Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure. For Celts in close contact with Ancient Rome, such as the Gauls and Celtiberians, their mythology did not survive the Roman Empire, their subsequent conversion to Christianity and the loss of their Celtic languages, it is through contemporary Roman and Christian sources that their mythology has been preserved. The Celtic peoples who maintained either political or linguistic identities left vestigial remnants of their ancestral mythologies that were put into written form during the Middle Ages. Although the Celtic world at its height covered much of western and central Europe, it was not politically unified nor was there any substantial central source of cultural influence or homogeneity. Inscriptions of more than three hundred deities equated with their Roman counterparts, have survived, but of these most appear to have been genii locorum, local or tribal gods, few were worshiped.
However, from what has survived of Celtic mythology, it is possible to discern commonalities which hint at a more unified pantheon than is given credit. The nature and functions of these ancient gods can be deduced from their names, the location of their inscriptions, their iconography, the Roman gods they are equated with, similar figures from bodies of Celtic mythology. Celtic mythology is found in a number of distinct, if related, subgroups corresponding to the branches of the Celtic languages: Ancient Celtic religion mythology in Goidelic languages, represented chiefly by Irish mythology Mythological Cycle Ulster Cycle Fenian Cycle Cycles of the Kings mythology in Brittonic languages Welsh mythology Cornish mythology Breton mythology As a result of the scarcity of surviving materials bearing written Gaulish, it is surmised that the most of the Celtic writings were destroyed by the Romans, although a written form of Gaulish using Greek and North Italic alphabets was used. Julius Caesar attests to the literacy of the Gauls, but wrote that their priests, the druids, were forbidden to use writing to record certain verses of religious significance while noting that the Helvetii had a written census.
Rome introduced a more widespread habit of public inscriptions, broke the power of the druids in the areas it conquered. Although early Gaels in Ireland and parts of modern Wales used the Ogham script to record short inscriptions, more sophisticated literacy was not introduced to Celtic areas that had not been conquered by Rome until the advent of Christianity. Indeed, many Gaelic myths were first recorded by Christian monks, albeit without most of their original religious meanings; the oldest body of myths stemming from the Heroic Age is found only from the early medieval period of Ireland. As Christianity began to take over, the gods and goddesses were eliminated as such from the culture. What has survived includes material dealing with the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorians, which forms the basis for the text Cath Maige Tuired "The Battle of Mag Tuireadh", as well as portions of the history-focused Lebor Gabála Érenn; the Tuatha Dé represent the functions of human society such as kingship and war, while the Fomorians represent chaos and wild nature.
The leader of the gods for the Irish pantheon appears to have been the Dagda. The Dagda was the figure on which male humans and other gods were based because he embodied ideal Irish traits. Celtic gods were considered to be a clan due to their lack of specialization and unknown origins; the particular character of the Dagda was as a figure of burlesque lampoonery in Irish mythology, some authors conclude that he was trusted to be benevolent enough to tolerate jokes at his own expense. Irish tales depict the Dagda as a figure of power, armed with a club. In Dorset there is a famous outline of an ithyphallic giant known as the Cerne Abbas Giant with a club cut into the chalky soil. While this was produced in modern times, it was long thought to be a representation of the Dagda; this has been called into question by recent studies which show that there may have been a representation of what looks like a large drapery hanging from the horizontal arm of the figure, leading to suspicion that this figure represents Hercules, with the skin of the Nemean lion over his arm and carrying the club he used to kill it.
In Gaul, it is speculated that the Dagda is associated with Sucellus, the striker, equipped with a hammer and cup. The Morrígan was a tripartite battle goddess of the Celts of Ancient Ireland, she was known as the Morrígan, but the different sections she was divided into were referred to as Nemain and Badb, with each representing different aspects of combat. She is most known for her involvement in the Táin Bó Cúailnge
Taliesin was an early Brythonic poet of Sub-Roman Britain whose work has survived in a Middle Welsh manuscript, the Book of Taliesin. Taliesin was a renowned bard, believed to have sung at the courts of at least three Brythonic kings. Ifor Williams identified eleven of the medieval poems ascribed to Taliesin as originating as early as the sixth century, so being composed by a historical Taliesin; the bulk of this work praises King Urien of Rheged and his son Owain mab Urien, although several of the poems indicate that he served as the court bard to King Brochfael Ysgithrog of Powys and his successor Cynan Garwyn, either before or during his time at Urien's court. Some of the events to which the poems refer, such as the Battle of Arfderydd, are referred to in other sources. In legend and medieval Welsh poetry, he is referred to as Taliesin Ben Beirdd, he is mentioned as one of the five British poets of renown, along with Talhaearn Tad Awen, Aneirin and Cian Gwenith Gwawd, in the Historia Brittonum, is mentioned in the collection of poems known as Y Gododdin.
Taliesin was regarded in the mid-12th century as the supposed author of a great number of romantic legends. According to legend Taliesin was adopted as a child by Elffin, the son of Gwyddno Garanhir, prophesied the death of Maelgwn Gwynedd from the Yellow Plague. In stories he became a mythic hero, companion of Bran the Blessed and King Arthur, his legendary biography is found in several late renderings, the earliest surviving narrative being found in a manuscript chronicle of world history written by Elis Gruffydd in the 16th century. Details of Taliesin's life are sparse; the first mention of him occurs in the Saxon genealogies appended to four manuscripts of the Historia Brittonum. The writer names five poets, among them Taliesin, who lived in the time of Ida of Bernicia and a British chieftain, utigirn; this information is considered credible, since he is mentioned by Aneirin, another of the five mentioned poets, famed as the author of Y Gododdin, a series of elegies to the men of the kingdom of Gododdin who died fighting the Angles at the Battle of Catraeth around 600.
Taliesin's authorship of several praise-poems to Urien Rheged is accepted, these poems mention The Eden Valley and an enemy leader, identified as Ida or his son Theodric. These poems refer to victories of Urien at the battles of Argoed Llwyfain, The Ford of Clyde and Gwen Ystrad. Taliesin sang in praise of Cynan Garwyn, king of Powys and Cynan's predecessor Brochwel Ysgithrog is mentioned in poems. According to legends that first appear in the Book of Taliesin Taliesin's early patron was Elffin, son of Gwyddno Garanhir, a lord of a lost land in Cardigan Bay, called Cantre'r Gwaelod, Taliesin defended Elffin and satirised his enemy, the powerful Maelgwn Gwynedd, shortly before the latter died. According to the Welsh Triads Taliesin had a son, accounted a great warrior who suffered a violent death in Lothian. Taliesin's own grave is held in folk-lore to be one near the village of Tre Taliesin near Llangynfelyn called Bedd Taliesin, but this is a Bronze Age burial chamber, the village of Tre-Taliesin, located at the foot of the hill, was named after the burial chamber in the 19th century though legend was traced by Edward Lhuyd to the 17th century.
More detailed traditions of Taliesin's biography arose from about the 11th century, in Historia Taliesin. In the mid-16th-century, Elis Gruffydd recorded a legendary account of Taliesin that resembles the story of the boyhood of the Irish hero Fionn mac Cumhail and the salmon of wisdom in some respects; the tale was recorded in a different version by John Jones of Gellilyfdy. This story agrees in many respects with fragmentary accounts in the Book of Taliesin. According to the Hanes Taliesin, he was known as Gwion Bach ap Gwreang, he was a servant of Cerridwen and was made to stir the Cauldron of Inspiration for one year to allow for Cerridwen to complete her potion of inspiration. Upon completion of this potion, three drops landed upon Gwion Bach's thumb. Gwion placed his thumb in his mouth to soothe his burns resulting in Gwion's enlightenment. Out of fear of what Cerridwen would do to him, Gwion fled and transformed into a piece of grain before being consumed by Cerridwen. Gwion was reborn and given the name Taliesin.
According to these texts Taliesin was the foster-son of Elffin ap Gwyddno, who gave him the name Taliesin, meaning "radiant brow", who became a king in Ceredigion, Wales. The legend states that he was raised at his court in Aberdyfi and that at the age of 13, he visited King Maelgwn Gwynedd, Elffin's uncle, prophesied the manner and imminence of Maelgwn's death. A number of medieval poems attributed to Taliesin allude to the legend but these postdate the historical poet's floruit considerably; the idea that he was a bard at the court of King Arthur dates back at least to the tale of Culhwch and Olwen a product of the 11th century. It is elaborated upon in modern English poetry, such as Tennyson's Idylls of the King and Charles Williams's Taliessin Through Logres, but the historical Taliesin's career can be shown to have fallen in the last half of the 6th century, while historians who argue for Arthur's existence date his victory at Mons Badonicus in the years either si
Three Welsh Romances
The Three Welsh Romances are three Middle Welsh tales associated with the Mabinogion. They are versions of Arthurian tales that appear in the work of Chrétien de Troyes. Critics have debated whether the Welsh Romances are based on Chrétien's poems or if they derive from a shared original; the Romances survive in the White Book of Rhydderch and the Red Book of Hergest, both from the 14th century, though the material is at least as old as Chrétien. The Three Welsh Romances are: the Lady of the Fountain. Peredur, son of Efrawg, which corresponds to Chrétien's Perceval, the Story of the Grail Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain is analogous to Chrétien de Troyes' Old French poem Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, it survives both from the 14th century. The tale's hero, Yvain, is based on the historical figure Owain mab Urien; the romance consists of a hero marrying his love, the Lady of the Fountain, but losing her when he neglects her for knightly exploits. With the aid of a lion he saves from a serpent, he finds a balance between his marital and social duties and rejoins his wife.
It was once thought Owain and Yvain were derived from a common lost source, but it now seems more that Owain was directly or indirectly based on Chrétien's poem, with local literary touches added to appeal to a Welsh audience. It is still possible that Chrétien in turn had a Welsh source, evidence of which can be found in certain episodes in the Life of St. Mungo, where the saint's father Owain tries to woo his mother, Lot of Lothian's daughter, which exhibit parallels to the narrative of Yvain. Geraint and Enid known by the title Geraint, son of Erbin, is analogous to Chrétien de Troyes' 12th-century poem Erec and Enide, it survives both from the 14th century. The romance concerns the love of Geraint, one of King Arthur's men, the beautiful Enid. Geraint, son of King Erbin of Dumnonia, courts Enid; the couple marry and settle down together. Upset about this, Enid cries to herself that she is not a true wife for keeping her husband from his chivalric duties, but Geraint misunderstands her comment to mean she has been unfaithful to him.
He commands her not to speak to him. Enid disregards this command several times to warn her husband of danger. Several adventures follow that prove Geraint's fighting ability; the couple is reconciled in the end, Geraint inherits his father's kingdom. Enid does not appear in Welsh sources outside of this romance, but Geraint was a popular figure; some scholars hold that the Erec from Chrétien's poem is based on Geraint, but others think the Welsh author replaced an unfamiliar French name with one his audience would recognize and associate with heroism. Alfred, Lord Tennyson based two of his Idylls of the King on Geraint and Enid, they were published as a single poem called "Enid" in 1859. Peredur son of Efrawg is associated with Chrétien de Troyes' unfinished romance Perceval, the Story of the Grail, but it contains many striking differences from that work, most notably the absence of the French poem's central object, the grail. Versions of the text survive in four manuscripts from the 14th century.
The tale's protagonist Peredur travels to King Arthur's court to become a knight. The young Peredur embarks on a series of adventures, culminating in his battle against the nine sorceresses. Aronstein, Susan. "When Arthur Held Court in Caer Llion: Love and the Politics of Centralization in Gereint and Owein". Viator. 25: 215–28. Fulton, Helen. "Individual and Society in Owein/Yvain and Gereint/Erec". In Joseph Falaky Nagy. CSANA Yearbook 1: The Individual in Celtic Literatures. Dublin: Four Courts Press. Pp. 15–50. Thomson, R. L.. "Owain: Chwedl Iarlles y Ffynnon". In Rachel Bromwich, A. O. H. Jarman and Brynley F. Roberts; the Arthur of the Welsh: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Welsh Literature. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Pp. 159–69
In Arthurian legend, Sir Kay is King Arthur's foster brother and seneschal, as well as one of the first Knights of the Round Table. In literature he is known for his acid tongue and bullying, boorish behavior, but in earlier accounts he was one of Arthur's premier warriors. Along with Bedivere, with whom he is associated, Kay is one of the earliest characters associated with Arthur. Kay's father is called Ector in literature, but the Welsh accounts name him as Cynyr Ceinfarfog. Cai or Cei is one of the earliest characters to be associated with the Arthurian mythology, appearing in a number of early Welsh texts, including Culhwch ac Olwen, Geraint fab Erbin, Iarlles y Ffynnon, Peredur fab Efrawg, Breuddwyd Rhonabwy, Pa Gur yv y Porthaur and the Welsh Triads, his father is given as his son as Garanwyn and his daughter as Kelemon. Before Cai's birth, Cynyr prophesied that his son's heart would be eternally cold, that he would be exceptionally stubborn and that no one would be able to brave fire or water like him.
Cai is attributed with a number of further superhuman abilities, including the ability to go nine days and nine nights without the need to breathe or to sleep, the ability to grow as "tall as the tallest tree in the forest if he pleased" and the ability to radiate supernatural heat from his hands. Furthermore, it is impossible to cure a wound from Cai's sword. Cai is killed by Gwyddawg fab Menestyr, in turn killed in vengeance by Arthur. One of the earliest direct reference to Cai can be found in the 10th-century poem Pa Gur, in which Arthur recounts the feats and achievements of his knights so as to gain entrance to a fortress guarded by Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr, the titular porter; the poem concerns itself with Cai's exploits: Culhwch's father, King Cilydd son of Celyddon, loses his wife Goleuddydd after a difficult childbirth. When he remarries, the young Culhwch rejects his stepmother's attempt to pair him with his new stepsister. Offended, the new queen puts a curse on him so that he can marry no one besides the beautiful Olwen, daughter of the giant Ysbaddaden.
Though he has never seen her, Culhwch becomes infatuated with her, but his father warns him that he will never find her without the aid of his famous cousin Arthur. The young man sets off to seek his kinsman, he asks for support and assistance. Cai is the first knight to volunteer to assist Culhwch in his quest, promising to stand by his side until Olwen is found. A further five knights join them in their mission, they travel onwards until they come across the "fairest of the castles of the world", meet Ysbaddaden's shepherd brother, Custennin. They learn that the castle belongs to Ysbaddaden, that he stripped Custennin of his lands and murdered the shepherd's twenty-three children out of cruelty. Custennin set up a meeting between Culhwch and Olwen, the maiden agrees to lead Culhwch and his companions to Ysbadadden's castle. Cai pledges to protect Goreu with his life; the knights attack the castle by stealth, killing the nine porters and the nine watchdogs, enter the giant's hall. Upon their arrival, Ysbaddaden attempts to kill Culhwch with a poison dart, but is outwitted and wounded, first by Bedwyr by the enchanter Menw, by Culhwch himself.
Ysbaddaden relents, agrees to give Culhwch his daughter on the condition that he completes a number of impossible tasks, including hunting the Twrch Trwyth and recovering the exalted prisoner Mabon ap Modron. Cai is a prominent character throughout the tale and is responsible for completing a number of the tasks. However, when Arthur makes a satirical englyn about Cai, he grows angry and hostile towards the king abandoning the quest and his companions; the narrative tells us that Cai would "have nothing to do with Arthur from on, not when the latter was waning in strength or when his men were being killed." As a result, he did not take part in the hunt for Twrch Trwyth. In the Life of St. Cadoc Bedwyr is alongside Arthur and Cai in dealing with King Gwynllyw of Gwynllwg's abduction of St. Gwladys from her father's court in Brycheiniog. Cai appears prominently in the early Welsh version of Tristan and Isolde, in which he assists the two lovers and is himself infatuated with a maiden named Golwg Hafddydd, in the early dialogue poems relating to Melwas' abduction of Gwenhwyfar.
The context suggests that Cai is rescuing the queen from the otherwordly suitor, may imply a romantic relationship between Cai and Gwenhwyfar. The Welsh Triads name Cai as one of the "Three Battle-Diademed Men of the Island of Britain" alongside Drystan mab Tallwch and Hueil mab Caw. In the Triads of the Horses, his horse is named as Gwyneu gwddf hir. According to tradition, Cai is intimately associated with the old Roman fort of Caer Gai. In the Welsh Romances, Cai assumes the same boorish role. However, manuscripts for these romances date to well after Chrétien de Troyes, meaning that Cai as he appears there may owe more to Chrétien's version of the character than to the indigenous Welsh representation. Kay and Bedivere appear in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, aid Arthur in defeating the Giant of Mont Saint-Michel. Geoffrey makes Kay the count of Anjou and Arthur's steward, an office he holds in most literature. In Erec and Enide, Chrétien de Troyes mentions he had a son
Math fab Mathonwy (branch)
Math fab Mathonwy, "Math, the son of Mathonwy" is a legendary tale from medieval Welsh literature and the final of the four branches of the Mabinogi. It tells of a vicious war between the north and the south, of the birth of Lleu Llaw Gyffes and Dylan ail Don, of the tyngedau of Arianrhod, of the creation of Blodeuwedd, a woman made of flowers; the chief characters of the tale are Math, king of Gwynedd, his nephew Gwydion, a magician and trickster, Gwydion's own nephew, cursed by his mother Arianrhod. Along with the other branches, the tale can be found the medieval Red Book of Hergest and White Book of Rhydderch. Allusions to the tale can be found in two old triads retained in the Trioedd Ynys Prydain Gilfaethwy, nephew to the Venedotian king, Math fab Mathonwy, falls in love with his uncle's virgin foot-holder, Goewin, his brother Gwydion conspires to start a war between the north and the south, so as give the brothers the opportunity to rape Goewin while Math is distracted. To this end, Gwydion employs his magic powers to steal a number of otherworldy pigs from the Demetian king, who retaliates by marching on Gwynedd.
Meanwhile and Gilfaethwy attack and rape Goewin. Pryderi and his men march north and fight a battle between Maenor Bennardd and Maenor Coed Alun, but are forced to retreat, he is pursued to Nant Call, where more of his men are slaughtered, to Dol Benmaen, where he suffers a third defeat. To avoid further bloodshed, it is agreed that the outcome of the battle should be decided by single combat between Gwydion and Pryderi; the two contenders meet at a place called Y Velen Rhyd in Ardudwy, "because of strength and valour and magic and enchantment", Gwydion triumphs and Pryderi is killed. The men of Dyfed retreat back to their own land; when Math hears of the assault on Goewin, he turns his nephews into a series of mated pairs of animals: Gwydion becomes a stag for a year a sow and a wolf. Gilfaethwy becomes a hind deer, a boar and a she-wolf; each year they produce an offspring, sent to Math: Hyddwn and Bleiddwn. After three years, Math releases his nephews from their punishment and begins the search for a new foot-holder.
Gwydion suggests his sister Arianrhod, magically tested for virginity by Math. During the test, she gives birth to a "sturdy boy with thick yellow hair" whom Math names Dylan and who takes on the nature of the seas until his death at his uncle Gofannon's hands. Ashamed, Arianrhod runs to the door, but on her way out something small drops from her, which Gwydion wraps up and places in a chest at the foot of his bed; some time he hears screams from within the chest, opens it to discover a baby boy. Some scholars have suggested that in an earlier form of the Fourth Branch, Gwydion was the father of Arianrhod's sons; some years Gwydion accompanies the boy to Caer Arianrhod, presents him to his mother. The furious Arianrhod, shamed by this reminder of her loss of virginity, places a tynged on the boy: that only she could give him a name. Gwydion however tricks his sister by disguising himself and the boy as cobblers and luring Arianrhod into going to them in person in order to have some shoes made for her.
The boy throws a stone and strikes a wren "between the tendon and the bone of its leg", causing Arianrhod to make the remark "it is with a skillful hand that the fair-haired one has hit it ". At that Gwydion reveals himself, saying Lleu Llaw Gyffes. Furious at this trickery, Arianrhod places another tynged on Lleu: he shall receive arms from no one but Arianrhod herself. Gwydion tricks his sister once again, she unwittingly arms Lleu herself, leading to her placing a third tynged on him: that he shall never have a human wife. So as to counteract Arianrhod's curse and Gwydion: While Lleu is away on business, Blodeuwedd has an affair with Gronw Pebr, the lord of Penllyn, the two conspire to murder Lleu. Blodeuwedd tricks Lleu into revealing how he may be killed, since he can not be killed during the day or night, nor indoors or outdoors, neither riding nor walking, not clothed and not naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made, he reveals to her that he can only be killed at dusk, wrapped in a net with one foot on a cauldron and one on a goat and with a spear forged for a year during the hours when everyone is at mass.
With this information she arranges his death. Struck by the spear thrown by Gronw's hand, Lleu flies away. Gwydion finds him perched high on an oak tree. Through the singing of an englyn he lures him down from the oak tree and switches him back to his human form. Gwydion and Math nurse Lleu back to health before mustering Gwynedd and reclaiming his lands from Gronw and Blodeuwedd. Gwydion overtakes a fleeing Blodeuwedd and turns her into an owl, the creature hated by all other birds, proclaiming: The narrative adds: Meanwhile, Gronw escapes to Penllyn and sends emissaries to Lleu to beg of his forgiveness. Lleu refuses, demanding that Gronw must stand on the bank of the River Cynfael and receive a blow from his spear. Gronw asks if anyone from his warband will take the spear in his place, but his men refuse his plea. Gronw agrees to receive the blow on the condition that he may place a large stone between himself and Lleu, who allows him to do so before throwing the spear with such strength that it pierces the stone, killing his rival.
A holed stone in Ardudwy is still known as Llech Ronw. The tale ends with Lleu ascending to the throne of Gwynedd
Branwen is the name of a character in some versions of Tristan and Iseult. Branwen, Daughter of Llŷr is a major character in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, sometimes called the "Mabinogi of Branwen" after her. Branwen is a daughter of Penarddun, she is married to the King of Ireland. The story opens with Branwen's brother, Brân the Blessed and King of Britain, sitting on a rock by the sea at Harlech and seeing the vessels of Matholwch, king of Ireland, approaching. Matholwch has come to ask for the hand of Branwen in marriage. Brân agrees to this, a feast is held to celebrate the betrothal. While the feast is going on, Efnysien, a half-brother of Branwen and Brân, arrives and asks why there are celebrations. On being told, he is furious that his half sister has been given in marriage without his consent, vents his spleen by mutilating Matholwch's horses. Matholwch is offended, but conciliated by Brân, who gives him a magical cauldron which can bring the dead to life; when Matholwch returns to Ireland with his new bride, he consults with his nobles about the occurrences in the Isle of the Mighty.
They are outraged and believe that Matholwch was not compensated enough for the mutilation of his horses. In order to redeem his honor, Matholwch banishes Branwen to work in the kitchens. Branwen is treated cruelly by her husband Matholwch as punishment for Efnysien's mutilation of the horses, though not before she gives birth to an heir, Gwern, she tames a starling and sends it across the Irish Sea with a message to her brother and Brân brings a force from Wales to Ireland to rescue her. Some swineherds see the giant Brân wading the sea and report this to Matholwch, who retreats beyond a river and destroys the bridges. However, Brân lays himself down over the river to serve as a bridge for his men, he said. Matholwch, fearing war, tries to reconcile with Brân by building a house big enough for him to fit into in order to do him honour. Matholwch agrees to pacify Brân; the Irish lords do not like the idea, many hide themselves in flour bags tied to the pillars of the huge, newly-built house to attack the Welsh.
Efnysien, checking out the house prior to the arrival of Brân and his men, guesses what is happening and kills the hidden men by squeezing their heads. At the subsequent feast to celebrate Gwern's investiture as King of Ireland, Efnysien, in an unprovoked moment of rage, throws his nephew Gwern into the fire; this causes chaos between the two countries, they start fighting each other. Ireland keep throwing the dead soldiers into the magical cauldron, so that they have an infinite supply of warriors. However, Efnisien sees what he has done, regrets it, he jumps into the magical cauldron, pushes against its walls so that it explodes. The war is still bloody, leaves no survivors except for Branwen and seven Welsh soldiers, they sail home to Wales. Upon reaching Wales, they realize that Bran has been hit with a poisoned arrow on his leg, he dies. Branwen, overwhelmed with grief for everyone she has lost, dies of a broken heart. In the ensuing war, all the Irish are killed save for five pregnant women who lived in Wales who repopulate the island, while only seven of the Welsh survive to return home with Branwen, taking with them the severed head of Bendigeidfran.
On landing in Wales at Aber Alaw in Anglesey, Branwen dies of grief that so much destruction had been caused on her account, crying, Oi, a fab Duw! Gwae fi o'm genedigaeth. Da o ddwy ynys a ddiffeithwyd o'm hachos i!, "Oh Son of God, woe to me that I was born! Two fair islands have been laid waste because of me!" She was buried beside the Afon Alaw. Brân had commanded his men to cut off his head and to "bear it unto the White Mount, in London, bury it there, with the face towards France." And so for seven years, his men spent feasting in Harlech, accompanied by three singing birds and Brân's head. After the seven years they go to Gwales in Penfro, they go to London and bury the head of Brân in the White Mount. Legend said. At Llanddeusant, Anglesey on the banks of the Alaw can be found the cairn called Bedd Branwen, her supposed grave. Now in ruins, it still has one standing stone, it was dug up in 1800, again in the 1960s by Frances Lynch, who found several urns with human ashes. It is believed that if the story of Branwen is based on real events, these must have taken place during the Bedd Branwen Period of Bronze Age British history.
Mabinogion The Children of Llyr Medieval Welsh literature Christopher Williams painted three paintings from the Mabinogion. Brânwen can be viewed at Swansea. Branwen Ferch Lyr. Ed. Derick S. Thomson. Medieval and Modern Welsh Series Vol. II. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976. ISBN 1-85500-059-8 Ford, Patrick K. "Branwen: A Study of the Celtic Affinities," Studia Celtica 22/23: 29-35. In 1994 a feature film was released called Branwen. Branwen Uerch Lŷr: The Second Branch Of The Mabinogi Translated by Lady Charlotte Guest Branwen uerch Lyr The original Welsh text Goddess Branwen Who was Branwen
The Mabinogion are the earliest prose stories of the literature of Britain. The stories were compiled in Middle Welsh in the 12th–13th centuries from earlier oral traditions; the two main source manuscripts were created c. 1350–1410, as well as a few earlier fragments. These stories offer drama, romance, tragedy and humour, were created by various narrators over time; the title covers a collection of eleven prose stories of different types. There is a classic hero quest, "Culhwch and Olwen"; the sophisticated complexity of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi defies categorisation. The stories are so diverse that it has been argued that they are not a true collection. Scholars from the 18th century to the 1970s predominantly viewed the tales as fragmentary pre-Christian Celtic mythology, or in terms of international folklore. There are traces of mythology, folklore components, but since the 1970s an understanding of the integrity of the tales has developed, with investigation of their plot structures and language styles.
They are now seen as a sophisticated narrative tradition, both oral and written, with ancestral construction from oral storytelling, overlay from Anglo-French influences. The first modern publications were English translations by William Owen Pughe of several tales in journals in 1795, 1821, 1829; however it was Lady Charlotte Guest in 1838–45 who first published the full collection, bilingually in Welsh and English. She is assumed to be responsible for the name "Mabinogion", but this was in standard use since the 18th century. Indeed, as early as 1632 the lexicographer John Davies quotes a sentence from Math fab Mathonwy with the notation "Mabin." in his Antiquae linguae Britannicae... dictionarium duplex, article "Hob". The Guest translation of 1877 in one volume has been influential and remains read today; the most recent translation is a compact version by Sioned Davies. John Bollard has published a series of volumes with his own translation, with copious photography of the sites in the stories.
The tales continue to inspire new fiction, dramatic retellings, visual artwork, research. The name first appears in 1795 in William Owen Pughe's translation of Pwyll in the journal Cambrian Register under the title "The Mabinogion, or Juvenile Amusements, being Ancient Welsh Romances." The name appears to have been current among Welsh scholars of the London-Welsh Societies and the regional eisteddfodau in Wales. It was inherited as the title by the first publisher of the complete collection, Lady Charlotte Guest; the form mabynnogyon occurs once at the end of the first of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi in one manuscript. It is now agreed that this one instance was a mediaeval scribal error which assumed'mabinogion' was the plural of'mabinogi,', a Welsh plural occurring at the end of the remaining three branches; the word mabinogi itself is something of a puzzle, although derived from the Welsh mab, which means "son, young person". Eric P. Hamp of the earlier school traditions in mythology, found a suggestive connection with Maponos "the Divine Son", a Gaulish deity.
Mabinogi properly applies only to the Four Branches, a organised quartet likely by one author, where the other seven are so diverse. Each of these four tales ends with the colophon "thus ends this branch of the Mabinogi", hence the name. Lady Charlotte Guest's work was helped by the earlier research and translation work of William Owen Pughe; the first part of Charlotte Guest's translation of the Mabinogion appeared in 1838, it was completed in seven parts in 1845. A three-volume edition followed in 1846, a revised edition in 1877, her version of the Mabinogion remained standard until the 1948 translation by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones, praised for its combination of literal accuracy and elegant literary style. Several more, listed below, have since appeared. Dates for the tales in the Mabinogion have been much debated, a range from 1050 to 1225 being proposed, with the consensus being that they are to be dated to the late 11th and 12th centuries; the stories of the Mabinogion appear in either or both of two medieval Welsh manuscripts, the White Book of Rhydderch or Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch, written circa 1350, the Red Book of Hergest or Llyfr Goch Hergest, written about 1382–1410, though texts or fragments of some of the tales have been preserved in earlier 13th century and manuscripts.
Scholars agree that the tales are older than the existing manuscripts, but disagree over just how much older. It is clear, thus the tale of Culhwch ac Olwen, with its primitive warlord Arthur and his court based at Celliwig, is accepted to precede the Arthurian romances which show the influence of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and the romances of Chrétien de Troyes.. Those following R. S. Loomis would date it before 1100, see it as providing important evidence for the development of Arthurian legend, with links to Nennius and early Welsh poetry.. By contrast, The Dream of Rhonabwy is set in the reign of the historical Madog ap Maredudd, must therefore either be contemporary with or postdate his reign, being early 13thC. Much debate has been focused on the dating of the Four Bran