Kings of Dumnonia

Kings of Dumnonia

The Kings of Dumnonia ruled the large Brythonic kingdom of Dumnonia in the south-west of Great Britain during the Sub-Roman and early medieval periods.

The Dumnonii civitas capital under the Romans was Isca Dumnoniorum (modern Exeter). Known as Caer Uisc, Exeter was still inhabited by Dumnonian Britons up until the 10th century when King Athelstan expelled them. By the mid-9th century, the royal seat may have been relocated further west, during the West Saxon advance, to Lis-Cerruyt (modern Liskeard). Cornish earls in the 10th century were said to have moved to Lostwithiel after Liskeard was seized. Several other royal residents may also have served the kings of Dumnonia or Cornwall, including Din-Tagell (modern Tintagel), Cadbury Castle, and Castle Dore .

Dumnonian king list

The list of Dumnonian kings is one of the hardest of the major Dark Age kingdoms to accurately compile, as it is confused by Arthurian legend, complicated by strong associations with the kings of Wales and Brittany, and obscured by the relentless Saxon advance. Therefore this list should be treated with relative caution.

The original Celtic chiefs of the Dumnonii ruled in the south-west until faced with the Roman arrival into their territory in c.AD 55 when the Romans established a legionary fortress at Isca (Exeter). Although subjegated by c.AD 78, the Dumnonii likely retained strong local control, and may have been self-governed under Roman rule. The following list has been compiled principally from the work of Ashley, Kessler, Hughes and the Book of Baglan. The early Cornish kings who may have had some form of independence from Dumnonian overlordship are not listed here.

Dumnonian kings

Mythical 'Dukes of Cornwall' recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth:

Presumed kings appearing in the ancestry of later monarchs:

  • Conan Meriadoc ap Gereint (Conan the Merry) (c.340-c.387)
  • Gadeon ap Conan (c.387-c.390)
  • Guoremor ap Gadeon (c.387-c.400)
  • Tutwal ap Guoremor (c.400-c.410)
  • Conomor ap Tutwal (c.410-c.435)
  • Constantine Corneu ap Conomar (Constantine of Cornwall) (c.435-c.443)

Kings recorded in Welsh records and literature:

Possible rulers given in the early 17th century Book of Baglan as ancestors of an 'Earl of Cornwall':

  • Bledric ap Custennin (c.598-c.613)
  • Clemen ap Bledric (c.613-c.633)
  • Petroc Baladrddellt ap Clemen (Petroc Splintered Spear) (c.633-c.654)
  • Culmin ap Petroc (c.659-c.661)
  • Donyarth ap Culmin (c.661-c.700)

Kings recorded in Anglo-Saxon sources:

Cornish kings

By the end of the 8th century, Dumnonia was much reduced in size by the aggressive advance of the West Saxons and the remaining territory became the Kingdom of Cornwall. The generally accepted date for this transition is around 800. Subsequent possible rulers also appear in the Book of Baglan:

  • Ithel Eiddyn ap Donyarth (Ithel the Rock) (c.710-c.715)
  • Dyfnwal Boifunall ap Ithel (Dyfnwal of Boifunall) (fl. c.730s)
  • Cawrdolli ap Dyfnwal (fl. c.750s)
  • Oswallt ap Cawrdolli (fl. c.770s)
  • Hernam ap Oswallt (fl. c.790s)
  • Hopkin ap Hernam (fl. c.810s)
  • Mordaf ap Hopkin (fl. c.830s)
  • Fferferdyn ap Mordaf (fl. c.850s)
  • Donyarth (c.865-c.876)
  • Eluid ap Fferferdyn (fl. c.880s)
  • Alanorus ap Eluid (fl. c.890s)

Others appear in records open to interpretation:

Cornish earls

If he is not to be identified with Hywel Dda of Deheubarth, the singularly recorded Huwal could have been the last native king. Some of the later supposed rulers listed below are given the title 'Earl of Cornwall', although in two cases may have been recognized as rebel kings (Conan in 934 and Cadoc in 1100).

  • Conan (c.926-c.937)
  • Rolope ap Alanorus (fl. c.940s)
  • Vortegyn Helin ap Rolope (Vortegyn the High Lord) (fl. c.960s)
  • Veffyne ap Vortegyn (fl. c.980s)
  • Alured ap Veffyne (fl. c.1000s)
  • Godwyn ap Alured (fl. c.1010)
  • Herbet FitzGodwyn (fl. c.1050)
  • Cadoc of Cornwall (c.1066-c.1068)
  • Robert, Comte de Mortain (c.1068-c.1084)
  • William FitzRobert (c.1084-c.1106) (opposed by Cadoc ap Cador)
  • Cadoc (fl. c.1100)

Cadoc's daughter Avice is said to have married William FitzRobert de Mortaigne and title of Earl of Cornwall passed to the Normans and never returns to the native royal family.


Further reading

  • Stenton, F. M. (1971). Anglo-Saxon England Third Edition Oxford: Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-280139-5
  • Morris, John. (2004). The Age of Arthur AS Edition Pheonix ISBN 1-824212-477-3
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