Lot Luwddoc, King of Gododdin

Who was King Lot?

Lot Luwddoc (of the Host) is the famous king of legend who married Anna-Morgause, the half-sister of the great King Arthur, and became father of Gawain. The Brut y Brenhinedd – the Welsh translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain – confuses him with Llew ap Cynfarch, brother of Urien Rheged, another powerful king in Northern Britain. Lot, however, had a more obscure ancestry descending ultimately from Caradog, the pre-Roman King of the Catuvellauni tribe, who was taken as a captive to Rome in AD 43.

In Welsh tradition, the father of Gawain is called Gwyar, a confused name sometimes, mistakenly, thought to refer to Lot’s wife. It seems to have been some kind of heroic title meaning ‘Blood’.

King Lot of Orkney was not painted in much of a positive light in the early manuscripts or even in later Arthurian Romances.

Lot ruled Gododdin, in Northern Britain, from his capital at Trapain Law, near Haddington (Lothian), where a post-Roman booty, possibly from his treasury, has been uncovered; but he was also said to have held court at Din Eityn (the Castle Rock in Edinburgh). His kingdom eventually became known as Lothian in his honour. Geoffrey of Monmouth also makes him disputed heir of Norway, presumably through his mother.

In his early years, at least, Lot was a pagan and hagiographic tradition does not portray him in a very positive light. It is said he was so incensed by the shame, brought about by his unmarried daughter’s pregnancy, that he had her thrown off a cliff!

Arthurian Romance also treats him poorly. When King Uther fell ill, Lot was entrusted with the command of the British armies in their struggle against the Saxons. Upon Uther’s death, however, Arthur was revealed as his heir, and Lot initially rebelled against this new King. He was defeated at the Battle of Bedegraine. Later, having discovered Arthur’s affair with his wife, Lot joined a second insurrection in which he was killed by King Pellinore of Listinoire during the Battle of Terrabil. He is traditionally said to have been buried at Dunpender Law in East Lothian.