Sacred Texts  Legends/Sagas  Celtic  Barddas  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg, Vol. I., ed. by J. Williams Ab Ithel, [1862], at


Who was the first that obtained understanding respecting letters?

Adam first obtained it from God in Paradise, and his son, Abel the Innocent, learned it of his father. Cain the Murderer, Abel's brother, would have fame from the good things of the world, but Abel would not, except from sciences that were pleasing to God, and from understanding and learning relative to what God did or desired. Wherefore Cain envied his brother Abel, and slew him feloniously and treacherously. 2 Then the sciences, which Abel caused to be understood, were lost. After that, Adam had another son, whose name was Seth; and he taught him the knowledge of letters, and all other divine sciences. And to Seth was a son, whose name was Enos, who was educated by his father as a man of letters and praiseworthy sciences in respect of book and learning. It was Enos who was the first that made a book of record, for the purpose of preserving the memory of every thing beautiful, commendable, and good, that is, of what God the Creator did, and of his works in heaven and earth; and he enjoined this to man as a law and ordinance. 3 This knowledge was preserved by the posterity of Enos until the time of Noah the Aged; and when the water of the deluge had ceased, and the ship had come on dry land, Noah taught the knowledge of books, and all other sciences, to his son Japheth, and our nation, the Cymry, who were descended from Japheth, son of Noah the Aged, obtained this knowledge, and brought it with them to the Isle of Britain,

p. 56 p. 57

and they maintained, amplified, and enlarged the sciences of book and learning, and placed them on record until Christ came in the flesh.

What were the first books that were first known to the nation of the Cymry, and what were their materials?

Wood, that is, trees, and that mode was called Coelbren, from which comes the Coelbren of the Bards, as it is still on record by the nation of the Cymry. There was no other mode of dealing with letters known to our nation before Christ came in the flesh.

Pray, my teacher, is it meet that thou shouldest show me orally the instruction how to make the Coelbren of the Bards, and the art that ought to belong to it?

I will show it, by the grace of God,--The Coelbren of the Bards is made with the genial wood of oak plants, split into four parts, that is, of greenwood as thick as a boy's wrist. These are hewn square, that is, into four sides, a cubit in length, their breadth and thickness being equal one to the other, namely the length of a barley corn, which is the third of an inch. After 1


55:2 p. 54 See Gen. iv.

55:3 The Eastern people have likewise certain traditions respecting Enos which are not recorded in the Holy Bible, such as, that Seth his father declared him sovereign prince and high-priest of mankind, next after himself; that Enos was the first who ordained public alms for the poor, established public tribunals for the administration of justice, and planted, or rather cultivated, the palm tree.

57:1 p. 56 The MS. breaks off abruptly here.

Next: The Primary Letters.--Improvement of the Alphabet