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Genealogy Places of Interest

EARLY WELSH POEMS and/or INTERPRETATIONS

Most Welsh history has been handed down by poetry which has been learned by each generation and passed down to the next, as the written word was virtually absent or has been destroyed over the years. There follows some of these poems in the original Welsh with English interpretations by Professor Joseph Clancy and others. 

  7th. Century  -  Anonymous  

  • Marwnad Cynddylan 

  • Dyhedd deon diechyr ...

  • Rhiau a Rhirid a Rhioedd, 

  • A Rhygyfarch lary, lyw eiriasedd. 

  • Ef cwynif oni fwyf i'm derwin fedd 

  • O leas Cynddylan yn ei fawredd.

  • Lament for Cynddylan

  • Invincible Lords' distress ........

  • Rhiau and Rhirid and Rhioedd,

  • And kind Rhygyfarch, fervent leader.

  • I shall mourn till I enter my oaken grave

  • Cynddylan slain at his power's height.

 

  • Mawredd gyminedd a feddyliais 

  • Myned i Fenai, cyn ni'm bai fais. 

  • Caraf a'm ennairch o dir Cemais. 

  • Gwerling Dogfeiling, Cadelling drais.

  • Ef cwynif oni fwyf i'm derw llednais 

  • O leas Cynddylan, colled anofais. 

  • Height of sword-strife I considered it,

  • Going to Menai, though no ford was mine.

  • I love him who greets me from Cemais' land,

  • King of Dogfeiling, Cadell's forceful heir.

  • I shall mourn till I enter my quiet oak

  • Cynddylan slain, loss that pierces deep.

 

  • Mawredd gyminedd, i feddyliaw 

  • Myned i Fenai, cyn ni'm bai naw. 

  • Caraf a'm ennairch o Aberffraw, 

  • Gwerling Dogfeiling, Cadelling ffaw.

  • Ef cwynif oni fwyf i'm derwin taw 

  • O leas Cynddylan,a'i luyddaw. 

  • Height of sword-strife, to consider

  • Going to Menai, though no swim was mine.

  • I love him who greets me from Aberffraw,

  • King of Dogfeiling, Cadell's renowned heir.

  • I shall mourn till I enter my silent oak

  • Cynddylan slain, and his warriors.

 

  • Mawredd gyminedd, gwin waredawg,

  • Wyf colledig wn, hen, hiraethawg.

  • Collais pan amwyth alaf Pennawg 

  • Gwr dewr, diachar, diarbedawg. 

  • Cyrchai drais tra Thren, tir trahawg. 

  • Ef cwynif oni fwyf yn ddaear fodawg  

  • O leas Cynddylan, clod Caradawg. 

  • Height of sword-strife, pouring forth of wine,

  • I am left with smile lost, aged by longing.

  • I lost when he fought for Pennawg's land

  • A valient man, savage, sparing none.

  • He launched the assault past Tren, proud land.

  • I shall mourn till I enter steadfast earth

  • Cynddylan slain, famed as Caradawg.

 

  • Mawredd gyminedd, mor fu daffawd 

  • A gafas Cynddylan, cynran cyffrawd; 

  • Saith gant rhiallu yn ei ysbyddawd; 

  • Pan fynnwys mab pyd, mor fu barawd!

  • Ni ddarfu yn neithiawr, ni bu priawd. 

  • Gan Dduw py amgen plwyf, py du daerawd?

  • Ef cwynif oni fwyf yn erwydd rawd 

  • O leas Cynddylan, clod addwyndawd.

  • Height of sword-strife, how it has been undone 

  • What Cynddylan won, lord of warfare!

  • Seven hundred horses behind him,

  • When the lad sought peril, how keen he was!

  • No bridal took place, he died unwed.

  • Why the changed parish, the dark burial?

  • I shall mourn till I enter circling staves

  • Cynddylan slain, famed for majesty.

   

  • Mawredd gyminedd, mor wyf gnotaf,

  • Pob pysg a milyn yd fydd tecaf.

  • I drais a gollais, gwr achasaf,   

  • Rhaiu a Rhirid a Rhaidaf,   

  • A Rhygyfarch lary, ir pob eithaf. 

  • Dyrrynt eu preiddiau o ddolau Taf; 

  • Caith cwynynt; brefynt, grydynt alaf. 

  • Ef cwynif oni fwyf yn erw penylaf   

  • O leas Cynddylan, clod pob eithaf.  

  • Height of sword-strife, how I keep high custom,

  • Each fish and beast will be the fairest!

  • In violence I lost, men most valient,

  • Rhaiu and Rhirid and Rhaidaf,

  • And kind Rhygyfarch, lord of all borders.

  • They would drive their spoils fromTaff's meadows;

  • Captives would wail; cattle lowed, bellowed.

  • I shall mourn till I enter the field's surface

  • Cynddylan slain, each borders renown.

 

  • Mawredd gyminedd, a weli di hyn? 

  • Yd lysg fy nghalon fel etewyn. 

  • Hoffais feuedd eu gwr a'u gwragedd, 

  • Fy ngomedd ni ellyn'. 

  • Brodyr a'm bwyad, oedd gwell ban fythyn'.

  • Canawon Arthur fras, dinas dengyn, 

  • Y rhag Caer Lwytgoed nis digonsyn'. 

  • Oedd crau y dan frain, a chrai gychwyn.   

  • Briwynt calch ar drwyn feibion Cyndrwynyn. 

  • Ef cwynif oni fwyf yn nhir gwelyddyn 

  • O leas Cynddylan, clodlawn unbyn.

  • Height of sword-strife, do you see this?

  • My heart is burning like a firebrand.

  • I praised their men's and their women's riches:

  • They could not deny me;

  • Brothers fed me, better it was when they lived 

  • Sturdy Arthur's cubs, steadfast stronghold.

  • At Caer Lwytgoed they were not sated:

  • There were blood-stained crows, fresh plundering.sons 

  • They pierced shield with spike Cyndrwynyn's

  • I shall mourn till I enter earth's bed

  • Cynddylan slain, lord of high renown.

 

  • Mawredd gyminedd, mawr ysgafael 

  • Y rhag Caer Lwytgoed, neus dug Morfael.

  • Pymthecant muhyn, a phum gwriael, 

  • Pedwar ugain meirch, a seirch cychafael.

  • Pob esgob hunob ym mhedeirael 

  • Nis noddes, na mynaich llyfr afael.   

  • A gwyddwys yn cu creulan o gynran claer

  • Nid engis o'r ffosawd brawd ar ei chwaer.

  • Dihengynt 'u herchyll trewyll yn nhaer.

  • Ef cwynif oni fwyf yn erw trafael   

  • O leas Cynddylan, clodrydd pob hael.

  • Height of sword-strife, great the plunder

  • At Caer Lwytgoed, Morfael captured it,

  • Fifteen hundred cattle, and five bondsmen,

  • Fourscore stallions, and noble trappings.

  • Not a single bishop in four regions

  • Has he spared, nor bookholding monks.

  • One felled in their fight by a bright prince

  • Came not from the strife, brother to sister.

  • They came back with their wounds from battle.

  • I shall mourn till I enter travail's acre

  • Cynddylan slain, praised by all patrons.

 

  • Mawredd gyminedd, mor oedd eiddun   

  • Gan fy mryd, pan athreiddwn Pwll ac Alun!

  • Irfrwyn y dan fy nhraed hyd bryd cyntun;   

  • Pludde y danaf hyd ym mhen fy nghlun.   

  • A chyd ethwyf yno i'm bro fy hun,   

  • Nid oes un cr; neud adar i'w warfun.  

  • A chyn ni'm dycai Dduw i'r digfryn,   

  • Ni ddigones neb bechawd cyhafal fy hun.   

  • Height of sword-strife, how delightful it was

  • For me, when I came to Pwll and Alun!

  • Fresh rushes beneath my feet till bedtime,

  • Fresh pillows beneath my buttocks.

  • And though I went there, to my own land,

  • Not one friend remained; birds forbid them.

  • And though God bring me not to doomsday's mount,

  • He committed no sin equal to mine.

  ( The beginning of this poem is missing. It is an eligy in bardic style telling of the death of Cynddylan, Prince of Powys and dates from about 875 recording the loss of Pengwern. There are many poems about Cynddylan who became the subject of legends. Rhiau, Rhirid and Rhiadaf were originally sheep or cattle herders and Rhygyfarch an army comander. )

Englynion Cadwallon

1  Katwallawn kyn noe dyuot      

  ae gorue an digonot. 

  pedeir prifgat ar dec am brifdec brydein. 

  a thrugein kyuaruot. 

Cadwallon before his ?death

achieved ?our success:

fourteen chief battles around great, fair Britain

and sixty clashes.

 

2  Lluest catwallawn ar geint.   

  lloegyr ar dres armes etneint.  

  llaw dillwng ellwng oed vreint.   

The encampment of Cadwallon by the Caint:

England in affliction, ?tribulation from birds of prey,

a released hand – letting go was a privilege.

 

3  Lluest gatwallawn ar ydon.   

  auar anwar yw alon. 

  llew lluydawc ar seasson. 

The encampment of Cadwallon by the Idon:

ungentle grief of his enemies,

a lion with hosts against the Saxons.

 

4   Lluest gatwallawn glotryd. 

  yg gwarthaf digoll uynyd. 

  seithmis a seith gat beunyd. 

The encampment of fameworthy Cadwallon

on the summit of Digoll Mountain:

seven months with seven battles daily.

 

5  Lluest gatwallawn ar hafren.   

  ac or tu draw y dygen. 

  [breitin] llosgi meigen.   

The encampment of Cadwallon by the Severn

and from the opposite side to Dygen

Freiddin the burning of Meigen.

 

6  Lluest gatwallawn ar wy. 

  maranned wedy mordwy.    

  a diliuat kat kylchwy. 

The encampment of Cadwallon by the Wye:

treasure after a voyage over water

and the arranging of the battle of the border.

 

7  Lluest gatwallawn ar ffynnawn uetwyr.  

  rac milwyr magei [iawn] 

  dangossei gynon [yno dawn].     

The encampment of Cadwallon by Ffynnon Bedwyr.

before soldiers he nurtured his right.

Cynon there showed skill.

 

8  Lluest gatwallawn ar daf. 

  ys lluossawc y gwelaf.  

  kywrennin [llu cat] vreisc naf. 

The encampment of Cadwallon by the Taf:

 it is numerous that I see

the powerful host of the lord strong in battle.

 

9  Lluest gatwallawn ar dawy.   

  lleidyat adaf yn adwy. 

  clotryd keissydyd kestwy. 

The encampment of Cadwallon by the Tawy:

 the hand of a smiter in the breach,

praiseworthy, one seeking to chastise.

 

10  Lluest gatwallawn tra chaer.   

  kan bydin a channwr taer. 

  kan kat a thorri can kaer.  

The encampment of Cadwallon beyond Caer:

one-hundred armies with one-hundred ardent warriors,

one-hundred battles and the destroying of one-hundred fortresses.

 

11  Lluest gatwallawn ar gowyn.  

  llaw lludedic ar awyn. 

  gwyr lloegyr lluossawc eu kwyn.   

The encampment of Cadwallon by Cowyn:

a weary hand on the reins,

multitudinous the laments of English warriors.

 

12  Lluest gatwallawn heno. 

  tra thir yn tymyr pennvro.  

  ani nawd uawr anhawd y ffo. 

The encampment of Cadwallon tonight

is across the land in the region of Penfro.

Unless there was great support their fleeing was difficult

 

13  Lluest gatwallawn ar deiui.   

  kymysgei waet a heli.   

  angerd gwyned gwynyg[I]. 

The encampment of Cadwallon by Teifi:

blood mixed with salt water.

He kindled the passion of Gwynedd.

 

14  Lluest gatwallawn ar dufyrd auon. 

  gwnaeth eryron yn llawn. 

  gwedy trin dynineu dawn. 

The encampment of Cadwallon by Dufyrdd river:

he made eagles full;

after battle corpses were their reward.

 

15  Lluest gatwallawn vym brawt.   

  yg gwertheuin bro dunawt. 

  y uar annwar yn ffossawt. 

The encampment of Cadwallon my brother

on the heights of Dunawd’s land:

his anger was not gentle in battle.

 

16  Lluest gatwallawn ar ueirin. 

  llew lluossawc y werin. 

  twrwf mawr trachas y ordin.   

The encampment of Cadwallon by Meirin:

a lion with numerous soldiers,

a great host, very cruel its assault.

 

17  O gyssul estrawn ac anghyfyawn ueneich 

dillyd dwfyr o ffynnawn.

tru trwmdyd am gatwallawn.   

Because of the counsel of a foreigner and unrighteous monks

water flows from a fountain.

Wretched the day of mourning for Cadwallon.

 

18  Gwisgwys coet keindudet     

  haf. dybryssit gwyth wrth dyget 

  kyueruydom ny am eluet. 

 

The woods have put on the fair mantle of summer;

the fierce one makes haste to battle.

May we fight around Elfed.

 

Comment.

The same key to text is applied above as to the previous poem and is attributed under the same heading of Canu Heledd. Both poems are thought to have been written down in the nineth century from word of mouth remembrance.  Cadwallon appears to have risen to power after the demise of Cynddylan but only lasted some half  dozen years, during which time he was forced to flee to Ireland before returning and reclaiming most of the land except Shropshire and Hereford, which was by now part of Mercia.

The Canu Heledd poems name many identifiable places in the script, so making them much more reliable or factual than some others. Licence must be given to the reality that they are poems and exaggeration must be taken as a requisite part.

Some of the places and people named in the Cadwallon poem which can be identified through the family history are Digoll Fynydd (Long Mountain), Hafren (Severn), Freiddin (Breidden Hill), Wye (river), Taf (river), Caer (Caersws) and Meirin (at the foot of Breidden).

In verse 17 the line ‘Because of the counsel of a foreigner and unrighteous monks’ could well reflect on Cadwallon asking a Saxon army for help and being double-crossed, leading to his death.

Heledd by Adlais        

Heledd hwyedic am kyueich,     

O Duw! Padiw yth rodir gurumseirch. 

Kyndylan ae bedwardeg meich.   

Adlais is reputed to be a poet of antiquety. 

Heledd by Adlais

?Wandering Heledd greets me,

O God, to whom are given the dark trappings

Of Cynddylan and his fourteen steeds?  

 

        

The following two poems were found in their English interpretation and cannot be found in their original Welsh, so have been produced side by side to save space. The left hand one refers to Cynan, the son of Brochfiel and father of Cynddylan, being credited to Taliesin. The second is a further Cynddylan poem which is credited to Heledd, Cynddylan's sister.

 

 In Praise of Cynan

Heledd Remembers

Cynan, war's bulwark,

This mountain, though it is tall,

Poured on me prizes, 

I'll not curse it as I lead my cow.

For his fame is not false,

It's thin, what's left of my cloak.

Manor's great master.

 

A hundred swift steeds,

 Till my blanket was the hide of a tough goat

Silver their trappings,

Hungry for holly,

Hundred heather-hued cloaks 

 It made me drunk, the mead of Bryn.

Cut equally long,

 

Hundred armlets in my lap

Till my blanket was the hide of a tough goat,

And fifty brooches,

oung goat fond of holly,

A sword, jewelled sheath,

It made me drunk, the mead of Tren.

Gold-hilted, none better :

 

These came from Cynan ; 

After my brothers, in Hafron's regions,

No wrath could one see !

On the banks of Dwyryw,

 

Ah God, I go on living !  

Cadell's descendant,

 

Steadfast in battle,

After well-groomed stalions and scarlet garments

Made war on the Wye,

 And great plumes of gold,

Spears without number :

 Lean my leg, no mantle have I.

He slew men of Gwent

 

With a blood stained blade.

Edeirniawn's cattle would not go astray,

In Mon, mighty battle,  

With no one would they go,

Superlative praise,

While Gorwynion lived, comely man.

Crossing the Menai :

 

Quite easy, the rest !

Edeirniawn's cattle would not go astray,

War at Crug Dyfed, 

With none would they wander,

Aergol on the run,

While Gorwynion lived, prudent man.

Never any before

 

Seen heading his herd.

A good drover stands guard, way barred ;

Brochfael's son, broad realmed,

For what may happen, his is the blame.

Bent on dominions,

It is I who know what's good,

Menaces Cornwall,

The bond of blood, noble man.

Casts doubt on its fate,

 

Brings on it distress

 Had Gyrthmwl a wife she'd be weak today,

Till it pleads for peace.

Loud would be her lament,

My patron, Cynan,

She in one piece, her men rent.

First into battle,

With bright flame far-spread 

The turf of Ercal on fearless men

Setting soaring fires,

Of the line of Morial,

War in Brychan's land :

Once it moulds them, molders them.

Hill fort, a mole hill !

   

Pathetic princes,

 Heledd the hawk I am called.

Cringe before Cynan ! 

O God ! to whom are given

 

My brothers steeds and their lands ?  

Breast plate in battle,

 

Dragon by nature, 

My eyes have gazed long at a gracious land

Akin to Cyngen,

From Gorwynion's Grave-mound.

A broad realm's bulwark, 

Long the sun's road : longer my musings.

He heard men saying

 

Wherever they spoke,

 

All the world is called

This poem would reinforce the arguement that the family lands stretched

Captive to Cynan ! 

as far East into modern day Shropshire as the Ercal and the Wrekin.

 

SOME FURTHER NOTES

The Weaver River and the Trent rise a short distance north of Market Drayton and between these and the Tern to the south lie Market Drayton, Longslow and Longford. The centre of Market Drayton is built on a steep escarpment, ideal to defend. Tern Hill, three miles to the west is also on the edge of the Tern.

Reference to Ercal at this time does not necessarily mean the hill attached to the Wrekin and is more likely to mean a large area of land north of the Wrekin and including such comotes as Childs Ercal, Ercal Magna, High Ercal, Ercal Heath, etc.and it is thought at one time there was a river Erch.

It was thought that St Tysilio, a junior son of Brochfael Ysgithrog had followed the fashion of the time by entering the church but this is not so as he is described in poems as a warrior of some distinction.

Selyf, on our tree Cynddylans father, is recorded in verse as having been killed at the Battle of Chester in 613. This would appear to mean that Cynddylan was a babe in arms at this time if he died a young man.

Although Mercia eventually took over the Shropshire and Herefordshire lands of Powys it is thought that they were basically friendly towards each other and that the big conflict was between Powys and Northumbria. This is strengthened with the theory that Cynddylan had an alliance with Penda when he was killed at a place called Winwaed, at which Cadafael then king of Gwynedd deserted them to his shame. Is it also possible that Heledd was married to Cadafael and so blamed herself for Cynddylans defeat? 

In c45 Cymbeline, king of the Brythonic tribe from the Midlands to the mountains in the west (roughly the Shropshire, Herefordshire area) died and his son Caratacus, then currently leading the army, took over. He later fled to the Silures where he fought defending ‘Wales’ for nine years until he was betrayed and taken to display in Rome. Four hundred years later when the Romans left Britain this kingdom became part of ‘Wales’. The Romans later conquered the lowlands around the edge and boxed in Wales but left the central highlands.