The ‘Fifth Branch’ of the Mabinogion & Some Plagiarizing Pagans

In 2008, an English academic who works with ancient and modern Celtic languages created “a piece of Iolosim,” in other words, a pseudo-ancient tale in the spirit of the Welsh literary forger and Druid revivalist Iolo Morganwg.

Written in Middle Welsh and “translated” into English, it purports to be a hitherto-unknown section of the Mabinogion, a famous collection of medieval Welsh tales with possibly older roots.

Imagine his surprise when he finds the whole thing—uncredited, of course—on a website devoted to “Keltic mysteries” and the revival of ancient Welsh Paganism, or some approximation thereof.

The ancient ‘Legend of Amaethon Uab Don’ quoted here as evidence for this mystic cosmological bollocks was penned over a month or so by yours truly, c. 2008, while glugging back the diet coke in Jesus College Oxford computer room. The website of this bunch of chumps not only has copied my entire text (in English and Middle Welsh), but also begins with a long and pompous screed about how wicked it is to steal other people’s material.

Anyone who read the “Fifth Branch’s” introduction carefully would have seen some signals that it was bogus—there is no “Judas College” at Oxford University, for one thing—but who reads carefully on the Internet when they are busy cutting and pasting?

11 thoughts on “The ‘Fifth Branch’ of the Mabinogion & Some Plagiarizing Pagans

  1. Pitch313

    I suspect that credulity may be easily overwhelmed by the awesome powers of the search engine and the one thing in many places abilities of the copy-paste function. A sort of sleight of teh Internetz.

    Especially in cases in which folks are looking for something to believe in–as compared to, say, something that may reliably be known.

    Besides, as many a comix fan knows, an homage in the style of is merely kinda sorta poaching–when it adds to or affirms the story line or adds punch! [BAMF!] to the panel constellation…

    (My Paganism according mostly to the best available scholarly evidence side is wrestling with my Pagans have more fun side…And LOL! I maybe don’t quite wanta take sides…)

  2. One lady named Ann left a message in the Kaer Dathyl guest book, pointing out the originator of the Amaethon tale and of my plagiarizing the text on my website. Here is the answer I left for Ann in the guest book:-

    My dear, dear Ann,

    Thank you for signing my guest book, pointing out the origin of the tale of Amaethon, well-written by one Charles S. Clifton, had been plagiarised by me. O! mea culpa, mea culpa. mea maxima culpa.

    I note too on the website you quote how this schmuck admits to the composition, emitting puerile “ya boos” to we whom he assumed thought the text was of great antiquity.

    The concoction was so evident that if you read the Welsh version on my site and put out a search for the word “baw”, you will find it appears in paragraph 2, 4, 9, and the terminal one – all of my insertion.

    Oh! the meaning of “baw” you may ask?
    It means “shite”, dear lady – “SHITE”!

    Have a nice day………….


    1. Read carefully. I did not write the “Fifth Branch,” but I linked to the blog of the fellow of Lincoln College who did. And you swallowed it as something ancient and “Keltic” and full of esoteric wisdom — after attacking other people for plagiarism.

      What lesson might be learned from this?

    2. Lee

      Come on now, are we really to believe the whole “we were trying to flush out the true author” nonsense?

      Of course not, because anyone with any integrity would merely have posted the source of the text and the main on-line source lists the author by name.

      you have been caught out, have the decency to admit it.

  3. Mark

    Thanks for this Chas! The fellow’s changed his website now—claiming putting up my work without attribution was all along an attempt to ‘flush me out’ as the author (Newsflash: MY NAME IS ON THE TEXT AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN). He then gives a series of errors in my Middle Welsh—none of which are errors. (There *are* some mistakes in there, but he’s not spotted any of the actual ones.) In particular, I rather like the way I am accused of using the ‘wrong’ Middle Welsh word for sword, ‘cledyf’…a word which occurs in the first branch, lines 128 and 528, in the second branch in 419 and 42, etc, etc.

    But perhaps I faked them too.

    Thanks for drawing this to wider attention: amusing to see the track-covering and spluttering!

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