Lothian is the name of a region in modern, south-eastern Scotland, during its early period covering not only the present districts of East Lothian, Midlothian, City of Edinburgh, and West Lothian, but also the district of the Scottish Borders, that is the land extending from the Firth of Forth south to the River Tweed.

It is known in Welsh as Lleuddiniawn, and in early English as Loþen or Loðen. In the French language, there is (and was) no phoneme correponding to [ð], and as a result, the normal French name for the region was Loenois, the -ois ending corresponding approximately to modern English -ish. The name appears sometimes as Leonois, which is also to be understood as referring to the district of Léon in Little Britain. The Latin form of the name is Lodonesia or Leudonia.

The name has no known meaning, but tradition tells that it was named after its first king, Lot or Leudon.


Ptolemy, in his Geographia records the people known as to Votadini as living in this area, and their kingdom appears medieval Welsh texts as Guotodin or Gododdin. Their main city was probably the Traprain Law Hill_fort hill fort in East Lothian], until that was abandoned in the early 400s, moving to Din Eidyn (Edinburgh).

The Historia Brittonum relates (as translated by Giles):

Cunedda, with his twelve sons, had come before to Gwenydd from the left-hand part, i.e. from the country which is called Manau Gustodin, one hundred and forty-six years before Malicun reigned, and expelled the Scots with much slaughter from those countries, and they never returned again to inhabit them.

Other Welsh sources name Cunedda’s supposed grandson, King Maelgwn of Gwenydd, as a contemporary of Gildas.

The medieval Welsh poem Y Goddodin tells of the defeat of the forces of Goddodin by the Angles about the year 600 when Mynyddog Mwynfawr was King of Goddodin. However Mynyddog does not appear in any Welsh genealogies or other historical source and so may be a surname.

Arthurian TalesEdit

King Loth is often mentioned as King of “Loenois” in French romances. A fortress in “Loenois” is named “Orcanie”. Loth is sometimes said to be King of Lothian (Loenois/Leonois) and Orcanie. He is more often said to be King of Orcanie with no mention made of Lothian (Loenois/Leonois).

In the Vulgate Merlin, King Loth is said to be King of Lothian (Loenois) and part of Orcanie.

One might imagine that Orcanie is both a fortress and the land around it.

In stories about Tristan, Tristan is usually said to be from “Loenois/Leonois” and the son of its king. In the Post-Vulgate romances, this Loenois/Leonois is placed in Little Britain, and seemingly corresponds to the territory of Léon next to Cornouaille in Little Britain (which does not mean that it may not have earlier been understood as Lothian). In the Post-Vulgate romances King Loth’s territory, when mentioned, is always Orcanie alone, never Loenois or any similar form.

In the romance of Fergus, Lothian, here clearly indicated by geography as well as by name, is ruled by a young queen named Galiene, the niece of the Lord of Liddel, her unnamed father having died and left Lothian to her. She marries Fergus, whom she loves, at Arthur’s request and Fergus so becomes King of Lothian. Gawain is often present in this romance but the author does not deal with any connection between Gawain and Lothian.

Some Name VariationsEdit

The following variations only apply to King Loth’s kingdom or to occurrences that definitely mean Lothian. For references to Tristan’s homeland, see Leonois (Tristan).

LATIN: Lodonesia, Leudonia; FRENCH: Loënoi(s), Lodien, Lodian, Lodiien, Leonois, Loenois, Leonis, Loonois, Leonoys, Leoneys; ENGLISH: Loþen, Loðen, Leones, Loeneis, Leonæis, Loenæis, Leoneis, Leoneys, Lyoneis, Leonis, Lyonais, Leonys, Loonois; WELSH: Lleuddiniawn, Lluydauc.

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