People and places in Sword at Sunset | Rosemary Sutcliff

I came across this page on the internet about who’s who in Rosemary Sutcliff‘s historical novel and re-telling of the King Arthur legend Sword at Sunset. (Without any apparent context, it intrigued me!)


Ambrosius–Aurelius Ambrosius, mentioned in Geoffrey of Monmouth, here Artos’ uncle
Arian–Artos’ first horse; rides him through fiery walls

Aelle–Saxon chieftan in South Britain; killed at Mount Badon
Amlodd–Artos’ 2nd armour bearer
Aquila–Companion who wears Saxon thrall ring scar from his days as slave
Bedwyr–Harper, horseman from Armorica; Sutcliff’s version of Lancelot
Cabal–first and second dog of Artos; Cavall mentioned in Nennius
Cador–Prince of Dumnonia, father of future King Constantine
Cei–Companion who corresponds to Sir Kay
Caradawg–Armour maker or smith
Cerdic–Son of Vortigern, whom Artos frees twice
Constantine–Son of Cador, becomes High King after Artos
Dagleaf–Merchant who gives Artos knowledge of North Britain
Druim Dhu--One of the Little Dark People near Trimontium who helps Artos
Dubricius–Bishop who protests Artos’ being named High King
Flavian (Minnow I)–Aquila’s son, Artos’ first armour bearer, later marries Teleri and has son, Minnow II
Eagles–Name given to Romans
Gault and Levin–Heroic companions; Gault dies from arrow wound; Levin seeks help during hard winter at Trimontium, sacrificing his life in the process
Gwalchmai–“Hawk of May,” crippled novice from Lindin monastery; becomes Artos’ chief physician; Sutcliff’s version of Gawain
Guenhumara–Daughter of Maglaunus, sister of Pharic; Sutcliff’s Guenevere
Grey Falcon–Artos’ last horse
Helen–Harlot from Eburacum who helps organize revolt against Saxons when Artos’ troops enter fort
Hengest–Saxon chiefton; killed at Eburacum
Huil, Son of Caw–Saxon chieftan around Cit Coit Caledon who requests to be killed once captured
Hunno–Artos’ lord of horse
Hylin–Artos’ and Guenhumara’s daughter born in Hollow Hills area outside Trimontium
Irach–One of the Little Dark People who scouts for Artos, eats father’s “courage”
Jason the Swordsmith–Man at Eburacum who, with Helen, leads thralls’ revolt
Lady Rowen–Vortigern’s Saxon wife, mother of Cerdic, found dead at Eburacum
Maelgwn–Chieftain in charge of Arfon in Artos’ absence; Falconer; Artos is there when Medraut revolts
Maglaunus–Guenhumara’s father; King Stag in midsummer festival
Maximus–Artos’ Spanish great grandfather, declared Emperor of Western Roman Empire
Medraut–Artos’ and Ygerna’s son; Sutcliff’s version of Mordred
Minnow (I)–Flavian
Minnow (II)–Flavian’s son, Artos’ last armor bearer; brings news of Medraut’s revolt
Noni Heron’s Feather–One of the Little Dark People who helps Artos at Battle of Mount Badon
Octa Hengiston–Hengest’s son, killed at Eburacum
Oisc–Lieutenannt and son of Octa; takes Kentish kingdom; fights at Badon
Pharic–Guenhumara’s brother; falconer; leads a hundred knights & horses given to Artos by G’s father
Riada–Artos’ third armour bearer; returns to Maglaunus’ Dun with Pharic after Guenhumara’s departure
Sea Wolves–Saxons
Signus–Artos’ second horse
Utha–Artos’ father, brother to Ambrosius
Ygerna–Artos’ half-sister


Arfon–Artos’ homeland in present-day Wales
Armorica—Brittany, where Artos goes for larger horses and also gets Bedwyr
Badon–Scene of Artos’ greatest victory Badon (at Liddington hillfort near Swindon) (*updated, see comment below)
Cit Coit Caledon–Scene of foot battle (near present-day Edinburgh, Scotland)
Deva—Site of Bear Trap battle where Hengest is killed (present-day Chester)
Dumnonia–Cador’s princedom (present-day Devon, *updated, see below) where Artos accidentally drops the amethust in baby Constantine’s basket before sailing for Armorica
Eburacum–Roman fort which Artos takes from Saxons in pursuit battle after Deva; Helen & Jason help (present-day York)
Gaul–Roman name for France
Island of Apples–Glastonbury, where Artos tells his story and dies
Linden–Monastery town where Artos argues with Abbot; Gwalchmai was novice there (present-day Lincoln)
Segontium—Roman hill fort near Yr Widdfa in present-day Wales
Trimontium–Three Hills–Fort at Newstead in present-day Scotland which Artos takes in night battle. The Eldon Hills are just outside present-day Melrose. (*updated, see below).
Venta Bulgarum--Seat of British government (now Winchester)
Yr Widdfa—Welsh name for largest mountain in Arfon (Wales), anglicised as Snowdon; also a battle cry.

5 thoughts on “People and places in Sword at Sunset | Rosemary Sutcliff

  1. Venta Bulgarum–Seat of British government (now Winchester) – That’s Venta Belgarum (after the Belgae tribe). Odd, I came across the same typo in another Arthurian novel, although I can’t remember which one..

    Segontium—Roman hill fort near Yr Widdfa in present-day Wales – Indeed, Caernarfon, not a hillfort but a saxon-Shore type coastal fort.

    Linden–Monastery town where Artos argues with Abbot; Gwalchmai was novice there (present-day Lincoln) – That’s Lindum

    Gaul–Roman name for France – nah, MODERN name France! :)

    Octa Hengiston– Hengistson (typo I suppose).

    Gwalchmai–”Hawk of May,” crippled novice from Lindin monastery; – Lindum.. ;)

    Gault and Levin–Heroic companions; – not to mention lovers.

    Aquila–Companion who wears Saxon thrall ring scar from his days as slave. Father of Flavian, Ambrosius’ Master of Horse who also teaches Artos.


  2. Segontium is Carnarvon, isn’t it? (Welsh, Caer Seint).

    Strictly speaking Dumnonia is Devon rather than Cornwall (Cornovia/Cornubia, cf. also Breton Cornouaille) – and yes, it is related to the Damnonians of Scotland, the tribe of Evicatos in “Silver Branch”.

    Trimontium is the Eildon Hills just outside present-day Melrose.


    • Ah, a can of worms all this … On Devon or Cornwall or both….Wikipedia has it thus…Any further views….?

      “Dumnonia is the Latinised name for the Brythonic kingdom in sub-Roman Britain between the late 4th and late 8th centuries, located in the farther parts of the south-west peninsula of Great Britain. It was centred in the area later known as Devon, but also included parts of Somerset and possibly Dorset, its eastern boundary changing over time.

      Some historians interpreted it as including Cornubia or Cornwall, although the kingdom of Cornwall was based on a sub-tribe, the Cornovii, and appears to have been at least semi-independent at times, certainly retaining its independence after parts of Dumnonia came under Anglo-Saxon control between the 7th and 10th centuries.


  3. I’ll have a look at it later, but for now, this comment:
    “Badon–Scene of Artos’ greatest victory near Venta (present-day Winchester)”- incorrect. Sutcliff was clear that she placed her Badon at Liddington hillfort near Swindon.


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