Branwen uerch Lyr.








The comments are those of Joseph Loth, from his 1913 translation





BENDIGEIDURAN uab Llyr, a oed urenhin coronawc ar yr ynys hon, ac ardyrchawc o goron Lundein.



BENDIGEID FRAN**, the son of Llyr***, was the crowned king of this island, and he was exalted from the crown of London.



YK’s note: Lady Guest translates bonclust, below, and paluawt, later, by blow on the ear”, “blow” while Loth translates them by ‘slap on the face’ (French: soufflet). Since I am translating Loth’s notes, I keep here ‘slap on the face’ instead of ‘blow’.


*The Triads tell of three slaps on the face caused by anger: the one Irish Matholwch gave to Branwen; Gwenhwyvach’s to Arthur’s wife Gwenhwyvar, which led to the Camlan battle; the one that Golyddan Vardd, the bard, gave to Cadwaladyr the Blessed (Triads Mabin., p. 301, I. 16; Triad 51, Myv. arch., p. 392 tells us that Arthur gave that third slap to Medrawt).

A poet of the end of XIVth century, Yr Iustus Llwyd, alludes to the weddings of Branwen (Myv. arch., p. 367, col. 2).

Dafydd ab Gwilym compares the complexion of one of its mistresses with Bronwen’s, daughter of Llyr.

Lady Guest says that, according to the Cambro-briton, II, p. 71,1821, a funeral urn containing ashes and bones was discovered under a tumulus, in 1813, on the shore of the Alaw, in Anglesey, in a place called Ynys Bronwen, or the island of Bronwen.


**According to the Triads, Bran the Blessed was so named because he brought the Christian faith to Kymry (Wales), from Rome where he spent seven years as a hostage with his son Caradawc (Caratacos). He was caught by the Romans because Aregwedd Voeddawg’s treason.

The two others inspired and blessed ones are: Lleirwg ab Coel ab Cyllin, called Lleuver mawr, great light, who built the first church in Llandaff, and Cadwaladr the Blessed, who granted refuge and protection on his lands to the Christians fleeing the Saxons (Myv. arch., p. 401, 35).

This last one, together with Prydain ab Aedd Mawr, and Dyfnwal Moelmut, is counted among the three founders and legislators of the kingdom of Brittany (ibid; p. 404, 36). The Mabinogi of Branwen, later, shows him giving the order that his own head would be cut off, and hidden in the White Hill, in London.

The Triads say that it was one of the three good hiding-places, together with Gwerthevyr’s bones (ref. to Nennius, Hist., 47; also Gaufrei of Monmouth, Hist., VI, 14) hidden in the main harbours of the island, and the dragons hidden by Lludd at Dinas Emreis (see Mab. of Lludd and Llevelys).

When it was discovered, it was one of three bad discoveries. Since no invasion was supposed to be possible as long as it remained hidden. Arthur unearthed it (the head), because he wanted his worthiness to be the only defense of the island : Gwrtheyrn, for his love of Hengist’s daughter, unearthed the dragons and the bones of Gwerthevyr (Triads Mabinog., p. 300).


One of the three great families of saints was founded by Bran. The two other ones are Cunedda and Brychan (Rees, Welsh saints, p. 77).


The name Bran is often found in poetry (Black Book, ap. Skene, Four anc. books, p. 55: in the dialogue of Gwyn ab Nudd and Guiddnev, one of the speakers says that he has been where Bran was killed). Taliesin claims that he was with Bran in Iwerddon, and that he witnessed the killing of Morddwyd Tyllon, (Skene, 154, 27); Llywarch ab Llywelyn, a XIIth century poet, compares Gruffudd ab Cynan to Bran, son of Llyr, (Myv. arch., p. 205, column 1). Bran, raven, is an extremely usual name among all Celts (seven or eight Brans are found and derived names in Cartul. of Redon).


*** Llyr Lledieith, or ‘with the half-language’, or ‘with a half foreign language’, is a character who occurs frequently. According to the Triads (Mab., II, p. 306, 9), he is one of the three principal prisoners of the island of Brittany (see Kulhwch, and Olwen, note to Mabon, son of Modron). He is said to have been put ot jail with his family by Euroswydd and the Romans.

Several different Llyr are known: Llyr Lledieith, Llyr Merini, and finally Llyr, son of Bleidyt, made popular by Gaufrei of Monmouth, especially due to the history of his daughters Gonorilla, Regan and Cordelia (Hist., II, 11; Brut. Tysilio, Myv. Arch. p. 440 and foll.). The history of the children of Lir is one of the three painful stories among Irishmen (O' Curry. On the manners, II, p. 325).

Llyr, in Gaelic as in Britonnic, means floods, sea. Was he a Celtic Neptune? The passage referred to above, from the Black Book, tends to confirm this hypothesis: “Bran, son of Y Werydd, of great glory” Y Werydd means the Ocean, and seems to apply more especially to Saint-Georges channel.



A frynhawngueith yd oed yn Hardlech yn Ardudwy, yn llys idaw. Ac yn eisted yd oedynt ar garrec Hardlech, uch penn y weilgi, a Manawydan uab Llyr y urawt y gyt ac ef, a deu uroder un uam ac ef, Nissyen, ac Efnyssyen, a guyrda y am hynny, mal y gwedei ynghylch brenhin.


And one afternoon he was at Harlech* in Ardudwy**, at his Court, and he sat upon the rock of Harlech, looking over the sea. And with him were his brother Manawyddan the son of Llyr, and his brothers by the mother's side, Nissyen and Evnissyen, and many nobles likewise, as was fitting to see around a king.



*Harddlech, today Harllech, on the Merionethshire coast. According to Lady Guest, Harlech is also named Twr Bronwen, or Bronwen tower.


** Ardudwy was a cymwd belonging to the cantrev of Dinodic in Arvon (Myv. arch., p. 735).



Y deu uroder un uam ac ef, meibon oedyn y Eurosswyd o'e uam ynteu Penardun, uerch Ueli uab Mynogan. A'r neill o'r gueisson hynny, gwas da oed ; ef a barei tangneued y rwg y deu lu, ban uydynt lidyawcaf; sef oed hwnnw Nissyen. Y llall a barei ymlad y rwng y deu uroder, ban uei uwyaf yd ymgerynt.



Ac ual yd oedynt yn eisted yuelly, wynt a welynt teir llong ar dec, yn dyuot o deheu Iwerdon, ac yn kyrchu parth ac attunt, a cherdet rugyl ebrwyd ganthunt : y gwynt yn eu hol, ac yn nessau yn ebrwyd attunt.


“Mi a welaf longeu racco,” heb y brenhin, “ac yn dyuot yn hy parth a’r tir. Ac erchwch y wyr y llys wiscaw amdanunt, a mynet y edrych pa uedwl yw yr eidunt.”

Y gwyr a wiscawd amdanunt ac a nessayssant attunt y wayret. Gwedy guelet y llongeu o agos, diheu oed ganthunt na welsynt eiryoet llongeu gyweirach eu hansawd noc wy. Arwydon tec, guedus, arwreid o bali oed arnunt.

Ac ar hynny, nachaf un o'r llongeu yn raculaenu rac y rei ereill, ac y guelynt dyrchauael taryan, yn uch no bwrd y llong, a swch y taryan y uynyd yn arwyd tangneued.


Ac y nessawys y gwyr attunt, ual yd ymglywynt ymdidan:

His two brothers by the mother's side were the sons of Eurosswydd*, by his mother, Penardun, the daughter of Beli son of Manogan**. And one of these youths was a good youth and of gentle nature, and would make peace between his kindred, and cause his family to be friends when their wrath was at the highest; and this one was Nissyen; but the other would cause strife between his two brothers when they were most at peace.

And as they sat thus, they beheld thirteen ships coming from the south of Ireland***, and making towards them, and they came with a swift motion, the wind being behind them, and they neared them rapidly.


“I see ships afar,” said the king, “coming swiftly towards the land. Command the men of the Court that they equip themselves, and go and learn their intent.”

 So the men equipped themselves and went down towards them. And when they saw the ships near, certain were they that they had never seen ships better furnished.

Beautiful flags of satin were upon them. And behold one of the ships outstripped the others, and they saw a shield lifted up above the side of the ship, and the point of


the shield**** was upwards, in token of peace.

And the men drew near that they might hold converse.




* Many Welsh writers, in particular, Lady Charlotte Guest identified this character with the Roman general Ostorius; this identification is phonetically impossible. See the note at Llyr.


** Beli the Great, son of Mynogan, would have reigned in Brittany thirty nine or forty years. He is Lludd’s and Caswallawn’s father. Caswallawn can be related to Cassivellaunus.

From Beli’s death until Llyr, whose son brought the faith to Brittany, one hundred and twenty years would have run out (Brut Tysilio, Myv, p. 448, column 1; Gaufrei of Monmouth, Hist., III, 20). A triad allots him the honor of having quashed a conspiracy against the safety of the island (Myv. arch., p. 401, 11). Taliesin celebrates him (Skene, Four ancient books of Wales, 204, 28); He attributes seven sons to him (ibid., 202, 9). See the beginning of the Mabinogi of Lludd and Llevelys.


*** Iwerddon is today the Welsh name of Ireland. It derives from the same Celtic old form as the name that the Irishmen themselves give to their country: nominative  Ériu, accusative  Erinn.


**** swch, properly ‘plough shear’, and originally also probably snout, as the Irish socc. An Irish epic poem speaks of a shield that moos during combat. See J Loth Revue celt. 1911: Le bouclier de Tristan.



Bwrw badeu allan a wnaethont wynteu, a nessau parth a'r tir, a chyuarch guell y'r brenhin. E brenhin a'e clywei wynteu o'r lle yd oed ar garrec uchel uch eu penn,

“Duw a rodo da ywch,” heb ef, “a grayssaw wrthywch. Pieu yniuer y llongeu hynn, a phwy yssyd pennaf arnunt wy ?”

“Arglwyd,” heb wynt, “mae ymma Matholwch brenhin Iwerdon, ac ef bieu y llongeu.”

“Beth,” heb y brenhin, “a uynnhei ef ? A uyn ef dyuot y'r tir ?”

 “Na uynn, Arglwyd,” heb wynt, “negessawl yw wrthyt ti, onyt y neges a geif.”

“By ryw neges yw yr eidaw ef ?" heb y brenhin.

“Mynnu ymgyuathrachu a thidy, Arglwyd,” heb wynt, “Y erchi Branwen uerch Lyr y doeth, ac os da genhyt ti, ef a uyn ymrwymaw ynys y Kedeirn ac Iwerdon y gyt, ual y bydynt gadarnach.”


“Ie,” heb ynteu, “doet y'r tir, a chynghor a gymerwn ninheu am hynny.” Yr atteb hwnnw a aeth ataw ef.

“Minheu a af yn llawen,” heb ef. Ef a doeth y'r tir, a llawen uuwyt wrthaw ; a dygyuor mawr uu yn y llys y nos honno, y rwng e yniuer ef ac yniuer y llys.

Yn y lle trannoeth, kymryt kynghor. Sef a gahat yn y kynghor, rodi Branwen y Uatholwch.

A honno oed tryded prif rieni yn yr ynys hon ; teccaf morwyn yn y byt oed. A gwneuthur oed yn Aberfraw y gyscu genti, ac odyno y kychwyn.


Ac y kychwynassant yr yniueroed hynny parth ac Aberfraw, Matholwch a'y yniueroed yn y llongheu, Bendigeituran a'y niuer ynteu ar tir, yny doethant hyt yn Aberfraw.

Then they put out boats and came towards the land. And they saluted the king. Now the king could hear them from the place where he was, upon the rock above their heads.

“ Heaven prosper you,” said he, “and be ye welcome. To whom do these ships belong, and who is the chief amongst you?”

“Lord,” said they, “Matholwch*, king of Ireland, is here, and these ships belong to him.”

“Wherefore comes he?" asked the king, “and will he come to the land?”

“He is a suitor unto thee, lord,” said they, “and he will not land unless he have his boon.”

“And what may that be?" inquired the king.

“He desires to ally himself with thee, lord,” said they, “and he comes to ask Branwen the daughter of Llyr, that, if it seem well to thee, the Island of the Mighty** may be leagued with Ireland, and both become more powerful.”

“Verily,” said he, “let him come to land, and we will take counsel thereupon.”

 And this answer was brought to Matholwch.

“I will go willingly,” said he. So he landed, and they received him joyfully; and great was the throng in the palace that night, between his hosts and those of the Court; and next day they took counsel, and they resolved to bestow Branwen upon Matholwch.


Now she was one of the three chief ladies of this island***, and she was the fairest damsel in the world.

And they fixed upon Aberffraw**** as the place where she should become his bride. And they went thence, and towards Aberffraw the hosts proceeded; Matholwch and his host in their ships; Bendigeid Fran and his host by land, until they came to Aberffraw.



* Ynys y Kedyrn, the island of the Strong ones’. This name appears often in the Mabinogion, seldom elsewhere. According to one of the triads (Myv. arch., p. 400, 1), the island had three names: Clas Merddin before being inhabited; then Y vel ynys, honey island’, and finally Ynys Prydein, after its conquest by Prydain ab Aedd mawr. According to another triad (Myv. arch., p. 388, 1), it took the name of Ynys Bryt after its colonization by Bryt (Brutus).


*** The Triads do not, however, cite her among the famous ladies of the island.


**** Aberffraw, in the south of Anglesey, situated at the mouth of a small river as the word aberriver mouth’ points at, was, at least since the VIIIth century, until the fall of Welsh independence, the main home of kings of Gwynedd or North-Wales. It was the main town of a cantrev bearing the same name. Mon, called Anglesey by the English , had a considerable importance especially because of its fertility which, following Giraldus Cambrensis’ testimony, made it called the mother of Cambria.



Yn Aberfraw dechreu y wled, ac eisted. Sef ual yd eistedyssant, brenhin Ynys y Kedeirn, a Manawydan uab Llyr o'r neill parth idaw, a Matholwch o'r parth arall, a Branwen uerch Lyr gyt ac ynteu.


Nyt ymywn ty yd oydynt, namyn ymywn palleu. Ny angassei Uendigeituran eiryoet ymywn ty.

A’r gyuedach a dechreussant. Dilit y gyuedach a wnaethant ac ymdidan. A phan welsant uot yn well udunt kymryt hun no dilyt kyuedach, y gyscu yd aethant. A'r nos honno y kyscwys Matholwch gan Uranwen. A thrannoeth, kyuodi a orugant pawb o niuer y llys ; a'r swydwyr a dechreusant ymaruar am rannyat y meirych a'r gweisson. Ac eu rannu a wnaethant ym pob kyueir hyt y mor.


 Ac ar hynny dydgueith, nachaf Efnyssen [y] gwr anagneuedus a dywedassam uchot, yn dywanu y lety meirch Matholwch, a gouyn a wnaeth, pioed y meirch.


“Meirych Matholwch brenhin Iwerdon yw y rei hyn,” heb wy.

“Beth a wnant wy yna ?” heb ef.

“Yma y mae brenhin Iwerdon, ac yr gyscwys gan Uranwen dy chwaer, a'y ueirych yw y rei hynn.”

“Ay yuelly y gwnaethant wy am uorwyn kystal a honno, ac yn chwaer y minheu, y rodi heb uyghanyat i ? Ny ellynt wy tremic uwy arnaf i,” heb ef.


Ac yn hynny guan y dan y meirych, a thorri y guefleu wrth y danned udunt, a'r clusteu wrth y penneu, a'r rawn wrth y keuyn; ac ny caei graf ar yr amranneu, eu llad wrth yr ascwrn. A gwneuthur anfuryf ar y meirych yuelly, hyd nat oed rym a ellit a'r meirych.

E chwedyl a doeth at Uatholwch. Sef ual y doeth, dywedut anfuruaw y ueirych ac eu llygru, hyt nat oed un mwynyant a ellit o honunt.

“Ie, Arglwyd,” heb un, “dy waradwydaw yr a wnaethpwyt, a hynny a uynhir y wneuthur a thi.”

“Dioer, eres genhyf, os uy gwaradwydaw a uynhynt, rodi morwyn gystal, kyuurd, gyn anwylet gan y chenedyl, ac a rodyssant ym.”


 “Arglwyd,” heb un arall, “ti a wely dangos ef. Ac nyt oes it a wnelych, namyn kyrchu dy longeu.”

Ac ar hynny arouun y longeu a wnaeth ef.


And at Aberffraw they began the feast and sat down. And thus sat they. The King of the Island of the Mighty and Manawyddan the son of Llyr, on one side, and Matholwch on the other side, and Branwen the daughter of Llyr beside him. And they were not within a house, but under tents. No house could ever contain Bendigeid Fran.


And they began the banquet and caroused and discoursed. And when it was more pleasing to them to sleep than to carouse, they went to rest, and that night Branwen became Matholwch's bride.

And next day they arose, and all they of the Court, and the officers began to equip and to range the horses and the attendants, and they ranged them in order as far as the sea.


And behold one day, Evnissyen*, the quarrelsome man of whom it is spoken above, came by chance into the place, where the horses of Matholwch were, and asked whose horses they might be.

“They are the horses of Matholwch king of Ireland” was the answer.

“What are they doing here?” he asked.

“Here is the king of Ireland who is married to [who sleeps with] Branwen, thy sister; his horses are they.”

“And is it thus they have done with a maiden such as she, and moreover my sister, bestowing her without my consent? They could have offered no greater insult to me than this,” said he.

And thereupon he rushed under the horses and cut off their lips at the teeth, and their ears close to their heads, and their tails close to their backs, and wherever he could clutch their eyelids, he cut them to the very bone, and he disfigured the horses and rendered them useless.

And they came with these tidings unto Matholwch, saying that the horses were disfigured, and injured so that not one of them could ever be of any use again.

“Verily, lord,” said one, “it was an insult unto thee, and as such was it meant.”


“Of a truth, it is a marvel to me, that if they desire to insult me, they should have given me a maiden of such high rank and so much beloved of her kindred, as they have done.”

“Lord,” said another, “ thou seest that thus it is, and there is nothing for thee to do but to go to thy ships.”

 And thereupon towards his ships he set out.




* *Evnys, in Welsh, means hostile, enemy, annoying.



E chwedyl a doeth at Uendigeituran, bot Matholwch yn adaw y llys, heb ouyn, heb ganhyat. A chenadeu a aeth y ouyn idaw, paham oed hynny. Sef kennadeu a aeth, Idic uab Anarawc, ac Eueyd Hir. Y guyr hynny a'y godiwawd, ac a ouynyssant idaw, pa darpar oed yr eidaw, a pha achaws yd oed yn mynet e ymdeith.

“Dioer,” heb ynteu,” pei ys gwypwn, ny down yma. Cwbyl waradwyd a geueis. Ac ny duc neb kyrch waeth no'r dugum ymma. A reuedawt rygyueryw a mi.”


“ Beth yw hynny ?” heb wynt.

“ Rodi Bronwen uerch Lyr ym, yn tryded prif rieni yr ynys honn, ac yn uerch y urenhin Ynys y Kedeyrn, a chyscu genthi, a gwedy hynny uy gwaradwydaw. A ryued oed genhyf, nat kyn rodi morwyn gystal a honno ym, y gwneit y gwaradwyd a wnelit ym.”



“ Dioer, Arglwyd, nyt o uod y neb a uedei y llys,” heb wynt,” na neb o'e kynghor y gwnaet[h]pwyt y gwaradwyd hwnnw yt. A chyt bo gwaradwyd gennyt ti hynny, mwy yw gan Uendigeituran no chenyt ti, y tremic hwnnw a'r guare,”

Ie,” heb ef,” mi a tebygaf. Ac eissoes ni eill ef uy niwaradwydaw i o hynny.” E gwyr hynny a ymchwelwys a'r atteb hwnnw, parth a'r lle yd oed Uendigeituran, a menegi idaw yr atteb a diwedyssei Uatholwch.


Ie,” heb ynteu,” nyt oes ymwaret e uynet ef yn anygneuedus, ac nys gadwn.”


Ie, Arglwyd,” heb wy,” anuon etwa genhadeu yn y ol.”

“Anuonaf,” heb ef.

“Kyuodwch, Uanawydan uab Llyr, ac Eueyd Hir, ac Unic Glew Yscwyd, ac ewch yn y ol,” heb ef,” a menegwch idaw, ef a geif march iach am pob un o'r a lygrwyt ; ac y gyt a hynny, ef a geif yn wynepwerth*** idaw, llathen aryant a uo kyuref [a'e uys bychan] a chyhyt ac ef e hun, a chlawr eur kyflet a'y wyneb ; a menegwch ydaw pa ryw wr a wnaeth hynny, a phan yw o'm anuod inheu y gwnaethpwyt hynny ; ac y may brawt un uam a mi a wnaeth hynny, ac nat hawd genhyf i na'e lad na'e diuetha ; a doet y ymwelet a mi,” heb ef, “a mi a wnaf y dangneued ar y llun y mynho e hun.”


E kennadeu a aethant ar ol Matholwch, ac a uanagyssant idaw yr ymadrawd hwnnw yn garedic, ac ef a'e guerendewis.

“A wyr,” heb ef,” ni a gymerwn gynghor.” Ef a aeth yn y gynghor ; sef kynghor a uedylyssant, - os gwrthot hynny a wnelynt, bot yn tebygach ganthunt cael kywilid a uei uwy, no chael iawn a uei uwy.


A disgynnu a wnaeth ar gymryt hynny. Ac y'r llys y deuthant yn dangneuedus.

And tidings came to Bendigeid Fran that Matholwch was quitting the Court without asking leave, and messengers were sent to inquire of him wherefore he did so. And the messengers that went were Iddic the son of Anarawd*, and Heveydd Hir. And these overtook him and asked of him what he designed to do, and wherefore he went forth.

“ Of a truth,” said he, “if I had known I had not come hither. I have been altogether insulted, no one had ever worse treatment than I have had here. But one thing surprises me above all.”

“What is that?" asked they.

“That Branwen the Daughter of Llyr, one of the three chief ladies of this island, and the daughter of the King of the Island of the Mighty, should have been given me as my bride, and that after that I should have been insulted; and I marvel that the insult was not done me before they had bestowed upon me a maiden so exalted as she.”

“Truly, lord, it was not the will of any that are of the Court,” said they, “nor of any that are of the council, that thou shouldest have received this insult and as thou hast been insulted, the dishonour is greater unto Bendigeid Fran than unto thee.”

“Verily,” said he, “I think so. Nevertheless he cannot recall the insult.”

 These men returned with that answer to the place where Bendigeid Fran was, and they told him, what reply Matholwch had given them.

“Truly,” said he, “there are no means by which we may prevent his going away at enmity with us, that we will not take.”

“Well, lord,” said they, “send after him another embassy.”

“I will do so,” said he.

“Arise, Manawyddan son of Llyr, and Heveydd Hir, and Unic Glew Ysgwyd**, and go after him, and tell him that he shall have a sound horse for every one that has been injured. And beside that, as an atonement for the insult***, he shall have a staff of silver, as large and as tall as himself, and a plate of gold of the breadth of his face. And show unto him who it was that did this, and that it was done against my will; but that he who did it is my brother, by the mother's side, and therefore it would be hard for me to put him to death. And let him come and meet me,” said he, “and we will make peace in any way he may desire.”

The embassy went after Matholwch and told him all these sayings in a friendly manner, and he listened there unto.

“Men,” said he, “I will take counsel.”

 So to the council he went. And in the council they considered that if they should refuse this, they were likely to have more shame rather than to obtain so great an atonement.

They resolved therefore to accept it, and they returned to the Court in peace.




* Maybe we should read here Anarawt, a well-known name. According to one of the triads, he was one of the three taleithiawc, “crown-carrying king,” with Cadell, king of Dinevwr (or of the South), and Mervin, king de Mathraval or Powys (Myv. arch, p. 405, collar. 2). The Cambriae Annals mention the devastation of Cereticiawn and Ystrattui. (Ystrad Tywi) by Anarawt and the Saxons. Anarawt dies in 915; according to the Brut y Tywysogion, he is Rodri’s son; Anarawt is called Rex Britonum (Monum. Hist. brit., p. 846, 847).


** Unic, “single;” glew, “valiant”; ysgwydd, “shoulder.”


*** Wyneb-werth, translates exactly to price of the face. ‘Face’ and ‘honour’ are synonymous among Celts (see Kulhwch and Olwen). The compensation was called, in Ireland, log enech, “price of the face;” the enech ruice or ‘insult’ was properly the redness of the face caused by an act detrimental to the family honour; enechgris, of similar meaning, says that the face becomes pale or white under the insult. The Armorican Breton form of wynep-werth is, in the IXth century, enep-uuert [h] (Cart. of Redon); but this word, on the other side of the sea, had a less general meaning: it was the gift offered by the husband to his wife after the consummation of a marriage, the compensation for virginity taken. The present word enebarz, ‘dowry’, is the modern representative of enep-werth.

As Lady Guest  As points  out, the Mabinogi agrees here with the laws. The compensation for an insult made to the king of Aberfraw (North-Wales) had been one hundred cows by cantrev, with a white bull with red ears per hundred cows; a gold rod as long as him and as thick as his small finger; a gold dish as long as his face and as thick as the nail of a ploughman who has ploughed for seven years (Ancient Laws, I, p. 7). The exact wording here, wyneb-warth seems to be a popular attempt at etymology: gwarth, in Welsh, means shame, dishonour. [YK’s note: Joseph Loth is probably reporting a Welsh wording of the manuscript version. See in the present version where wynepwerth is marked by ***]



A chyweiraw y pebylleu a'r palleu a wnaethant udunt ar ureint kyweirdeb yneuad, a mynet y uwyta. Ac ual y dechreuyssant eisted ar dechreu y wled, yd eistedyssant yna.

A dechreu ymdidan a wnaeth Matholwch a Bendigeituran. Ac nachaf yn ardiawc gan Uendigeituran yr ymdidan, ac yn drist, a gaei gan Uatholwch, a'y lywenyt yn wastat kyn no hynny. A medylyaw a wnaeth, bot yn athrist gan yr unben uychanet a gawssei o iawn am y gam.


A wr,” heb y Bendigeiduran,” nit wyt gystal ymdidanwr heno ac un nos. Ac os yr bychanet genhyt ti dy iawn, ti a gehy ychwanegu yt wrth dy uynnu, ac auory talu dy ueirch yt.”


“ Arglwyd, heb ef,” Duw a dalo yt.”

Mi a delediwaf dy iawn heuyt yt,” heb y Bendigeituran. “ Mi a rodaf yt peir ; a chynnedyf y peir yw, y gwr a lader hediw yt, y uwrw yn, y peir, ac erbyn auory y uot yn gystal ac y bu oreu, eithyr na byd llyueryd ganthaw.”


A diolwch a wnaeth ynteu hynny, a diruawr lywenyd a gymerth ynteu o'r achaws hwnnw. A thrannoeth y talwyt y ueirych idaw, tra barhawd meirych dof. Ac odyna y kyrchwyt ac ef kymwt* arall, ac y talwyt ebolyon ydaw, yny uu gwbyl idaw y dal. Ac wrth hynny y dodet ar y kymwt hwnnw o hynny allan, Tal Ebolyon**.


A'r eil nos, eisted y gyt a wnaethant.


“ Arglwyd,” heb y Matholwch,” pan doeth yti y peir a rodeist y mi ?”


E doeth im,” heb ef,” y gan wr a uu y'th wlat ti. Ac ni wn na bo yno y caffo.”


“ Pwy oed hwnnw ?” heb ef.

“ Llassar Llaes Gyfnewit,” heb ef. “ A hwnnw a doeth yma o Iwerdon, a Chymidei Kymeinuoll, y wreic, y gyt ac ef, ac a dianghyssant o'r ty hayarn yn Iwerdon, pan wnaethpwyt yn wenn yn eu kylch, ac y dianghyssant odyno. Ac eres gynhyf i, ony wdosti dim y wrth hynny,”

“ Gwn, Arglwyd,” heb ef,” a chymeint ac a wnn, mi a'e managaf y ti. Yn hela yd oedwn yn Iwerdon, dydgueith, ar benn gorssed uch penn llyn oed yn Iwerdon, a Llyn y Peir y gelwit.

A mi a welwn gwr melyngoch, mawr, yn dyuot o'r llyn, a pheir ar y geuyn. A gwr heuyt athrugar, mawr, a drygweith anorles arnaw oed ; a gwreic yn y ol ; ac ot oed uawr ef, mwy dwyweith oed y wreic noc ef.


A chyrchu ataf a wnaethant, a chyuarch uell im.

“ Ie,” heb y mi, “ pa gerdet yssyd arnawch chwi ?

‘Llyna gerdet yssyd arnam ni, Arglwyd,’ heb ef, ‘y wreic honn,’ heb ef, ‘ym penn pethewnos a mis, y byd beichogi idi, a'r mab a aner yna o'r torllwyth hwnnw, ar benn y pethewnos a'r mis, y byd gwr ymlad llawn aruawc.’


Then the pavilions and the tents were set in order after the fashion of a hall ; and they went to meat, and as they had sat at the beginning of the feast, so sat they there.

And Matholwch and Bendigeid Fran began to discourse; and behold it seemed to Bendigeid Fran, while they talked, that Matholwch was not so cheerful as he had been before. And he thought that the chieftain might be sad, because of the smallness of the atonement which he had, for the wrong that had been done him.

“Oh, man,” said Bendigeid Fran, “thou dost not discourse to-night so cheerfully as thou wast wont. And if it be because of the smallness of the atonement, thou shalt add thereunto whatsoever thou mayest choose, and to-morrow I will pay thee the horses.”

“Lord,” said he, “Heaven reward thee.”

“And I will enhance the atonement,” said Bendigeid Fran, “for I will give unto thee a cauldron, the property of which is, that if one of thy men be slain to-day, and be cast therein, to-morrow he will be as well as ever he was at the best, except that he will not regain his speech.”

 And thereupon he gave him great thanks, and very joyful was he for that cause.

And the next morning they paid Matholwch the horses as long as the trained horses lasted. And then they journeyed into another commot*, where they paid him with colts until the whole had been paid, and from thenceforth that commot was called Talebolion**.

And a second night sat they together.

“My lord,” said Matholwch, “whence hadst thou the cauldron which thou hast given me?”


“I had it of a man who had been in thy land,” said he, “and I would not give it except to one from there.”

“Who was it?" asked he.

“Llassar Llaesgyvnewid; he came here from Ireland with Kymideu Kymeinvoll, his wife, who escaped from the Iron House in Ireland, when it was made red hot around them, and fled hither. And it is a marvel to me that thou shouldst know nothing concerning the matter.”

“Something I do know,” said he, “and as much as I know I will tell thee. One day I was hunting in Ireland, and I came to the mound at the head of the lake, which is called the Lake of the Cauldron. And I beheld a huge yellow-haired man coming from the lake with a cauldron*** upon his back. And he was a man of vast size, and of horrid aspect, and a woman followed after him. And if the man was tall, twice as large as he was the woman

and they came towards me and greeted me.


'Verily,' asked I, 'wherefore are you journeying?'

'Behold, this,' said he to me, 'is the cause that we journey. At the end of a month and a fortnight this woman will have a son; and the child that will be born at the end of the month and the fortnight will be a warrior fully armed.'



* See note for the word cantrev. [Mabinogi of Pwyll]


** the author sees here the word tal, ‘payment’, and ebolyon, foals’ (armor. ebeul). A poet of XII-XIIIth century, Davydd Benvras, uses the form Tal y bolion (Myv. arch., p. 222. column 1. )  Talybolion or Talebolion was a cymmwd of the cantrev Cemais on Mon (Anglesey), according to Powell, La Myv. arch., sorts Cemais or Cemmaes and Talebolion among the Cymmwd of the Aberffraw cantrev (Myv. arch., p. 735


*** For the importance of the cauldron in Ireland, and often, on its magic value, see Joyce, A social history of Ireland, II, p. 121-127; ref. Déchelette, Manuel Arch., II, p. 446.


Y kymereis inheu wyntwy arnaf, yu gossymdeithaw : y buant ulwydyn gyt a mi. Yn y ulwydyn y keueis yn diwarauun wynt ; o hynny allann y guarauunwyt im. A chyn penn y pedwyryd [mis] wynt eu hun yn peri eu hatcassu, ac anghynwys yn y wlat, yn gwneuthur sarahedeu, ac yn eighaw, ac yn gouudyaw guyrda a gwragedda.

O hynny allan y dygyuores uyg kyuoeth am ym pen, y erchi im ymuadeu ac wynt, a rodi dewis im, ae uyg kyuoeth, ae wynt. E dodeis inheu ar gynghor uy gwlat beth a wneit amdanunt.

Nyd eynt wy o'y bod ; nit oed reit udunt wynteu oc eu hanuod, herwyd ymlad, uynet.


Ac yna yn y kyuyng gynghor, y causant gwneuthur ystauell haearn oll ; a gwedy bot y barawt yr ystauell, dyuyn a oed o of yn Iwerdon yno, o'r a oed o perchen geuel a mwrthwl, a pheri gossot kyuuch a chrib yr ystauell o lo, a pheri guassanaethu yn diwall o uwyt a llyn arnunt, ar y wreic, a'y gwr, a'y phlant.

A phan wybuwyt eu medwi wynteu, y dechreuwyt kymyscu y tan a'r glo am ben yr ystauell, a chwythu y megineu a oed wedy eu gossot yg kylch y ty, a gwr a pob dwy uegin, a dechreu chwythu y megineu yny uyd y ty yn burwen am eu penn.


Ac yna y bu y kynghor ganthunt hwy ymherued llawr yr ystauell ; ac yd arhoes ef yny uyd y pleit haearn yn wenn. Ac rac diruawr wres y kyrchwys y bleit a'e yscwyd a'y tharaw gantaw allan, ac yn y ol ynteu y wreic. A neb ny dieghis odyna namyn ef a'e wreic. Ac yna o'm tebygu i, Arglwyd,” heb y Matholwch wrth Uendigeiduran,“ y doeth ef drwod attat ti.”


“ Yna dioer,” heb ynteu,” y doeth yma, ac y mes y peir y minheu.”

“ Pa delw, Arglwyd, yd erbynneisti wynteu ?”

Eu rannu ym pob lie yn y kyuoeth, ac y maent yn lluossauc, ac yn dyrchauael ym pob lle, ac yn cadarnhau y uann y bythont, o wyr ac arueu goreu a welas neb.”


Dilit ymdidan a wnaethant y nos honno, tra uu da ganthunt, a cherd a chyuedach. A phan welsant uot yn llessach udunt uynet y gyscu noc eisted a wei hwy, y gyscu yd aethant. Ac yuelly y treulyssant y wled honno drwy digriuwch. Ac yn niwed hynny, y kychwyn­nwys Matholwch, a Branuen y gyt ac ef, parth ac Iwerdon. A hynny o Abermenei y kychwynnyssant teir llong ar dec, ac y doethant hyt yn Iwerdon.

Yn Iwerdon, diruawr lywenyd a uu wrthunt.


Ny doey wr mawr, na gwreic da yn Iwerdon, e ymw[e]let a Branwen, ni rodei hi ae cae, ae modrwy, ae teyrndlws cadwedic ydaw, a uei arbennic y welet yn mynet e ymdeith. Ac ymysc hynny, y ulwydyn honno a duc hi yn glotuawr, a hwyl delediw a duc o glot a chedymdeithon. Ac yn hynny, beichogi a damweinwys idi y gael. A guedy treulaw yr amseroyd dylyedus, mab a anet idi. Sef enw a dodet ar y mab, Guern uab Matholwch.


Rodi y mab ar uaeth a wnaethpwyt ar un lle goreu y wyr yn Iwerdon.

So I took them with me and maintained them. And they were with me for a year. And that year I had them with me not grudgingly. But thenceforth was there murmuring, because that they were with me. For, from the beginning of the fourth month they had began to make themselves hated and to be disorderly in the land; committing outrages, and molesting and harassing the nobles and ladies; and thenceforward my people rose up and besought me to part with them, and they bade me to choose between them and my dominions. And I applied to the council of my country to know what should be done concerning them; for of their own free will they would not go, neither could they be compelled against their will, through fighting. And [the people of the country] being in this strait, they caused a chamber to be made all of iron. Now when the chamber was ready, there came there every smith that was in Ireland, and every one who owned tongs and hammer. And they caused coals to be piled up as high as the top of the chamber*. And they had the man, and the woman, and the children, served with plenty of meat and drink; but when it was known that they were drunk, they began to put fire to the coals about the chamber, and they blew it with bellows until the house was red hot all around them.

Then was there a council held in the centre of the floor of the chamber. And the man tarried until the plates of iron were all of a white heat; and then, by reason of the great heat, the man dashed against the plates with his shoulder and struck them out, and his wife followed him; but except him and his wife none escaped thence. And then I suppose, lord,” said Matholwch unto Bendigeid Fran, “that he came over unto thee.”

“Doubtless he came here,” said he, “and gave unto me the cauldron.”

“In what manner didst thou receive them?”


“I dispersed them through every part of my dominions, and they have become numerous and are prospering everywhere, and they fortify the places where they are with men and arms, of the best that were ever seen.”

That night they continued to discourse as much as they would, and had minstrelsy and carousing, and when it was more pleasant to them to sleep than to sit longer, they went to rest. And thus was the banquet carried on with joyousness; and when it was finished, Matholwch journeyed towards Ireland, and Branwen with him, and they went from Aber Menei** with thirteen ships, and came to Ireland. And in Ireland was there great joy because of their coming.


And not one great man or noble lady visited Branwen unto whom she gave not either a clasp, or a ring, or a royal jewel to keep, such as it was honourable to be seen departing with. And in these things she spent that year in much renown, and she passed her time pleasantly, enjoying honour and friendship. And in the meanwhile it chanced that she became pregnant, and in due time a son was born unto her, and the name that they gave him was Gwern the son of Matholwch and, they put the boy out to be foster-nursed, in a place where were the best men of Ireland.




* A similar episode is found in the Irish epic poem. Mesca Ulad or The intoxication of the Ultonians, Todd Readings ser., vol. I, part I. (J Loth. Revue Celt, 1890, p. 345. )

** Aber Menai, the mouth of the Menai, or the strait between the island of Anglesey and the continent. Aber Menai indicates the southern exit of the strait.



A hynny yn yr eil ulwydyn, llyma ymodwrd yn Iwerdon am y guaradwyd a gawssei Matholwch yg Kymry, a'r somm a wnathoedit idaw am y ueirch. A hynny y urodyr maeth, a'r gwyr nessaf gantaw, yn lliwaw idaw hynny, a heb y gelu. A nachaf y dygyuor yn Iwerdon hyt nat oed lonyd idaw ony chaei dial y sarahet, Sef dial a wnaethant, gyrru Branwen o un ystauell ac ef, a'y chymell y bobi yn y llys, a pheri y'r kygyd, gwedy bei yn dryllyaw kic, dyuot idi a tharaw bonclust arnei beunyd.


Ac yuelly y gwnaethpwyt y foen.


“ Ie, Arglwyd,” heb y wyr wrth Uatholwch, “par weithon wahard y llongeu, a'r yscraffeu, a'r corygeu, ual nat el neb y Gymry ; ac a del yma o Gymry, carchara wynt ac na at trachefyn, rac gwybot hynn.” Ac ar hynny y diskynyssant.


Blwynyded nit llei no their, y buant yuelly. Ac yn hynny, meithryn ederyn drydwen a wnaeth hitheu ar dal y noe gyt a hi, a dyscu ieith idi, a menegi y'r ederyn y ryw wr oed y brawt. A dwyn llythyr y poeneu a'r amharch a oed arnei hitheu. A'r llythyr a rwymwyt am uon eskyll yr ederyn, a'y anuon parth a Chymry.


And behold in the second year a tumult arose in Ireland, on account of the insult which Matholwch had received in Cambria*, and the payment made him for his horses. And his foster-brothers, and such as were nearest unto him, blamed him openly for that matter. And he might have no peace by reason of the tumult until they should revenge upon him this disgrace. And the vengeance which they took was to drive away Branwen from the same chamber with him, and to make her cook for the Court; and they caused the butcher after he had cut up the meat to come to her and give her every day a blow on the ear, and such they made her punishment.

"Verily, lord,” said his men to Matholwch, “forbid now the ships and the ferry boats and the coracles*, that they go not into Cambria, and such as come over from Cambria hither, imprison them that they go not back for this thing to be known there.” And he did so;


and it was thus for no less than three years.

And Branwen reared a starling in the cover of the kneading trough, and she taught it to speak, and she taught the bird what manner of man her brother was. And she wrote a letter of her woes, and the despite with which she was treated, and she bound the letter to the root of the bird's wing***, and sent it towards Britain.



* Kymry or Kymru, not Kymri, Wales. The singular is Kymro, which hints at Old Celtic Com-brox, plural Com-broges, "people of the same country, fellow countryman", The Breton fighting the Saxons, around the VIIth century, called themselves by that name. Kymry included not only present Wales, but still the north of England until Clyde; the name of Cumberland comes from it. This extension of the country of Kymry led the authors of the French novels of the Round Table to place cities of the north of England, in North-Wales. Longtown, for example (Longuetown), is located at the northern end of Cumberland (Paulin Paris, Les Romans de la Table Ronde, I, p. 280).

On Kymro and Kymry, see J Loth. Revue celt. XXX, p. 384.


** the corwc or corwg was a light boat of use at the fishermen of Wales, Scotland and Ireland. It had the oval form, was made of wicker or rods interlaced and covered with leather, tarred canvas or horse hide in the middle. The fisherman was sitting in the middle and could row with a hand and handle his nets with the other one. Back on the ground, he carried its corwc on his back. This boat was of use especially on the rivers (Richards, Welsh Dict.). The Irish word is curach.


***Marie de France, in her lay ‘Milun’, makes use of a swan for the same goal (Warncke ed., p. 158).


A'r ederyn a doeth y'r ynys honn. Sef lle y cauas Uendigeiduran, yg Kaer Seint yn Aruon, yn dadleu idaw dydgweith. A diskynnu ar e yscwyd, a garwhau y phluf, yny arganuuwyt y llythyr, ac adnabot meithryn yr ederyn yg kyuanned. Ac yna kymryt y ilythyr a'y edrych.

A phan darllewyt y llythyr, doluryaw a wnaeth o glybot y poen oed ar Uranwen, a dechreu o'r lle hwnnw peri anuon kennadeu y dygyuoryaw yr ynys honn y gyt. Ac yna y peris ef dyuot llwyr wys pedeir degwlat a seithugeint hyt attaw, ac e hun cwynaw wrth hynny, bot y poen a oed ar y chwaer. Ac yna kymryt kynghor. Sef kynghor a gahat, kyrchu Iwerdon, ac adaw seithwyr y dywyssogyon yma, a Chradawc uab Bran y benhaf, ac eu seith marchawc. Yn Edeirnon yd edewit y gwyr hynny, ac o achaws hynny y dodet Seith Marchawc ar y dref.




Sef seithwyr oedynt, Cradawc uab Bran, ac Euehyd Hir, ac Unic Glew Yscwyd, ac Idic uab Anarawc Walltgrwn, a Fodor uab Eruyll, ac Wlch Minasgwrn, a Llashar uab Llayssar Llaesgygwyt, a Phendaran Dyuet yn was ieuanc gyt ac wy. Y seith hynny a drigwys yn seith kynueissat y synyaw ar yr ynys honn, a Chradawc uab Bran yn benhaf kynweisyat arnunt.


Bendigeiduran, a'r yniuer a dywedyssam ni, a hwylyssant parth ac Iwerdon, ac nyt oed uawr y weilgi, yna y ueis yd aeth ef. Nyt oed namyn dwy auon, Lli ac Archan y gelwit.


A guedy hynny yd amlawys y weilgi, pan oreskynwys y weilgi y tyrnassoed. Ac yna y kerdwys ef ac a oed o gerd arwest ar y geuyn e hun, a chyrchu tir Iwerdon.

And the bird came to this island, and one day it found Bendigeid Fran at Caer Seiont* in Arvon**, conferring there, and it alighted upon his shoulder and ruffled its feathers, so that the letter was seen, and they knew that the bird had been reared in a domestic manner.

Then Bendigeid Fran took the letter and looked upon it. And when he had read the letter he grieved exceedingly at the tidings of Branwen's woes. And immediately he began sending messengers to summon the island together. And he caused sevenscore and four countries to come unto him, and he complained to them himself of the grief that his sister endured. So they took counsel. And in the council they resolved to go to Ireland, and to leave seven men as princes here, and Caradawc*** the son of Bran, as the chief of them, and their seven knights. In Edeyrnion**** were these men left. And for this reason were the seven knights placed in the town*****.

Now the names of these seven were, Caradawc the son of Bran, and Hefeydd Hir, and Unic Glew Ysgwyd, and Iddic the son of Anarawc Gwalltgrwn, and Fodor the son of Ervyll, and Gwlch Minascwrn, and Llassar the son of Llaesar Llaesgygwyd, and Pendaran Dyved as a young page with them. And these abode as seven ministers to take charge of this island; and Caradawc the son of Bran was the chief amongst them.

Bendigeid Fran, with the host of which we spoke, sailed towards Ireland, and it was not far across the sea, and he came to shoal water. It was but by two rivers; the Lli and the Archan were they called; and the nations covered the sea. Then he proceeded with what provisions****** he had on his own back, and approached the shore of Ireland.




* This is the name of an old Roman fortress, close to the present city of Carnarvon. tThis city is located at the mouth of the river Seint. Seint was in the past Segeint (Nennius ap. Petrie, Mon. hist brit., p. 54), which matches closely the Segontium of Roman times.


** Arvon, or the territory opposite or near Mon (Anglesey); the word is composed like Arvor, territory close to the sea. Arvon was one of the three subdivisions of Gwynedd or North-Wales; the others two were Mon and Meirionydd (Merioneth). Arvon corresponds to present Carnarvonshire.


*** Cradawc or Caradawc = Caratâcos; this name was awkwardly changed, by the editors, into Caractacus. Several characters were obviously confused under this name. The Welsh chroniclers did not fail to identify it with Tacitus’ and Dion Cassius’ character named Caratacus or Caractacus , son of Cunobelinos, the brave man and generous head of the Silures, delivered to the Romans by Cartismandua, Brigantes tribe’s queen (Tacit, Ann., XII, 33-7; Dion Cassius, IX, 20, 21). In the Triads, he is one of the three kings of the island, chosen and established by oath, together with Caswallawn ab Ludd ab Beli and Owen ab Macsen Wledig (Myv. arch., p. 402, 17; ab or ap has the meaning of map, son). According to another triad (ibid., p. 404, 34), royalty was attributed to him to lead the defence against the Romans. He He is also one of the three courageous men of the island with Cynvelyn (Cunobelinos) and Arthur (ibid, p. 403); one of three war leaders together with Caswallawn, son of Beli, and Gweirydd, son of Cynvelyn (ibid., p. 403, 24). He is handed over to the Romans by Aregwedd Voeddawg, daughter of Avarwy ab Lludd, identified by the chroniclers with Cartismandua (ibid., p. 403, 22). A triad, echoing a tradition similar to the one preserved by the Mabinogi, says that he is one of the Cynweisiaid or first servants of the island (ref. Taliesin ap. Skene, 156, 9). [Note that here as elsewhere, when Skene is quoted without other reference than the figures following his name, it refers to Four anc. Books of Wales, volume II] ; the two others are Cawrdaf, son of Caradawc Vreichvras, and Owain ab Macsen Wledig; they were so called because in Brittany there was no man who did not rise to their call and who was not ready to follow them (ibid., p. 404, 41). Manawyddan ab Llyr builds, for the traitors, a prison made of the bones of the dead Romans (see Kulhwch and Olwen, note to Caer Oeth and Anoeth.)


**** Edeirnion, kymmwd of Cantrev y Barwn in Powys (Myv. arch., p. 35).


***** Seith marchawc: seith has also the meaning of saint; thus the meaning : Saint Marchawc, could be the true and ancient as well. Saint Marchoc gave his name to Lo-marec in Crach (Morbihan).


****** [YK’s note: the English version differs completely from the French one here. Joseph Loth translates arwest by ‘musician’ and Lady Guest by ‘provisions’. My dictionary gives: arwest [f.] - (n.) string, minstrelsy.]

****** This strange passage, if the text is true, seems to be explained by a poem to the bishop of Bangor, and due to Iorwerth Beli, poet of the second half of the XIVth century. He complains of the bishop’s preference to the musicians above the poets. In order to prove the superiority of the poets over the musicians, the poet reports that Maelgwn, in a journey to Caer Seion, took along with him all singers and musicians (a oedd o gerdd arwest ar gerddorion),, and that he forced everyone to swim to reach Caer Seion. The harpists, says the poet, were not worth anything after this test, while the poets composed just as easily. (Myv. arch., p. 317, 318).



A meicheit Matholwch a oedynt ar lan y weilgi dydgueith, yn troi yg kylch eu moch. Ac o achaws e dremynt a welsant ar y weilgi, wy a doethant at Matholwch.

“ Arglwyd,” heb vy,” henpych guell.”

“ Duw a rodo da ywch,” heb ef,” a chwedleu genhwch ?”

“ Arglwyd,” heb wy,” mae genhym ni chwedleu ryued ; coet rywelsom ar y weilgi, yn y Ile ny welsam eiryoet un prenn.”


“ Llyna beth eres,” heb ef. “A welewch chwi dim namyn hynny ?”

“ Gwelem, Arglwyd,” heb wy, “mynyd mawr gyr llaw y coet, a hwnnw ar gerdet ; ac eskeir aruchel ar y mynyd, a llynn o pop parth y'r eskeir ; a'r coet, a'r mynyd, a phob peth oll o hynny ar gerdet.”


Ie,” heb ynteu,” nyt oes neb yma a wypo dim y wrth hynny, onys gwyr Branwen. Gouynnwch idi.” Kennadeu a aeth at Uranwen.

“Arglwydes,” heb wy, “beth dybygy di yw hynny ?”

“ Kyn ny bwyf Arglwydes,” heb hi, “mi a wnn beth yw hynny. Gwyr Ynys y Kedyrn yn dyuot drwod o glybot uym poen a'm amharch.”

“ Beth yw y coet a welat ar y mor ?” heb wy.

“ Gwernenni llongeu, a hwylbrenni,” heb hi.

“ Och !" heb wy,” beth oed y mynyd a welit gan ystlys y llongeu ?”

“ Bendigeiduran uym brawt,” heb hi,” oed hwnnw, yn dyuot y ueis. Nyt oed long y kynghanei ef yndi.”

“ Beth oed yr eskeir aruchel a'r llynn o bop parth y'r eskeir ?”

“ Ef,” heb hi, “yn edrych ar yr ynys honn, llidyawc yw. Y deu lygat ef o pop parth y drwyn yw y dwy lynn o bop parth y'r eskeir.”

Ac yna dygyuor holl wyr ymlad Iwerdon a wnaethpwyt y gyt, a'r holl uorbennyd yn gyflym, a chynghor a gymerwyt.

“Arglwyd,” heb y wyrda wrth Uatholwch, “nyt oes gynghor namyn kilyaw drwy Linon (auon oed yn Iwerdon), a gadu Llinon y rot ac ef, a thorri y bont yssyd ar yr auon. A mein sugyn yssyd ygwaelawt yr auon, ny eill na llong na llestyr arnei.”



Wynt a gylyssant drwy yr auon, ac a torryssant y bont. Bendigeiduran a doeth y'r tir, a llynghes y gyt ac ef, parth a glann yr auon.

“ Arglwyd,” heb y wyrda, “ti a wdost kynnedyf yr auon, ny eill neb uynet drwydi, nyt oes bont arnei hitheu. Mae dy gynghor am bont ?” heb wy.

Now the swineherds of Matholwch were upon the sea-shore, and they came to Matholwch.


“Lord,” said they, “greeting be unto thee.”

“Heaven protect you,” said he, “have you any news?”

“Lord,” said they, “we have marvellous news, a wood have we seen upon the sea, in a place where we never yet saw a single tree.”


“This is indeed a marvel,” said he; “saw you aught else?”

“We saw, lord,” said they, “a vast mountain beside the wood, which moved, and there was a lofty ridge on the top of the mountain, and a lake on each side of the ridge. And the wood, and the mountain, and all these things moved*.”

“Verily,” said he, “there is none who can know aught concerning this, unless it be Branwen.” Messengers then went unto Branwen.

“Lady,” said they, what thinkest thou that this is?”

“The men of the Island of the Mighty, who have come hither on hearing of my ill treatment and my woes.”


“What is the forest that is seen upon the sea?" asked they.

“The yards and the masts of ships,” she answered.

“Alas,” said they, “what is the mountain that is seen by the side of the ships?”

“Bendigeid Fran, my brother,” she replied, “coming to shoal water; there is no ship that can contain him in it.”

“What is the lofty ridge with the lake on each side thereof?”

“On looking towards this island he is wroth, and his two eyes, one on each side of his nose, are the two lakes beside the ridge."


The warriors and the chief men of Ireland were brought together in haste, and they took counsel.

“Lord,” said the nobles unto Matholwch, “there is no other counsel than to retreat over the Linon** (a river which is in Ireland), and to keep the river between thee and him, and to break down the bridge that is across the river, for there is a loadstone at the bottom of the river that neither ship nor vessel can pass over.”

So they retreated across the river, and broke down the bridge. Bendigeid Fran came to land, and the fleet with him by the bank of the river.

“Lord,” said his chieftains, “knowest thou the nature of this river, that nothing can go across it, and there is no bridge over it?”

“What,” said they, “is thy counsel concerning a bridge?”




* The Irish epic. Togail Bruidne Dá Derga, presents a similar episode (J. Loth, Rev. celt., 1890, p. 347-348).


** This is the river Shannon; called in Irish: Sinon .

According to experiments made at the College de France, Welsh ‘ll’ (‘unvoiced l’), when it begins to be uttered, produces something very similar to an ‘s’.

It is remarkable also that children, in Wales, until the age 2 or 3, pronounce ‘s’ instead of ‘ll’.



“ Nit oes,” heb ynteu, “namyn a uo penn bit pont. Mi a uydaf pont,” heb ef.


Ac yna gyntaf y dywetpwyt y geir hwnnw, ac y diharebir etwa ohonaw.

Ac yna guedy gorwed ohonaw ef ar traws yr auon, Y byrwyt clwydeu arnaw ef, ac yd aeth y luoed ef ar Y draws ef drwod. Ar hynny, gyt ac y kyuodes ef, llyma gennadeu Matholwch yn dyuot attaw ef, ac yn kyuarch guell idaw, ac yn y annerch y gan Uatholwch y gyuathrachwr, ac yn menegi o'e uod ef na haedei arnaw ef namyn da.


Ac y mae Matholwch yn rodi brenhinaeth Iwerdon y Wern uab Matholwch, dy nei ditheu, uab dy chwaer, ac yn y ystynnu y'th wyd di, yn lle y cam a'r codyant a wnaethpwyt y Uranwen. Ac yn y lle y mynnych ditheu, ay yma, ay yn Ynys y Kedyrn, gossymdeitha Uatholwch.”


“ Ie,” heb ynteu Uendigeiduran, “ony allaf i ue hun cael y urenhinaeth, ac aduyd ys kymeraf gynghor am ych kennadwri chwi. O hyn hyt ban del amgen, ny cheffwch y genhyf i attep.”


Ie,” heb wynteu, “yr atteb goreu a gaffom ninheu, attat ti y down ac ef, ac aro ditheu yn kennadwri ninheu.”


“ Arhoaf,” heb ef, “o dowch yn ehegyr.”


Y kennadeu a gyrchyssant racdu, ac at Uatholwch y doethant.

“ Arglwyd,” heb wy, “kyweira attep a uo gwell at Uendigeidwran. Ny warandawei dim o'r attep a aeth y genhym ni attaw ef.”


A wyr,” heb y Matholwch, “mae ych kynghor chwi ?”

“ Arglwyd,” heb wy, “nyt oes it gynghor namyn un. Ni enghis ef y mywn ty eiryoet,” heb wy. “ Gwna ty,” heb wy, “o'y anryded ef, y ganho ef a gwyr Ynys y Kedyrn yn y neillparth y'r ty, a thitheu a'th lu yn y parth arall. A doro dy urenhinaeth yn y ewyllus, a gwra idaw. Ac o enryded gwneuthur y ty,” heb wy, “peth ny chauas eiryoet ty y ganhei yndaw, ef a tangnoueda a thi.”



A'r kennadeu a doethant a'r gennadwri honno gantunt at Uendigeiduran ; ac ynteu a gymerth gynghor. Sef a gauas yn y gynghor, kymryt hynny ; a thrwy gynghor Branuen uu hynny oll, ac rac llygru y wlat oed genti hitheu hynny.

E tangneued a gyweirwyt, a'r ty a adeilwyt yn uawr ac yn braf. Ac ystryw a wnaeth y Gwydyl. Sef ystryw a wnaethant, dodi guanas o bop parth y bop colouyn o cant colouyn oed yn y ty, a dodi boly croyn ar bop guanas, a gwr aruawc ym pob vn o honunt.


“There is none,” said he, “except that he who will be chief, let him be a bridge*. I will be so,” said he.

And then was that saying first uttered, and it is still used as a proverb. And when he had lain down across the river, hurdles were placed upon him, and the host passed over thereby. And as he rose up, behold the messengers of Matholwch came to him, and saluted him, and gave him greeting in the name of Matholwch, his kinsman, and showed how that of his goodwill he had merited of him nothing but good.


“For Matholwch has given the kingdom of Ireland to Gwern the son of Matholwch, thy nephew and thy sister's son. And this he places before thee, as a compensation for the wrong and despite that has been done unto Branwen. And Matholwch shall be maintained wheresoever thou wilt, either here or in the Island of the Mighty.”

 Said Bendigeid Fran, “Shall not I myself have the kingdom? Then peradventure I may take counsel concerning your message. From this time until then no other answer will you get from me.”


“Verily,” said they, “the best message that we receive for thee, we will convey it unto thee, and do thou await our message unto him.”

“I will wait,” answered he, “ and do you return quickly.”

The messengers set forth and came to Matholweh.

“Lord,” said they, “prepare a better message for Bendigeid Fran. He would not listen at all to the message that we bore him.”


“My friends,” said Matholwch, “what may be your counsel?”

“Lord,” said they, “there is no other counsel than this alone. He was never known to be within a house, make therefore a house that will contain him and the men of the Island of the Mighty on the one side, and thyself and thy host on the other; and give over thy kingdom to his will, and do him homage. So by reason of the honour thou doest him in making him a house, whereas he never before had a house to contain him, he will make peace with thee.”

 So the messengers went back to Bendigeid Fran, bearing him this message. And he took counsel, and in the council it was resolved that he should accept this, and this was all done by the advice of Branwen, and lest the country should be destroyed.

And this peace was made, and the house was built both vast and strong.

But the Irish** planned a crafty device, and the craft was that they should put brackets on each side of the hundred pillars that were in the house, and should place a leathern bag on each bracket, and an armed man in every one of them.



* This saying is still found in all the collections of Welsh proverbs (A vo pen bid pont, Myv. arch., p 839, column 1). There is trace of a similar belief in the Buddhist literature of India. A monkey chief saves his troop by making a bridge of his body (Henri Kern, Aus of Ind. und der Kelt. Sagenwelt, Rev celt., 1896, p, 295).


** Gwyddyl, singular Gwyddel, is the name given by the Welsh to the people of Gaelic race (i.e., Irish, Scots of the highlands and inhabitants of the island of Man). This name of these peoples, old Irish Góidel, modern Irish Gaedheal, pronounced similarly to ‘Gael’. This shows that this name is not linked to the mythical Galls who are supposed to have invaded Gaul before the Kymry, mythical as well.



Sef a wnaeth Efnyssyen dyuot ymlaen llu Ynys y Kedyrn y mywn, ac edrych golygon orwyllt antrugarawc ar hyt y ty. Ac arganuot y bolyeu crwyn a wnaeth ar hyt y pyst.

“Beth yssyd yn y boly hwnn ?” heb ef, wrth un o'r Gwydyl.

“ Blawt, eneit,” heb ef. Sef a wnaeth ynteu, y deimlaw hyt ban gauas y benn, a guascu y benn, yny glyw y uyssed yn ymanodi yn y ureichell drwy yr ascwrn. Ac adaw hwnnw, a dodi y law ar un arall a gouyn,.

“ Beth yssyd yma ?”

“ Blawt,” medei y Gwydel.

Sef a wnai ynteu yr un guare a fawb ohonunt, hyt nat edewis ef wr byw o'r hollwyr o'r deu cannwr eithyr un. A dyuot at hwnnw, a gouyn,

“Beth yssyd yma ?”

“ Blawt, eneit,” heb y Gwydel. Sef a wnaeth ynteu, y deimlaw ef yny gauas y benn, ac ual y guascassei benneu y rei ereill, guascu penn hwnnw. Sef y clywei arueu am benn hwnnw. Nyt ymedewis ef a hwnnw, yny ladawd. Ac yna canu englyn, --


Yssit yn y boly hwnn amryw ulawt,

Keimeit, kynniuyeit, diskynneit yn trin,

Rac kydwyr cad barawt.


Ac ar hynny y dothyw y niueroed y'r ty. Ac y doeth gwyr Ynys Iwerdon y'r ty o'r neill parth, a gwyr Ynys y Kedyrn o'r parth arall. Ac yn gynebrwydet ac yd eistedyssant, y bu duundeb y rydunt, ac yd ystynnwyt y urenhinaeth y'r mab.

Ac yna, guedy daruot y tangneued, galw o Uendigeiduran y mab attaw. Y gan Uendigeiduran y kyrchawd y mab at Uanawydan, a phawb o'r a'e guelei yn y garu.


 E gan Uanawydan y gelwis Nyssyen uab Eurosswyd y mab attaw. Y mab a aeth attaw yn diryon.

“Paham,” heb yr Efnissyen, “na daw uy nei uab uy chwaer attaf i ? Kyn ny bei urenhin ar Iwerdon, da oed genhyf i ymtiryoni a'r mab.”


“ Aet yn llawen,” heb y Bendigeiduran. Y mab a aeth attaw yn llawen.


Y Duw y dygaf uyg kyffes,” heb ynteu yn y uedwl, “ys anhebic a gyflauan gan y tylwyth y wneuthur, a wnaf i yr awr honn.”


A chyuodi y uynyd, a chymryt y mab erwyd y traet, a heb ohir, na chael o dyn yn y ty gauael arnaw, yny want y mab yn wysc y benn yn y gynneu.

A fan welas Uranwen y mab yn boeth yn y tan, hi a gynsynwys uwrw neit yn y tan, o'r lle yd oed yn eisted rwng y deu uroder. A chael o Uendigeiduran hi yn y neill law, a'y tarean yn y llaw arall. Ac yna, ymgyuot o bawb ar hyt y ty. A llyna y godwrw mwyhaf a uu gan yniuer un ty, pawb yn kymryt y arueu. Ac yna y dywot Mordwyd Tyllyon, “Guern gwngwch uiwch Uordwyt Tyllyon.”


Ac yn yd aeth pawb ym pen yr arueu, y kynhelis Bendigeiduran Uranwen y rwng y taryan a'y yscwyd.

Then Evnissyen came in before the host of the Island of the Mighty, and scanned the house with fierce and savage looks, and descried the leathern bags which were around the pillars.

“What is in this bag?" asked he of one of the Irish.

“Meal, good soul,” said he. And Evnissyen felt about it until he came to the man's head, and he squeezed the head until he felt his fingers meet together in the brain through the bone. And he left that one and put his hand upon another, and asked what was therein.


“Meal,” said the Irishman. So he did the like unto every one of them, until he had not left alive, of all the two hundred men, save one only; and when he came to him, he asked what was there.


“Meal, good soul,” said the Irishman. And he felt about until he felt the head, and he squeezed that head as he had done the others. And, albeit he found that the head of this one was armed, he left him not until he had killed him. And then he sang an Englyn*:-


"There is in this bag a different sort of meal, The ready combatant, when the assault** is made By his fellow-warriors, prepared for battle.”

Thereupon came the hosts unto the house. The men of the Island of Ireland entered the house on the one side, and the men of the Island of the Mighty on the other. And as soon as they had sat down there was concord between them; and the sovereignty was conferred upon the boy. When the peace was concluded, Bendigeid Fran called the boy unto him, and from Bendigeid Fran the boy went unto Manawyddan, and he was beloved by all that beheld him.

And from Manawyddan the boy was called by Nissyen the son of Eurosswydd, and the boy went unto him lovingly.

“Wherefore,” said Evnissyen "comes not my nephew the son of my sister unto me? Though he were not king of Ireland, yet willingly would I fondle the boy.”


“ Cheerfully let him go to thee,” said Bendigeid Fran, and the boy went unto him cheerfully.

“By my confession to Heaven,” said Evnissyen in his heart, “unthought of by the household is the slaughter that I will this instant commit.”

Then he arose and took up the boy by the feet, and before any one in the house could seize hold of him, he thrust the boy headlong into the blazing fire.

And when Branwen saw her son burning in the fire, she strove to leap into the fire also, from the place where she sat between her two brothers. But Bendigeid Fran grasped her with one hand, and his shield with the other. Then they all hurried about the house, and never was there made so great a tumult by any host in one house as was made by them, as each man armed himself. Then said Morddwydtyllyon***, “The gadflies**** of Morddwydtyllyon's Cow!"*****

And while they all sought their arms, Bendigeid Fran supported Branwen between his shield and his shoulder.




* Englyn means ‘epigram, stanza’, one of the three main Welsh  meters (See Dosparth Edeyrn Davod aur, LXVI, LXVII). Myv. arch., p. 331, column 2, also provides us with two Englyn, instead of only one, from another source. The first one does not refer directly to this passage: “I heard a crane screaming in the marsh, far from the houses; whoever is not listened to can keep silent (?)"


** There is perhaps here the same idea as in Gododin (Skene, Four, anc. books, II, p. 100, 26):

Pan esgynnei bawp, ti disgynnut.

”When each one rode a horse, you climbed down",

i.e., when everyone left in haste, (fled), you stayed.


*** Morddwyd, thigh; Armorican; morzed or morzad; tyllion appears to come from twll, hole. Taliesin refers to this character: "I was with Bran in Iwerddon, I witnessed the killing of Morddwyt Tyllon (Skene, Four ancient books; II, p. 275).


**** Gwern is the name of the son of Mathollwch.


***** YK’s note : a more modern edition from 1992 (COOP BREIZH, Kerangwenn, 29540, Spézet) translates : “Dogs of Gwern, beware Morddwyt Tyllion !”



Ac yna y dechrewis y Gwydyl kynneu tan dan y peir dadeni. Ac yna y byrywyt y kalaned yn y peir, yny uei yn llawn, ac y kyuodyn tranoeth y bore yn wyr ymlad kystal a chynt, eithyr na ellynt dywedut. Ac yna pan welas Efnissyen y calaned heb enni yn un lle o wyr Ynys y Kedyrn, y dywot yn y uedwl,


“Oy a Duw,” heb ef, “guae ui uy mot yn achaws y'r wydwic honn o wyr Ynys y Kedyrn ; a meuyl ymi,” heb ef, “ony cheissaf i waret rac hynn,” Ac ymedyryaw ymlith calaned y Gwydyl, a dyuot deu Wydel uonllwm idaw, a'y uwrw yn y peir yn rith Gwydel. Emystynnu idaw ynteu yn y peir, yny dyrr y peir yn pedwar dryll, ac yny dyrr y galon ynteu.




Ac o hynny y bu y meint goruot a uu y wyr Ynys y Kedyrn.

Ny bu oruot o hynny eithyr diang seithwyr, a brathu Bendigeiduran yn y troet a guenwynwaew.


Sef seithwyr a dienghis, Pryderi, Manawydan, Gliuieu Eil Taran, Talyessin, ac Ynawc, Grudyeu uab Muryel, Heilyn uab Gwyn Hen.

Ac yna y peris Bendigeiduran llad y benn.


“ A chymerwch chwi y penn,” heb ef, “a dygwch hyt y Gwynuryn yn Llundein, a chledwch a'y wyneb ar Freinc ef.

A chwi a uydwch ar y ford yn hir ; yn Hardlech y bydwch seith mlyned ar ginyaw, ac Adar Riannon y canu ywch.


A'r penn a uyd kystal gennwch y gedymdeithas ac y bu oreu gennwch, ban uu arnaf i eiryoet. Ac y Guales ym Penuro y bydwch pedwarugeint mlyned.


Ac yny agoroch y drws parth ac Aber Henuelen, y tu ar Gernyw, y gellwch uot yno a'r penn yn dilwgyr genhwch. Ac o'r pan agoroch y drws hwnnw, ny ellwch uot yno. Kyrchwch Lundein y gladu y penn. A chyrchwch chwi racoch drwod.”


Ac yna y llas y benn ef, ac y kychwynassant a'r penn gantu drwod, y seithwyr hynn, a Branwen yn wythuet.


Ac y Aber Alau yn Talebolyon y doethant y'r tir. Ac yna eisted a wnaethant, a gorfowys. Edrych oheni hitheu ar Iwerdon, ac ar Ynys y Kedyrn, a welei ohonunt.


“ Oy a uab Duw,” heb hi, “guae ui o'm ganedigaeth. Da a dwy ynys a diffeithwyt o'm achaws i.” A dodi ucheneit uawr, a thorri y chalon ar hynny. A gwneuthur bed petrual idi, a'e chladu yno yglan Alaw.


Ac ar hynny, kerdet a wnaeth y seithwyr parth a Hardlech, a'r penn ganthunt. Val y bydant y kerdet, llyma gyweithyd yn kyuaruot ac wynt, o wyr a gwraged.

A oes gennwch chwi chwedleu ?” heb y Manawydan.


Then the Irish kindled a fire under the cauldron of renovation, and they cast the dead bodies into the cauldron until it was full, and the next day they came forth fighting-men as good as before, except that they were not able to speak. Then when Evnissyen saw the dead bodies of the men of the Island of the Mighty nowhere resuscitated, he said in his heart, “Alas! woe is me, that I should have been the cause of bringing the men of the Island of the Mighty into so great a strait. Evil betide me if I find not a deliverance there-from.”

 And he cast himself among the dead bodies of the Irish, and two unshod Irishmen came to him, and, taking him to be one of the Irish, flung him into the cauldron. And he stretched himself out in the cauldron, so that he rent the cauldron into four pieces, and burst his own heart also.

In consequence of that the men of the Island of the Mighty obtained such success as they had; but they were not victorious, for only seven men of them all escaped, and Bendigeid Fran himself was wounded in the foot with a poisoned dart.

Now the seven men that escaped were Pryderi, Manawyddan, Gluneu Eil Taran*, Taliesin**, Ynawc, Grudyen the son of Muryel, and Heilyn the son of Gwynn Hen.

And Bendigeid Fran commanded them that they should cut off his head.

“And take you my head,” said he, “ and bear it even unto the White Mount***, in London, and bury it there, with the face towards France. And a long time will you be upon the road. In Harlech you will be feasting seven years, the birds of Rhiannon singing unto you the while.

And all that time the head will be to you as pleasant company as it ever was when on my body. And at Gwales**** in Penvro***** you will be fourscore years,


and you may remain there, and the head with you uncorrupted, until you open the door that looks towards Aber Henvelen******, and towards Cornwall. And after you have opened that door, there you may no longer tarry, set forth then to London to bury the head, and go straight forward.”

So they cut off his head, and these seven went forward therewith. And Branwen was the eighth with them, and they came to land


at Aber Alaw*******, in Talebolyon, and they sat down to rest. And Branwen looked towards Ireland and towards the Island of the Mighty, to see if she could descry them.


“Alas,” said she, “woe is me that I was ever born; two islands have been destroyed because of me!" Then she uttered a loud groan, and there broke her heart. And they made her a foursided grave, and buried her upon the banks Of the Alaw.

Then the seven men journeyed forward towards Harlech, bearing the head with them; and as they went behold there met them a multitude of men and of women.

“Have you any tidings?" asked Manawyddan.




* Taran, son of Taran; taran means thunder; the Gallic god of thunder was Taranus.


** Taliessin or Teliessin penbeirdd, Taliesin, chief bard. According to Nennius,. Petrie ed., Monum. hist. brit.,., p. 75, Taliesin would have lived in the VIth century. Nothing of his life is known for certian. In a curious poem in the Black Book, where he speaks with Ygnach, and says that he comes from Caer Seon, close to Carnarvon, to fight the Itewon (Jews?) and that it goes to Caer Lew and Gwydyon. Ygnach calls him penhaw o'r gwyr, first of the men (Skene, Four anc. books, p. 56, xxxv). The poems attributed to him are perhaps the most curious of the Welsh literature, and they celebrate especially Urien, Elphin, Kynan, of which the first passes to have been a king of the North Britons. They also speak often of Gwydyon, king de Gwynedd of North-Wales, a mysterious character, mythological rather than real. He also celebrates an Irish hero, Conroi, son of Daere. If all the poems attributed to him come actually form his hand, he must have lived among the Gaels, thus confirming the legend according to which he would have been slave in Ireland. For more details, see his life annexed by Lady Guest’s version., Taliesin is a family name in Armorica (Petrus dictus Taliesin, Cart. of Quimper, National Library., 9892, folio. 23 , year 1325; Petrus Yvonis Talgesini, ibid, folio 21 , 1331; Talgesin, ibid, folio 79 r°, t. III, 14).


*** Brynn, ‘hill’, Armorican ‘bren’; and gwynn, white’, Old Armorican win, today: ‘gwen’. In Welsh, the feminine form is ‘gwen’ (gwynn = vindos; gwenn = vindā (Rhys, Readings on Welsh Philology, 2nd éd., p 115). According to Lady Guest, it would be the London Tower. A poet of the end of the XIIth century, Llywarch ab Llywelyn, better known as Prydydd y Moch, speaks of it as a famous place (Myv. arch., p. 200, column 1).



**** **** Gwales appears to be Gresholm in Pembrokeshire (Rhys, Arthurian Legend, p. 269, 394, note).



***** Penvro (word for word : end of the country). The ancient county of Pembroke (Pem-brog), seems to correspond approximately to the present hundred of Castlemartin, that includes two of the three cymmwd forming the ancient cantref of Penvro, together with the ones of Penvro and Maenor Byr (Manorbeer): cf. Egerton Phillimore Owen’s Pembrok. I, p. 153, note 3. There was another Pembro in Cornwall: it was the secular name of the Saint-Breage parish.


****** Aber Henvelen, ambassador. The ms. say Henveleu. Egerton Philmore (Owen's Pembrok. II, p. 410 note 42), following there John Rhys, identifies it with Clovelly, in the north of Devon: Clovelly for clodd velly (Welsh, clawdd (trench); hen would be the Cornish determiner en. In Cornish, the ending ow corresponds to eu; hen is also impossible for en. I did not hesitate to read it as Henvelen, because of two texts where this reading is certain. Taliesin (F A. B. of Wales II, p. 153. 32) says: I sang in front of the children of Llyr in Ebyr. (plural of aber) Henvelen: the final rhyme is - en. Cynddelw also, in second half of the XIIth century speaks of the floods of Henvelen: Henvelen rhymes there with Maxen and Wryen Myv. Arch. 162. 1).


******* Aber Alaw, mouth of the Alaw, river of Anglesey.



“ Nac oes,” heb wynt, “onyt goresgyn o Gaswallawn uab Beli Ynys y Kedyrn, a'y uot yn urenhin coronawc yn Llundein.”


“ Pa daruu,” heb wynteu, “y Gradawc uab Bran, a'r seithwyr a edewit y gyt ac ef yn yr ynys honn ?”

“ Dyuot Caswallawn am eu penn, a llad y chwegwyr, a thorri ohonaw ynteu Gradawc y galon o aniuyget, am welet y cledyf yn llad y wyr, ac na wydat pwy a'e lladei.

Caswallawn a daroed idaw wiscaw llen hut amdanaw, ac ny welei neb ef yn llad y gwyr, namyn y cledyf. Ny uynhei Gaswallawn y lad ynteu, y nei uab y geuynderw oed. (A hwnnw uu y trydyd dyn a torres y gallon o aniuyget).

Pendarar Dyuet, a oed yn was ieuang gyt a'r seithwyr, a dienghis y'r coet,” heb wynt.



Ac yna y kyrchyssant wynteu Hardlech, ac y dechreussant eisted, ac y dechreuwyt ymdiwallu o uwyt a llynn. Ac y [gyt ac y] dechreuyssant wynteu uwyta ac yuet, dyuot tri ederyn, a dechreu canu udunt ryw gerd, ac oc a glywssynt o gerd, diuwyn oed pob un iwrthi hi. A fell dremynt oed udunt y guelet uch benn y weilgi allan. A chyn amlyket oed udunt wy a chyn bydynt gyt ac wy. Ac ar hynny o ginyaw y buant seith mlyned. Ae ym penn y seithuet ulwydyn, y kychwynyssant parth a Gualas ym Penuro.


Ac yno yd oed udunt lle teg brenhineid uch benn y weilgi, ac yneuad uawr oed, ac y'r neuad y kyrchyssant. A deu drws a welynt yn agoret ; y trydyd drws oed y gayat, yr hwnn y tu a Chernyw.


“Weldy racco,” heb y Manawydan, “y drws ny dylywn ni y agori.” A'r nos honno y buant yno yn diwall, ac yn digrif ganthunt. Ac yr a welsynt o ouut yn y gwyd, ac yr a gewssynt e hun, ny doy gof udunt wy dim, nac o hynny, nac o alar yn y byt. Ac yno y treulyssant y pedwarugeint mlyned hyt na wybuant wy eiryoet dwyn yspeit digriuach na hyurydach no honno.


Nyt oed anesmwythach, nac adnabot o un ar y gilyd y uot yn hynny o amser, no fan doethan yno. Nit oed anesmwythach ganthunt wynte gyduot y penn yna, no phan uuassei Uendigeiduran yn uyw gyd ac wynt. Ac o achaws y pedwarugeint mlyned hynny y gelwit Ysbydawt Urdaul Benn. (Ysbydawt Uranwen a Matholwch oed yr honn yd aethpwyt e Iwerdon).


Sef a wnaeth Heilyn uab Guyn dydgueith.

“ Meuyl ar uy maryf i,” heb ef, “onyt agoraf y drws, e wybot ay gwir a dywedir am hynny.” Agori y drws a wnaeth, ac edrych ar Gernyw, ac ar Aber Henuelen. A phan edrychwys, yd oed yn gyn hyspysset ganthunt y gyniuer collet a gollyssynt eiryoet, a'r gyniuer car a chedymdeith a gollyssynt, a'r gyniuer drwc a dothoed udunt, a chyt bei yno y kyuarffei ac wynt ; ac yn benhaf oll am eu harglwyd. Ac o'r gyuawr honno, ny allyssant wy orfowys namyn kyrchu a'r penn parth a Llundein. Pa hyt bynnac y bydynt ar y ford, wynt a doethant hyt yn Llundein, ac a gladyssant y penn yn y Gwynuryn.

“We have none,” said they, “save that Caswallawn* the son of Beli, has conquered the Island of the Mighty, and is crowned king in London.”

“What has become,” said they, “of Caradawc the son of Bran, and the seven men who were left with him in this island?”

“Caswallawn came upon them, and slew six of the men, and Caradawc's heart broke for grief thereof; for he could see the sword that slew the men, but knew not who it was that wielded it. Caswallawn had flung upon him the Veil of Illusion, so that no one could see him slay the men, but the sword only could they see. And it liked him not to slay Caradawc, because he was his nephew, the son of his cousin. And now he was the third whose heart had broke through grief. Pendaran Dyved, who had remained as a young page with these men, escaped into the wood,” said they.

Then they went on to Harlech, and there stopped to rest, and they provided meat and liquor, and sat down to eat and to drink. And there came three birds, and began singing unto them a certain song, and all the songs they had ever heard were unpleasant compared thereto and the birds seemed to them to be at a great distance from them over the sea, yet they appeared as distinct as if they were close by, and at this repast they continued seven years. And at the close of the seventh year they went forth to Gwales** in Penvro.

And there they found a fair and regal spot overlooking the ocean; and a spacious hall was therein. And they went into the hall, and two of its doors were open, but the third door was closed, that which looked towards Cornwall.

“See, yonder,” said Manawyddan, “is the door that we may not open.”

 And that night they regaled themselves and were joyful. And of all they had seen of food laid before them, and of all they had heard of, they remembered nothing; neither of that, nor of any sorrow whatsoever. And there they remained fourscore years, unconscious of having ever spent a time more joyous and mirthful. And they were not more weary than when first they came, neither did they, any of them, know the time they had been there. And it was not more irksome to them having the head with them, than if Bendigeid Fran had been with them himself. And because of these fourscore years, it was called the entertaining of the noble head. The entertaining of Branwen and Matholwch was in the time that they went to Ireland.


One day said Heilyn the son of Gwynn,


“Evil betide me, if I do not open the door to know if that is true which is said concerning it.” So he opened the door and looked towards Cornwall and Aber Henvelen. And when they had looked, they were as conscious of all the evils they had ever sustained, and of all the friends and companions they had lost, and of all the misery that had befallen them, as if all had happened in that very spot; and especially of the fate of their lord. And because of their perturbation they could not rest, but journeyed forth with the head towards London.



* Caswallawn has the same form as of the Roman times name: Cassivellaunus. He is shown, in the Triads, as one of the Breton war leaders fighting against the Romans.The two others are Gweirydd, son of Cynvelyn and Caradawc ab Bran (Myv. arch., p. 403, 24). He organizes an expedition of sixty and one thousand men to abduct Flur, Mynach Gorr’s daughter, from Mwrchan, a Gallic prince; He goes through Llydaw (Armorica), beats the Romans, takes Flur and remains in Gwasgwyn, where his descendants are still found(Myv. arch., p. 402, column 1; ref. Brut Tysilio, ibid, p. 449 and fol. ; Gaufrei of Monmouth, Hist., III, 20; IV, 2, 3, 7, 9). He is also one of the three lovers of the island; he is in love with Flur; the two other lovers are Trystan ab Tallwch, lover of Essyllt, wife of March ab Meirchion, his uncle, and Kynon, lover of Morvudd, Urien de Reged’s daughter (Myv. arch., p. 392, 53). HeHe is also one of the three eurgrydd or shoe-maker-experts, see note to Manawyddan [Next Mabinogi].

Caswallawn’s horse is called Melynlas (pale yellow), Black Book, 10, line 15.


** This name of Gwales represents the Anglo-Saxon Wealas, Wales, the name by which the Saxons called the Bretons they were then fighting. Germanic peoples in general used that name for all the tribes submitted to the Roman empire. It derives from Volca, the name of a Gallic population which seems to have played a very significant role in the relationships between Celts and Teutons (Old High German Walah = Volca).The French transformed Wales into Galles (see d'Arbois de Jubainville, Cours de littérature celtique, I. p. 11, after Gaston Paris). Here Gwales indicates Gresholm.



A hwnnw trydyd matcud ban gudywyt, a'r trydyd anuat datcud pann datcudywyt ; cany doey ormes byth drwy uor y'r ynys honn, tra uei y penn yn y cud hwnnw. A hynny a dyweit y kyuarwydyd hwnn eu kyfranc wy. “ Y gwyr a gychwynwys o Iwerdon, yw hwnnw.




En Iwerdon nyt edewit dyn byw, namyn pump gwraged beichawc ymywn gogof yn diffeithwch Iwerdon. A'r pump wraged hynny, yn yr un kyfnot, a anet udunt pum meib. A'r pym meib hynny a uagyssant, hyt ban uuant weisson mawr, ac yny uedylyssant am wraged, ac yny uu damunet gantunt eu cafael. Ac yna, kyscu pob un lau heb lau gan uam y gilid, a gwledychu y wlat a'y chyuanhedu, a'y rannu y rydunt yll pymp. Ac o achaws y ranyat hwnnw y gelwir etwan pymp rann Ywerdon.

Ac edrych y wlat a wnaethant ford y buassei yr aeruaeu, a chael eur, ac aryant, yny ytoedynt yn gyuoethawc.

A llyna ual y teruyna y geing honn o'r Mabinyogi, o achaws Paluawt Branwen; yr honn a uu tryded anuat paluawt yn yr ynys honn ; ac o achaws Yspadawt Uran, pan aeth yniuer pedeir decwlat a seithugeint e Iwerdon,

y dial Paluawt Branwen ; ac am y ginyaw yn Hardlech seith mlyned ;

ac am Ganyat Adar Riannon, ac am' Yspydaut Benn pedwarugeint mlyned.


And they buried the head in the White Mount, and when it was buried, this was the third goodly concealment; and it was the third ill-fated disclosure when it was disinterred, inasmuch as no invasion from across the sea came to this island while the head was in that concealment.


And thus is the story related of those who journeyed over from Ireland.

In Ireland none were left alive, except five pregnant women in a cave in the Irish wilderness; and to these five women in the same night were born five sons, whom they nursed until they became grown-up youths. And they thought about wives, and they at the same time desired to possess them, and each took a wife of the mothers of their companions, and they governed the country and peopled it. And these five divided it amongst them, and because of this partition are the five divisions* of Ireland still so termed. And they examined the land where the battles had taken place, and they found gold and silver until they became wealthy**.

And thus ends this portion of the Mabinogi, concerning the blow given to Branwen, which was the third unhappy blow of this island; and concerning the entertainment of Bran, when the hosts of sevenscore countries and ten went over to Ireland to revenge the blow given to Branwen; and concerning the seven years' banquet in Harlech, and the singing of the birds of Rhiannon, and the sojourning of the head for the space of fourscore years.




* In the past , Ireland was divided in five parts: Meath, Connacht, Ulster, Leinster and Munster (O' Curry, On the manners, I, p. XCIX; Joyce, a social history of Ireland, I p. 36 and following).


** As did the Scandinavians in Ireland, the Welsh excavated prehistoric tombs to find gold as proved by a document of the XIIth century, Black Book of Carmarthen (Skene, F a. b. II, p. 35, line 5).