Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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GWILYM RYFEL ( 12th cent. ) poet .

All that remains of his work are two chains of englynion of intercession to Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd (q.v.) . These belong to the period 1174-75 when David ruled over the greater part of Gwynedd , including Anglesey . Gwilym Ryfel was one of the friends lamented by Gruffudd ap Gwrgenau (q.v.) in a chain of beautifully written englynion , and from this work ( Hendregadredd MS. 76a , Myv. Arch. , 257a) it appears that he came from Powys , and that he was killed far from his home, where his blood could not be avenged by his kin. Like Gwalchmai he appears to have been both poet and soldier . It is certain that much of his poetry is lost, for Iorwerth Beli (q.v.) , writing a century or more after his time, names him ( Myv. Arch. , 317b) one among four, with Llywarch ( Brydydd y Moch ) , Cynddelw , and Dafydd Benfras (qq.v.), as ‘splendid chief poets , fine sons of rare talent,’ which means that he was reckoned among the greatest of the poets of the princes .


  • Llawysgrif Hendregadredd (N.L.W. MS. 6680) 73ab;
  • The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales , 195b-197a;
  • A History of Wales: from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest , ii, 551.


David Myrddin Lloyd, M.A., (1909-81), Aberystwyth / Scotland

Published date: 1959