Stanzas of the Graves

The Englynion y Beddau or The Stanzas or Verses of the Graves represents a Middle Welsh verse compilation enumerating the resting places (beddau) of legendary heroes. It is comprised of englynion, or concise stanzas in quantitative meter, and exists in several manuscripts. Despite its earliest extant manuscript being the 13th-century  Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin (Black Book of Carmarthen), scholars believe the content predates this significantly, offering a window into medieval Welsh heroic tradition and topographical folklore.

How old is Englynion y Beddau?

It contains seventy-three stanzas, copied during the thirteenth century. Five of these verses appear in the Llfyr Gwyn Rhydderch (White Book of Rhyderrch), the Llyfr Coch Hergest (Red Book of Hergest), from the fourteenth century. However, the original poem itself may date from the ninth to the eleventh century. Translation of several of the stanzas is provided and more will be added as they become available.

Despite the 13th-century manuscript origins, the material within is believed to be much older. Linguistic analysis, style, and meter suggest a composition date in the 9th or 10th century, according to scholars like Thomas Jones and Jenny Rowlands. The englynion primarily celebrate male heroes of Welsh legend, praising their valor and martial prowess in battle, although there is an undercurrent of melancholy acknowledging the inevitability of death.

Comparable to the Trioedd Ynys Prydein or Welsh Triads, this work provides invaluable insights into Welsh heroic tradition, intertwined with fragments of topographical folklore, which underscore the close association between heroes and places in early Welsh literature.

References to King Arthur in Verses of the Graves

Notably, the Englynion y Beddau contains an early reference to King Arthur, whose grave is depicted as one of the world’s mysteries (anoeth byd). Allusions or possible references to Bedwyr, Gwalchmai, and the Battle of Camlann hint at the absorption of Arthurian tradition within the text, although it differs significantly from the earliest Welsh Arthurian tale, Culhwch ac Olwen.

8. The grave of Gwalchmei is in Peryddon
as a reproach to men;
at Llanbadarn is the grave of Cynon.

12. The grave of Osfran’s son is at Camlan,
after many a slaughter;
the grave of Bedwyr is on Tryfan hill.

13. The grave of Owein son of Urien is in a square grave
under the earth of Llanforfael;
at Abererch is Rhydderch the Generous.

14. After things blue and red and fair
and great steeds with taut necks
at Llanheledd is the grave of Owein .

44. There is a grave for March, a grave for Gwythur,
a grave for Gwgawn Red-sword;
the world’s wonder/ difficulty (anoeth) a grave for Arthur.

Other Characters in Verses of the Graves

Additionally, characters from the Middle Welsh prose tales of the Mabinogi are referenced. For instance, Dylan, whose grave is near St Beuno’s church at Clynnog Fawr, corresponds to Dylan Eil Ton (“son of Wave”) from the Fourth Branch. Pryderi, also mentioned, is known from the same branch, said to be buried at Maen Tyriawg, above the Felenrhyd. The relationship between Lleu Llaw Gyffes’ grave and his death in the Fourth Branch remains uncertain, possibly alluding to a distinct narrative.

English Translation of Stanzas of the Graves

  1. The graves the rain makes wet and sleek,
    Not men who turned the other cheek,
    Cerwyd, and Cywryd, and Caw.
  2. The graves beneath the thicket’s pall,
    Not unavenged were seen to fall
    Guryen, Morien, and Morial.
  3. The graves that a shower wets
    Of men not slain stealthily
    Gwyn, and Urien, and Uriad.
  4. The grave of Tydain, father of the Muse,
    In the region of Bron Aren;
    Where the wave makes a sullen sound,
    The grave of Dylan in Llan Beuno.
  5. The grave of Ceri Gledyvhir, in the region of Hen Eglwys,
    In a rugged steep place,
    Tarw Torment in the enclosure of Corbre.
  6. The grave of Siethenhin the weak-minded
    Between Care Cenedir and the shore
    Of the great sea and Cinran.
  7. In Aber Gwenoli
    Is the grave of Pryderi;
    Where the waves beat against the shore (land).
    In Carrawg is the grave of Gwallawg Hir.
  8. The grave of Gwalchmai is in Peryddon
    Where the ninth wave flows;
    The grave of Cynon is in Llan Badarn.
  9. The grave of the warrior of high renown (honourable) is in a lofty region,
    But a lowly place of repose,
    The grave of Cynon the son of Clydno Eden.
  10. The grave of Rhun the son of Pyd is by the river Ergyd,
    In a cold place in the earth.
    The grave of Cynon is in Ryd Reon.
  11. Whose grave is beneath the hill?  
    The grave of a man mightly in conflict,
    The grave of Cynon the son of Clydno Eden.
  12. The grave of the son of Ossvran is in Camlann,
    After many a conflict (slaughter);
    The grave of Bedwyr is in the woody steep of Tryvan.
  13. The grave of Owain ap Urien in a secluded part of the world,
    Under the sod at Llan Morvael;
    In Abererech, that of Rydderch Hael.
  14. After things blue, and red, and fair,
    And tough-necked horses, big and brave,
    In Llan Heledd is Owein’s grave.
  15. After wounds and bloody plains,
    and wearing harness and riding white horses,
    This, even this, is the grave of Cynddylan.
  16. Whose is the grave of good connections
    He who would attack Lloegir of the compact host?
    The grave of Gwen, the son of Llywarch Hen.
  17. Whose is the grave in the circular space,
    Which is covered by the sea and the border of the valley?
    The grave of Meigen ap Rhun, the ruler of a hundred.
  18. Whose is the grave in the island,
    Which is covered by the sea in a border of tumult?
    The grave of Meigen ap Rhun, the ruler of a court.
  19. Narrow is the grave and long,
    With respect to many long every way:–
    The grave of Meigen ap Rhun, the ruler of right.
  20. Three graves of the steady ones on an outstanding hill
    In the fair valley of Gwynionawg
    Mor and Meilir and Madawg.
  21. The grave of Madawg, the splendid bulwark, in the meeting of contention,
    The grandson of Urien,
    The son of Gwyn of Gwynlliwg.
  22. The grave of Mor, the magnificent, immovable sovereign,
    The foremost pillar in the conflict,
    The son of Peredur Penwedig.
  23. The grave of Meilyr Malwynawg of a sullenly-disposed mind,
    The hastener of a fortunate career,
    Son to Brwyn of Brycheinawg.
  24. Whose is the grave in Ryd Vaed Ced
    With its head in a downward direction?
    The grave of Run ap Alun Dyfed.
  25. The grave of Alun Dyfed is over there
    He never retreated from battle
    The son of Meigen, happy in his birth.
  26. The grave of Llia the Gwyddel is the great Ardudwy,
    Under the grass and withered leaves;
    The grave of Epynt is in the vale of Gwewl.
  27. The grave of Dywel ap Erbin is in the plain of Caeaw;
    He would not be a vassal to a king;
    Blameless, he would not shrink from battle.
  28. The grave of Gwrgi, a hero and Gwynddodian lion;
    And the grave of Llawr, the regulator of hosts,
    In the upper part of Gwanas the men are!
  29. The long graves in Gwanas–
    There history is not had,
    Whose they are and what their deeds.
  30. There has been the family of Oeth and Anoeth–
    Naked are the men and their youth–
    Let him who seeks them dig in Gwanas.
  31. The grave of Llwch Llawengin is on the river Cerddenin,
    The head of the Saxons of the district of Erbin;
    He would not be three months without battle.
  32. The graves in the Long Mountain–
    Multitudes well know it–
    Are the graves of Gwryen, Gwryd Engwawd,
    and Llwyddawg ap Lliwelydd.
  33. Whose is the grave in the mountain?
    One who marshalled armies?
    It is the grave of Ffyrnwael Hael ab Hywlydd.
  34. Whose grave is this? The grave of Eiddiwlch the Tall,
    In the upland of Pennant Twrch,
    The son of Arthan, accustomed to slaughter.
  35. The grave of Llew Llawgyffes under the protection of the sea,
    With which he was familiar;
    He was a man that never gave the truth to anyone.
  36. The grave of Beidawg the Ruddy in the Vicinity of Riw Llywvnaw;
    The grave of Lluosgar in Ceri;
    And at Ryd Bridw the grave of Omni.
  37. Far his turmoil and his seclusion;
    The sod of Machawe conceals him;
    Long the lamentations for the prowess of Beidawg the Ruddy.
  38. Far his turmoil and his fame–
    The sod of Machawe is upon him–
    This is Beidawg the Ruddy, son of Emyr Llydaw.
  39. The grave of a monarch of Prydain is in Lleudir Gwynasedd
    Where the flood enters the Llychwr;
    In Celli Briafael, the grave of Gyrthmwl.
  40. The grave in Ystyuachau,
    Which everybody doubts.
    The grave of Gwrtheyrn Gwrthenau.
  41. Cian wails in the waste of Cnud,
    Yonder above the grave of the stranger,
    The grave of Cynddilig ab Corcnud.
  42. Truly did Elffin bring me to try my primitive bardic lore
    Over a chieftain, —
    The grave of Rwvawn with the imperious aspect.
  43. Truly did Elffin bring me to try my bardic lore
    Over an early chieftain–
    The grave of Rwvawn, too early gone to the grave.
  44. There is a grave for March, a grave for Gwythur,
    A grave for Gwgawn Red-sword;
    The world’s wonder a grave for Arthur.
  45. The grave of Elchwith is by the rain bedewed,
    With the plain of Meweddawg under it;
    Cynon out to bewail him there.
  46. Who owns this grave? this grave? and this?
    Ask me, I know it;
    The grave of Ew, the grave of Eddew was this,
    And the grave of Eidal with the lofty mien.
  47. Eiddew and Eidal, the unflinching exiles,
    The whelps of Cylchwydrai;
    The sons of Meigen bred war-horses.
  48. Whose grave is this?  Brwyno the Tall,
    Bold were his men in his region.
    Where he would be, there would be no flight.
  49. Who owns this grave–not another?
    Gwythwch, the vehement in the conflict,
    While he wuld kill thee, he would laugh at thee.
  50. The grave of Silid the intrepid is in the locality of Edrywfy;
    The grave of Lleminig in Llan Elwy
    In the swampy upland is the grave of Eilinwy.
  51. The grave of a stately warrior; many a carcass was usual from his hand,
    Before he became silent beneath the stones;
    Llachar ab Rhun, is in the valley of the Cein.
  52. The grave of Talan Talyrth is at the contention of three battles,
    A hewer down of the head of every force,
    Liberal was he, and open his gates.
  53. The grave of Elissner ab Ner is in the depth of the earth,
    Without fear, without concern;
    A comander of hosts was he, so long as his time lasted.
  54. The grave of a hero vehement in his rage,
    Llachar the ruler of hosts, at the confluence of noisy waters,
    Where the Tawne forms a wave.
  55. Whose graves in the fords?
    The grave of Ruyw the chieftain, son of Rygenau,
    A man whose arms had abundant success.
  56. Whose grave is this?  The grave of Breint
    Between Llewni and Llednaint–
    The grave of a man, the woe of his foes.
  57. Whose is the grave on the slope of the hill?
    Men know who do not ask;
    The grave of Coel ab Cynvelyn.
  58. The grave of Dehewaint is on the river Clyweint,
    In the uplands of Mathavarn,
    The support of mighty warriors.
  59. The grave of Aron ap Dewinvin, is in the land of Gwenle;
    He would not shout after thieves,
    Nor disclose the truth to enemies.
  60. The grave of Tavlogau ab Lludd is far away in Trewrudd;
    And thus to us there is affliction;
    He who buried him obtained an advantage.
  61. Whose is the grave on the banks of the Rhydnant?
    Rhun was his name, of the steady progress,
    He was a king; Rhiogan slew him.
  62. He was like Cyvnyssen to demand satisfaction for murder,
    Ruddy was his lance, serene his aspect;
    Who derived the benefit?  The grave of Bradwen.
  63. Whose is the four-sided grave
    With the four stones about its head?
    The grave of Madawg, savage horseman.
  64. In the soil of the region of Eiwonydd,
    There is a tall man of fine growth,
    Who would kill all when he was greatly enraged.
  65. The three graves on the ridge of Celvi
    Inspiration has declared them to me;
    The grave of Cynon of the rugged brows,
  66. The grave of Cynfael, the grave of Cynfeli.
    The grave of Llwid Llednais in the land of Cemmaes
    Before his ribs had grown long,
    The bull of conflict brought oppression thither.
  67. The grave of Siawn’s is on Hirerw Mound
    Between the earth and his oaken shroud,
    A treacherous smiler, bitter, proud.
  68. Whose is the grave in the sheltered place?
    While he was, he was no weaking,–
    It is the grave of Ebediw ab Maelwr.
  69. Whose is the grave on yonder scree?
    His hand was foe to many.
    Battle’s bull, may he win mercy!
  70. The graves on the marsh strand;
    So few to lament
    Here is Sanawg, proud girl,
  71. Here is Rhun, battle seeker,
    Here is Carrwen, daughter of Hennin
    Here are Lledin and Llywy.
  72. The grave of Hennin Henben is in Dinorben
    The grave of Airgwl is in Dyfed;
    At the ford of Cynan Cyhoret.
  73. Every one that is not dilatory inquires—
    Whose is the mausoleum that is here?
    It is the grave of Einyawn, the son of Cunedda;
    It is a disgrace that in Prydain he should have been slain.
  74. Whose is the grave in the great plain?
    His hand was proud upon his blades;
    The grave of Beli ab Benlli Gawr.

Original Welsh Text of Englynion y Beddau

  1. E betev ae gulich y glav,-
    gvir ny tywnassint vy dignav:
    Kerwid a Chivrid a Chav.
  2. E betev ae tut gvitwal,-
    ny llesseint heb ymtial:
    Guryen, Morien a Morial.
  3. E betev ae gvlich kauad,-
    gvyr ny llesseint in lledrad:
    Gwen a Gurien a Guriad.
  4. Bet Tedei tad awen
    yg godir Brin Aren;
    yn yd vna ton tolo
    Bet Dilan Llan Bevno.
  5. Bet Keri cletifhir ygodir Hen Eglwys
    yn y diffuis graende,
    tarv torment, ymynwent Corbre.
  6. Bet Seithennin sinhuir vann
    y rug Kaer Kenedir a glann
    mor, mauridic a kinran.
  7. En Aber Gwenoli
    y mae ber Pryderi;
    yn y terev tonnev tir
    yg Karrauc bet Gwallauc Hir.
  8. Bet Gwalchmei ym Peryton
    ir diliv y dyneton;
    in Llan Padarn bet Kinon.
  9. Bet gur gwaud urtin in uchel tytin
    in isel gwelitin,
    bet Kynon mab Clytno Idin.
  10. Bet Run mab Pyd in ergid avon
    in oervel ig gverid;
    bet Kinon in Reon rid.
  11. Piev y bet y dan y brin?
    Bet gur gurt yg kyniscin,
    Kinon mab Clytno Idin.
  12. Bet mab Ossran yg Camlann,
    gvydi llauer kywlavan;
    bet Bedwir in alld Tryvan.
  13. Bet Owein ab Urien im pedrya[e]l bid,
    dan gverid Llan Morvael;
    in Abererch Riderch Hael.
  14. Guydi gurum a choch a chein
    a goruytaur maur minrein,
    in Llan Helet bet Owein.
  15. Gwydi gweli a gaedlan
    a gviscav seirch, a meirch cann,
    neud ew hun bet Kintilan.
  16. Piev y bet da y cystlun
    a wnai ar Loegir lv kigrun?
    Bet Gwen ab Llyuarch Hen hun.
  17. Piev y bet in yr amgant
    ae tut mor a goror nant?
    Bet Meigen mab Run, rviw cant.
  18. Piev y bet in yr inis
    ae tut mor a goror gwris?
    Bet Meigen mab Run, rvif llis.
  19. Es cul y bet ys hir
    in llurv llyaus Amhir,
    Bet Meigen mab Run, ruyw gwir.
  20. Tri bet tri bodauc in arterchauc brin
    ym Pant Gwinn Gvinionauc:
    Mor a Meilir a Madauc.
  21. Bet Madauc, mur egluc yg kywluc kinhen,
    vir Vrien gorev[c],
    mab y Guyn o Winllyuc.
  22. Bet Mor maurhidic, diessic unben,
    post kinhen kinteic,
    mab Peredur Penwetic.
  23. Bet Meilir maluinauc saluvodauc sinhvir,
    ffiscad fuir fodiauc,
    mab y Bruin o Bricheinauc.
  24. Piev y bet in Rid Vaen Ked
    ae pen gan yr anvaered?
    Bet Run mab Alun Diwed.
  25. Bet Alun Dywed yn y drewred drav,
    ny kiliei o caled,
    mab Meigan mad pan aned.
  26. Bet Llia Gvitel in argel Arduduy
    dan y gvelt ae gvevel;
    bet Epint inyffrin[t] Gewel.
  27. Bet Dywel mab Erbin ig gwestedin Caeav
    ny bitei gur y breinhin,
    divei ny ochelei trin.
  28. Bet Gurgi gvychit a Guindodit lev
    a bet Llaur, llu ouit,
    yg guarthaw Guanas Guyr yssit.
  29. E beteu hir yg Guanas,-
    ny chauas ae dioes
    pvy vynt vy, pvy eu neges.
  30. Teulu Oeth ac Anoeth a dyuu ynoeth
    y eu gur, y eu guas;
    ae ceisso vy clated Guanas.
  31. Bet Llvch Llaueghin ar Certenhin avon,
    pen Saeson suyt Erbin,
    ny bitei drimis hrb drin.
  32. E beteu yn Hir Vynyt
    yn llvyr y guyr lluossit:
    bet Gvryen gvrhyd enguavc
    a Llvytauc uab Lliwelit.
  33. Pieu yr bet yn y mynyt
    a lyviasei luossit?
    Bet Fyrnuael Hael ab Hyvlyt.
  34. Pieu ir bet hun? Bet Eitivlch Hir,
    ig gurthtir Pennant Turch,
    mab Arthan gywlauan gyuulch.
  35. Bet Llev Llaugyfes y dan achles mor,
    yn y bu y gywnes,
    gur guir y neb ny rodes.
  36. Bet Beidauc Rut yn amgant Riv Lyvnav,
    bet Lluoscar yg Keri,
    ac yn Ryd Britu bet Omni.
  37. Pell y vysci ac argut,
    gueryd Machave ae cut:
    hirguyn bysset Beidauc Rut.
  38. Pell y vysci ac anau,
    gueryd Machave arnau,
    Beidauc Rut ab Emer Llydau.
  39. Bet unpen o Priden yn lleutir Guynnassed,
    yn yd a Lliv yn Llychur;
    ig Kelli Uriauael bet Gyrthmul.
  40. E bet yn Ystyuacheu
    y mae paup yn y amheu,
    bet Gurtheyrn Gurtheneu.
  41. Kian a ud yn diffeith cnud drav,
    otuch pen bet alltud,
    bet Kindilic mab Corknud.
  42. Neum duc i Elffin y prowl vy bartrin
    gessevin vch kinran,-
    bet Ruvaun ruyvenit ran.
  43. Neum duc i Elffin y browl vy martrin
    vch kinran gessevin,-
    bet Ruvaun ry ievanc daerin.
  44. Bet y March, bet y Guythur,
    bet y Gugaun Cledyfrut;
    anoeth bid bet y Arthur.
  45. Bet Elchwith ys gulich [y] glav,
    Maes Meuetauc y danav;
    dyliei Kynon y kuinav.
  46. Piev y bet hun, a hun?
    Gowin ymi, mi ae gun:
    bet ew bet Eitew oet hun,
    a bet Eidal tal yscvn.
  47. Eitew ac Eidal, diessic alltudion,
    kanavon cylchuy drei;
    mekid meibon Meigen meirch mei.
  48. Piev y bet hun? Bet Bruyno Hir,
    hydir y wir in y bro:
    parth yd vei ny bitei fo.
  49. Piev y bet hun? nid
    aral guythuch urth ervid,
    trath lathei chvartei vrthid.
  50. Bet Silit dywal in Edrywuy le,
    bet Llemenic in Llan Elvy
    yg Guernin bre bet Eilinvy.
  51. Bet milur mirein gnaud kelein oe lav
    kin bu tav y dan mein,
    Llachar mab Run yg Clun Kein.
  52. Bet Talan talyrth yn ygyrth teircad,
    kymynad pen pop nyrth,
    hyget, agoret y pirth.
  53. Bet Elissner ab Ner inywinder daear,
    diarchar dibryder,
    pen llv tra wu y amser.
  54. Bet gur gurt y var, Llachar llyv niver,
    in aber duwir Dyar,
    yn y gvna Tavue toniar.
  55. Piev y bet in y Ridev?
    Bet Ruyw yw, mab Rigenev,
    gur a digonei da ar y arwev.
  56. Piev y bet hun? Bet Breint
    y rug Llewni ae lledneint,
    bet gur guae y isscereint.
  57. Piev y bet in llethir y brin?
    Llauer nys guir ae gowin:
    bet y Coel mab Kinvelin.
  58. Bet Deheveint ar Cleveint awon,
    yg gurthtir Mathauarn,
    ystifful kedwir cadarn.
  59. Bet Aron mab Diwinvin in Hirgweun le;
    ny dodei lew ar ladron,
    ny rotei gwir y alon.
  60. Bet Tawlogev mab Llut in y trewrud trav,
    mal y mae in y kystut,
    ae clathei, [ef] caffei but.
  61. Piev y bet ar lan Ryddnant?
    Run y env, radev keucant,
    ri ew, Riogan ae gvant.
  62. Oet ef kyfnissen y holi galanas,
    gua[iua]wr [r]ut, grut aten;
    a chen bvir but, bet Bradwen.
  63. Piev y bet pedrival
    ae pedwar mein am y tal?
    Bet Madauc, marchauc dywal.
  64. En Eiwonit, Elvit tir,
    y mae [bet] gur hyduf hir:
    lleas paup pan rydighir.
  65. E tri bet yg Kewin Kelvi,
    awen ae divaud imi:
    bet Kinon garv y duyael,
    bet Kinvael, bet Kinveli.
  66. Bet Llvid lledneis ig Kemeis tir:
    kin boed hir tuw y eis,
    dygirchei tarv trin o treis.
  67. Bet Siaun svberv in Hirerv minit
    y rug y gverid ae derv,
    chuerthinauc, bra[da]uc, bridchuerv.
  68. Piev y bet in y clidur?
    Tra wu ny bv eitilur,-
    bet Ebediv am Maelur.
  69. Piev y bet in yr allt trav?
    Gelin y lauer y lav,
    tarv trin, trugaret itav.
  70. Y beddau yn y Morua,
    ys bychan ay haelewy:
    y mae Sanant, syberw vun,
    y mae Run ryuel afwy,
    y mae Garrwen verch Hennin,
    y mae Lledin a Llywy.
  71. Bed Hennin Henben yn aelwyt Dinorben,
    bed Airgwl yn Dyuet;
    yn Ryt Gynan Cyhoret.
  72. Gogyuarch pob diara
    pieu yr vedgor yssy yma:
    bed Einyawn ab Cunedda,
    cwl ym Prydein y ddiua.
  73. Piev yr bed yn y Maes Mawr?
    Balch y law ar y lafnawr,-
    Bed Beli ab Benlli Gawr.