The Bonedd Gwŷr y Gogledd, literally ‘Descent of the Men of the North’, is one of the major early works giving pedigrees for northern characters. The earliest surviving manuscript is thought to date to the late 13th or early 14th century, perhaps based on earlier material from the 12th century, though it has been suggested that the information may have been collected as early as the 9th century.
The text essentially comprises of two dynasties, each tracing back to a single founding father. The first comprises kings who trace their ancestry to Coel Hen (# 1-6). The second comprises kings who are descended from Dyfnwal Hen (# 8-12). The text also includes a triad referring to the military prowess of the Coeling (# 7) and the parentage of the Cornish character Huallu (# 13).
The text differs in many respects from the earlier Harleian Genealogies and it is therefore probably a less reliable source. There is a definite sense here that the author(s) have tried to make sense of the disparate references to early northern heroes by grouping them into clear-cut family groups. Even if the pedigrees themselves are largely fictitious, however, the inclusion of certain names here points to traditions surrounding certain characters which are otherwise unknown or poorly attested in our sources (for example, Cof ap Ceidio).
Section # 11 is particularly problematic. The section traces the descent of ‘Gauran mab Aedan’ through Dyfnwal Hen to Macsen Wledig, i.e. the Roman Emperor Maximus. This is in fact a garbled reference to Aedan mac Gabrán, the Gaelic king of Alba, who was a contemporary of Rhydderch Hael but certainly not descended from a British king. The inclusion of Gauran mab Aedan here suggests that the author was familiar with the characters of northern history but not with their relationships.
The descent of Dyfnwal Hen from Macsen Wledig also differs from the Harleian Genealogies, which show Dyfnwal’s more likely descent from Ceredig Wledig, who may be the historical king Coroticus to whom St Patrick wrote his letter. The change from Ceredig to Macsen here shows the influence of the fashion in medieval Wales to claim descent from the famous emperor.
|Bonedd Gwŷr y Gogledd|
|Date:||compiled 12th C?; written late 13th C|
May include otherwise unrecorded names from northern traditions.
|Weaknesses:||Known to be inaccurate in some regards.|
Differs from earlier Harleian Genealogies.
Bonhed Gwyr y Gogled yw hyn
- Uryen vab Kynvarch mab Meirchaʋn mab Gorust Ledlʋm mab Keneu mab Coel.
- Llywarch Hen mab Elidyr Lydanwyn mab Meirchaʋn mab Gorust mab Keneu mab Coel.
- Clydno Eidin a Chynan Genhir a Chynvelyn Drʋsgyl a Chatraʋt Calchvynyd meibon Kynnʋyt Kynnʋydyon mab Kynvelyn mab Arthwys mab Mar mab Keneu mab Coel.
- Dunaʋt a Cherwyd a Sawyl Penuchel meibyon Pabo Post Prydein mab Arthwys mab Mar mab Keneu mab Coel.
- Gʋrgi a Pheredur meibon Eliffer Gosgordvaʋr mab Arthwys mab Keneu mab Coel.
- Gwendoleu a Nud a Chof meibyon Keidyaʋ mab Arthwys mab Mar mab Keneu mab Coel.
- Trychan cledyf kynverchyn a ttrychan ysgʋyt kynnʋdyon a ttrychan wayʋ coeling pa neges bynhac yd elynt iddi yn duvn. Nyt amethei hon honno.
- Ryderch Hael mab Tutwal Tutclyt mab Kedic mab Dyvynwal Hen.
- Mordaf mab Servan mab Kedic mab Dyfynwal Hen.
- Elffin mab Gʋydno mab Caʋrdaf mab Garmonyaʋn mab Dyfynwal Hen.
- Gauran mab Aedan Uradaʋc mab Dyvynwal Hen mab Idnyvet mab Maxen Wledic amheraʋdyr Ruvein.
- Elidyr Mʋynvaʋr mab Gorust Priodaʋr mab Dyfynwal Hen.
- Huallu mab Tutvʋlch Corneu tywyssaʋc o Kernyʋ a Dywana merch Amlaʋt Wledic y vam.
This is the Descent of the Men of the North:
- Urien son of Cynfarch son of Meirchion son of Gwrwst Lledlwm son of Cenau son of Coel.
- Llywarch Hen son of Elidyr Llydanwyn son of Meirchion son of Gwrwst son of Cenau son of Coel.
- Clydno Eidyn and Cynan Genhir and Cynfelyn Drwsgl and Cadrod Calchfynydd sons of Cynwyd Cynwydion son of Cynfelyn son of Athrwys son of Mar son of Cenau son of Coel.
- Dunod and Cerwyd and Sawyl Penuchel sons of Pabo Post Prydain son of Athrwys son of Mar son of Cenau son of Coel.
- Gwrgi and Peredur sons of Eliffer Gosgorddfawr son of Athrwys [son of Mar] son of Cenau son of Coel.
- Gwenddolau and Nudd and Cof sons of Ceidio son of Athrwys son of Mar son of Cenau son of Coel.
- Three hundred swords of the descendants of Cynfarch, and three hundred shields of the descendants of Cynwyd, and three hundred spears of the descendants of Coel: whatever expedition they went to deeply, that never failed.
- Rhydderch Hael son of Tudwal Tutglyd son of Cedig son of Dyfnwal Hen.
- Mordaf son of Servan son of Cedig son of Dyfnwal Hen.
- Elffin son of Gwyddno son of Cawrdaf son of Garfonion son of Dyfnwal Hen.
- Gafran son of Aeddan Fradog son of Dyfnwal Hen son of Idnyfed son of Macsen Wledig emperor of the Romans.
- Elidyr Mwynfawr son of Gwrwst Priodor son of Dyfnwal Hen.
- Huallu son of Tudfwlch Corneu prince of Cornwall and Dywana daughter of Amlawd Wledig his mother.