The Chronicle of the Saxons
We publish the following translation of a portion of the Brut y Saeson, which has been kindly placed at our disposal by T. Duffus Hardy, Esq., Deputy Keeper of the Rolls. It was made by the late Rev. H. Parry of Llanasa, at the request of the Record Commissioners, and seems to have been originally intended to appear in the Monumenta Historica. Prefixed to it is a letter from Mr. Parry to the late Mr. Petrie of the Record Office.
My dear Sir,—With your curious copy of the Chronicon Walliæ, etc., I send a close English version of the Welsh Annals, as far as they go together. Before the year 681, we have nothing but Nennius and Geoffrey of Monmouth. It will immediately appear, that the Chronicle was written originally in Latin, the proper names being so misspelt, that without the assistance of the Welsh copy, it is not always easy to make them out. Had the Latin copy been a version from the Welsh, the original names would have been retained, and probably with Latin terminations.
The Pedigrees, though curious, are very common in Wales, and their authenticity never called in question. They form the foundation of the pedigrees of most of our gentry.
When I was a child, my father, who understood no language but the Welsh, often entertained me with wonderful accounts of places, similar to those contained in the Mirabilia: many of them were interwoven with a romance called the Grey Cow of Montgomery; which always took up an hour in the narration.
Poor Peter Roberts, who had lately been preferred to the rectory of Halkin, near Holywell, by the Bishop of St. Asaph, died of an apoplectic fit on Holy Thursday. Though somewhat credulous, he possessed great knowledge of our antiquities and language; and his death will be a loss to Welsh literature.
Some of the events in the Welsh Chronicle tally pretty nearly with the events recorded in Chron. de Mailros.
Without the additions and corrections in red ink, the Latin Chronicle would have been hardly intelligible. The death of Cadwaladr, and not his journey to Rome, in the Latin Chronicle, is mentioned under the year 681. This is the more probable, as there was no connection between the British church and the church of Rome in the seventh century; the Saxon Cedwalla might have gone thither.
It will give me great pleasure to hear from you again, and to have your sentiments upon the Welsh Chronicle. The translation is quite literal.
Yours most sincerely,
Llanasa, May 30th, 1829.
Brut y Saeson
After the destructive plague and the sore famine mentioned above, in the time of Cadwaladr the Blessed, came the Saeson and subdued Lloegyr from one sea to the other, and governed it with five kings, as it had been before in the time of Horsa and Hengist, when they drove Gwrtheyrn Gortheneu from the confines of Lloegyr, and divided it in five portions amongst them. And then they altered the names of cities and towns, divisions, hundreds, and counties and regions, agreeably to their own language. Caer Lludd they called London; Caer Effrauc they called York; and so all the cities of Lloegyr had new names, which they bear to this day. Cantref was called a hundred, and Swydd was called a county; to remind future ages of what was done when all the nobility of Britain were destroyed on the mountain of Ambri,—that is, "draweth houre sexes." (The division of the counties is omitted.)
Ifor fab Alan and his nephew Ynyr arrived, as was said before, in the land of Lloegyr, having an array with them; that was 683 after the birth of God. And the Saxons came against them, and fought them a bloody cruel battle, like men of might; and in that battle multitudes were killed on both sides. At last Ifor was victorious, and subdued Cornwall, Devonshire, and Somersetshire. Then the Saxons collected all their strength to fall upon Ifor; but good men interceded between them, and peace was made. And then took he Ethelburga to wife; and caused the monastery of Glastonbury to be built at his own expense, and that under the management of Adelmus, a monk and saint of that name. And the second year after Ifor came to this island there was a great mortality in Ireland.
683.—And Ifor gave to the church of Winchester thirty hides of land, called Ewerlond, in the Isle of Wight; and fifty hides in a place called Vrerdinges.
688.—In the fourth year after his arrival in this island was an earthquake in the Isle of Man.
689.—The year after, it rained blood in the island of Britain and in Ireland, and the milk and cheese turned of a bloody colour.
701.—The second year after that the moon changed into the colour of blood.
701.—Wrcardies (sic) king of Kent died, and Elbert was made king in his stead.
704.—Elfrig king of the Saxons died.
707.—Eldred king of Mercia died, and Kenred was made king in his stead.
708.—The night became as light as day; and Pipin, the most honourable king of France, died.
714.—Cenred king of Mercia died, and Scelered was made king in his stead.
716.—Osbrit king of the Saxons died.
717.—The church of St. Michael was consecrated.
720.—Was a very hot summer. Ifor fab Alan, having seen the futility of the things of this world, parted with his kingdom; and he and his wife, having taken secular dresses, went to worship God at Rome. And God performed a great miracle for them; for whatever city or town they went through, the bells set up a ringing without any body putting hand to them.
721.—Ethelward was made king of West Sex, and his queen was Frideswida; and she gave to the church of Winchester, of her father's estate, Cantonam; and her husband increased the gift out of his affection for her. And in that year died Beli vab Elphin; and there was an extensive war between Rhodri Molwynawg and the Saxons in Cornwall, and the affair of Garth Maelawg and Châd Pencoed in South Wales; and in all these contests the Britons were victorious.
722.—Scelered king of Mercia died, and Ethelward was made king in his place.
728.—Was the battle of the mountain of Carno.
735.—Cuthred, the relation of Ethelward, was made king in West Sex; and he gave to the church of Winchester, in the Isle of Wight, forty hides of land in a place called Muleburnam, and twenty-five in a place called Bonewadam, and sixty-five in Wippingham, and the land called Drucham, and the palace called Clera. And in that year died Beda, the priest, and the best historian and the best scholar of his age.
736.—Owein king of the Picts died.
749.—Sigebert was made king of Westsex; his contemporaries drew nigh to him, and deprived him of his kingdom, and he was strangled by a plowman, being banished and poor.
750.—Cynewlfus was made king of the Saxons, who was betrayed and slain. In that year was a battle between the Britons and Picts, called Gwaith Metgadawc, and there was slain Talargan king of the Picts. And in that year died Tewdwr the son of Beli.
754.—Died Rhodri Molwynog the king of the Britons.
757.—Died Edpalt king of the Saxons.
760.—A battle took place between the Saxons and Britons, called Gwaith Henfordd, and Dyfnwal son of Tewdwr died.
768.—Easter was altered in Wales by the advice of Elbod, a man of God.
773.—Offa was made king of Mercia, and Brithrit king of Westsex; and Fermael the son of Idwal died; and that Brithrit Egbert sent from the island in his youth; and he went to France, where he applied himself to the art of riding and to carry arms.
774.—Died Cemoyd king of the Picts.
775.—Saint Enbert abbot died.
776.—The men of South Wales laid waste the island as far as Offa king of Mercia.
783.—The Welsh laid waste the kingdom of Offa; and so Offa caused a dike to be made between him and Wales, that he might the more easily resist the incursions of the enemy; and that is called Clawdd Offa to this day.
795.—The Pagans came first into Ireland and laid Rechreyn waste.
796.—Offa king of Mercia died, and Maredudd king of Dyfed, and then was the battle of Rudelan.
798.—Caradawc king of Gwynedd was killed by the Saxons.
800.—Egbiract was made king of Westsex, after the Brithrit mentioned above. And then collected he many of the boldest and strongest young men in his kingdom, and made them honourable knights, and taught them to ride and to bear arms, as he himself did heretofore in France, and to use them in peace as if they had war in contemplation, when necessary.
802.—Cenwlfus was made king of Mercia.
807.—Arthen king of Ceredigiawn died, and the sun was eclipsed.
808.—Died Rein king of Dyfed, and Cadell (king of) Powys.
809.—Died Elbod archbishop of North Wales.
810.—The moon turned black on Christmas day; Menevia was burnt; and there was a great mortality amongst cattle throughout all Wales.
811.—Died Owen the son of Moredudd, and Deganwy was burnt by lightning.
812.—There was a war between Hywel and Cynan, and Cynan was victorious.
815.—There was dreadful thunder, and many places were burnt. Gruffudd the son of Rein died, and Griffri the son of Cyngen was slain through the treachery of Elisse his brother; and Hywel of the island of Anglesey subdued his brother Cynan, and banished him and his forces to their great sorrow.
817.—Cynan, being banished from the Isle of Mon, died. The Saxons laid waste the Snowdon mountains, and deprived the Welsh of the sovereignty of Rywoniawc.
818.—Battle in Anglesey, called Gwaith Llanfaes.
819.—Cenwlfus lays waste Dyfed.
823.—Deganwy burnt by the Saxons, and Powys destroyed.
825.—Hywel king of Man died.
826.—Holy Cenelm was made king of Mercia.
827.—Ceolfus was made king of Mercia. (Here follows a long account of the battle between Cenwlf and Egbert. Egbert being made king of England, the language was called English, and his subjects Englishmen.)
840.—The bishop of Menevia was consecrated.
844.—The battle of Ketill, and the death of Merfyn frych.
847.—The battle of Ty nant, where Ithel king of Gwent was slain by the men of Brecknock. (Finnant in another copy.)
849.—Meuric killed by the Saxons.
850.—Cyngen slain by his own men.
853.—Anglesey laid waste by the Black Host.
854.—Cyngen king of Powys died at Rome.
856.—Died Cemoyth king of the Picts and Jonathan lord of Abergeleu.
857.—Edwlf king of the Saxons died, and his kingdom divided between his two sons; Ethelbald succeeded to Westsex, and Ethelbert to the county of Keint.
860.—Mael Talaehen died.
862.—Died Ethelbald of Westsex, and his brother Ethelbert took all the kingdom to himself, and reigned five years more. And in that year was Cat Gweitheu.
864.—Glywysig laid waste and alienated.
865.—Died Cynan naut (nawdd) nifer; and the body of S. Swithen taken up again.
866.—York laid waste, and the battle of Dubgynt.
867.—Ethelbert king of England died, and Edelred his brother took his kingdom to himself. And the men of Denmark came to fight him nine times in one year, and he overcame them, and killed two of their kings: that is, king Gnar, and Hwn unllam, and fourteen earls, and soldiers without number. And then S. Edmund was slain, king of East sex.
869.—Battle of Bryn onnen.
870.—Alclut was broken.
871.—Gwgan king of Ceredigiawn was drowned.
872.—Ethelred king of England died, and was buried at Winborne.
873.—Gwaith Bangoleu and Gwaith Enegyd in Anglesey. And the bishop of Menevia died.
874.—Limberth took the bishoprick of Menevia.
875.—Dungarth king of Cornwal was drowned.
876.—There was the battle of Sunday in Anglesey.
877.—Rodri and his brother Gwriat killed by the Saxons.
878.—Aed son of Mell died.
880.—Was the affair of Conway called Rodri's Revenge.
882.—Was Catgweitheu. (See above, 862.)
885.—Hywel died at Rome.
889.—Cubin the wisest of the Scots died.
890.—The Black Normans came again to Ciwiwn.
891.—Cenneth the son of Bledud died.
893.—Anarawd came with the English to destroy Ceredigiawn and Ystrad Tywi.
894.—England and Brecknock and Gwent and Gwenllwg were laid waste.
895.—There was want of bread in Ireland, and vermin fell down from the sky, having two teeth, like moles, which entirely destroyed the crops; but they were got rid of by fasting and prayer. (Omitted.)
897.—Elstan king of the Saxons died.
893.—Albryt king of Gynoys died.
900.—The Pagans came to the Isle of Anglesey, and Maes Malerian was fought.
901.—Aelfryt king of England died. Aelfryt was buried it the Monastery erected by himself at Winchester; and in that year Mervyn the son of Roderic was killed by his own men, and Llywarch the son of Hyveid died, and Edward the son of Aelfryt was made king of England instead of his father. And after Edward was made king he became so strong, that the men of Denmark could not set a foot in his kingdom without permission. He had five sons and nine daughters. Of his five sons, three of them reigned successively after their father, that is Edelstan and Edmund and Adred. Of the nine daughters, three of them became nuns, viz., Aflede, Abbess in Romesi, and Saint Edburc in Winchester, and Edit was the third. And he gave to the church of Winchester four Palaces, that is Husseburnam, Wite Cherche, Overtonham, and Stockham the less.
902.—The head of Rodri, son of Huveith, was cut off in Arwystli.
903.—Was the affair of Dunneir, in which was slain Mayauc Cam, the son of Peredur; and Menevia was destroyed.
905.—Gorchywyl, the bishop, died, and Cormoc king and bishop of all Ireland. He was a man of great religion and great charity. Culennan was slain in that battle; and Kyrnallt, the son of Muregan, was slain in the end of the battle.
906.—Asser, archbishop of the Britons, died.
907.—Cadell the son of Rodri died.
909.—Other came to the island of Britain.
913.—Died Anarawd the son of Rodri, king of the Britons.
914.—Ireland was laid waste by the men of Dublin, and Queen Eldfled died.
915.—Anglesey was laid waste by the men of Dublin.
917.—Clydawc, the son of Cadell, slain by his brother Meyric.
918.—Bishop Nercun died.
919.—Was the battle of Dinas Newydd.
923.—King Edward died, and was buried in the monastery erected by his father at Winchester.
926.—Hywel the Good went to Rome. Elen died.
933.—Grufud, the son of Owen, killed by the men of Ceredigiawn.
935.—Was the battle of Brune.
936.—Hymeith, the son of Clydawc, and Meyric died.
939.—Died Edelstan king of England, and was buried at Malmesburie.
940.—Abloyc king of Ireland died.
941.—Cadell, the son of Arthvael, poisoned; and Idwal, the son of Rodri, and his son Elissed, killed by the Saxons.
942.—Limberth bishop of Menevia died.
943.—Ussa, the son of Llaur, died, and Morcheis bishop of Bangor.
944.—Kyngen, the son of Elisse, was put in danger by poison; and the bishop of Menevia, Eneuris, died. Stratclwyd laid waste by the English. (Omission.)
948.—Died Hywel, the son of Cadell, the king and glory of all Wales; and Cadwgan, the son of Owen, killed by the English; and was the battle of Carno between the sons of Hywel and the sons of Idwal.
950.—Dyfed was twice laid waste by the sons of Idwal, Iago and Ieuaf; and Dungwallaun was killed by their men.
951.—Died Rodri the son of Hywel.
952.—A great slaughter between the sons of Idwal and the sons of Hywel in a place called Gurgustu, or the affair of Conwy hir maur (long and great), where Anarawd, the son of Gwry, was slain. And Ceredigiawn was laid waste by the sons of Idwal; and Edwyn, the son of Hywel, died.
953.—Hayardur, the son of Mervyn, drowned.
954.—Congalach king of Ireland killed.
955.—Was the hot summer; and Gwgan, the son of Gurgat, was slain.
958.—Owen laid waste Goryvyd.
960.—Idwal, son of Rodri, killed; and Adelwald consecrated bishop of Winchester.
961.—The sons of Gwyn slain, and Ty Gwyn destroyed; and Meyric, the son of Cadvan, died. The monks first entered the monastery of Winchester.
962.—Bishop Ryderch died; and the monks first came to the monastery of Hyde.
964.—Died Catwallawn, the son of Owen.
965.—The territories of the sons of Idwal laid waste by the English.
966.—Rodri, the son of Idwal, slain; and Aberfraw afterwards destroyed.
967.—Ieuaf, the son of Idwal, taken by his brother Iago, imprisoned and thrown into chains.
968.—Gwhyr destroyed by Einon the son of Owen.
969.—Pen Mon destroyed by the pagans, and Mact, the son of Harald; for the men of Denmark had leave from Edgar to dwell in this island as long as they pleased.
976.—Gwhyr again destroyed by Einon the son of Oweyn.
977.—Lleyn and Celynawc vawr laid waste a second time by Hywel, the son of Ieuaf, and the English with him.
Brut y Saeson, as far as Parry's version extends, i.e., to 984, is compounded of Ric. Divisiens' (An. Wint.) and the Welsh Chron., Harl. 3859, etc., with a few additions not in any of the Latin copies, under the years 735-54-83, 810-18-73-90-1, 903-5-13-15-17-18-33-40-43-48-50-54-5-61-66-69.
From 704 the chronology agrees with Harl., except 774–6, two years too soon; 812, one too soon; 815–23, one too late; 898–948, two too early. From 951–976 is four years ahead of Dom., i.e., three years too soon. Several of its notices, not in Harl. are in Dom., and one or two in Cott.
It seems to borrow from An. Wint., at least to the story of Emma.