the Dream of Scipio by Macrobius Translated with an Introduction and notes. William Harris Stahl. (New York. 1990). Chapter XII. Pp 133 to 135.
69Fiery Shapes. Mark Williams
70 Brut y tywysogion: the Gwentian chronicle of Caradoc of Llancarvan Caradoc, of Llancarvan. Trans. Owen, Aneurin. (Kindle Location 8309). London : J.R. Smith.
71This sort of thing, the misplacement of similar but separate celestial events by later copyists, was not uncommon.

72 See McCarthy, Daniel & Breen, Aiden. Astronomical Observations in the Irish Annals and their Motivation. (Peritia Volume 11. 1997).

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