THE SEVERN SEA
It was a matter of navigation and of a sea-and-river-intercourse , easier in its way than travel through inland forests and less perilous.
That road or highway, possibly of Roman origin, linking Dumnonia and its northern parts together, leading from
Bristol (and Bath) westward to Uxella or Axbridge, Brent and so to Cynwith or Comwith passage on the Parret was first
constructed with a strategic and maritime purpose. It was
the trunk road of ancient Dumnonia for all purposes. It
helped the pilgrim also on his way to Glaston and was connected with all land routes and especially with the sea routes
across Severn. Glaston also had its river anchorages, its
canals and moorland boats (batelli) and river craft. The tidal
wave swept humble currough or larger barge and vessel up to its
If we adopt Sir Charles Elton’s definitions of ancient Siluria1
and infer that it meant a block of Wales including Glamorgan
and Hereford, as well as Monmouth, it will be seen that the
Dumnonii must have been found some distance up the Severn.
Hath and Bristol (Bristowa, the town of the British) ; both
with churches dedicated to St. Michael, would have been
occupied by them. Gildas, our oldest historian, who knew
the Severn well, mentions a certain “ King of Dumnonia ”
Constantine by name (Dumnoniae tyrannus), as apart from
Vortipore, King of Demetia which we assume to mean geographically, South Wales and not simply Pembroke. The
name of Constantine, it may be noted, introduces early
Christian association (300-400). To-day there is a Cornish
parish near Falmouth called Constantine where it is said
a lthough the rumour cannot be substantiated) silver coins
of Arthur were found near the church.2 Constantine, also,
1 Elton’s “ Origins of English History,” p. 141.
2 Lewis’ “ Topographical Dictionary,” vol. i, p. 509.