Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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RHYDDERCH HAEL (or HEN) ,

son of Tudwal Tudclyd ap Clynnog ap Dyfnwal Hen ( Harl. MS. 3859 ; Cymm. , ix, 173). According to the Saxon genealogies, Rhydderch Hen fought along with Urien (Rheged) , Gwallawg , and Morgant against Hussa , king of Northumbria , c. 590 . Adamnan ( 624 - 704 ) in his ‘ Life of S. Columba ’ states that he was king of Alclyde ( Dumbarton , near Glasgow ) and that he was a friend of S. Columba ( 521 - 597 ). These are the only references to him in early documents. According to Jocelyn 's ‘ Life of S. Kentigern ,’ S. Kentigern (q.v.) and Rhydderch died in the same year, but the date is not known.

Rhydderch figures in traditional tales, and there are references to him in the Merlin poems ( Black Book of Carmarthen , 49. 16, 50. 3, 52. 11, 56. 16, 57. 16). He is also referred to as the victor in the battle of Arfderydd , which was fought, according to Harl. MS. 3859 ( Cymm. , ix, 155) in 573 . In the triads he is named as one of the ‘ three liberal ones of the Island of Britain ’ ( Myv. Arch. , 389), his court is said to have been devastated by Aidan , king of the Scots , 574-606 (ibid., 391), and ‘ Drudlwyd ’ is given as the name of his steed ( Black Book of Carmarthen , 28. 5). According to the Black Book of Carmarthen , 64. 8-9, he was buried at Aber-erch ; but this must be a late saga tradition.

Sources:

  • References above;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Canu Llywarch Hen , 1935 , xxi-xxv.

Author:

Professor Thomas Jones, D.Litt., Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959