Britannia, by William Camden


Big T THE Shores, obliquely retiring from Octopitarum or St. David’s Promontory toward the East, receive the Sea into a vast Bay, much of the form of a half-moon; on which lies the third Division of the DimetæDimetae, call’d by the English Cardiganshire, in British Sir Aber Teivi, and by Latin Writers, Ceretica. If any shall suppose it to be denominated from King Caratacus,King Caratacus. his conjecture may seem to proceed rather from a fond Opinion of his own, than from any Authority of the Ancients. And yet we read, that the same renowned Prince Caratacus rul’d in † † See below.these parts. On the west, towards the Sea, it is a champain Country; as also to the south, where the river Teivi divides it from Caer-Mardhin-Shire. But to the east and north, where it borders on Brecknockshire and Montgomeryshire, there is a continued ridge of Mountains, which however afford good pasture for Sheep and Cattel; and in the valleys whereof are several lakes, or natural ponds. That this country was planted formerly, not with Cities but small Cottages, is gathered ⌈by some⌉ from that saying of their Prince Caratacus, who when he was a captive at Rome,Zonaras. having view’d the Splendour and Magnificence of that City, said, Seeing you have these and such like noble structures, why do you covet our small cottages? ⌈If indeed this was subject to King Caractacus; which seems not evident from any place in Tacitus or other Author. For we find no mention of the names of those Countries under his Dominion, unless we may presume the Silures, his Subjects, from these words of Tacitus,Annal. l.12. Itum inde in Siluras, super propriam ferociam Caractaci viribus confisos: i,e. From thence to the Silures, who besides their own natural fierceness, rely’d on the strength of Caractacus, &c. Moreover, though we should grant him to have been King of the Dimetæ, yet they who are concern’d for the ancient reputation of this Country, may fairly urge, that though they accept of the authority of Zonaras, who liv’d a thousand years after, yet nothing can be collected from that Speech of Caractacus, that may prove this Country to have been more poorly inhabited in those times, than other Provinces, seeing he only speaks in general of the Countries in his Dominion, and that we find by his Speech in Tacitus, that he was plurium Gentium Imperator, Prince or Soveraign of many Countries.⌉ However, let us take a cursory view of such places as are of any Antiquity.

The river Teivi,Tuerobius, or the river Teivi. call’d by Ptolemy Tuerobius (corruptly for Dwr Teivi, which signifies the Teivi water,) springs out of the lake Lhyn Teivi, under the Mountains already mention’d. At first, it is retarded by rocks; and, rumbling among the stones without any chanel, takes its course through a very stony tract (near which the Mountaineers have, at Ros,Ros Fair. a very great Fair for Cattel,) to Stratfleur,Stratfleur, Strata florida. a Monastery heretofore of the Cluniack Monks, and encompas’d on all sides with mountains.

From hence, being receiv’d into a chanel, it runs by Tre’ Gâron,Tre’ Gâron. and by Lhan Dhewi Brêvi,Lhan Dhewi Brêvi. a Church dedicated to the memory of St. David Bishop of Menevia, and thence denominated.Garon brevi Where in a full Synod, he confuted the Pelagian heresy, at that time reviving in Britain; and that not only out of holy Scripture, but likewise by Miracle; for it is reported, that the ground on which he stood preaching, mounted up to a hillock under his feet.

MS. of Mr. R. Vaughan of Hengwrt.⌈This Synod for suppression of the Pelagian Heresie, was held about the year 522. For we find in some British Records, that St. Dubricius Archbishop of Caer-Lheion, having assisted at the Synod, and resign’d his Bishoprick to St. David, betook himself that year (together with most of the Clergy who had met on that occasion) to a Monastery at Ynys Enlhi ** Bardsey-Island., where being free from the noise of the World, they might, with less interruption, devote the remainder of their lives to the service of God. Of this retirement of St. Dubricius and his followers, mention is made also by an eminent Poet † † Aneurin Gwawdydh [aliis Gwawdrudh] Mychdeyrn Beirdh. i.e. Aneurin the Satyrist, King of Bards.of that age, in these words:

Pan oedh Saint Senedh Bhrevi,
Drwy arch y prophwydi,
Ar ôl gwiw bregeth Dewi,
Yn myned i Ynys Enlhi
, &c.

At this Church of Lhan Dhewi Brevi, I observ’d an ancient Inscription on a Tomb-stone, which is doubtless remov’d from the place where it was first laid, it being now set above the Chancel-door.


Upon a Review of this Monument, it appears that the vacant Spaces at the end of each line, are supplied, by adding to the first, ACOBI; to the second, REDAM; and to the third; DAWID.

There is also another old Inscription on a Stone erected by the Church-door, on the outside; which seems (as well as some others on Crosses) to consist wholly of Abbreviations. What it may import, I shall not pretend to explain; but shall add nevertheless a Copy of it, leaving the signification to the Reader’s conjecture.


The Sexton of this place shew’d me a Rarity by the name of Matkorn yr ŷchych bannog, or Matkorn ŷch Dewi; which he told me had been preserv’d there ever since the time of St. David; adding the fabulous tradition of the Oxen call’d Ychen bannog, which I shall not trouble the Reader with, as being no news to such as live in Wales, nor material information to others.

This Matkorn, however, seem’d to me a very remarkable Curiosity. For if it be not really (as the name implies) the interiour horn of an Ox, it very much resembles it; and yet it is so weighty that it seems absolutely petrified. It is full of large cells or holes; and the circumference of it at the root, is about seventeen inches.

Whilst I was copying the Inscriptions above-mention’d, a Country-man told me there was another at a house call’d Lhannio îsav, in this parish, distant about a mile from the Church.isav memoriae Being come thither, I found these two Inscriptions, and was inform’d that several others had been discover’d by digging, but that the stones were applied to some uses, and the Inscriptions not regarded.

monumentMae’r gareg, ymâ uwch ben drws y Glowty.

The first I read Caij Artij Manibus [or perhaps memoriæ] Ennius Primus. From which name of Primus, I take the Church of Lhan-Dewi to have received the addition of Brevi, seeing the Latin word Primus is commonly expressed in Welsh by Prív; and so, Forma, Fyrv; Turma Twrv; Terminus, Tervyn, &c.yma Priv Another Roman Epitaph, circumscrib’d with lines, in the same manner as this is, may be seen in * * Syntag. Inscr. Cl.3. LXIV.Reinesius. The Letter C revers’d (as in the first place of this Inscription) denotes frequently Caia, but sometimes also Caius, as may be seen in the same † † P.722.Author.


This Note or Character [Ɔ] added to the first, fifth, sixth and last letters, is sometimes observ’d in other Roman Inscriptions ¦¦ Reines. p.755.. As for the second letter of this Inscription, we have frequent examples, on stones and coins, of that form of the letter A. In * * Pag.3.Reinesius, we find this Inscription:


which that learned Critick directs us to read Herculi Lartius; but seeing we find here also the name of Artius, peradventure that correction was superfluous.

Besides Inscriptions of the Romans, they sometimes find here their Coins; and frequently dig-up bricks and large free-stone neatly wrought. The place where these Antiquities are found, is call’d Kae’r Kestilh, which signifies Castle-Field, or to speak more distinctly, the Field of the Castles; though at present there remains not above-ground the least sign of any building: nor have there been any (for what I could learn) within the memory of any person now living in the neighbourhood, or of their Fathers or Grandfathers. However, seeing it is thus call’d, and that it affords also such manifest tokens of its being once inhabited by the Romans, we have little reason to doubt, but that they had a Fort or Garrison, if not a considerable Town, at this place. Dimetae And that being granted, it will also appear highly probable, that what we now call Lhannio, was the very same with that which Ptolemy places in the Country of the Dimetæ, by the name of † † See Brecknock­shire, and Carmarthen­shire.Lovantinum, or (as it is otherwise read) Lovantium. If any shall urge, that to suppose it only a Castle, and not a City or Town of note, is to grant it not to have been the old Lovantium; I answer, that perhaps we do but commit a vulgar Error, when we take all the Stations in the Itinerary, and Burroughs of Ptolemy, for considerable Towns or Cities; it being not improbable, that many of them were only Forts or Castles with the addition of a few Houses, as occasion requir’d.⌉Lhan

Thus † i.e. to Landeui-brevi.
far, and farther, the river Teivi runs southward, to Lhàn-Bedr, a small Market-town. From whence directing it’s course to the west, it makes a broader chanel, and falling over a steep precipice, * * In Pembrokeshire.
near Kil-Garan, makes that Salmon-Leap which I have already † † It is not there, but between Kenmarth and Lhan-Dugwydh.
mention’d. For this river abounds with Salmon, and was formerly the only river in Britain (as Giraldus supposed) that bred Beavers. A Beaver is an amphibious animal, having the fore-feet like a dog, but footed behind like a goose, of a dark gray colour, with an oblong flat cartilagineous tail, which, in swimming, it makes use of to steer it’s course. Giraldus makes several remarks upon the subtilty of this creature; but at this time there are none of them found here. ⌈However, though we may not rely on the authority of Giraldus in many things he relates (as one who wrote in an age less cautious and accurate, and when nothing pleas’d so much as what excited the admiration of the Reader;) yet in this case, the price of a Beaver’s skin being mention’d in the Laws of Howel Dha, there remains no reason to question his veracity. And in case there had been no such proofs that there were formerly Beavers in this Kingdom, there is no room to doubt it, in that there are two or three Ponds or Lakes in Wales, well known at this day, by the name of Lhyn yr Avangk, i.e. Beaver-pool. The vulgar of our age, scarce know what creature that Avangk was; and therefore some have been perswaded, that it was a Phantom or Apparition which heretofore haunted Lakes and Rivers. As for the name, I take it for granted that it is derived from the word Avon, which signifies a River, and suppose it only an abbreviation of the word Avonog, i.e. Fluviatilis; as Lhwynog (a Fox,) signifies Sylvaticus, from Lhwyn, Sylva. And as for the signification, it is not to be controverted; some old Poets so describing it, that they evidently meant a Beaver.

Besides the Beaver, we have formerly had some otherBeasts in Wales. Beasts in Wales, which have been long since totally destroyed. As, first, Wolves; concerning which we read in Meirionydh-shire; as also in Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Secondly, Roe-Bucks, call’d in Welsh Iyrchod; which have given names to several places, as Bryn yr Iwrch, Phynon yr Iwrch, Lhwyn Iwrch, &c. Thirdly, The Wild-Boar, of which mention is made by Dr. Davies, at the end of his Dictionary. And lastly, I have offered some Arguments to prove also that Bears were heretofore natives of this Island,Pag.213. which may be seen in Mr. Ray’s Synopsis Methodica Animalium quadrupedum.⌉Kil Garan Rhys

Scarce two miles from Kîl Gâran, lies Cardigan;Cardigan. call’d by the Britains Aber Teivi, i.e. Teivimouth, the chief Town of this County. It was fortified by Gilbert, the son of Richard Clare: but being afterwards treasonably surrender’d, it was laid waste by Rhŷs ap Gryffydh, and the Governour Robert Fitz-Stephen,Fitz-Stephen. whom some call Stephanides, was taken prisoner: who after he had remained a long time at the mercy of the enrag’d Welsh, was at length releas’d; but compell’d to resign into their hands all his possessions in Wales. Whereupon, he made a descent upon Ireland, and though with a small army, yet very successfully; and was the first of the Normans, who by his valour made way for the English-Conquest of that Kingdom.

From the mouth of the Teivi, the shore, retiring gradually, is wash’d by several rivulets. Amongst them, that which Ptolemy calls Stuccia,Stuccia, or the river Ystwyth. at the upper end of the County, deserves our notice; the name whereof is still preserved by the common People, who call it Ystwyth.hir Vred Near the source of this river, there are Lead-mines, ⌈several of which have been discovered within the memory of man in this part of the County; but the most considerable that has been found in our time (either here, or in any other part of the Kingdom) is that of Bwlch yr Eskir hîr,Bwlch yr Eskir hîr. discover’d Anno 1690, which was lately the possession of Sir Carbury Pryse of Gogerdhan, Baronet; who dying without issue, and the title being extinct, was succeeded in this estate of Gogerdhan, by Edward Pryse, son of Thomas Pryse of Lhan Vrêd, Esq. The Ore here was so nigh the surface of the Earth, that, (as I have been credibly inform’d) the moss and grass did in some places but just cover it; which seems to add credit to that place of Pliny Nat. Hist. lib.34. c.17. — Nigro plumbo ad fistulas laminásque utimur, laboriosiùs in Hispania eruto: sed in Britanniâ summo terræ corio, adeo largè, ut lex ultro dicatur, ne plus certo modo fiat: — in Britain it lies on the Surface of the Earth; so plentifully, that there is a Law, that more shall not be made, than a certain quantity prescribed. But because there is a Map of these Lead-mines, published by Mr. William Waller, together with a larger account of them than can be expected here, it seems needless to add any more on this subject.⌉aberystwyth

At the mouth of the Teivi, is the most populous Town of the whole County, call’d Aber-Ystwyth; which was also fortified with walls by the above-mention’d Gilbert Clare, and defended a long time by Walter Beck an English-man, against the Welsh.Badarn dyvy Near this place, is Lhan-Bàdarn-Vawr,Lhan-Bàdarn-Vawr. i.e. Great St. Patern’s, who (as we read in his life) was an Armorican, and govern’d the Church here by feeding, and fed it by governing. To whose memory a Church and Bishop’s See was here consecrated: but the Bishoprick (as Roger Hoveden writes) fell to decay long since; for that the People had most barbarously slain their Pastor. At the same place the river RheidiolRheidiol. also casts it self into the Ocean; having taken it’s course from that very high and steep hill, Plin-Lhymmon; which is the bound of the north part of the County, and gives rise, besides this, to those two noble rivers we have already mention’d, Severn and Wye. Not very far from Aber-ỳstwyth, the river Dỳvy, the boundary betwixt this County and Merionydhshire, is also discharg’d into the Ocean.

⌈There are likewise in this Country, several such ancient Stone-Monuments as we have observ’d in the preceding Counties, whereof I shall briefly mention such as I have seen, because they may differ in some respect from those already describ’d.Lhech

Lhêch yr Ast,Lhêch yr Ast. in the parish of Lhan Goedmor, is a vast rude stone of about eight or nine yards in circumference, and at least half a yard thick. It is placed inclining; the one side of it on the ground, the other supported by a Pillar of about three foot high. I have seen a Monument somewhat like this, near Lhan Edern in Glamorganshire, call’d also by a name of the Gwal Lhech menhir gwyr kyvrivol same signification Gwâl y Vilast, which affords no information to the curious; as signifying only the Bitch-Kennel, because it might serve for such use. Gwâl y Vilast is such a rude stone as this, but much longer, and somewhat of an oval form, about four yards in length, and two in breadth, supported at one end by a stone about two foot high, somewhat of the same form (though much more rude) as those we find at the head and feet of graves in Country Churches. There is also by this Lhêch yr Ast, such another Monument, but much less and lower; and five beds (such as we call Kistieu Maen, but not cover’d) scarce two yards long, of rude stones pitch’d in the ground; as likewise a circular area of the same kind of stones, the diameter whereof is about four yards; but most of the stones of this circle are now fallen: and, about six yards from it, there lies a stone on the ground, and another beyond that, at the same distance, which doubtless belong to it.

Meineu hirionMeineu hirion. near Neuodh (the seat of the worshipful David Parry Esq; not many years since High-Sheriff of Penbrokeshire) are perhaps some remaining pillars of such a circular stone-monument (though much larger) as that described in Caer-Mardhin-shire, by the name of Meini gŵyr.

Meini KyvrîvolMeini Kyvrîvol. (or the numerary Stones) near the same place, seem to be also the remains of some such barbarous Monument. They are nineteen stones lying on the ground confusedly, and are therefore called Meineu Kyvrîvol by the vulgar, who cannot easily number them; of which two only seem to have been pitch’d on end.

Lhêch y Gowres * * Id est, Saxum fœminœ giganteæ.(a Monument well known also in this neighbourhood) seems much more worthy our observation; being an exceeding vast stone, placed on four other very large pillars or supporters, about the height of five or six foot. Besides which four, there are two others pitch’d on end under the top-stone, but much lower, so that they bear no part of the weight. There are also three stones (two large ones, and behind those a lesser) lying on the ground at each end of this Monument: and at some distance, another rude stone, which has probably some reference to it. This Lhêch y GowresLhêch y Gowres. stands on such a small bank or rising, in a plain open field, as the five stones near the circular Monument called Rolrich stones in Oxfordshire.hir Krwys

Hîr vaen gwydhog. Hîr vaen gŵydhog† Id est, Colossus conspicuus., is a remarkable Pillar about sixteen foot high, three foot broad, and two thick. It is erected on the top of a mountain, in the confines of the parishes of Kelhan and Lhan y Krŵys, and is at present (for what end soever it was first set-up) the mere-stone or boundary betwixt this County and Caer-Mardhin-shire. Not far from it, is Maen y prenvol, which I have not seen, but suppose, from the name, to be a Monument of the same kind that we call Kistvaen; for Prenvol in this country (in North-Wales Prennol) signifies a small coffer or chest.

Gwely Taliesin,Gwely Taliesin. in the parish of Lhan-Vihangel geneu’r glyn, by its name and the tradition of the neighbours concerning it, ought to be the grave of the celebrated PoetId est, Taliesinus protovates. Taliesin ben beirdh, who flourish’d about the year 540. This grave or bed (for that is the signification of the word Gwely) seems also to be a sort of Kist-vaen, four foot in length, and three in breadth; composed of four stones, one at each end, and two side-stones; the highest of which is about a foot above-ground. I take this, and all others of this kind, to be old heathen Monuments, and am far from believing that Taliesin was inter’d here.

But to proceed from these barbarous Monuments (which yet I take to be no more rude than those of our neighbour nations, before they were conquer’d by the Romans) to something that was later and more civilized; I shall here add an Inscription which I lately copied from a large rude stone in Penbryn Parish, not far from the Church. It stood not long since (as I was inform’d) in a small heap of stones, close by the place where it now lies on the ground. The stone is as hard as marble, and the letters large and very fair, and deeper inscrib’d than ordinary; but what they signifie, I fear must be left to the Reader’s conjecture.

I must confess, at first view, I thought I might venture to read it, Cor Balencii jacit Ordous; and to interpret it, The heart of Valentius of North-Wales lies here; supposing that such a person might have been slain there in battel. In old Inscriptions we often find the letter B. used for V. as Balerius for Valerius, Bixsit for Vixsit, Militabit for Militavit, &c. and the word Ordous I thought not very remote from Ordovices. But I am not satisfied with this notion of it my self, much less do I expect that others should acquiesce in it.

inscription on stone

In this same Parish of Penbryn, was found some years since, a British gold coyn, weighing (I suppose) above a Guinea; and belonging to John Williams, Esquire, of Aber Nant bychan, who was pleas’d to send me the figure of it, that is now inserted amongst some other Antiquities at the end of these Counties of Wales.

From this, and many others that are found in several places of this Kingdom, it is manifest the Britains had gold and silver coyns of their own, before the Roman Conquest; unless such as contend for the contrary, can make it appear that these coyns were brought in by the Phœnicians, or some other trading Nation, which I think no man has yet attempted. Phoenicians For seeing such of these Coyns as want Inscriptions, are always a little hollow on the one side, and have also impressions or characters (if I may so call them) different from those of Roman and all other Coyns; it is very plain, that the art of coyning them was not learn’d of the Romans: for if so, we had not met with these unintelligible Characters on them, but Roman letters, such as, by some coyns of † † Brit. Kaswalhawn, and Kynvelyn.Cassivelaunus and Cunobelin, we find they made use of after their Conquest.⌉Kadwgan Bledhyn

The NormansLords of Cardigan. had scarce settled their conquest in Britain, when they assail’d this Coast with a Navy; and that with good success. For in the time of William Rufus, they got the sea-coasts, by degrees, out of the Welshmen’s hands; but granted the greatest part of it to Kadŵgan ap Blèdhyn, a Britain, noted for Wisdom, and of great interest throughout all Wales, and at the same time in much favour with the English. But his son Owen, proving a rash youth, and a hater of Peace, and annoying the English, and the Flemings who had lately settled there, with continual excursions; the unhappy father was depriv’d of his Inheritance, and forced to suffer for the offences of his son, who was also himself constrained to leave his native Country, and to flee into Ireland. Kadwgan Rhys King Henry the first granted this County of Cardigan to Gilbert Clare, who planted Garrisons in it, and fortified several Castles. But Kadŵgan, with his son Owen, being afterwards received into favour by the English, had all his Lands restored to him. Notwithstanding this, Owen returning again to his old ways, and raising new Troubles, was slain by Girald of Penbroke, whose wife Nesta he had * * Rapuerat.ravished. His father being carried prisoner into England, expected for a long time a better change of Fortune; and being at last in his old age restored to his own, was unexpectedly and on a sudden stab’d by his nephew Madok. After that, Roger de Clare received Cardiganshire, by the munificence of King Henry the second: but Richard Earl of Clare (his son, if I mistake not) being slain in his journey hither by land; Rhŷs, Prince of South-Wales, after he had with his victorious Army made a great slaughter of the English, reduced it at last under his subjection. However, it fell afterwards by degrees, without any blood-shed, into the hands of the English.

Thomas Brudenel,Earls of Cardigan. Baron Brudenel of Stoughton, was created Earl of Cardigan by King Charles the second, April 20. 1661, upon whose death Robert his son succeeded in his estate and titles: which Robert hath been also succeeded by George his Grandson, the present Earl; Francis Lord Brudenel his son, dying in the lifetime of his Father.⌉


Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06