Gwyddno Garanhir

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Gwyddno Garanhir was the supposed ruler of a sunken land off the coast of Wales, known as Cantre'r Gwaelod. He was the father of Elffin ap Gwyddno, the foster-father of the famous Welsh poet, Taliesin, in the legendary account given in the late medieval Chwedl Taliesin (Ystoria Taliesin/Hanes Taliesin; "The Tale of Taliesin").

Contents

Legend

The basket of Gwyddno Garanhir is one of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain. According to tradition, Gwyddno was the lord of Cantre'r Gwaelod (Welsh: 'Lowland Hundred') in what is now Cardigan Bay. His chief fortress (caer) was said to have been 'Caer Wyddno' located north-west of Aberystwyth. The whole kingdom was protected from the sea by floodgates which had to be shut before high tide. One day the keeper of the floodgates, Seithenyn, was drunk and failed to close them, with the result that the sea rushed in and covered the land.

Kingdom

Stories of the drowned lands of Gwyddno appear to have arisen from the identification of natural submarinal ridges as the remains of sea walls. However, tradition also assigns Gwyddno a landlocked portion of his kingdom to which he was able to flee. He was called 'King of Ceredigion' by the 18th century Welsh antiquarian, Iolo Morganwg, well-known for his literary forgeries, but he does not appear in the Old Welsh pedigrees for that kingdom. He is identified with a number of different historical Gwyddnos in various sources. 16th century writers favoured Gwyddno ap Clydno, the late 6th century King of Meirionydd, who is perhaps the most likely candidate.

Epithet

His name is Welsh and means Gwyddno Long-Shanks or Crane-Legs.

References

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