Edward Hunt's Forest of Dean Miscellany

Fact, Fiction and Fantasy


Edern ap Nudd


The Forest of Dean is a place of natural beauty and poetry as well as mystery and magic. It is the home of beasts and fairies, men and elves. All these elements make up the warp and weft of Forest history. Nature and Supernature combine to create this multi-dimensional environment only equalled for diversity within the environs of London Town.

Many have come here with a lust for land and domination but none could subdue the spirit of freedom and equality permeating the very air itself and coursing through the bodies of these unique and enchanted beings. They had come from far and near with grim faces and hard hearts but very soon the would-be invader was enchanted, tamed and absorbed and had become indistinguishable form his fellows, adding to and enhancing the whole.

Every atom of every molecule of every breath you take in the Forest has filled the lungs, or wafted through the hair, or blown the fires, or cooled the blood of a thousand Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans who have walked these trails; have lived their lives from birth to death under this green mantle; and drenched the earth with their tears, their blood and their sweat.

Within these woods many characters of legend and myth have breathed and walked. Many more have lived and died unknown: their deeds half-remembered or mingled in the fairy stories and rhymes that parents and grandparents tell their children or the tales that old men share in front of roaring fires to while away the long winter nights. But the stones and rocks never forget: they record every moment, every emotion and every passion, and hold it in their vibrating hearts forever.

…and none of these heroes is more intimately entwined in the gold-threaded tapestry that is the chronicle of these islands than Arthur.

Between the departure of the Romans and the domination of the Anglo-Saxons, Arthur was born: Son of King Uther Pendragon and Lady Igraine.

Arthur was brought to the Forest of Dean by Merlin to protect him from the sorceress Morgana le Fay. Merlin carried the baby Arthur to the cave now bearing his name: King Arthur's Cave, on the Little Doward near Symond's Yat.

The Hill Fort on the summit of the Little Doward was not friendly and had once been used by Vortigern himself. They little knew that below them, softly gurgling in his whicker basket, was Arthur.

The cave was well hidden below the Hill fort. Merlin's next task was to find a family to bring up the boy Arthur.

The woods were more extensive then and covered all the land between the Severn and the Wye.

As he watched the blacksmith hammering a horse's shoe or fashioning the blade of a sword, neither knew anything of his lofty birth nor could guess at his illustrious future.

Arthur would run with the deer and climb with the polecats and pine martens. He became fast and agile on the ground and in the trees. He respected the animals and they him.

A fraction of the blood that ran in his veins was from his faerie forefathers, so he was aware of the elven folk that inhabited the Forest and understood their ways. Sometimes, he was allowed to cross that gossamer web that separated the two folk that inhabited the Forest, and live amongst them for a while.

"But, how do you know all these things?" you ask.

I was there! I saw it all!

Yes. I, Edward Hunt, son of a poor miner, was there!

I cannot explain why I was chosen, but one night as I lay in my cot thinking of nothing much but pigs and acorns and Christmas, I was visited by Merlin.

Merlin had been imprisoned in a hawthorn bush by Nimue, with whom he had fallen in love. He had foreseen this happening but his love for Nimue was too strong and he had allowed himself to be duped. She stole his magic and used his own spells to lock him away.

But Merlin had a mission and a passion that was even stronger than his love for Nimue or the spell that she had put on him.

When Merlin appeared by my cot, I recognized him immediately.

"Follow me, Edern. You have things to do. Your name will become legend, but I there are several things you must do first."

"But why me?" I asked.

"You will understand."

"But my family - should I wake them and tell them?"

"They will not know you have gone. You will live two lifetimes while they sleep."

"Edern, son of Nudd, swiftly now. No more questions. Follow!"

. . . and I followed.

As I ran after his long strides (his feet never seemed to touch the ground), it dawned on me that he had called me Edern. Was this a case of mistaken identity?

"I am Edern ap Nudd!" I heard myself say in a strange voice as the brambles ripped my pyjamas to shreds.

Edern ap Nudd by Edward Hunt (2013)

Edward Hunt