William Sinclair Manson

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Scottish Battles / Writings · 9 November 2023

Scottish Battles. (Raith).

The Battle of Raith was the theory of E. W. B. Nicholson, librarian at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. He was aware of the poem Y Gododdin in the Book of Aneirin and was aware that no-one had identified the location “Catraeth“. He parsed the name as “cat” Gaelic for battle or fight, and “Raeth” and he recalled that there was a place in Scotland called Raith.

Nicholson’s claim was that this battle was fought in 596 AD to the west of present-day Kirkcaldy. An invading force of Angles landed on the Fife coast near Raith and defeated an alliance of ScotsBritons and Picts under King Áedán mac Gabráin of Dál Riata.

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This was an attempt at identifying the location of the Battle of Catraeth. Today this is usually recognised instead as Catterick.

Nicholson’s proposition was given added circulation when it was included in the local history book “Kirkcaldy Burgh and Schyre”  by its editor and co-author Lachlan Macbean.

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