Uther Pendragon in Cumbria?
One of the few pieces of evidence that Uther Pendragon existed are in the legends of Cumbria which associate him with various folk tales, including the defeat of a dragon, but more concretely as the founder of Pendragon Castle, a very real ruin in the locality. These legends have been part of some current research I've been carrying out, and some curious material has emerged.
While Pendragon Castle was almost certainly built by Baron de Morville in Norman times, the association with Uther Pendragon has always been strong. Curiously there are references to a Roman fort in this area too but no remains have ever been found, apart from Roman coins on the castle site. Could the fort be under the castle I wonder? And if so could it have been reoccupied by a Celtic Warlord like Uther? Some regard Uther as purely a mythical character, and many of his stories suggest that, though like Arthur he is probably a legendary hybrid persona, drawn from many half forgotton sources. The claim he was Arthur's father comes from Welsh tales which talk of Arthur ap Uther, taken to mean Arthur son of Uther, or Arthur the Terrible or Awesome. If the latter Uther could just be a title for the 'terrible one' and not a name at all. Arthur and Uther might have even been the same person. Certainly some historians have suggested most of 'Arthur's battles' could have occured in Cumbria and neighbouring areas. And some could have been the victories of the real high king Urien of Rheged, a few decades after Arthur, who was curiously said in legend to have both been a descendent of Uther and the husband of Morgan le Fey!
Urien of Rheged was a real life 'Arthur-like' king who defeated the Northumbrian Anglo-Saxons, preserved British culture in the North for some time, until he was betrayed by an ally, and may have had the bard and magician Taliesin as an advisor. His son Owain was also a local king and features in the Arthurian tales as Sir Owain the knight.
A curious link in all this is that one of the greatest restorers and preservers of Pendragon Castle was Lady Clifford, of a family descended from the ancient Vipont family of Cumbria. The Vipont family were sent to the region by King John, but soon married into various local families including the Greystokes, an Anglo-Norse family given lands by Henry I after the representitives of William Rufus (the Morvilles and Taillebois) had been ousted, but much older. The Greystokes themselves were associated with the Arthurian mythos, as a Lady Emma Greystoke was said to have had an affair with one Sir Eglamore, a knight of Arthur,
who becomes the hermit guardian of a sacred waterfall (in which she drowns). The Greystokes did not really extend back to Arthurian times, but the connection is interesting, she is said to have been the ancestor of the Greystokes. Curiously there is another guardian of a sacred water feature in Cumbria, but this time a spring not a waterfall, the
similarly named Sir Esclados, who is the servant or consort of the lady of the spring, Laudine (sometimes said to be related to the lady of the lake). Esclados is defeated by Owain son of Urien, who marries Laudine. Both Owain in this story and Eglamore in the other legend briefly abandon their watery consorts, who both pine for them, and on return one is rejected, while the other loses his love in her favourite waterfall, both then become hermits due to this loss. It seems a basic tale lies behind both, somewhat jumbled in the telling, which archetypally is similar to the tale of the pining Freya and her wandering consort Od of Anglo-Norse myth. But it might also preserve a real history as well, if so Laudine would appear to be the same as Emma Greystokes, raising interesting genealogical legends.
My research here still continues however and further confirmations are required.