Monthly Archives: May 2014

Trojans, Saxons and Britons

Last week, we were delighted to welcome Dr Owain Wyn Jones (Bangor University, Wales) to the Department, to give us a guest lecture on the topic Trojans, Saxons and Britons: International Histories in Medieval Wales. Dr Jones gave us a fascinating insight into the synthetic pseudo-histories of the Welsh Middle Ages which, as he noted in his lecture, are comparable to the Irish pseudo-histories of the same period, as exemplified by Lebor Gabála Érenn (Book of the Taking of Ireland). He elucidated what he calls the ‘Welsh Historical Continuum’ – a series of texts copied together in medieval Welsh manuscripts – which begins with the Welsh translation of Pseudo-Dares’ De excidio Troiae; proceeds to Brut y Brenhinedd, the Welsh translations of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain; and then continues with the Brut y Tywysogion (Chronicle of the Princes): as Dr Jones argued, this ‘Historical Continuum’ presents a narrative of Welsh history which begins with its supposed Trojan origins and continues into the central Middle Ages. Interestingly, we were then introduced to an intriguing – and hitherto unstudied – text: the Brut y Saeson, or ‘Chronicle of the Saxons’, a late medieval Welsh history of the Anglo-Saxons. We look forward to seeing Dr Jones’s work on this fascinating text in print in due course. The lecture gave students taking modules in Celtic history an excellent opportunity to hear about cutting-edge research from a specialist in medieval Welsh history, and we are very grateful to Dr Jones for giving us such a rich and stimulating lecture.

An image of part of the facsimile copy of the Red Book of Hergest (Oxford, Jesus College MS 111), one of the most important surviving medieval Welsh historical and literary manuscripts