Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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GWYNFARDD BRYCHEINIOG ( fl. c. 1180 ), poet .

Nothing of his work now remains except two poems: ‘ Canu y Dewi ’ (‘a poem to S. David ’) and ‘ Awdyl yr Arglwydd Rys ’ (‘an awdl to the lord Rhys ’); see Hendregadredd MS. 197-207 . His name suggests that he was a native of Brecknock ; in his ‘ Canu y Dewi ’ he refers to the ‘parish of llanddewi where I worship’ and it may be that he is referring to one of the places of that name in that county. With reference to his poem to S. David , it should be borne in mind that Giraldus Cambrensis , who had been elected archdeacon of Brecknock in 1175 , had insisted on his right to exercise authority over the churches in Elfael and Maelienydd , thus embarking on his career as champion of the rights of S. Davids which was, before long, to make him the natural leader of the campaign to secure its complete independence from Canterbury ; such, too, in all probability had been the desire which had moved Rhygyfarch to write his ‘ Buchedd Ddewi ’ ( c. 1090 , according to Wade-Evans ); probably Gwynfardd Brycheiniog was similarly moved to write his poem to S. David . Certain incidents occur both in the ‘Life’ and in the poem, but some material is found in the latter which is not, apparently, included in the former. The awdl to the lord Rhys could have been written any time after 1172 , the year when Henry II met Rhys ap Gruffydd and created him justiciar of South Wales and so a ‘ lord ’. The awdl may have been composed in the year 1176 , when the ‘eisteddfod’ took place at Cardigan , but there is no certainty about this; it may have been written at a later date.


  • T. Gwynn Jones , Llenyddiaeth y Cymry llawlyfr i efrydwyr (1915) , 21;
  • J. Lloyd-Jones , The Court Poets of the Welsh Princes , 16;
  • Wade-Evans , Life of Saint David (1923) , xiv;
  • Hendregadredd Manuscripts 197-207;
  • E. Anwyl , The poetry of the Gogynfeirdd from the Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales, with an introduction to the study of old Welsh poetry (1909) , 81-4.


Professor John Ellis Caerwyn Williams, M.A., B.D., (1912-99), Bangor / Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959