CATEL DURNLUC aka CADELL DDYRNLLWG
By Darrell Wolcott
Often called a Prince of Powys,
he first appears (as Catel durnluc) in an early 9th century (abt 820) "Life of St. Germanus" copied into his "Historia Brittonum"
by Ninnius. Some 160 years later, he was included in the Harleian Ms 3859 pedigrees as "Catel dunlurc" and "Catel map
Selemiaun". Citations in the 12th century "Bonedd y Saint", as copied by various 16th century men, render his nickname
as "deyrnlluc", deyrnllwydd", "dyrnlluc" and "dyrnllwch". Peter Bartrum appears to have favored "Ddyrnllug".
Bartrum would interpret it as
"gleaming hilt" since he claims the Welsh "dwrn" means "hilt" and "lluch" means "gleaming". Even if we were to agree
with both his translations (which we don't), one must first assume the words were badly misspelled and secondly assume his
guess as to the intended words is the best possible guess. We find another meaning of the nickname to be more
persuasive. The "Cadell" in Nennius, like the biblical verse found in Psalms 113, was "raised out of the dust and set
among princes"....an analogy the author used to describe a servant-boy who was elevated to kingship. Thus "deyrn", meaning
"king or monarch", coupled with "llwch" meaning "dust". (the Welsh word-ending "ch" is phonetically identical to the
word-endings "c" and "g", all three pronounced as a hard "k")
The historical Cadell, however, was neither
a humble servant of evil King Benlli nor did St. Germanus have any role in making him a king. The purpose of the tale
incorporated in the saint's Life was no more than standard hyperbole to make him look all-powerful; if Cadell was
not already the king of his tribe when St. Germanus visited Britain, it was only because his father was still alive.
His family ruled the lands between Chester and the Severn before Cadell expelled the Irish usurper from his Clwydian fort
and annexed the lands west of the Dee and east of the Clwyd to his adjacent kingdom. It is not known by what name his
kingdom was called in Cadell's lifetime; we think it was not called Powys until his tribe merged with another to his
south about AD 470. Cadell, born c. 380, would not have been alive that late. And we suspect his nickname "king raised
from the dust" was a much later invention by the author of the Nennius tale.
The early source which
calls Cadell "map Selemiaun" has never been explained. Other early pedigrees call his father either Cadeyrn/Catigern
or Pasgen. Perhaps a corrupted version of Celeinion or Selyfiawn, we suggest 'Selemiaun' was Cadell's mother and
that she was so well-known when the pedigree was drafted that it was thought unnecessary to further identify her.
Born c. 365, Cadell's mother might have been a daughter of Selyf of Llydaw, father of King Aldroen. Llydaw was
then the territory which lay west and north of the Dee....the northeastern part of today's Wales. During the lifetime
of Cadell and after the Roman legions departed, Irish squatters had moved into parts of Wales and we think Benlli led such
a group. About the year 430, Cadell attacked and burnt his fort (not fire from heaven called down by St. Germanus).
We suggest he may have been asked to do so, and assisted, by his mother's family into whose lands Benlli had settled.
Some early sources 
make Cadell the grandson of Vortigern by mistaking two same-named men. The "Cadeyrn ap Gwrtheyrn" often called the father
of Cadell was actually a paternal ancestor born c. 220. In the 4th following generation was another man named Cadeyrn
who probably WAS the father of Cadell. That group of early pedigrees  which make him "Cadell ap Pasgen ap Brydw ap
Rhuddfedel Frych ap Cadeyrn ap Gwrtheyrn" omit only "ap Cadeyrn" immediately following Cadell. Other early citations
DO say "Cadell ap Cadeyrn"  but mistake his father for the earlier Cadeyrn ap Gwrtheyrn. That Gwrtheyrn was born
c. 185 and was NOT the one called Vortigern. We suspect he was, however, the ancestor of Vortigern.
No ancestor of Vortigern earlier
than Gloyw Gwallt Hir of c. 280 is cited by any credible source.  We suspect Gloyw occurs in a cousin line of Cadell,
and would chart that family as:
185 Gwrtheyrn ap Rydeyrn
250 Rhuddfedel Frych
280 Gloyw Gwallt Hir
385 Gwrtheyrn (Vortigern) 380
With such a construction,
we now have Vortigern and Cadell as contemporaries. The dating of Vortigern is consistent with his being named "overking"
of Britain in 425 and dying as an old man around the year 450. And our dating of Cadell allows the Cadell of Nennius
to have been the father of 9 children in 429 when he met St. Germanus. No grandson of Vortigern could have had any
children that early, nor even have been born yet. But like his earlier same-named ancestor, Vortigern did name a son
Cadeyrn...just not the one who fathered Cadell.  Vortigern also named sons Brydw and Pasgen, names found in what
we think was a cousin line of the extended family.
A wholly different
Powys man named Cadell had been given the "dyrnllug" nickname in early pedigrees of Tudor Trefor.  The Cadell standing
atop those pedigrees was born c. 580 and we believe he was the "king Cadell" killed at the c. 613 Battle of Chester together
with Selyf ap Cynan Garwyn. That man was probably a younger brother of Powys king Selyf, and likely was Lord
of the lands where the battle occurred. One pedigree skips 200 years from this Cadell to the ancestors of the early
5th century Cadell.