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

KEYNE ( CAIN ) , saint , ( fl. late 5th cent. — early 6th cent. )

According to the ‘ The Situ Brecheniauc ’ Wade-Evans , vitae Sanctorum Britanniae et Genealogiae , 313-5) and ‘ Cognacio Brychan ’ (op. cit., 315-8), Keyne was one of the saintly daughters of Brychan Brycheiniog .

Her legend is told in the summary ‘Life’ of S. Keyne , compiled in the mid-14th cent. by John of Teignmouth from an unknown original. S. Keyne , despising marriage and thus winning the appellation ‘ Cein-wyry ’ (‘ Keyne the virgin ’), [often shortened to ‘ Ceinwr ’ and ‘ Gaynor ’ — or again ‘ Ceinwen ’ i.e. ‘Cain the holy’], departed from her native region and settled at a place, now Keynsham , in Somerset , where she lived a hermit 's life. After many years, she returned to South Wales and established a monastery at a place not identified with certainty, but perhaps Llangeinor in Glamorgan . The ‘Life’ states that she was buried by S. Cadoc .

S. Keyne is the patroness of Llangeinor , and her name is remembered in Llan-gain and Capel Cain Wyry (parish of Talley ) in Carmarthenshire , in Llangeinwen in Anglesey , and perhaps in Machen, Mon. Other churches named after her occur in Herefordshire , Somerset , and Cornwall . Her festival is celebrated usually on 8 October .

[Avoid confusing Keyne ( Cain ) with Canna , another female saint ( Br. S.S. ii, 69-71). Llan-gain (Carms.) derives from S. Keyne , but Llan-gan (Glam.) and Canton ( Cardiff ) from S. Canna .]


  • The Lives of the British Saints , ii, 52-5;
  • Horstman (ed.), Nova legenda Anglie as collected by John of Tynemouth, John Capgrave, and others, and first printed, with new lives, now re-edited with fresh material from MS and printed sources by C. Horstman (1901) , ii, 102-4;
  • Acta Sanctorum Bollandiana (1643) , lii, 275-7;
  • G. H. Doble , Britannica (1930) , 34-48;
  • Wade-Evans , Vitae Sanctorum Britanniae et Genealogiae (Cardiff, 1944) , 313-8.


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

Published date: 1959