December 4, 2012 by

Cunedda, founder of Gwynedd


Categories: Research, Tags: , , , , , ,

The medieval Welsh kingdoms are marked with a cultural beginning, that of the coming of Cunedda.

“Historically, Cunedda became king of Gwynedd in North Wales during the first half of the 5th century A.D. and founded a dynastic clan from which Welsh nobility has claimed their ancestry for centuries afterward. Tradition holds that Cunedda originated from the territory of Manau Gododdin, the region around what is now modern Edinburgh in southeast Scotland, and later migrated to North Wales. This movement was apparently at the behest of a higher authority and designed to offer Cunedda land in return for ousting Irish raiders who had invaded and settled along the Welsh coastline in the late 4th century, near the end of the Roman occupation.”

The name of Gwynedd either derives from the Latin Venedotia, or more probably from Cunedda (=Weneda =Gwynedd).

Early British Kingdoms states:

Cunedda or Cunedag Wledig (the Imperator) was a northern British chieftain, a sub-King of Gododdin who ruled Manau Gododdin on the Firth of Forth around Clackmannan. Not much is known about his life in the North, though an ancient poem generally known as the Marwnad Cunedda records his wars against the kingdoms of  Coel Hen and his descendants, when “the forts will tremble… Caer Weir [supposedly Durham]and Caer Liwelydd [Carlisle]. Cunedda’s paternal ancestors bore Roman names for three generations, including Paternus of the Red Robe, a name which has brought suggestions that the family ruled North of Hadrian’s Wall in some sort of official Roman capacity. His maternal grandmother was supposedly the grandaughter of Conan Meriadoc, male heir of the legendary Welsh King, Eudaf Hen. He was therefore chosen by the northern Welsh to help them in their fight against the invading Irish. Nennius reports:

Maelgwn, the great king, was reigning among the Britons in the region of Gwynedd, for his ancester Cunedag, with his sons, whose number was eight, had come previously from the northern part, that is from the region which is called Manau Gododdin, one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned. And with great slaughter they drove out from those regions the Scotti who never returned again to inhabit them.

These are the names of the sons of Cunedda, whose number was nine: Tybion, the first-born, who died in the region called Manau Gododdin and did not come hither with his father and his aforesaid brothers. Meirion, his son, divided the possessions among his [Tybion’s] brothers. 2. Ysfael, 3. Rhufon, 4. Dunod, 5. Ceredig, 6. Afloeg, 7. Einion Yrth, 8.Dogfael, 9. Edern. This is their boundary: from the river which is called Dyfrdwy [the Dee] , to another river, the Teifi; and they held very many districts in the western part of Britain.

Other sons, generally considered more legendary, may have included Gwron, Mael, Coel and Arwystl. Daughters were Tegeingl and Gwen, the wife of Amlawdd Wledig.”

There isn’t much else in the way of historical consensus about Cunedda, except that likely he was invited into North Wales because he had Welsh ancestry.  Not even the dates of his settlement are clear, though the BBC puts his birth at 386 AD:

“Cunedda ap Edern was born in about 386AD, and was a lord of the Celtic people who lived in Wales, South West England and the North of England, south of the Pictish area of Scotland.

A traditional account has his grandfather, Padarn Beisrudd as a Romano-British offical of high rank who was charged with fighting the Picts in Scotland. He may have been given, like other native frontier lords, a Roman rank. Cunedda is thought to have travelled to North Wales to defend the area against the Irish; an area which became Gwynedd.

The period was one of political chaos in Europe, as Rome was sacked by the Goths, and the previously mighty empire crumbled. Romano-British natives were left in something of a power vaccuum when the Roman state slipped out of Britain in 410AD.

Lords like Cunedda were left to keep something of a working state going, and he himself is thought to have been effective in repelling incursions into the area of which he had control. His family line, the royal family of Gwynedd, continued his military skills and set up a powerful kingdom within Wales.”

The following is a list and a link to a map of the inheritance of Cunedda’s sons.

c.445 – c.470 Einion Yrth (the Impetuous) Brother. Leaves Rhos to his youngest son, Owain Ddantgwyn.
c.445 Afloyg ap Cunedag King of Afflogion.
c.445 Dynod ap Cunedag King of Dunoding.
c.445 Edeyrn ap Cunedag King of Edeyrnion.
c.445 Rhwfon ap Cunedag King of Rhufoniog.
c.445 Osfael ap Cunedag King of Osmaeliog.
c.445 Dogfael ap Cunedag King of Dogfeilion.
c.445 Meirchion ap Typaun ap Cunedag King of Meirionydd.

This is a family tree of Wales and England, deriving from Cunedda:

6 Responses to Cunedda, founder of Gwynedd

  1. Gavin Douglas

    I was brought up in North Wales, and have family roots in Northumberland, where I now live.
    Although the Welsh language has long disappeared from “Yr Hen Ogledd” I can imagine that “the forts did tremble… Caer Weir {Durham] and Caer Liwelydd [Carlisle]“.
    The Hill forts at Yeavering Bell in Northumberland, Traprain Law in Lothian (Gododdin) and The Eilden Hills near Monrose, were strongholds for the Votadini who may have been paid off by Rome, as the hoard of silver coins found on Traprain Law suggests.
    Paternus of the Red Robe, may have been from a family that ruled North of Hadrian’s Wall in some sort of official Roman capacity.
    I often find myself following the route taken by Cunedda, from the Scottish Borders and Northumberland, back to the kingdom of Gwynedd and Ynys Mon.

  2. Venkata Ponakala

    wow his line lasted a whole 8 centuries in our world as a ruling power, i’m guessing it’s going to last a LOT longer in the after cilmeri series, isn’t it ,”wink”.

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