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The Mabinogion, tr. by Lady Charlotte Guest, [1877], at

p. 434



THE fame of Math ab Mathonwy's magic, in which he would seem to have excelled all the enchanters of Welsh fiction (except, perhaps, the mighty Merlin and his own pupil, Gwydion the son of Don), is preserved in two separate Triads (xxxi. and xxxii.), where, he is styled a man of illusion and phantasy, and where one of the chief enchantments of the Island is attributed to him.

Another version of the latter has already been given.--See page 213.

The mystical arts of Math appear to have descended to him from his father, whose magic wand is celebrated by Taliesin, in the Kerdd Daronwy. It is there asserted that when this wand grows in the wood, more luxuriant fruit will be seen on the banks of the Spectre waters. 1

Taliesin also frequently speaks of the powers of Math himself.--See the Cadd Goddeu, Marwnad Aeddon o Vôn, &c. 2

p. 435

The Tale of Math ab Mathonwy has been already printed, with a translation in the Cambrian Quarterly.



THE singular occupation assigned to this damsel in the Tale, is by no means inconsistent with the ancient customs of Wales. By the laws of Howel Dda, we learn that there was an officer at the king's court, called "The Footholder," whose especial duty was such as that title implies. The following particulars are given concerning him.

"The Footholder is to sit under the King's feet

He is to eat from the same dish as the King.

He shall light the candles before the King at his meal.

He shall have a dish of meat and liquor, though he is not top join in the feast.

His land shall be free, and he shall receive a horse from the King and shall have a share of the visitors' gift money."


413c CAER DATHYL.--Page 413.

CAER DATHYL in Arvon (the present Caernarvonshire), where Math is said to have held his court, and whence Gwydion set out on his mischievous journey, has been already noticed. The remains of this fortress are now called Pen y Gaer. They are situated on the summit of a hill, about a mile distant from Llanbedr, in Caernarvonshire, midway between Llanrwst and Conway. It appears to have been well defended by deep moats, which yet surround it. Foundations of circular buildings may still be traced in its vicinity. From this place Gwydion's route was in a southerly direction, and he found Pryderi at a place called Rhuddlan Teivi (possibly Glan Teivy, about a mile and a half from Cardigan Bridge), where we are told that his palace then was. Returning with his prize, he passed by Mochdrev (or Swine's Town), in Cardiganshire, to Elenid, most likely an error of the transcriber's for Melenid, a mountain near Llanddewi Ystrad Enni, in Radnorshire, which gives its name to the whole Cantrev. Thence, by the Mochdrev, between Keri and Arwystli, in Montgomeryshire, we find him entering the Commot of Mochnant (Swine's Brook), which is partly in Montgomery, and partly in Denbighshire, and in which the town of Castell y Moch (Swine's Castle) would seem to point out another allusion to the singular companions of his hasty retreat. Gwydion stopped at a third

p. 436

[paragraph continues] Mochdrev, in Denbighshire, now a village between Conway and Abergele, in the ancient Cantrev of Rhos, and rejoined his prince at Caer Dathyl, after placing his booty, in safety in the strongholds of Arllechwedd, a name applied formerly to two commots (Upper and Lower) of Arvon, which are at this time cursorily called Uchav and Isav.

The places between which Math the son of Mathonwy took his stand, and awaited the approach of the injured Pryderi, may be recognised as Maenor Penardd, near to Conway, and Maenor Alun, now Coed Helen, near Caernarvon. Nant Call, to which the men of the South were compelled to retreat, is a brook crossing the Dolpenmaen and Caernarvon road, about nine miles from the latter town. The course of the two armies may be easily traced from Nant Call to the well-known locality of Dolpenmaen (in the ancient Cantrev of Dunodig, now the hundred of Eivionydd); thence across the Traeth Mawr to Melenryd, and at length along the picturesque valley of Ffestiniog to Maen Twrog, where the expedition terminated in the ignoble victory obtained by Math through the agency of enchantment, and in the death of the gallant son of Pwyll. We are here told that he was buried at Maen Twrawg; the Beddau Milwyr, however, as has already been mentioned, place the grave of Pryderi at Abergenoli, "where the wave beats against the shore."


414a GWYDION THE SON OF DON.--Page 414.

GWYDION, as already seen in Triad 85 (cited page 273), was one of the three famous tribe-herdsmen of the Island, and tended the cattle of Gwynedd Uch Conwy. He was also a great astronomer, and as such was classed with Gwynn ab Nudd, and Idris. 1 The Milky-way is after him termed Caer Gwydion: similar honours indeed appear to have been paid to the whole family of Don. Himself gave his name to the constellation of Cassiopeia, in Welsh, Llys Don, the Court of Don; and Caer Arianrod, Corona Borealis, is so called after his daughter Arianrod, one of the heroines of the present Tale.

Gwydion was an enchanter, and, as has been already noticed, learnt his magical arts from Math himself. As such he is repeatedly alluded to in the poems of the Welsh, especially in those of Taliesin. The remarkable instances of his powers of incantation, as displayed in the present Tale, are thus related in the composition ascribed to that Bard, entitled Kadeir Kerridwen.

p. 437

"Gwydion the son of Don, of toil severe,
Formed a woman out of flowers,
And brought the pigs from the South,
Though he had no pigstyes for them
The bold traveller out of plaited twigs
Formed a cavalcade,
And perfect saddles." 1

In another place (Cad Goddeu) Taliesin says of him,--

Minstrels have sung,
Armies have admired,
The exalting of Britons,
Achieved by Gwydion." 2

He appears in the double character of seer and poet, in the lines (already quoted, page 280) composed by him on the Cad Goddeu, or Battle of the Trees, in which his brother Amaethon fought against Arawn king of Annwn, about a white roebuck and a whelp, which he had carried off from the realms of darkness. The party who should guess the name of a particular person among his opponents in this fight, was to be victor, and Gwydion, by his divinations, accomplished the required condition on behalf of Amaethon, in consequence of which he prevailed.

Two of his other brothers, Govannon and Eunydd, are also celebrated by the Bards, and to the latter of them magic powers are especially assigned.--See Marwnad Aeddon o Vôn. Myv. Arch. I. p. 70.

The grave of Gwydion ab Don has not been left unrecorded; it was in Morva Dinllev, the scene of one of his adventures with Llew Llaw Gyffes.


421a ARIANROD.--Page 421.

THE "Silver circled " daughter of Don, was one of the three beauteous ladies of the Island.--Tr. 107.

It has already been noticed (page 436) that the Welsh name the constellation of the Corona Borealis after her, Caer Arianrod.

Besides Dylan Eil Don and Llew Llaw Gyffes, we find that Gwenwynwyn and Gwanar were sons of Arianrod, by her alliance with Lliaws ab Nwyvre.--See Tr. 14.

p. 438

421b DYLAN THE SON OF THE WAVE.--Page 421.

THIS passage would appear to point at a Triad on the subject of this "Trydydd anvad ergyd," but none is to be found among those printed in the Myvyrian Archaiology.

In the Llyvyr Taliesin, preserved in the Hengwrt Collection, there is a short composition attributed to Taliesin, entitled "Marwnad Dylan Ail Ton." It is printed in the Cambro-Briton, I. 150.



THE Rev. P. B. Williams, in his "Tourist's Guide through Caernarvonshire," speaking of Clynnog in that county, says: "There is a tradition that an ancient British town, situated near this place, called Caer Arianrhod, was swallowed up by the sea, the ruins of which, it is said, are still visible during neap tides, and in fine weather."


424a LLEW LLAW GYFFES.--Page 424.

THE incident related in the tale of the journey of Llew Llaw Gyffes (the Lion with the steady hand), with Gwydion mab Don, in the disguise of a maker of gold-coloured shoes, to seek a name and arms from his mother Arianrod, forms the subject of a Triad which has already been quoted. 1

Llew Llaw Gyffes was one of the three crimson-stained ones of the Island, than whom, however, Arthur was more conspicuous, for where he had trod neither herb nor grass sprang up for the space of a year.--Tr. xxiv.

His grave is noticed in the Englynion y Beddau Milwyr Ynys Prydain, as being protected by the sea. 2

Melyngan mangre, the horse of Llew Llaw Gyffes, was one of the chief war-horses of the island. 3


424b DINLLEV.--Page 424.

DINAS DINLLE is situated on the sea-shore, about three miles southward from Caernarvon, in the parish of Llantwrawg, on the confines

p. 439

of a large tract of land, called Morva Dinlleu. The remains of the fortress consist of a large circular mount, well defended by earthen ramparts and deep fosses.


426a BLODEUWEDD.--Page 426.

THE story of Blodeuwedd, the fair Flower-aspect, has ever been popular with the poets. Taliesin's lines relating to her romantic origin have been already given in the note upon Gwydion ab Don, and Davydd ap Gwilym has a very pretty poem on the subject of her transformation into an owl, where, after some preliminary questions as to the cause of her singular and retired habits, the poet proceeds to inquire her history and her name. The bird replies that formerly by nobles at the banquet she was called Blodeuwedd, and she swears by St. David that she is a daughter of a lord of Mona, equal in dignity to Meirchion himself.

And she goes on to say that Gwydion, the son of Don, on the Conway, transformed her with his magic wand from her state of beauty to her present misery, because she once presumed to love Goronwy, the tall and comely, the son of Perf Goronhir, lord of Penllyn.


426b MUR Y CASTELL.--Page 426.

MUR Y CASTELL, on the confines of Ardudwy, also called Tomen y Mur, is about two miles south of the Cynvael or Ffestiniog River, and distant about three miles from the Llyn y Morwynion, or Lake of the Maidens, in which the unfortunate damsels of Blodeuwedd met their untimely fate.



A TRIAD (xxxv.) recites the circumstance of the want of devotion evinced by his tribe, as detailed in the text.

"The three disloyal Tribes of the Isle of Britain.--The Tribe of Goronwy Pebyr of Penllyn, who refused to stand instead of their lord to receive the poisoned dart from Llew Llaw Gyffes, by Llech Goronwy, at Blaen Cynvael, in Ardudwy. And the Tribe of Gwrgi and Peredur, who deserted their lords in Caer Greu, where there was an appointment for battle next morning against Eda Glinmawr,

p. 440

and they were both slain. And the third, the Tribe of Alan Vyrgan who returned back by stealth from their lord, leaving him and his servants going to Camlan, where he was slain."

Penllyn, of which Gronw was lord, is a commot on the borders of Llyn Tegid, or Bala Lake.



434:1 Myv. Arch. I. p. 63.

434:2 Myv. Arch. I. p. 30, 70.

436:1 Tri. 89, sec. ii. p. 325.

437:1 Myv. Arch. I. p. 66.

437:2 Myv. Arch. I. p. 29.

438:1 See p. 411.

438:2 Myv. Arch. I. p. 80.

438:3 Tr. Meirch. ii. ix.

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