The word Hengerdd (literally ‘old song’) is used in Welsh to refer to the surviving works of the cynfeirdd (‘early bards’), the early poets who lived between the 6th century, when a common Brythonic tongue was separating into the different languages, and the 11th century, after which Welsh culture became increasingly affected by Norman and Anglo-Norman culture.

Some of the cynfeirdd have entered the realms of Welsh legend. Nennius mentions several who were active in the mid to late 6th century: Talhaiarn Tataguen, Neirin, Taliesin, Bluchbard, Cian ‘Guenith Guaut’. Of these ancient poets, the work of two has survived for nearly 1,500 years: Neirin (better known today as Aneirin) and Taliesin. Luckily for anyone interested in Celtic Cumbria, these two most famous of the cynfeirdd lived and composed their works within The Old North. Though their works come down to us through Medieval Welsh copies, some of the works contained within the Llyfr Taliesin (‘Book of Taliesin’) and Llyfr Aneirin (‘Book of Aneirin’) are believed to represent a continuous literary tradition dating back to the sixth century.

Among Welsh literary scholars, the following works are generally identified as genuinely belonging to the period of the Cynfeirdd, whether or not they were composed by the poets to which they were later ascribed:

Llyfr Taliesin:

Llyfr Aneirin:


  • Praise of Cadwallon
  • Eulogy of Cynddylan