Reading the Book of the Sons of Fire (who call themselves the Children of Light), Iâ€™ve been speculating on where this group might have gone after Korin and his Greek followers split off to settle in Cornwall. Are there any clues in the text? Well, whenever I get towards the end of this book, I notice how some of the names sound a bit Scottish (Cladwigen … Kelkilith … Glendargi). So I began by looking up â€˜Cluthâ€™ for any Scottish links.
Cluth and the Clyde
Cluth was slain in the battle with the Wictas and the Men of Broad Knives at the crossing of the river now called by the barbarians Cluthradrodwin.
â€˜Cluthâ€™ is an ancient name for the River Clyde and its valley. Gerhard Mercatorâ€™s 1595 map marks the River Clyde in Latin as Clyde flu. olim Alcluth (â€˜River Clyde formerly Alcluthâ€™). As late as the 1890s, the Clutha Ferry operated in the Glasgow river area.
Below is a modern map showing the Clyde Valley, Dumbarton, Glasgow and Paisley - all places that might possibly be linked to the journey of the Sons of Fire.
â€˜Wictasâ€™ - This sounds suspiciously like Picts (described as â€˜Painted Menâ€™ elsewhere in the Book of the Sons of Fire), who are known to have inhabited a large part of Scotland.
â€˜Men of the Broad Knivesâ€™ - The Scots were renowned for their knives (sgian-dubh in Gaelic) which they concealed beneath their clothing and now wear with their national dress.
The Fortress of Cluth
The fortress of Cluth was built up again by Kabel Kai according to his promise, and the sons of Cluth live there in these days. It stands on high ground rising out of the waters, surrounded by a high wall of logs.
The centre of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde in the Clyde Valley was Dumbarton Castle, â€˜Fortress of the Britishâ€™, also known as the Alt Clut or Alcluith (Scottish Gaelic: Alt Chluaidh, literally “Rock of the Clyde”). The Kingdom of Strathclyde developed during the post-Roman period and has the longest recorded history of any kingdom in Scotland. It sits on a plug of volcanic basalt known as Dumbarton Rock which is 240 feet (73 m) high, and now overlooks the town of Dumbarton.
The Sons of Fire - building methods
Close to Dumbarton Rock on the north shore of the River Clyde lies Dumbuck Crannog. A crannog is a man-made island on which people built their homes, kept their animals and went about their daily lives. There are several crannogs in the River Clyde, of which Dumbuck is regarded as the most important.
â€˜It comprised a platform of layers of earth, stone and brushwood, revetted by timber piles, on top of which a timber round-house had originally been built. Excavations on the site in the late 19th century revealed a dock, still containing a logboat, adjacent to the platform, and radiocarbon dates indicate that the crannog was built some time between 200BC and AD200.â€™(Information from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (AH, SC) 26 June 2007)
â€˜The ancient importance of this point on the River Clyde is further expressed by the presence of a crannog situated on a sandbank in the river, a few hundred metres west of the Erskine Bridge … This crannog indicates that the pattern of settlement in the … area is ancient.â€™
M. Palmer, Sacred Land. 2012. http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk
These building methods sound similar to those described in the Book of the Sons of Fire. The photograph below shows Dumbuck Crannog as the dark, seaweed-covered area in the foreground, with Dumbarton Rock in the background.
The city, the temple and the trading ships
The city was built and finished with a wall which was two walls of wood with soil between. Men came in ships, with cloth and pottery, with things of metal and shells and beads. The barbarians gave much for cloth dyed scarlet, for their tree blue is not fast in cloth. Scarlet is made nowhere except in the land of the Sons of Fire, where a white fish turns scarlet under the warmth of the sun…
The temple was built within the city and raised up on logs. Beside it was the Place of Instruction and just before it was the Place of Exchanging. It stands today as a sanctuary and a centre for those who seek the light. In its keeping are the records of the Children of Light who are the Children of the Written Wordâ€¦
But all is not well with the heart and spirit of the city, which is the people. A city lives not by the wood and stones with which it is built. Therefore, since the coming of Samon of the Barhedhoy and those who follow Ameth, we who are the heart of the Children of Light prepare our departure.
The city of Glasgow, about 16 miles east of Dumbarton along the River Clyde, has an age-old suburb called Temple in an area containing Dawsholme Park, Temple School and Temple Road. The place-name â€˜Templeâ€™ appears in Joan Blaeu’s 1662 Atlas of Scotland and many subsequent maps. No-one knows where the name â€˜Templeâ€™ comes from. The photo below is of Dawsholme Park overlooking the city.
Traditionally, Glasgow has always been an important trading city because it can be reached easily from the Firth of Clyde, where the river runs into the sea. Could the Phoenicians have sailed there to trade their scarlet murex cloth, pottery, shells and beads?
By the waters of Glaith not far distant where we may dwell by ourselvesâ€¦ From this day forward we shall be known as the Craftsmen of the Supreme Spirit, and this place, upon the waters of Glaith which we call the Valley of Reeds, known to those about us as Carsteflan, shall be called the Smithy of the Supreme Spirit.
The only link I can find for the â€˜Valley of Reedsâ€™ is Redesdale, â€˜the Valley of the Reedsâ€™, in the midst of Northumberland National Park - but the park is 116 miles away from Glasgow, so it canâ€™t be described as â€˜not far distantâ€™, and there is no river there.
Glasgow has a Glaive Road not far from Dawsholme Park. The name exists nowhere else in Britain. Could the place-name â€˜Glaithâ€™, just 16 miles from Dumbarton Rock, have developed into ‘Glaive’ and perhaps even into ‘Glasgow’?
In the 1930s, a Bronze Age burial site was unearthed at Knappers Sand Quarry on the edge of Glasgow, but there don’t seem to be any links between the quarry and the Kolbrin.
The Damnonii and the Dumnonii
The Greek-Egyptian geographer Claudius Ptolemy (c.90â€“c. 168AD) mentions in his Geographia a tribe called the Damnonii (or Damnii) living in the Strathclyde area. Ptolemy also mentions the Dumnonii (or Dumnones), a tribe living in Dumnonia - Cornwall, Devon and a part of Somerset. Ptolemy is the earliest writer mentioning these two tribes. I find it fascinating that the two names - Damnonii / Dumnonii - are so similar, and that these two tribes were in the Clyde Valley and Cornwall. Could they be the settlers written about in the Book of the Sons of Fire?
One more speculation. On the south bank of the Clyde and south of Glasgow Airport is a town called Paisley, famed for its 19th-century shawl-weaving. The name â€˜Paisleyâ€™ comes from the Gaelic - but where, I ask myself, does the Gaelic name come from? In Chapter 5 of the Sons of Fire it says:
When Hoskiah was past three score years of age he sent to Pelasi for the remnants of the Children of Light. None of them came, for they said it was not meet for them to journey to the edge of the Earth to dwell among barbarians.
If the Sons of Fire/Children of Light settled in this area, might they have named a settlement after their place of origin, just as towns all over America have been named after their settlersâ€™ origins (e.g. Cambridge, Massachusetts)? Could Paisley (which is also called Paslei / Paysla / Pasle on old maps) be a Celtic version of Pelasi, the original home of the Sons of Fire?