Joseph of Arimathe'a voyage in the Britain Book, chapter 1 - REVISED 18.4.15

The Kolbrin, The Britain Book, Chapter One, 7
I have tried to crack the route of Joseph’s voyage in the following paragraph, with my reasoning below it. Please bear in mind that, allegedly, The Kolbrin was translated several times over the centuries before it ended up in modern English, so names would necessarily have become a bit skewed.

‘In the Books of Britain it is written: Illyid [Joseph of Arimathea] came seaborne in a ship of Tarsis [Tartessos on the Spanish peninsula] from across the sea of Wicta [Sea of Vectis], setting up at Rafinia [Richborough, Kent] in the land of the Wains [land of the Celtic chariots]. From thence to the river Tarant [River Trent] which flows between the Kingdom of Albany and the Kingdom of Kori [Cornwall], Albany being the land between the Isen [iron-working area to the east] and the Ikta [tin-working area to the west]. Passing Ivern [Charmouth] and Insels [Looe Island] south of the Kathebelon [?] and then past Dinsolin [St Michael’s Mount] to take water at the town where ships traded standing at the foot of the red cliff between the two white ones [Cligga Head, Perranporth], around the extreme of the world to the northern Ikta [Caerleon] in Siluria. Here, they were unwelcome, but were permitted to take water and wood and to trade for meat and grain. Sailing thence towards the rising sun, they came to the place beyond Sabrin [River Severn] called Summerland [Somerset].’

My reasoning:
Joseph of Arimathea was a rich and powerful man working for the Romans and is described in the Vulgate as Nobilis Decurio - ‘Minister for Mines’. From earlier voyages to Britain he would have been utterly familiar with areas of Britain where Phoenician/Roman iron, tin, lead, salt, shale mines and trading posts were situated. It seems logical that his post-Crucifixion voyage to Britain would have taken in some of these places round the south-west coast with his companions on their search for refuge, eventually ending up at what The Kolbrin calls the ‘Isle of Departure’ [Glastonbury]. The places mentioned would include what Joseph of Arimathea would know as a seasoned seaman-trader and what he could see from a boat hugging the coastline.

In ancient Welsh writing, Joseph of Arimathea is known as ‘Illid’. The subsequent story in The Britain Book makes it clear that Illyid is Joseph of Arimathea, although he is not called this until later in the book when he written about by a different writer.

Tartessos, on the Iberian peninsula, is mentioned in many ancient writings including the Bible (‘Tarshish’).

Sea of Wicta
Vectis Insula / Isle of Wight. This was a strategic island for the Romans, and the area between it and mainland Britain was known as the Sea of Wicta. Now we call it the Solent.

Rutupiae (now Richborough), Kent was a major Roman fort/port at the time when Joseph would have landed. If the Romans’ Sea of Wicta stretched round to include what we now call the English Channel, then Rutupiae/Richborough is likely to be where Joseph landed.

The Sonnini Manuscript, translated by C. S. Sonnini from an original Greek manuscript found in the Archives at Constantinople, contains the account of Paul’s journey to Spain and Britain and is thought to be the concluding portion of the Acts of the Apostles. It says:
"And they departed out of Spain, and Paul and his company finding a ship in Armorica sailing into Britain, they went therein and passing along the south coast, they reached a port called Raphinus. And on the morrow he came and stood on Mount Lud; and the people thronged at the gate, and assembled in the Broadway, and he preached Christ unto them.’

Totnes in Devon is suggested, in Rivet/Smith’s The Place Names of Roman Britain, as possibly being Rafinia, since the Romans called the River Dart ‘Ardua Ravenatone’. But Paul could not feasibly have travelled from Totnes to Ludgate Hill by ‘the morrow’; also, tradition has it that in Saxon times there still stood in Sandwich an old house called the “House of the Apostles”.

Land of the Wains
The word ‘wain’ means a load-carrying vehicle or a Celtic cart. (It’s still called a ‘wain’ in Constable’s painting The Haywain). The land in which Joseph landed might be described as the land of the Celtic chariots, since Britain was famous for their war chariots (Boudicca etc).

River Tarant
This could refer to the River Trent, which is now a tributary of the River Stour in Dorset. Once the whole length of the river could have been called the River Tarant.

Kingdom of Albany
Anglicised form of ‘Albion’, the oldest name for the island of Great Britain. Elsewhere in the Kolbrin it says, ‘In the South, below the white lands of Albany, there were marshes.’

Kingdom of Korin
‘Korin’ was the homeland of the Cornovii during the Iron Age, Roman and post-Roman periods. It sounds similar to the old Cornish name for Cornwall, Kernow.

The Isen
The OED defines ‘isen’ as an obsolete variant of ‘iron’. The Romans had vast iron works in the Weald of Kent.

The Ikta
Ictis/Iktin was an island tin-trading centre mentioned in Diodorus Siculus’ Bibliotheca Historica.
The Kolbrin seems to be saying, ‘Albany being the land between iron-working Britain and tin-working Britain’.

In the 7th-century Ravenna Cosmography, written by an unknown monk at the Monastery of Ravenna and listing all the towns and road-stations throughout the Roman empire, a place called ‘Ivernalis’ or just ‘Vernalis’ is listed among what are thought to be West Country names. Someone has suggested ‘Cernelis, Ivernelis? Vicinity of Charmouth, Dorset?’ I have found a village of Iwerne Courtney and what was once the Iwerne Stream in the county of Dorset. The Charmouth cliffs are a landmark along this length of coast.

In the map room of St Michael’s Mount, a 1585 map marks Looe Island as ‘St George’s Insul’, ditto a 1741 map in Truro Museum’s map files. Looe is known to have been an ancient trading island, so it may well have been referred to simply as ‘Insels’.

Later in The Britain Book it says: ‘The master was born under the sign of the Churlswain, at Dinsolin, called Insel by the Sons of Fire, in the year that the warwolves drove back the Children of the Horse.’ This suggests that St Michael’s Mount was also called Insel. However, St Michael’s Mount is called ‘Dinsolin’ further on in Joseph’s voyage, so Insels must be a place he passes earlier on.

South of the Kathebelon
What could the Kathebelon be? Saying that Joseph went south of it suggests that he could equally well have gone north.

  1. Could it be an old name for the great waterway of Carrick Roads?

  2. Could it be the Bulwark, a massive Iron Age earthwork nearly 666m long and over 6m high, which once enclosed the headland across the sound from Falmouth Harbour? The Bulwark once housed a series of buildings forming a promontory fort or cliff castle.

The ‘belon’ part of Kathebelon has ‘bel’ in it - see Diodorus Siculus below. Bel has a connection with Bel/Baal-worship. In another part of The Kolbrin, the legend of Kori and the giant is told in another form, set in a place called Belharia, which must be an ancient name for Cornwall. The Kolbrin states that the giants who lived there built the great temples. All over Europe the name ‘Bel’ is associated with legends of giants.

Din-sol or ‘Castle of the Sun’ was an ancient name for St Michael’s Mount in Mount’s Bay. Once a tin-port, it is now a tourist destination – a castle-topped hill cut off from the mainland at high tide. West of St Michael’s Mount are the fishing towns and villages of Marazion, Penzance, Newlyn, Mousehole and Lamorna.

St Michael’s Mount is called ‘Din Sol’ in the Book of Llandaf and ‘Dinsol’ in the Mabinogion, Thomas Taylor writes in St Michael’s Mount (CUP 1932). A manuscript of late twelfth-century date [Cott. MS, Vesp. A, xiv], referring to a saint who is supposed to have lived in the sixth century, states that St Michael’s Mount was distinguished 'and called, in the language of that province, Dinsol.’

In Roman times St Michael’s Mount was called ‘Iktis’. The Sicilian-Romano historian Diodorus Siculus wrote: ‘The inhabitants of that part of Britain which is called Belerion are very fond of strangers and from their intercourse with foreign merchants are civilized in their manner of life. They prepare the tin … beat the metal into masses shaped like knuckle-bones and carry it off to a certain island off Britain called Iktis. During the ebb of the tide the intervening space is left dry and they carry over to the island the tin in abundance in their wagons … Here then the merchants buy the tin from the natives and carry it over to Gaul…’

Mike Buttery, in his book Mousehole: a documented history (Palores, 2012) confirms Diodorus Siculus’ observations:
‘Satellite pictures taken in the 1970s clearly show all the old “tinners’ tracks” converging at Marazion from as far away as Newquay. These old tracks cut straight through what are now towns, villages, farms, buildings etc. and the A30 from Hayle to the Marazion roundabout is built on top of an old tinners’ track. These old tracks must have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years, to have packed down hard enough to alter the water content in the ground and so be visible to satellite photography after all this time. These photographs can be seen in Penzance reference library.’

To take water at the town where ships traded, standing at the foot of the red cliff between the two white ones
I am indebted to the Rev.Peter Scothern’s Youtube/DVD ‘Did Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea come to Britain?’(KCTV Media). He says that according to legend, Joseph of Arimathea took on fresh water in the Padstow area of north Cornwall at a place called Jesus’ Well. This is the small stone structure still standing in a corner of Holywell Golf Course near Newquay, but it is not mentioned in The Kolbrin. However, his comment prompted me to hunt along the north coast of Cornwall, assuming that he sailed up round the coast from St Michael’s Bay.

Lo and behold, there at Cligga Head, between Perranporth and Padstow, stands a red cliff between two white ones! At Cligga Head the cliffs rise to a height of 91 metres. Cligga is derived from the Cornish word “cegar” meaning cliff. One author mentions in 1890 that ‘the exploitation at Cligga goes back to a distant past. Mining may be at least 2000 years old.’ As can be seen from the photographs, there has been an enormous amount of mining/erosion, and any town that once would have stood at the base of the cliffs is now covered by sea. The area has many fresh water valley streams running into the sea which can be seen at low tide.,Cligga-Colours,_MG_6958_200407.jpg

Further up the north Cornish coast between Padstow and Newquay are the remains of Redcliff Castle, dating back to the Iron Age. So much of the castle and cliff have broken off and eroded by sea, there is no sign of a red cliff between two white cliffs - just the name ‘Redcliff’.

Northern Ikta in Siluria
Isca Augusta (or Isca Silurum) was a Roman legionary fortress and settlement. Its remains lie beneath the present-day village of Caerleon on the northern outskirts of Newport. The Romans mined lead and iron in the Caerleon area. The Romans called Caerleon ‘Ikta’. The images below show a 2,000-year-old freshwater well on a Roman foundation, the ancient slipway, wharf and quay (the Romans built their own quay elsewhere), and the last of the nine trading commons, Goldcroft Common.

Sabrina is the Roman name for the Rivern Severn.

This is Sumersaet/Somerset, pictured during the 2014 flooding when once again it was surrounded by water.

Your reasoning is sound, awesome research vonbath :slight_smile: