Dictionary of Welsh Biography

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

BRYCHAN , saint ( fl. mid 5th cent. )

He was the son of Anlach , son of Coronac , an Irish prince , and Marchell , daughter of Tewdrig , king of Garthmadryn . At her father's bidding, Marchell had crossed to Ireland , where Anlach wedded her, and where too Brychan was born. Anlach then returned with his wife and son to Wales , and set up their home at Benni (probably the ancient ‘ Bannium ’ near Brecon ). The education of their son was entrusted to one Drichan . Some years later, Brychan was given by his father as a hostage to Benadel , king of Powys , whose daughter Banadlinet was violated by Brychan and gave birth to a son named Cynog . Brychan eventually succeeded to the kingdom of Garthmadryn , which was then renamed Brycheiniog .

The most notable feature of the Brychan tradition is the large progeny attributed to Brychan and Prawst , his wife. The ‘ De Situ Brecheniauc ’ ( Wade-Evans , Vitae Sanctorum Britanniae et Genealogiae , 313-15), which, together with the ‘ Cognacio Brychan ’ ( Wade-Evans , op. cit., 315-18), forms the main authority for his legend, attributes to Brychan eleven sons and twenty-five daughters, and his family forms one of the three saintly tribes of Wales .

6 April is generally quoted as his feast day.


  • The Lives of the British Saints , i, 303-21;
  • Y Cymmrodor , xix, 1906 , 18-50;
  • Wade-Evans , Vitae Sanctorum Britanniae et Genealogiae (Cardiff, 1944) , 313-18;
  • Antiquity , 1945 , 182-3;
  • A History of Wales: from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest , 270-1;
  • The Transactions of the Brecknock Society and Records of the Brecknock Museum (1928–9) , i, 7-24.


Hywel David Emanuel, M.A., (1921-70), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959