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Northern Britons

Northern Britons in Early Welsh Literature

The Gododdin Poem by Aneirin, an early Medieval Brythonic poet, celebrates the valour and deeds of the men of the Gododdin kingdom and their allies in the north, against the Angles of Deira and Bernicia, c.570. Of the Gododdin not one of his native returned except of their allies, the �three sovereigns of the Brython; Cymri and Cynon and Cynrain from Aeron�. It gives a vivid picture of the Britons, �wearing the golden torques�, and the three who escaped by the prowess of the gushing sword, the two war dogs of the Aeron and Cynon the Dauntless. The Brythonic name Cynon or Cynan, is Gaelicised as Con�n. The Aeron people, believed to originate from the Ayr Valley, are given a prominent place in the Gododin and als in the Taliesin Poems, also extracted below


Book of Aneurin I from The Four Ancient Books of Wales

The first part of the poem is the older, according to reliable Welsh and Scottish scholarship.

XVIII Stanza
Qualities they will honour.
Three forward (chiefs or bands) of Novant,
A battalion of five hundred;
Three chiefs and three hundred;
There are three Knights of battle.
From Eiddyn, arrayed in golden armour,
Three loricated hosts.
Three Kings wearing the golden torques;
Three bold Knights.
Three equal battles;
Three of the same order, mutually jealous.
Bitterly would they chase the foe;
Three dreadful in the conflict;
Lions, that would kill dead as lead.
There was in the war a collection of gold;
Three sovereigns of the people.
Came from the Brython,
Cynri and Cenon And Cynrain from Aeron,
To greet with ashen lances.
The Deivyr distillers.
Came there from the Brython,
A better man than Cynon,
A serpent to his sullen foes?

The Men of Aeron
The men went to Catraeth; they were renowned;
Wine and mead from golden cups was their beverage;
That year was to them of exalted solemnity;
Three warriors and three score and three hundred, wearing the golden torques.
Of those who hurried forth after the excess of revelling,
But three escaped by the prowess of the gashing sword,
The two war-dogs of Aeron, and Cenon the dauntless,
And myself from the spilling of my blood, the reward of my sacred song.

No hall was ever made so immovable
As that of Cynon of the gentle breast, sovereign of valuable treasures.
He sat no longer at the upper end of the high seat.
Those whom he pierced were not pierced again;
Sharp was the point of his lance;
With his enamelled armour he penetrated through the troops;
Swift in the van were the horses, in the van they tore along.
In the day of wrath, destruction attended his blade,
When Cynon rushed forward with the green dawn.

No hall was ever made so loquacious,--
So great, so magnificent for the slaughter.
Morien procured and spread the fire,
He would not say that Cenon would not make a corpse
Of one harnessed, armed with a pike, and of wide-spread fame.
His sword resounded on the top of the rampart.
No more than a huge stone can be removed from its fixed place
Will Gwid, the son of Peithan, be moved.

No hall was ever made so faultless
Nor a hero so generous, with the aspect of a lion of the greatest course,
As Cynon of the gentle breast, the most comely lord.
The city, its fame extends to the remotest parts;
It was the staying shelter of the army, the benefit of flowing melody.
In the world, engaged in arms, the battle-cry,
And war, the most heroic was he;
He slew the mounted ravagers with the sharpest blade;
Like rushes did they fall before his hand.
Son of Clydno, of lasting fame! I will sing
To thee a song of praise without limit, without end.

It is incumbent to sing of the illustrious retinue,
That, after the fatal impulse, filled Aeron.
Their hands satisfied the mouths of the brown eagles,
And prepared food for the beasts of prey.
Of those who went to Catraeth, wearing the golden torques,
Upon the message of Mynyddawg, sovereign of the people,
There came not without reproach on behalf of the Brython,
To Gododdin, a man from afar better than Cynon.

It is incumbent to sing of so skilful a man;
joyous was he in the hall; his life was not without ambition;
Bold, all around the world would Eidol seek for melody;
For gold, and fine horses., and intoxicating mead.
Only one man of those who loved the world returned,--
Cynddilig of Aeron, the grandson of Enovant.

Blessed conqueror, of temper mild, the bone of the people,
With his blue streamer displayed, while the foes range the sea.
Brave is he on the waters, most numerous his host;
With a bold breast and loud shout they pierced him.
It was his custom to make a descent before nine armaments,
In the face of blood, of the country, and of the tribes.
I love the victor's throne which was for harmonious strains,
ynddilig of Aeron, the lion's whelp!

A second redaction of The Gododdin

When they fairly met, there was no escaping for life.
Dialgur of Arvon fetched bright gold at the request
Of the Brython. High-mettled were the horses of Cynon.

I ought to sing to Cynon with the flesh-spears:
In action, and before the desolating spears of Aeron,
His hand was reckoned at the head of hoary heroes.
To me was distributed the best fare among the daring ones,
To the advantage of Mynyddawg, knight of the people,v He appointed me to harass the enemy

On Catraeth, where the golden-torqued heroes were loquacious.
They pierced and slaughtered those who stood before them;
Whelps committed ravages about their territories.
There was scarcely in the lists, on the part of the Brython,
At Gododin, from a distance a man better than Cenon.


Rheged Arise (Extracts)

Until Urien came in his day to Aeron,
There was clash, no place for it.

There was a battle at the ford of Alcud,

The Spoils of Taliesin (Extract)

Yellow treasure in the hall,
The defender in Aeron is rich.
Great is his boon
To poets and to women,
Great and unflagging
Is his fury
Against his enemy.
Great and strong
Is his kinship to a Brython.

The Battles of Gwallawg (Extracts)

For his fleet he supplied
an abundance of spears,
the flailing of sizzling wood,
eveyone�s combustion is in wood.
Gwallawg annihilated armies,
better to be spear-fodder,
than home-grown.
In the battle by the sea,
goaded by the muse,
he struck at the men of York.
Battle in the land of Troon (Ayrshire)
with bonefire fury,
his anger there was something;
the battle of Cymrwy Canon;
battle upon battle
reverberated through Aeron.
Battle in Arddunion
and Aeron Eiddined,
young men�s woe,
battle in Coed Baidd
until the end of day,
you gave your enemy
no consideration.
Battle near Gwydawl and Mabon
no survivors will tell
of their plight.

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