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Votadini

From Academic Kids

The Votadini were people in the eastern half of the ancient British kingdom of the North which included the modern South of Scotland and North of England. The name is a Latin version of the Brythonic form of the name, Goutodin or Gododdin, which refers to both the people and to the region.

Their territory lay south of the Firth of Forth and extended from the Stirling area down to the River Tyne, including at its peak what are now the Lothian and Borders regions of eastern Scotland, and Northumberland in north east England. The boundaries with other tribes are uncertain, and those living around Stirling were known as the Manaw Gododdin.

The area was settled as early as 3000 BC, and offerings of that period imported from Cumbria and Wales left on the sacred hilltop at Cairnpapple Hill, West Lothian, show that by then there was a link with these areas. By around 1500 BC Traprain Law, East Lothian was already a place of burial, with evidence of occupation and signs of ramparts after 1000 BC. Excavation at Edinburgh Castle found late Bronze Age material from about 850 BC.

Brythonic Celtic culture and language spread into the area at some time after the 8th century BC, possibly through cultural contact rather than mass invasion, and systems of kingdoms developed. Numerous hillforts and settlements support the image of quarrelsome tribes and petty kingdoms recorded by the Romans, though evidence that at times occupants neglected the defences might suggest that symbolic power was sometimes as significant as warfare.

In the 1st century the Romans recorded the Votadini as a British tribe. Between 138-162 they came under direct Roman rule as occupants of the region between Hadrian's and the Antonine Walls. Then when the Romans drew back to Hadrian's Wall the Votadini became a friendly "buffer state", getting the rewards of alliance with Rome without being under its rule, until about 400 when the Romans withdrew from Britain. Quantities of Roman goods found at Traprain Law, East Lothian might suggest that this proved profitable, though this is open to speculation.

Since the 3rd century Roman Britain had been divided into provinces, and in the last reorganisation a fifth province called Valentia was created, which included the Votadini territory. In the wake of Roman withdrawal around 400 Coel Hen (Old King Cole), who Kessler suggests may have been the last of the Roman Duces Brittanniarum (Dukes of the Britons), took over the northern capital at Eburacum (York) and became High King of Northern Britain ruling over what had been the northern provinces. After his death the North began to divide, and by about 470 most Votadini lands became the separate kingdom of Gododdin, while the southern Votadini territory between the River Tweed and the River Tyne formed its own separate kingdom called Brynaich.

Gododdin's capital was probably the Traprain Law hill fort in East Lothian until that was abandoned in the early 400s, then it moved to Din Eidyn (Edinburgh Castle).

Both kingdoms came under attack from the Angles, a story vividly told in the poem Y Gododdin, and by the mid 7th century Gododdin came under Angle rule. To what extent the native population was replaced is unknown.

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