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Y Gododdin

The Poet: Aneirin

The poet is well attested in the early period, being mentioned in the section of the Historia Brittonum which embodies northern traditions and the names of the four kings Urien, Rhydderch, Gwallog and Morgant.

In the stanza entitled 'The Reciter's Prologue', Aneirin is described as the 'son of Dwywai'. This allusion to Dwywai links Aneirin with the royal houses of the North, for according the genealogies a Dwywai was the daughter of Lleynnog and therefore the sister of Gwallog. She was also said to be the wife of Dunod Fwr and the mother of Deinioel, the patron saint of Bangor (Wales), who according to the Annales Cambriae died in 584. If Aneirin was the younger brother of Deinioel his dates could fit very well with those of a poet composing in the late 6th or early 7th century.

However, Aneirin is an obscure figure. It is probable that all we can be reasonably certain of knowing concerning him is that he existed, that he functioned as a poet in the kingdom of the Gododdin, and that an early date in the authorship of an elegiac poem on the warriors who fell at the battle of Catraeth was attributed to him.


Although Y Gododdin records an event which was a total disaster, it exalts the concept of the warrior who welcomes death in battle if it leads to enduring fame and honour.