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The Itinerary of Archibishop Baldwin through Wales by Giraldus Cambrensis

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undertakings shall be successful, and thou shalt lead a happy life."
The king, in French, desired Philip de Mercros, {83} who held the
reins of his horse, to ask the rustic if he had dreamt this? and
when the soldier explained to him the king's question in English, he
replied in the same language he had before used, "Whether I have
dreamt it or not, observe what day this is (addressing himself to
the king, not to the interpreter), and unless thou shalt do so, and
quickly amend thy life, before the expiration of one year, thou
shalt hear such things concerning what thou lovest best in this
world, and shalt thereby be so much troubled, that thy disquietude
shall continue to thy life's end." The king, spurring his horse,
proceeded a little way towards the gate, when, stopping suddenly, he
ordered his attendants to call the good man back. The soldier, and
a young man named William, the only persons who remained with the
king, accordingly called him, and sought him in vain in the chapel,
and in all the inns of the city. The king, vexed that he had not
spoken more to him, waited alone a long time, while other persons
went in search of him; and when he could not be found, pursued his
journey over the bridge of Remni to Newport. The fatal prediction
came to pass within the year, as the man had threatened; for the
king's three sons, Henry, the eldest, and his brothers, Richard of
Poitou, and Geoffrey, count of Britany, in the following Lent,
deserted to Louis king of France, which caused the king greater
uneasiness than he had ever before experienced; and which, by the
conduct of some one of his sons, was continued till the time of his
decease. This monarch, through divine mercy (for God is more
desirous of the conversion than the destruction of a sinner),
received many other admonitions and reproofs about this time, and
shortly before his death; all of which, being utterly incorrigible,
he obstinately and obdurately despised, as will be more fully set
forth (by the favour of God) in my book, "de Principis

Not far from Caerdyf is a small island situated near the shore of
the Severn, called Barri, from St. Baroc {84} who formerly lived
there, and whose remains are deposited in a chapel overgrown with
ivy, having been transferred to a coffin. From hence a noble
family, of the maritime parts of South Wales, who owned this island
and the adjoining estates, received the name of de Barri. It is
remarkable that, in a rock near the entrance of the island, there is
a small cavity, to which, if the ear is applied, a noise is heard
like that of smiths at work, the blowing of bellows, strokes of
hammers, grinding of tools, and roaring of furnaces; and it might
easily be imagined that such noises, which are continued at the ebb
and flow of the tides, were occasioned by the influx of the sea
under the cavities of the rocks.


The see of Landaf and monastery of Margan, and the remarkable things
in those parts

On the following morning, the business of the cross being publicly
proclaimed at Landaf, the English standing on one side, and the
Welsh on the other, many persons of each nation took the cross, and
we remained there that night with William bishop of that place, {85}
a discreet and good man. The word Landaf {86} signifies the church
situated upon the river Taf, and is now called the church of St.
Teileau, formerly bishop of that see. The archbishop having
celebrated mass early in the morning, before the high altar of the
cathedral, we immediately pursued our journey by the little cell of
Ewenith {87} to the noble Cistercian monastery of Margan. {88} This
monastery, under the direction of Conan, a learned and prudent
abbot, was at this time more celebrated for its charitable deeds
than any other of that order in Wales. On this account, it is an
undoubted fact, that, as a reward for that abundant charity which
the monastery had always, in times of need, exercised towards
strangers and poor persons, in a season of approaching famine, their
corn and provisions were perceptibly, by divine assistance,
increased, like the widow's cruise of oil by the means of the
prophet Elijah. About the time of its foundation, a young man of
those parts, by birth a Welshman, having claimed and endeavoured to
apply to his own use certain lands which had been given to the
monastery, by the instigation of the devil set on fire the best barn
belonging to the monks, which was filled with corn; but, immediately
becoming mad, he ran about the country in a distracted state, nor
ceased raving until he was seized by his parents and bound. Having
burst his bonds, and tired out his keepers, he came the next morning
to the gate of the monastery, incessantly howling out that he was
inwardly burnt by the influence of the monks, and thus in a few days
expired, uttering the most miserable complaints. It happened also,
that a young man was struck by another in the guests' hall; but on
the following day, by divine vengeance, the aggressor was, in the
presence of the fraternity, killed by an enemy, and his lifeless
body was laid out in the same spot in the hall where the sacred
house had been violated. In our time too, in a period of scarcity,
while great multitudes of poor were daily crowding before the gates
for relief, by the unanimous consent of the brethren, a ship was
sent to Bristol to purchase corn for charitable purposes. The
vessel, delayed by contrary winds, and not returning (but rather
affording an opportunity for the miracle), on the very day when
there would have been a total deficiency of corn, both for the poor
and the convent, a field near the monastery was found suddenly to
ripen, more than a month before the usual time of harvest: thus,
divine Providence supplied the brotherhood and the numerous poor
with sufficient nourishment until autumn. By these and other signs
of virtues, the place accepted by God began to be generally esteemed
and venerated.

It came to pass also in our days, during the period when the four
sons of Caradoc son of Iestin, and nephews of prince Rhys by his
sister, namely, Morgan, Meredyth, Owen, and Cadwallon, bore rule for
their father in those parts, that Cadwallon, through inveterate
malice, slew his brother Owen. But divine vengeance soon overtook
him; for on his making a hostile attack on a certain castle, he was
crushed to pieces by the sudden fall of its walls: and thus, in the
presence of a numerous body of his own and his brother's forces,
suffered the punishment which his barbarous and unnatural conduct
had so justly merited.

Another circumstance which happened here deserves notice. A
greyhound belonging to the aforesaid Owen, large, beautiful, and
curiously spotted with a variety of colours, received seven wounds
from arrows and lances, in the defence of his master, and on his
part did much injury to the enemy and assassins. When his wounds
were healed, he was sent to king Henry II. by William earl of
Gloucester, in testimony of so great and extraordinary a deed. A
dog, of all animals, is most attached to man, and most easily
distinguishes him; sometimes, when deprived of his master, he
refuses to live, and in his master's defence is bold enough to brave
death; ready, therefore, to die, either with or for his master. I
do not think it superfluous to insert here an example which
Suetonius gives in his book on the nature of animals, and which
Ambrosius also relates in his Exameron. "A man, accompanied by a
dog, was killed in a remote part of the city of Antioch, by a
soldier, for the sake of plunder. The murderer, concealed by the
darkness of the morning, escaped into another part of the city; the
corpse lay unburied; a large concourse of people assembled; and the
dog, with bitter howlings, lamented his master's fate. The
murderer, by chance, passed that way, and, in order to prove his
innocence, mingled with the crowd of spectators, and, as if moved by
compassion, approached the body of the deceased. The dog,
suspending for a while his moans, assumed the arms of revenge;
rushed upon the man, and seized him, howling at the same time in so
dolorous a manner, that all present shed tears. It was considered
as a proof against the murderer, that the dog seized him from
amongst so many, and would not let him go; and especially, as
neither the crime of hatred, envy, or injury, could possibly, in
this case, be urged against the dog. On account, therefore, of such
a strong suspicion of murder (which the soldier constantly denied),
it was determined that the truth of the matter should be tried by
combat. The parties being assembled in a field, with a crowd of
people around, the dog on one side, and the soldier, armed with a
stick of a cubit's length, on the other, the murderer was at length
overcome by the victorious dog, and suffered an ignominious death on
the common gallows.

Pliny and Solinus relate that a certain king, who was very fond of
dogs, and addicted to hunting, was taken and imprisoned by his
enemies, and in a most wonderful manner liberated, without any
assistance from his friends, by a pack of dogs, who had
spontaneously sequestered themselves in the mountainous and woody
regions, and from thence committed many atrocious acts of
depredation on the neighbouring herds and flocks. I shall take this
opportunity of mentioning what from experience and ocular testimony
I have observed respecting the nature of dogs. A dog is in general
sagacious, but particularly with respect to his master; for when he
has for some time lost him in a crowd, he depends more upon his nose
than upon his eyes; and, in endeavouring to find him, he first looks
about, and then applies his nose, for greater certainty, to his
clothes, as if nature had placed all the powers of infallibility in
that feature. The tongue of a dog possesses a medicinal quality;
the wolf's, on the contrary, a poisonous: the dog heals his wounds
by licking them, the wolf, by a similar practice, infects them; and
the dog, if he has received a wound in his neck or head, or any part
of his body where he cannot apply his tongue, ingeniously makes use
of his hinder foot as a conveyance of the healing qualities to the
parts affected.


Passage of the rivers Avon and Neth - and of Abertawe and Goer

Continuing our journey, {89} not far from Margan, where the
alternate vicissitudes of a sandy shore and the tide commence, we
forded over the river Avon, having been considerably delayed by the
ebbing of the sea; and under the guidance of Morgan, eldest son of
Caradoc, proceeded along the sea-shore towards the river Neth,
which, on account of its quicksands, is the most dangerous and
inaccessible river in South Wales. A pack-horse belonging to the
author, which had proceeded by the lower way near the sea, although
in the midst of many others, was the only one which sunk down into
the abyss, but he was at last, with great difficulty, extricated,
and not without some damage done to the baggage and books. Yet,
although we had Morgan, the prince of that country, as our
conductor, we did not reach the river without great peril, and some
severe falls; for the alarm occasioned by this unusual kind of road,
made us hasten our steps over the quicksands, in opposition to the
advice of our guide, and fear quickened our pace; whereas, through
these difficult passages, as we there learned, the mode of
proceeding should be with moderate speed. But as the fords of that
river experience a change by every monthly tide, and cannot be found
after violent rains and floods, we did not attempt the ford, but
passed the river in a boat, leaving the monastery of Neth {90} on
our right hand, approaching again to the district of St. David's,
and leaving the diocese of Landaf (which we had entered at
Abergevenny) behind us.

It happened in our days that David II., bishop of St. David's,
passing this way, and finding the ford agitated by a recent storm, a
chaplain of those parts, named Rotherch Falcus, being conversant in
the proper method of crossing these rivers, undertook, at the desire
of the bishop, the dangerous task of trying the ford. Having
mounted a large and powerful horse, which had been selected from the
whole train for this purpose, he immediately crossed the ford, and
fled with great rapidity to the neighbouring woods, nor could he be
induced to return until the suspension which he had lately incurred
was removed, and a full promise of security and indemnity obtained;
the horse was then restored to one party, and his service to the

Entering the province called Goer, {91} we spent the night at the
castle of Sweynsei, {92} which in Welsh is called Abertawe, or the
fall of the river Tawe into the sea. The next morning, the people
being assembled after mass, and many having been induced to take the
cross, an aged man of that district, named Cador, thus addressed the
archbishop: "My lord, if I now enjoyed my former strength, and the
vigour of youth, no alms should ransom me, no desire of inactivity
restrain me, from engaging in the laudable undertaking you preach;
but since my weak age and the injuries of time deprive me of this
desirable benefit (for approaching years bring with them many
comforts, which those that are passed take away), if I cannot, owing
to the infirmity of my body, attain a full merit, yet suffer me, by
giving a tenth of all I possess, to attain a half." Then falling
down at the feet of the archbishop, he deposited in his hands, for
the service of the cross, the tenth of his estate, weeping bitterly,
and intreating from him the remission of one half of the enjoined
penance. After a short time he returned, and thus continued: "My
lord, if the will directs the action, and is itself, for the most
part, considered as the act, and as I have a full and firm
inclination to undertake this journey, I request a remission of the
remaining part of the penance, and in addition to my former gift, I
will equal the sum from the residue of my tenths." The archbishop,
smiling at his devout ingenuity, embraced him with admiration.

On the same night, two monks, who waited in the archbishop's
chamber, conversing about the occurrences of their journey, and the
dangers of the road, one of them said (alluding to the wildness of
the country), "This is a hard province;" the other (alluding to the
quicksands), wittily replied, "Yet yesterday it was found too soft."

A short time before our days, a circumstance worthy of note occurred
in these parts, which Elidorus, a priest, most strenuously affirmed
had befallen himself. When a youth of twelve years, and learning
his letters, since, as Solomon says, "The root of learning is
bitter, although the fruit is sweet," in order to avoid the
discipline and frequent stripes inflicted on him by his preceptor,
he ran away, and concealed himself under the hollow bank of a river.
After fasting in that situation for two days, two little men of
pigmy stature appeared to him, saying, "If you will come with us, we
will lead you into a country full of delights and sports."
Assenting and rising up, he followed his guides through a path, at
first subterraneous and dark, into a most beautiful country, adorned
with rivers and meadows, woods and plains, but obscure, and not
illuminated with the full light of the sun. All the days were
cloudy, and the nights extremely dark, on account of the absence of
the moon and stars. The boy was brought before the king, and
introduced to him in the presence of the court; who, having examined
him for a long time, delivered him to his son, who was then a boy.
These men were of the smallest stature, but very well proportioned
in their make; they were all of a fair complexion, with luxuriant
hair falling over their shoulders like that of women. They had
horses and greyhounds adapted to their size. They neither ate flesh
nor fish, but lived on milk diet, made up into messes with saffron.
They never took an oath, for they detested nothing so much as lies.
As often as they returned from our upper hemisphere, they reprobated
our ambition, infidelities, and inconstancies; they had no form of
public worship, being strict lovers and reverers, as it seemed, of

The boy frequently returned to our hemisphere, sometimes by the way
he had first gone, sometimes by another: at first in company with
other persons, and afterwards alone, and made himself known only to
his mother, declaring to her the manners, nature, and state of that
people. Being desired by her to bring a present of gold, with which
that region abounded, he stole, while at play with the king's son,
the golden ball with which he used to divert himself, and brought it
to his mother in great haste; and when he reached the door of his
father's house, but not unpursued, and was entering it in a great
hurry, his foot stumbled on the threshold, and falling down into the
room where his mother was sitting, the two pigmies seized the ball
which had dropped from his hand, and departed, shewing the boy every
mark of contempt and derision. On recovering from his fall,
confounded with shame, and execrating the evil counsel of his
mother, he returned by the usual track to the subterraneous road,
but found no appearance of any passage, though he searched for it on
the banks of the river for nearly the space of a year. But since
those calamities are often alleviated by time, which reason cannot
mitigate, and length of time alone blunts the edge of our
afflictions, and puts an end to many evils, the youth having been
brought back by his friends and mother, and restored to his right
way of thinking, and to his learning, in process of time attained
the rank of priesthood. Whenever David II., bishop of St. David's,
talked to him in his advanced state of life concerning this event,
he could never relate the particulars without shedding tears. He
had made himself acquainted with the language of that nation, the
words of which, in his younger days, he used to recite, which, as
the bishop often had informed me, were very conformable to the Greek
idiom. When they asked for water, they said Ydor ydorum, which
meant bring water, for Ydor in their language, as well as in the
Greek, signifies water, from whence vessels for water are called
{Greek text which cannot be reproduced}; and Dur also, in the
British language, signifies water. When they wanted salt they said,
Halgein ydorum, bring salt: salt is called {Greek text} in Greek,
and Halen in British, for that language, from the length of time
which the Britons (then called Trojans, and afterwards Britons, from
Brito, their leader) remained in Greece after the destruction of
Troy, became, in many instances, similar to the Greek.

It is remarkable that so many languages should correspond in one
word, {Greek} in Greek, Halen in British, and Halgein in the Irish
tongue, the g being inserted; Sal in Latin, because, as Priscian
says, "the s is placed in some words instead of an aspirate," as
{Greek} in Greek is called Sal in Latin, {Greek} - semi - {Greek} -
septem - Sel in French - the A being changed into E - Salt in
English, by the addition of T to the Latin; Sout, in the Teutonic
language: there are therefore seven or eight languages agreeing in
this one word. If a scrupulous inquirer should ask my opinion of
the relation here inserted, I answer with Augustine, "that the
divine miracles are to be admired, not discussed." Nor do I, by
denial, place bounds to the divine power, nor, by assent, insolently
extend what cannot be extended. But I always call to mind the
saying of St. Jerome; "You will find," says he, "many things
incredible and improbable, which nevertheless are true; for nature
cannot in any respect prevail against the lord of nature." These
things, therefore, and similar contingencies, I should place,
according to the opinion of Augustine, among those particulars which
are neither to be affirmed, nor too positively denied.


Passage over the rivers Lochor and Wendraeth; and of Cydweli

Thence we proceeded towards the river Lochor, {93} through the
plains in which Howel, son of Meredyth of Brecheinoc, after the
decease of king Henry I., gained a signal victory over the English.
Having first crossed the river Lochor, and afterwards the water
called Wendraeth, {94} we arrived at the castle of Cydweli. {95} In
this district, after the death of king Henry, whilst Gruffydd son of
Rhys, the prince of South Wales, was engaged in soliciting
assistance from North Wales, his wife Gwenliana (like the queen of
the Amazons, and a second Penthesilea) led an army into these parts;
but she was defeated by Maurice de Londres, lord of that country,
and Geoffrey, the bishop's constable. {96} Morgan, one of her sons,
whom she had arrogantly brought with her in that expedition, was
slain, and the other, Malgo, taken prisoner; and she, with many of
her followers, was put to death. During the reign of king Henry I.,
when Wales enjoyed a state of tranquillity, the above-mentioned
Maurice had a forest in that neighbourhood, well stocked with wild
animals, and especially deer, and was extremely tenacious of his
venison. His wife (for women are often very expert in deceiving
men) made use of this curious stratagem. Her husband possessed, on
the side of the wood next the sea, some extensive pastures, and
large flocks of sheep. Having made all the shepherds and chief
people in her house accomplices and favourers of her design, and
taking advantage of the simple courtesy of her husband, she thus
addressed him: "It is wonderful that being lord over beasts, you
have ceased to exercise dominion over them; and by not making use of
your deer, do not now rule over them, but are subservient to them;
and behold how great an abuse arises from too much patience; for
they attack our sheep with such an unheard-of rage, and unusual
voracity, that from many they are become few; from being
innumerable, only numerous." To make her story more probable, she
caused some wool to be inserted between the intestines of two stags
which had been embowelled; and her husband, thus artfully deceived,
sacrificed his deer to the rapacity of his dogs.


Tywy river - Caermardyn - monastery of Albelande

Having crossed the river Tywy in a boat, we proceeded towards
Caermardyn, leaving Lanstephan and Talachar {97} on the sea-coast to
our left. After the death of king Henry II., Rhys, the son of
Gruffydd, took these two castles by assault; then, having laid
waste, by fire and sword, the provinces of Penbroch and Ros, he
besieged Caermardyn, but failed in his attempt. Caermardyn {98}
signifies the city of Merlin, because, according to the British
History, he was there said to have been begotten of an incubus.

This ancient city is situated on the banks of the noble river Tywy,
surrounded by woods and pastures, and was strongly inclosed with
walls of brick, part of which are still standing; having Cantref
Mawr, the great cantred, or hundred, on the eastern side, a safe
refuge, in times of danger, to the inhabitants of South Wales, on
account of its thick woods; where is also the castle of Dinevor,
{99} built on a lofty summit above the Tywy, the royal seat of the
princes of South Wales. In ancient times, there were three regal
palaces in Wales: Dinevor in South Wales, Aberfrau in North Wales,
situated in Anglesea, and Pengwern in Powys, now called Shrewsbury
(Slopesburia); Pengwern signifies the head of a grove of alders.
Recalling to mind those poetical passages:

"Dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat?"


"Et si non recte possis quocunque modo rem,"

my pen shrinks with abhorrence from the relation of the enormous
vengeance exercised by the court against its vassals, within the
comot of Caeo, in the Cantref Mawr. Near Dinevor, on the other side
of the river Tywy, in the Cantref Bychan, or the little cantred,
there is a spring which, like the tide, ebbs and flows twice in
twenty-four hours. {100} Not far to the north of Caermardyn, namely
at Pencadair, {101} that is, the head of the chair, when Rhys, the
son of Gruffydd, was more by stratagem than force compelled to
surrender, and was carried away into England, king Henry II.
despatched a knight, born in Britany, on whose wisdom and fidelity
he could rely, under the conduct of Guaidanus, dean of Cantref Mawr,
to explore the situation of Dinevor castle, and the strength of the
country. The priest, being desired to take the knight by the
easiest and best road to the castle, led him purposely aside by the
most difficult and inaccessible paths, and wherever they passed
through woods, the priest, to the general surprise of all present,
fed upon grass, asserting that, in times of need, the inhabitants of
that country were accustomed to live upon herbs and roots. The
knight returning to the king, and relating what had happened,
affirmed that the country was uninhabitable, vile, and inaccessible,
and only affording food to a beastly nation, living like brutes. At
length the king released Rhys, having first bound him to fealty by
solemn oaths and the delivery of hostages.

On our journey from Caermardyn towards the Cistercian monastery
called Alba Domus, {102} the archbishop was informed of the murder
of a young Welshman, who was devoutly hastening to meet him; when
turning out of the road, he ordered the corpse to be covered with
the cloak of his almoner, and with a pious supplication commended
the soul of the murdered youth to heaven. Twelve archers of the
adjacent castle of St. Clare, {103} who had assassinated the young
man, were on the following day signed with the cross at Alba Domus,
as a punishment for their crime. Having traversed three rivers, the
Taf, then the Cleddeu, under Lanwadein, {104} and afterwards another
branch of the same river, we at length arrived at Haverford. This
province, from its situation between two rivers, has acquired the
name of Daugleddeu, {105} being enclosed and terminated, as it were,
by two swords, for cleddue, in the British language, signifies a


Of Haverford and Ros

A sermon having been delivered at Haverford {106} by the archbishop,
and the word of God preached to the people by the archdeacon, whose
name appears on the title-page of this work, many soldiers and
plebeians were induced to take the cross. It appeared wonderful and
miraculous, that, although the archdeacon addressed them both in the
Latin and French tongues, those persons who understood neither of
those languages were equally affected, and flocked in great numbers
to the cross.

An old woman of those parts, who for three preceding years had been
blind, having heard of the archbishop's arrival, sent her son to the
place where the sermon was to be preached, that he might bring back
to her some particle, if only of the fringe of his garment. The
young man being prevented by the crowd from approaching the
archbishop, waited till the assembly was dispersed, and then carried
a piece of the earth on which the preacher had stood. The mother
received the gift with great joy, and falling immediately on her
knees, applied the turf to her mouth and eyes; and thus, through the
merits of the holy man, and her own faith and devotion, recovered
the blessing of sight, which she had entirely lost.

The inhabitants of this province derived their origin from Flanders,
and were sent by king Henry I. to inhabit these districts; a people
brave and robust, ever most hostile to the Welsh; a people, I say,
well versed in commerce and woollen manufactories; a people anxious
to seek gain by sea or land, in defiance of fatigue and danger; a
hardy race, equally fitted for the plough or the sword; a people
brave and happy, if Wales (as it ought to have been) had been dear
to its sovereign, and had not so frequently experienced the
vindictive resentment and ill-treatment of its governors.

A circumstance happened in the castle of Haverford during our time,
which ought not to be omitted. A famous robber was fettered and
confined in one of its towers, and was often visited by three boys,
the son of the earl of Clare, and two others, one of whom was son of
the lord of the castle, and the other his grandson, sent thither for
their education, and who applied to him for arrows, with which he
used to supply them. One day, at the request of the children, the
robber, being brought from his dungeon, took advantage of the
absence of the gaoler, closed the door, and shut himself up with the
boys. A great clamour instantly arose, as well from the boys
within, as from the people without; nor did he cease, with an
uplifted axe, to threaten the lives of the children, until indemnity
and security were assured to him in the most ample manner. A
similar accident happened at Chateau-roux in France. The lord of
that place maintained in the castle a man whose eyes he had formerly
put out, but who, by long habit, recollected the ways of the castle,
and the steps leading to the towers. Seizing an opportunity of
revenge, and meditating the destruction of the youth, he fastened
the inward doors of the castle, and took the only son and heir of
the governor of the castle to the summit of a high tower, from
whence he was seen with the utmost concern by the people beneath.
The father of the boy hastened thither, and, struck with terror,
attempted by every possible means to procure the ransom of his son,
but received for answer, that this could not be effected, but by the
same mutilation of those lower parts, which he had likewise
inflicted on him. The father, having in vain entreated mercy, at
length assented, and caused a violent blow to be struck on his body;
and the people around him cried out lamentably, as if he had
suffered mutilation. The blind man asked him where he felt the
greatest pain? when he replied in his reins, he declared it was
false and prepared to precipitate the boy. A second blow was given,
and the lord of the castle asserting that the greatest pains were at
his heart, the blind man expressing his disbelief, again carried the
boy to the summit of the tower. The third time, however, the
father, to save his son, really mutilated himself; and when he
exclaimed that the greatest pain was in his teeth; "It is true,"
said he, "as a man who has had experience should be believed, and
thou hast in part revenged my injuries. I shall meet death with
more satisfaction, and thou shalt neither beget any other son, nor
receive comfort from this." Then, precipitating himself and the boy
from the summit of the tower, their limbs were broken, and both
instantly expired. The knight ordered a monastery to be built on
the spot for the soul of the boy, which is still extant, and called
De Doloribus.

It appears remarkable to me that the entire inheritance should
devolve on Richard, son of Tankard, governor of the aforesaid castle
of Haverford, being the youngest son, and having many brothers of
distinguished character who died before him. In like manner the
dominion of South Wales descended to Rhys son of Gruffyd, owing to
the death of several of his brothers. During the childhood of
Richard, a holy man, named Caradoc, led a pious and recluse life at
St. Ismael, in the province of Ros, {107} to whom the boy was often
sent by his parents with provisions, and he so ingratiated himself
in the eyes of the good man, that he very often promised him,
together with his blessing, the portion of all his brothers, and the
paternal inheritance. It happened that Richard, being overtaken by
a violent storm of rain, turned aside to the hermit's cell; and
being unable to get his hounds near him, either by calling, coaxing,
or by offering them food, the holy man smiled; and making a gentle
motion with his hand, brought them all to him immediately. In
process of time, when Caradoc {108} had happily completed the course
of his existence, Tankard, father of Richard, violently detained his
body, which by his last will he had bequeathed to the church of St.
David; but being suddenly seized with a severe illness, he revoked
his command. When this had happened to him a second and a third
time, and the corpse at last was suffered to be conveyed away, and
was proceeding over the sands of Niwegal towards St. David's, a
prodigious fall of rain inundated the whole country; but the
conductors of the sacred burthen, on coming forth from their
shelter, found the silken pall, with which the bier was covered, dry
and uninjured by the storm; and thus the miraculous body of Caradoc
was brought into the church of St. Andrew and St. David, and with
due solemnity deposited in the left aisle, near the altar of the
holy proto-martyr Stephen.

It is worthy of remark, that these people (the Flemings), from the
inspection of the right shoulders of rams, which have been stripped
of their flesh, and not roasted, but boiled, can discover future
events, or those which have passed and remained long unknown. {109}
They know, also, what is transpiring at a distant place, by a
wonderful art, and a prophetic kind of spirit. They declare, also,
by means of signs, the undoubted symptoms of approaching peace and
war, murders and fires, domestic adulteries, the state of the king,
his life and death. It happened in our time, that a man of those
parts, whose name was William Mangunel, a person of high rank, and
excelling all others in the aforesaid art, had a wife big with child
by her own husband's grandson. Well aware of the fact, he ordered a
ram from his own flock to be sent to his wife, as a present from her
neighbour, which was carried to the cook, and dressed. At dinner,
the husband purposely gave the shoulder-bone of the ram, properly
cleaned, to his wife, who was also well skilled in this art, for her
examination; when, having for a short time examined the secret
marks, she smiled, and threw the oracle down on the table. Her
husband, dissembling, earnestly demanded the cause of her smiling,
and the explanation of the matter. Overcome by his entreaties, she
answered: "The man to whose fold this ram belongs, has an
adulterous wife, at this time pregnant by the commission of incest
with his own grandson." The husband, with a sorrowful and dejected
countenance, replied: "You deliver, indeed, an oracle supported by
too much truth, which I have so much more reason to lament, as the
ignominy you have published redounds to my own injury." The woman,
thus detected, and unable to dissemble her confusion, betrayed the
inward feelings of her mind by external signs; shame and sorrow
urging her by turns, and manifesting themselves, now by blushes, now
by paleness, and lastly (according to the custom of women), by
tears. The shoulder of a goat was also once brought to a certain
person, instead of a ram's - both being alike, when cleaned; who,
observing for a short time the lines and marks, exclaimed, "Unhappy
cattle, that never was multiplied! unhappy, likewise, the owner of
the cattle, who never had more than three or four in one flock!"
Many persons, a year and a half before the event, foresaw, by the
means of shoulder-bones, the destruction of their country, after the
decease of king Henry I., and, selling all their possessions, left
their homes, and escaped the impending ruin.

It happened also in Flanders, from whence this people came, that a
certain man sent a similar bone to a neighbour for his inspection;
and the person who carried it, on passing over a ditch, broke wind,
and wished it in the nostrils of the man on whose account he was
thus troubled. The person to whom the bone was taken, on
examination, said, "May you have in your own nose, that which you
wished to be in mine." In our time, a soothsayer, on the inspection
of a bone, discovered not only a theft, and the manner of it, but
the thief himself, and all the attendant circumstances; he heard
also the striking of a bell, and the sound of a trumpet, as if those
things which were past were still performing. It is wonderful,
therefore, that these bones, like all unlawful conjurations, should
represent, by a counterfeit similitude to the eyes and ears, things
which are passed, as well as those which are now going on.


Of Penbroch

The province of Penbroch adjoins the southern part of the territory
of Ros, and is separated from it by an arm of the sea. Its
principal city, and the metropolis of Demetia, is situated on an
oblong rocky eminence, extending with two branches from Milford
Haven, from whence it derived the name of Penbroch, which signifies
the head of the aestuary. Arnulph de Montgomery, {110} in the reign
of king Henry I., erected here a slender fortress with stakes and
turf, which, on returning to England, he consigned to the care of
Giraldus de Windesor, {111} his constable and lieutenant-general, a
worthy and discreet man. Immediately on the death of Rhys son of
Tewdwr, who a short time before had been slain by the treachery of
his own troops at Brecheinoc, leaving his son, Gruffydd, a child,
the inhabitants of South Wales besieged the castle. One night, when
fifteen soldiers had deserted, and endeavoured to escape from the
castle in a small boat, on the following morning Giraldus invested
their armour bearers with the arms and estates of their masters, and
decorated them with the military order. The garrison being, from
the length of the siege, reduced to the utmost want of provisions,
the constable, with great prudence and flattering hopes of success,
caused four hogs, which yet remained, to be cut into small pieces
and thrown down to the enemy from the fortifications. The next day,
having again recourse to a more refined stratagem, he contrived that
a letter, sealed with his own signet, should be found before the
house of Wilfred, {112} bishop of St. David's, who was then by
chance in that neighbourhood, as if accidentally dropped, stating
that there would be no necessity of soliciting the assistance of
earl Arnulph for the next four months to come. The contents of
these letters being made known to the army, the troops abandoned the
siege of the castle, and retired to their own homes. Giraldus, in
order to make himself and his dependants more secure, married Nest,
the sister of Gruffydd, prince of South Wales, by whom he had an
illustrious progeny of both sexes; and by whose means both the
maritime parts of South Wales were retained by the English, and the
walls of Ireland afterwards stormed, as our Vaticinal History

In our time, a person residing at the castle of Penbroch, found a
brood of young weasels concealed within a fleece in his dwelling
house, which he carefully removed and hid. The mother, irritated at
the loss of her young, which she had searched for in vain, went to a
vessel of milk that had been set aside for the use of the master's
son, and raising herself up, polluted it with her deadly poison;
thus revenging, as it were, the loss of her young, by the
destruction of the child. The man, observing what passed, carried
the fleece back to its former place; when the weasel, agitated by
maternal solicitude, between hope and fear, on finding again her
young, began to testify her joy by her cries and actions, and
returning quickly to the vessel, overthrew it; thus, in gratitude
for the recovery of her own offspring, saving that of her host from

In another place, an animal of the same species had brought out her
young into a plain for the enjoyment of the sun and air; when an
insidious kite carried off one of them. Concealing herself with the
remainder behind some shrubs, grief suggested to her a stratagem of
exquisite revenge; she extended herself on a heap of earth, as if
dead, within sight of the plunderer, and (as success always
increases avidity) the bird immediately seized her and flew away,
but soon fell down dead by the bite of the poisonous animal.

The castle called Maenor Pyrr, {113} that is, the mansion of Pyrrus,
who also possessed the island of Chaldey, which the Welsh call Inys
Pyrr, or the island of Pyrrus, is distant about three miles from
Penbroch. It is excellently well defended by turrets and bulwarks,
and is situated on the summit of a hill extending on the western
side towards the sea-port, having on the northern and southern sides
a fine fish-pond under its walls, as conspicuous for its grand
appearance, as for the depth of its waters, and a beautiful orchard
on the same side, inclosed on one part by a vineyard, and on the
other by a wood, remarkable for the projection of its rocks, and the
height of its hazel trees. On the right hand of the promontory,
between the castle and the church, near the site of a very large
lake and mill, a rivulet of never-failing water flows through a
valley, rendered sandy by the violence of the winds. Towards the
west, the Severn sea, bending its course to Ireland, enters a hollow
bay at some distance from the castle; and the southern rocks, if
extended a little further towards the north, would render it a most
excellent harbour for shipping. From this point of sight, you will
see almost all the ships from Great Britain, which the east wind
drives upon the Irish coast, daringly brave the inconstant waves and
raging sea. This country is well supplied with corn, sea-fish, and
imported wines; and what is preferable to every other advantage,
from its vicinity to Ireland, it is tempered by a salubrious air.
Demetia, therefore, with its seven cantreds, is the most beautiful,
as well as the most powerful district of Wales; Penbroch, the finest
part of the province of Demetia; and the place I have just
described, the most delightful part of Penbroch. It is evident,
therefore, that Maenor Pirr is the pleasantest spot in Wales; and
the author may be pardoned for having thus extolled his native soil,
his genial territory, with a profusion of praise and admiration.

In this part of Penbroch, unclean spirits have conversed, nor
visibly, but sensibly, with mankind; first in the house of Stephen
Wiriet, {114} and afterwards in the house of William Not; {115}
manifesting their presence by throwing dirt at them, and more with a
view of mockery than of injury. In the house of William, they cut
holes in the linen and woollen garments, much to the loss of the
owner of the house and his guests; nor could any precaution, or even
bolts, secure them from these inconveniences. In the house of
Stephen, the spirit in a more extraordinary manner conversed with
men, and, in reply to their taunts, upbraided them openly with
everything they had done from their birth, and which they were not
willing should be known or heard by others. I do not presume to
assign the cause of this event, except that it is said to be the
presage of a sudden change from poverty to riches, or rather from
affluence to poverty and distress; as it was found to be the case in
both these instances. And it appears to me very extraordinary that
these places could not be purified from such illusions, either by
the sprinkling of holy water, or the assistance of any other
religious ceremony; for the priests themselves, though protected by
the crucifix, or the holy water, on devoutly entering the house,
were equally subject to the same insults. From whence it appears
that things pertaining to the sacraments, as well as the sacraments
themselves, defend us from hurtful, but not from harmless things;
from annoyances, but not from illusions. It is worthy of note, that
in our time, a woman in Poitou was possessed by a demon, who,
through her mouth, artfully and acutely disputed with the learned.
He sometimes upbraided people with their secret actions, and those
things which they wished not to hear; but when either the books of
the gospel, or the relics of saints, were placed upon the mouth of
the possessed, he fled to the lower part of her throat; and when
they were removed thither, he descended into her belly. His
appearance was indicated by certain inflations and convulsions of
the parts which he possessed, and when the relics were again placed
in the lower parts, he directly returned to the upper. At length,
when they brought the body of Christ, and gave it to the patient,
the demon answered, "Ye fools, you are doing nothing, for what you
give her is not the food of the body, but of the soul; and my power
is confined to the body, not to the soul." But when those persons
whom he had upbraided with their more serious actions, had
confessed, and returned from penance, he reproached them no more.
"I have known, indeed," says he, "I have known but now I know not,
(he spake this as it were a reproach to others), and I hold my
tongue, for what I know, I know not." From which it appears, that
after confession and penance, the demons either do not know the sins
of men, or do not know them to their injury and disgrace; because,
as Augustine says, "If man conceals, God discovers; if man
discovers, God conceals."

Some people are surprised that lightning often strikes our places of
worship, and damages the crosses and images of him who was
crucified, before the eyes of one who seeth all things, and permits
these circumstances to happen; to whom I shall only answer with

"Summa petit livor, perflant altissima venti,
Summa petunt dextra fulmina missa Jovis."

On the same subject, Peter Abelard, in the presence of Philip king
of France, is said to have answered a Jew, who urged these and
similar things against the faith. "It is true that the lightning
descending from on high, directs itself most commonly to the highest
object on earth, and to those most resembling its own nature; it
never, therefore, injures your synagogues, because no man ever saw
or heard of its falling upon a privy." An event worthy of note,
happened in our time in France. During a contention between some
monks of the Cistercian order, and a certain knight, about the
limits of their fields and lands, a violent tempest, in one night,
utterly destroyed and ruined the cultivated grounds of the monks,
while the adjoining territory of the knight remained undamaged. On
which occasion he insolently inveighed against the fraternity, and
publicly asserted that divine vengeance had thus punished them for
unlawfully keeping possession of his land; to which the abbot
wittily replied, "It is by no means so; but that the knight had more
friends in that riding than the monastery;" and he clearly
demonstrated that, on the other hand, the monks had more enemies in

In the province of Penbroch, another instance occurred, about the
same time, of a spirit's appearing in the house of Elidore de
Stakepole, {116} not only sensibly, but visibly, under the form of a
red-haired young man, who called himself Simon. First seizing the
keys from the person to whom they were entrusted, he impudently
assumed the steward's office, which he managed so prudently and
providently, that all things seemed to abound under his care, and
there was no deficiency in the house. Whatever the master or
mistress secretly thought of having for their daily use or
provision, he procured with wonderful agility, and without any
previous directions, saying, "You wished that to be done, and it
shall be done for you." He was also well acquainted with their
treasures and secret hoards, and sometimes upbraided them on that
account; for as often as they seemed to act sparingly and
avariciously, he used to say, "Why are you afraid to spend that heap
of gold or silver, since your lives are of so short duration, and
the money you so cautiously hoard up will never do you any service?"
He gave the choicest meat and drink to the rustics and hired
servants, saying that "Those persons should be abundantly supplied,
by whose labours they were acquired." Whatever he determined should
be done, whether pleasing or displeasing to his master or mistress
(for, as we have said before, he knew all their secrets), he
completed in his usual expeditious manner, without their consent.
He never went to church, or uttered one Catholic word. He did not
sleep in the house, but was ready at his office in the morning.

He was at length observed by some of the family to hold his nightly
converse near a mill and a pool of water; upon which discovery he
was summoned the next morning before the master of the house and his
lady, and, receiving his discharge, delivered up the keys, which he
had held for upwards of forty days. Being earnestly interrogated,
at his departure, who he was? he answered, "That he was begotten
upon the wife of a rustic in that parish, by a demon, in the shape
of her husband," naming the man, and his father-in-law, then dead,
and his mother, still alive; the truth of which the woman, upon
examination, openly avowed. A similar circumstance happened in our
time in Denmark. A certain unknown priest paid court to the
archbishop, and, from his obsequious behaviour and discreet conduct,
his general knowledge of letters and quick memory, soon contracted a
great familiarity with him. Conversing one day with the archbishop
about ancient histories and unknown events, on which topic he most
frequently heard him with pleasure, it happened that when the
subject of their discourse was the incarnation of our Lord, he said,
amongst other things, "Before Christ assumed human nature, the
demons had great power over mankind, which, at his coming, was much
diminished; insomuch that they were dispersed on every side, and
fled from his presence. Some precipitated themselves into the sea,
others into the hollow parts of trees, or the clefts of rocks; and I
myself leaped into a well;" on which he blushed for shame, and took
his departure. The archbishop, and those who were with him, being
greatly astonished at that speech, began to ask questions by turns,
and form conjectures; and having waited some time (for he was
expected to return soon), the archbishop ordered some of his
attendants to call him, but he was sought for in vain, and never re-
appeared. Soon afterwards, two priests, whom the archbishop had
sent to Rome, returned; and when this event was related to them,
they began to inquire the day and hour on which the circumstance had
happened? On being told it, they declared that on the very same day
and hour he had met them on the Alps, saying, that he had been sent
to the court of Rome, on account of some business of his master's
(meaning the archbishop), which had lately occurred. And thus it
was proved, that a demon had deluded them under a human form.

I ought not to omit mentioning the falcons of these parts, which are
large, and of a generous kind, and exercise a most severe tyranny
over the river and land birds. King Henry II. remained here some
time, making preparations for his voyage to Ireland; and being
desirous of taking the diversion of hawking, he accidentally saw a
noble falcon perched upon a rock. Going sideways round him, he let
loose a fine Norway hawk, which he carried on his left hand. The
falcon, though at first slower in its flight, soaring up to a great
height, burning with resentment, and in his turn becoming the
aggressor, rushed down upon his adversary with the greatest
impetuosity, and by a violent blow struck the hawk dead at the feet
of the king. From that time the king sent every year, about the
breeding season, for the falcons {117} of this country, which are
produced on the sea cliffs; nor can better be found in any part of
his dominions. But let us now return to our Itinerary.


Of the progress by Camros and Niwegal

From Haverford we proceeded on our journey to Menevia, distant from
thence about twelve miles, and passed through Camros, {118} where,
in the reign of king Stephen, the relations and friends of a
distinguished young man, Giraldus, son of William, revenged his
death by a too severe retaliation on the men of Ros. We then passed
over Niwegal sands, at which place (during the winter that king
Henry II. spent in Ireland), as well as in almost all the other
western ports, a very remarkable circumstance occurred. The sandy
shores of South Wales, being laid bare by the extraordinary violence
of a storm, the surface of the earth, which had been covered for
many ages, re-appeared, and discovered the trunks of trees cut off,
standing in the very sea itself, the strokes of the hatchet
appearing as if made only yesterday. {119} The soil was very black,
and the wood like ebony. By a wonderful revolution, the road for
ships became impassable, and looked, not like a shore, but like a
grove cut down, perhaps, at the time of the deluge, or not long
after, but certainly in very remote ages, being by degrees consumed
and swallowed up by the violence and encroachments of the sea.
During the same tempest many sea fish were driven, by the violence
of the wind and waves, upon dry land. We were well lodged at St.
David's by Peter, bishop of the see, a liberal man, who had hitherto
accompanied us during the whole of our journey.



Since, therefore, St. David's is the head, and in times past was the
metropolitan, city of Wales, though now, alas! retaining more of the
NAME than of the OMEN, {120} yet I have not forborne to weep over
the obsequies of our ancient and undoubted mother, to follow the
mournful hearse, and to deplore with tearful sighs the ashes of our
half-buried matron. I shall, therefore, endeavour briefly to
declare to you in what manner, from whence, and from what period the
pall was first brought to St. David's, and how it was taken away;
how many prelates were invested with the pall; and how many were
despoiled thereof; together with their respective names to this
present day.


Of the see of Saint David's

We are informed by the British histories, that Dubricius, archbishop
of Caerleon, sensible of the infirmities of age, or rather being
desirous of leading a life of contemplation, resigned his honours to
David, who is said to have been uncle to king Arthur; and by his
interest the see was translated to Menevia, although Caerleon, as we
have observed in the first book, was much better adapted for the
episcopal see. For Menevia is situated in a most remote corner of
land upon the Irish ocean, the soil stony and barren, neither
clothed with woods, distinguished by rivers, nor adorned by meadows,
ever exposed to the winds and tempests, and continually subject to
the hostile attacks of the Flemings on one side, and of the Welsh on
the other. For the holy men who settled here, chose purposely such
a retired habitation, that by avoiding the noise of the world, and
preferring an heremitical to a pastoral life, they might more freely
provide for "that part which shall not be taken away;" for David was
remarkable for his sanctity and religion, as the history of his life
will testify. Amongst the many miracles recorded of him, three
appear to me the most worthy of admiration: his origin and
conception; his pre-election thirty years before his birth; and what
exceeds all, the sudden rising of the ground, at Brevy, under his
feet while preaching, to the great astonishment of all the

Since the time of David, twenty-five archbishops presided over the
see of Menevia, whose names are here subjoined: David, Cenauc,
Eliud, who was also called Teilaus, Ceneu, Morwal, Haerunen, Elwaed,
Gurnuen, Lendivord, Gorwysc, Cogan, Cledauc, Anian, Euloed,
Ethelmen, Elauc, Malscoed, Sadermen, Catellus, Sulhaithnai, Nonis,
Etwal, Asser, Arthuael, Sampson. In the time of Sampson, the pall
was translated from Menevia in the following manner: a disorder
called the yellow plague, and by the physicians the icteric passion,
of which the people died in great numbers, raged throughout Wales,
at the time when Sampson held the archiepiscopal see. Though a holy
man, and fearless of death, he was prevailed upon, by the earnest
intreaties of his people, to go on board a vessel, which was wafted,
by a south wind, to Britannia Armorica, {121} where he and his
attendants were safely landed. The see of Dol being at that time
vacant, he was immediately elected bishop. Hence it came to pass,
that on account of the pall which Sampson had brought thither with
him, the succeeding bishops, even to our times, always retained it.
But during the presidency of the archbishop of Tours, this
adventitious dignity ceased; yet our countrymen, through indolence
or poverty, or rather owing to the arrival of the English into the
island, and the frequent hostilities committed against them by the
Saxons, lost their archiepiscopal honours. But until the entire
subjugation of Wales by king Henry I., the Welsh bishops were always
consecrated by the bishop of St. David's; and he was consecrated by
his suffragans, without any profession or submission being made to
any other church.

From the time of Sampson to that of king Henry I., nineteen bishops
presided over this see: Ruelin, Rodherch, Elguin, Lunuerd, Nergu,
Sulhidir, Eneuris, Morgeneu, who was the first bishop of St. David's
who ate flesh, and was there killed by pirates; and he appeared to a
certain bishop in Ireland on the night of his death, shewing his
wounds, and saying, "Because I ate flesh, I am become flesh."
Nathan, Ievan (who was bishop only one night), Argustel, Morgenueth,
Ervin, Tramerin, Joseph, Bleithud, Sulghein, Abraham, Wilfred.
Since the subjugation of Wales to the present time, three only have
held the see: in the reign of king Henry I., Bernard; in the reign
of king Stephen, David II.; and in the reign of king Henry II.,
Peter, a monk of the order of Cluny; who all, by the king's mandate,
were consecrated at Canterbury; as also Geoffrey, prior and canon of
Lanthoni, who succeeded them in the reign of king John, and was
preferred to this see by the interest of Hubert, archbishop of
Canterbury, and afterwards consecrated by him. We do not hear that
either before or after that subjugation, any archbishop of
Canterbury ever entered the borders of Wales, except Baldwin, a monk
of the Cistercian order, abbot of Ford, and afterwards bishop of
Worcester, who traversed that rough, inaccessible, and remote
country with a laudable devotion for the service of the cross; and
as a token of investiture, celebrated mass in all the cathedral
churches. So that till lately the see of St. David's owed no
subjection to that of Canterbury, as may be seen in the English
History of Bede, who says that "Augustine, bishop of the Angles,
after the conversion of king Ethelfred and the English people,
called together the bishops of Wales on the confines of the West
Saxons, as legate of the apostolic see. When the seven bishops
{122} appeared, Augustine, sitting in his chair, with Roman pride,
did not rise up at their entrance. Observing his haughtiness (after
the example of a holy anchorite of their nation), they immediately
returned, and treated him and his statutes with contempt, publicly
proclaiming that they would not acknowledge him for their
archbishop; alleging, that if he now refused to rise up to us, how
much more will he hold us in contempt, if we submit to be subject to
him?" That there were at that time seven bishops in Wales, and now
only four, may be thus accounted for; because perhaps there were
formerly more cathedral churches in Wales than there are at present,
or the extent of Wales might have been greater. Amongst so many
bishops thus deprived of their dignity, Bernard, the first French
[i.e. Norman] bishop of St. David's, alone defended the rights of
his church in a public manner; and after many expensive and
vexatious appeals to the court of Rome, would not have reclaimed
them in vain, if false witnesses had not publicly appeared at the
council of Rheims, before pope Eugenius, and testified that he had
made profession and submission to the see of Canterbury. Supported
by three auxiliaries, the favour and intimacy of king Henry, a time
of peace, and consequent plenty, he boldly hazarded the trial of so
great a cause, and so confident was he of his just right, that he
sometimes caused the cross to be carried before him during his
journey through Wales.

Bernard, however commendable in some particulars, was remarkable for
his insufferable pride and ambition. For as soon as he became
courtier and a creature of the king's, panting after English riches
by means of translation, (a malady under which all the English sent
hither seem to labour), he alienated many of the lands of his church
without either advantage or profit, and disposed of others so
indiscreetly and improvidently, that when ten carucates {123} of
land were required for military purposes, he would, with a liberal
hand, give twenty or thirty; and of the canonical rites and
ordinances which he had miserably and unhappily instituted at St.
David's, he would hardly make use of one, at most only of two or
three. With respect to the two sees of Canterbury and St. David's,
I will briefly explain my opinion of their present state. On one
side, you will see royal favour, affluence of riches, numerous and
opulent suffragan bishops, great abundance of learned men and well
skilled in the laws; on the other side, a deficiency of all these
things, and a total want of justice; on which account the recovery
of its ancient rights will not easily be effected, but by means of
those great changes and vicissitudes which kingdoms experience from
various and unexpected events.

The spot where the church of St. David's stands, and was founded in
honour of the apostle St. Andrew, is called the Vale of Roses; which
ought rather to be named the vale of marble, since it abounds with
one, and by no means with the other. The river Alun, a muddy and
unproductive rivulet, {124} bounding the churchyard on the northern
side, flows under a marble stone, called Lechlavar, which has been
polished by continual treading of passengers, and concerning the
name, size, and quality of which we have treated in our Vaticinal
History. {125} Henry II., on his return from Ireland, is said to
have passed over this stone, before he devoutly entered the church
of St. Andrew and St. David. Having left the following garrisons in
Ireland, namely, Hugh de Lacy (to whom he had given Meath in fee) in
Dublin, with twenty knights; Fitz-Stephen and Maurice Fitzgerald,
with other twenty; Humphrey de Bohun, Robert Fitz-Bernard, and Hugh
de Grainville at Waterford, with forty; and William Fitz-Adelm and
Philip de Braose at Wexford, with twenty; on the second day of
Easter, the king embarked at sunrise on board a vessel in the
outward port of Wexford, and, with a south wind, landed about noon
in the harbour of Menevia. Proceeding towards the shrine of St.
David, habited like a pilgrim, and leaning on a staff, he met at the
white gate a procession of the canons of the church coming forth to
receive him with due honour and reverence. As the procession
solemnly moved along, a Welsh woman threw herself at the king's
feet, and made a complaint against the bishop of the place, which
was explained to the king by an interpreter. The woman, immediate
attention not being paid to her petition, with violent
gesticulation, and a loud and impertinent voice, exclaimed
repeatedly, "Revenge us this day, Lechlavar! revenge us and the
nation in this man!" On being chidden and driven away by those who
understood the British language, she more vehemently and forcibly
vociferated in the like manner, alluding to the vulgar fiction and
proverb of Merlin, "That a king of England, and conqueror of
Ireland, should be wounded in that country by a man with a red hand,
and die upon Lechlavar, on his return through Menevia." This was
the name of that stone which serves as a bridge over the river Alun,
which divides the cemetery from the northern side of the church. It
was a beautiful piece of marble, polished by the feet of passengers,
ten feet in length, six in breadth, and one in thickness. Lechlavar
signifies in the British language a talking stone. {126} There was
an ancient tradition respecting this stone, that at a time when a
corpse was carried over it for interment, it broke forth into
speech, and by the effort cracked in the middle, which fissure is
still visible; and on account of this barbarous and ancient
superstition, the corpses are no longer brought over it. The king,
who had heard the prophecy, approaching the stone, stopped for a
short time at the foot of it, and, looking earnestly at it, boldly
passed over; then, turning round, and looking towards the stone,
thus indignantly inveighed against the prophet: "Who will hereafter
give credit to the lying Merlin?" A person standing by, and
observing what had passed, in order to vindicate the injury done to
the prophet, replied, with a loud voice, "Thou art not that king by
whom Ireland is to be conquered, or of whom Merlin prophesied!" The
king then entering the church founded in honour of St. Andrew and
St. David, devoutly offered up his prayers, and heard mass performed
by a chaplain, whom alone, out of so large a body of priests,
Providence seems to have kept fasting till that hour, for this very
purpose. Having supped at St. David's, the king departed for the
castle of Haverford, distant about twelve miles. It appears very
remarkable to me, that in our days, when David II. presided over the
see, the river should have flowed with wine, and that the spring,
called Pistyll Dewi, or the PIPE of David, from its flowing through
a pipe into the eastern side of the churchyard, should have run with
milk. The birds also of that place, called jackdaws, from being so
long unmolested by the clergy of the church, were grown so tame and
domesticated, as not to be afraid of persons dressed in black. In
clear weather the mountains of Ireland are visible from hence, and
the passage over the Irish sea may be performed in one short day; on
which account William, the son of William the Bastard, and the
second of the Norman kings in England, who was called Rufus, and who
had penetrated far into Wales, on seeing Ireland from these rocks,
is reported to have said, "I will summon hither all the ships of my
realm, and with them make a bridge to attack that country." Which
speech being related to Murchard, prince of Leinster, he paused
awhile, and answered, "Did the king add to this mighty threat, If
God please?" and being informed that he had made no mention of God
in his speech, rejoicing in such a prognostic, he replied, "Since
that man trusts in human, not divine power, I fear not his coming."


Of the journey by Cemmeis - the monastery of St. Dogmael

The archbishop having celebrated mass early in the morning before
the high altar of the church of St. David, and enjoined to the
archdeacon (Giraldus) the office of preaching to the people,
hastened through Cemmeis {127} to meet prince Rhys at Aberteive.
{128} Two circumstances occurred in the province of Cemmeis, the
one in our own time, the other a little before, which I think right
not to pass over in silence. In our time, a young man, native of
this country, during a severe illness, suffered as violent a
persecution from toads, {129} as if the reptiles of the whole
province had come to him by agreement; and though destroyed by his
nurses and friends, they increased again on all sides in infinite
numbers, like hydras' heads. His attendants, both friends and
strangers, being wearied out, he was drawn up in a kind of bag, into
a high tree, stripped of its leaves, and shred; nor was he there
secure from his venomous enemies, for they crept up the tree in
great numbers, and consumed him even to the very bones. The young
man's name was Sisillus Esceir-hir, that is, Sisillus Long Leg. It
is also recorded that by the hidden but never unjust will of God,
another man suffered a similar persecution from rats. In the same
province, during the reign of king Henry I., a rich man, who had a
residence on the northern side of the Preseleu mountains, {130} was
warned for three successive nights, by dreams, that if he put his
hand under a stone which hung over the spring of a neighbouring
well, called the fountain of St. Bernacus, {131} he would find there
a golden torques. Obeying the admonition on the third day, he
received, from a viper, a deadly wound in his finger; but as it
appears that many treasures have been discovered through dreams, it
seems to me probable that, with respect to rumours, in the same
manner as to dreams, some ought, and some ought not, to be believed.

I shall not pass over in silence the circumstance which occurred in
the principal castle of Cemmeis at Lanhever, {132} in our days.
Rhys, son of Gruffydd, by the instigation of his son Gruffydd, a
cunning and artful man, took away by force, from William, son of
Martin (de Tours), his son-in-law, the castle of Lanhever,
notwithstanding he had solemnly sworn, by the most precious relics,
that his indemnity and security should be faithfully maintained,
and, contrary to his word and oath, gave it to his son Gruffydd; but
since "A sordid prey has not a good ending," the Lord, who by the
mouth of his prophet, exclaims "Vengeance is mine, and I will
repay!" ordained that the castle should be taken away from the
contriver of this wicked plot, Gruffydd, and bestowed upon the man
in the world he most hated, his brother Malgon. Rhys, also, about
two years afterwards, intending to disinherit his own daughter, and
two granddaughters and grandsons, by a singular instance of divine
vengeance, was taken prisoner by his sons in battle, and confined in
this same castle; thus justly suffering the greatest disgrace and
confusion in the very place where he had perpetrated an act of the
most consummate baseness. I think it also worthy to be remembered,
that at the time this misfortune befell him, he had concealed in his
possession, at Dinevor, the collar of St. Canauc of Brecknock, for
which, by divine vengeance, he merited to be taken prisoner and

We slept that night in the monastery of St. Dogmael, where, as well
as on the next day at Aberteivi, we were handsomely entertained by
prince Rhys. On the Cemmeis side of the river, not far from the
bridge, the people of the neighbourhood being assembled together,
and Rhys and his two sons, Malgon and Gruffydd, being present, the
word of the Lord was persuasively preached both by the archbishop
and the archdeacon, and many were induced to take the cross; one of
whom was an only son, and the sole comfort of his mother, far
advanced in years, who, steadfastly gazing on him, as if inspired by
the Deity, uttered these words:- "O, most beloved Lord Jesus Christ,
I return thee hearty thanks for having conferred on me the blessing
of bringing forth a son, whom thou mayest think worthy of thy
service." Another woman at Aberteivi, of a very different way of
thinking, held her husband fast by his cloak and girdle, and
publicly and audaciously prevented him from going to the archbishop
to take the cross; but, three nights afterwards, she heard a
terrible voice, saying, "Thou hast taken away my servant from me,
therefore what thou most lovest shall be taken away from thee." On
her relating this vision to her husband, they were struck with
mutual terror and amazement; and on falling asleep again, she
unhappily overlaid her little boy, whom, with more affection than
prudence, she had taken to bed with her. The husband, relating to
the bishop of the diocese both the vision and its fatal prediction,
took the cross, which his wife spontaneously sewed on her husband's

Near the head of the bridge where the sermons were delivered, the
people immediately marked out the site for a chapel, {133} on a
verdant plain, as a memorial of so great an event; intending that
the altar should be placed on the spot where the archbishop stood
while addressing the multitude; and it is well known that many
miracles (the enumeration of which would be too tedious to relate)
were performed on the crowds of sick people who resorted hither from
different parts of the country.


Of the river Teivi, Cardigan, and Emelyn

The noble river Teivi flows here, and abounds with the finest
salmon, more than any other river of Wales; it has a productive
fishery near Cilgerran, which is situated on the summit of a rock,
at a place called Canarch Mawr, {134} the ancient residence of St.
Ludoc, where the river, falling from a great height, forms a
cataract, which the salmon ascend, by leaping from the bottom to the
top of a rock, which is about the height of the longest spear, and
would appear wonderful, were it not the nature of that species of
fish to leap: hence they have received the name of salmon, from
salio. Their particular manner of leaping (as I have specified in
my Topography of Ireland) is thus: fish of this kind, naturally
swimming against the course of the river (for as birds fly against
the wind, so do fish swim against the stream), on meeting with any
sudden obstacle, bend their tail towards their mouth, and sometimes,
in order to give a greater power to their leap, they press it with
their mouth, and suddenly freeing themselves from this circular
form, they spring with great force (like a bow let loose) from the
bottom to the top of the leap, to the great astonishment of the
beholders. The church dedicated to St. Ludoc, {135} the mill,
bridge, salmon leap, an orchard with a delightful garden, all stand
together on a small plot of ground. The Teivi has another singular
particularity, being the only river in Wales, or even in England,
which has beavers; {136} in Scotland they are said to be found in
one river, but are very scarce. I think it not a useless labour, to
insert a few remarks respecting the nature of these animals - the
manner in which they bring their materials from the woods to the
water, and with what skill they connect them in the construction of
their dwellings in the midst of rivers; their means of defence on
the eastern and western sides against hunters; and also concerning
their fish-like tails.

The beavers, in order to construct their castles in the middle of
rivers, make use of the animals of their own species instead of
carts, who, by a wonderful mode of carnage, convey the timber from
the woods to the rivers. Some of them, obeying the dictates of
nature, receive on their bellies the logs of wood cut off by their
associates, which they hold tight with their feet, and thus with
transverse pieces placed in their mouths, are drawn along backwards,
with their cargo, by other beavers, who fasten themselves with their
teeth to the raft. The moles use a similar artifice in clearing out
the dirt from the cavities they form by scraping. In some deep and
still corner of the river, the beavers use such skill in the
construction of their habitations, that not a drop of water can
penetrate, or the force of storms shake them; nor do they fear any
violence but that of mankind, nor even that, unless well armed.
They entwine the branches of willows with other wood, and different
kinds of leaves, to the usual height of the water, and having made
within-side a communication from floor to floor, they elevate a kind
of stage, or scaffold, from which they may observe and watch the
rising of the waters. In the course of time, their habitations bear
the appearance of a grove of willow trees, rude and natural without,
but artfully constructed within. This animal can remain in or under
water at its pleasure, like the frog or seal, who shew, by the
smoothness or roughness of their skins, the flux and reflux of the
sea. These three animals, therefore, live indifferently under the
water, or in the air, and have short legs, broad bodies, stubbed
tails, and resemble the mole in their corporal shape. It is worthy
of remark, that the beaver has but four teeth, two above, and two
below, which being broad and sharp, cut like a carpenter's axe, and
as such he uses them. They make excavations and dry hiding places
in the banks near their dwellings, and when they hear the stroke of
the hunter, who with sharp poles endeavours to penetrate them, they
fly as soon as possible to the defence of their castle, having first
blown out the water from the entrance of the hole, and rendered it
foul and muddy by scraping the earth, in order thus artfully to
elude the stratagems of the well-armed hunter, who is watching them
from the opposite banks of the river. When the beaver finds he
cannot save himself from the pursuit of the dogs who follow him,
that he may ransom his body by the sacrifice of a part, he throws
away that, which by natural instinct he knows to be the object
sought for, and in the sight of the hunter castrates himself, from
which circumstance he has gained the name of Castor; and if by
chance the dogs should chase an animal which had been previously
castrated, he has the sagacity to run to an elevated spot, and there
lifting up his leg, shews the hunter that the object of his pursuit
is gone. Cicero speaking of them says, "They ransom themselves by
that part of the body, for which they are chiefly sought." And
Juvenal says,

" - Qui se
Eunuchum ipse facit, cupiens evadere damno

And St. Bernard,

"Prodit enim castor proprio de corpore velox
Reddere quas sequitur hostis avarus opes."

Thus, therefore, in order to preserve his skin, which is sought
after in the west, and the medicinal part of his body, which is
coveted in the east, although he cannot save himself entirely, yet,
by a wonderful instinct and sagacity, he endeavours to avoid the
stratagems of his pursuers. The beavers have broad, short tails,
thick, like the palm of a hand, which they use as a rudder in
swimming; and although the rest of their body is hairy, this part,
like that of seals, is without hair, and smooth; upon which account,
in Germany and the arctic regions, where beavers abound, great and
religious persons, in times of fasting, eat the tails of this fish-
like animal, as having both the taste and colour of fish.

We proceeded on our journey from Cilgerran towards Pont-Stephen,
{137} leaving Cruc Mawr, i.e. the great hill, near Aberteivi, on our
left hand. On this spot Gruffydd, son of Rhys ap Tewdwr, soon after
the death of king Henry I., by a furious onset gained a signal
victory against the English army, which, by the murder of the
illustrious Richard de Clare, near Abergevenny (before related), had
lost its leader and chief. {138} A tumulus is to be seen on the
summit of the aforesaid hill, and the inhabitants affirm that it
will adapt itself to persons of all stature and that if any armour
is left there entire in the evening, it will be found, according to
vulgar tradition, broken to pieces in the morning.


Of the journey by Pont Stephen, the abbey of Stratflur, Landewi
Brevi, and Lhanpadarn Vawr

A sermon having been preached on the following morning at Pont
Stephen, {139} by the archbishop and archdeacon, and also by two
abbots of the Cistercian order, John of Albadomus, and Sisillus of
Stratflur, {140} who faithfully attended us in those parts, and as
far as North Wales, many persons were induced to take the cross. We
proceeded to Stratflur, where we passed the night. On the following
morning, having on our right the lofty mountains of Moruge, which in
Welsh are called Ellennith, {141} we were met near the side of a
wood by Cyneuric son of Rhys, accompanied by a body of light-armed
youths. This young man was of a fair complexion, with curled hair,
tall and handsome; clothed only, according to the custom of his
country, with a thin cloak and inner garment, his legs and feet,
regardless of thorns and thistles were left bare; a man, not adorned
by art, but nature; bearing in his presence an innate, not an
acquired, dignity of manners. A sermon having been preached to
these three young men, Gruffydd, Malgon, and Cyneuric, in the
presence of their father, prince Rhys, and the brothers disputing
about taking the cross, at length Malgon strictly promised that he
would accompany the archbishop to the king's court, and would obey
the king's and archbishop's counsel, unless prevented by them. From
thence we passed through Landewi Brevi, {142} that is, the church of
David of Brevi, situated on the summit of that hill which had
formerly risen up under his feet whilst preaching, during the period
of that celebrated synod, when all the bishops, abbots, and clergy
of Wales, and many other persons, were collected thither on account
of the Pelagian heresy, which, although formerly exploded from
Britain by Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, had lately been revived in
these parts. At this place David was reluctantly raised to the
archbishopric, by the unanimous consent and election of the whole
assembly, who by loud acclamations testified their admiration of so
great a miracle. Dubricius had a short time before resigned to him
this honour in due form at Caerleon, from which city the
metropolitan see was transferred to St. David's.

Having rested that night at Lhanpadarn Vawr, {143} or the church of
Paternus the Great, we attracted many persons to the service of
Christ on the following morning. It is remarkable that this church,
like many others in Wales and Ireland, has a lay abbot; for a bad
custom has prevailed amongst the clergy, of appointing the most
powerful people of a parish stewards, or, rather, patrons, of their
churches; who, in process of time, from a desire of gain, have
usurped the whole right, appropriating to their own use the
possession of all the lands, leaving only to the clergy the altars,
with their tenths and oblations, and assigning even these to their
sons and relations in the church. Such defenders, or rather
destroyers, of the church, have caused themselves to be called
abbots, and presumed to attribute to themselves a title, as well as
estates, to which they have no just claim. In this state we found
the church of Lhanpadarn, without a head. A certain old man, waxen
old in iniquity (whose name was Eden Oen, son of Gwaithwoed), being
abbot, and his sons officiating at the altar. But in the reign of
king Henry I., when the authority of the English prevailed in Wales,
the monastery of St. Peter at Gloucester held quiet possession of
this church; but after his death, the English being driven out, the
monks were expelled from their cloisters, and their places supplied
by the same violent intrusion of clergy and laity, which had
formerly been practised. It happened that in the reign of king
Stephen, who succeeded Henry I., a knight, born in Armorican
Britain, having travelled through many parts of the world, from a
desire of seeing different cities, and the manners of their
inhabitants, came by chance to Lhanpadarn. On a certain feast-day,
whilst both the clergy and people were waiting for the arrival of
the abbot to celebrate mass, he perceived a body of young men,
armed, according to the custom of their country, approaching towards
the church; and on enquiring which of them was the abbot, they
pointed out to him a man walking foremost, with a long spear in his
hand. Gazing on him with amazement, he asked, "If the abbot had not
another habit, or a different staff, from that which he now carried
before him?" On their answering, "No!" he replied, "I have seen
indeed and heard this day a wonderful novelty!" and from that hour
he returned home, and finished his labours and researches. This
wicked people boasts, that a certain bishop {144} of their church
(for it formerly was a cathedral) was murdered by their
predecessors; and on this account, chiefly, they ground their claims
of right and possession. No public complaint having been made
against their conduct, we have thought it more prudent to pass over,
for the present, the enormities of this wicked race with
dissimulation, than exasperate them by a further relation.


Of the river Devi, and the land of the sons of Conan

Approaching to the river Devi, {145} which divides North and South
Wales, the bishop of St. David's, and Rhys the son of Gruffydd, who
with a liberality peculiarly praiseworthy in so illustrious a
prince, had accompanied us from the castle of Aberteivi, throughout
all Cardiganshire, to this place, returned home. Having crossed the
river in a boat, and quitted the diocese of St. David's, we entered
the land of the sons of Conan, or Merionyth, the first province of
Venedotia on that side of the country, and belonging to the
bishopric of Bangor. {146} We slept that night at Towyn. Early
next morning, Gruffydd son of Conan {147} came to meet us, humbly
and devoutly asking pardon for having so long delayed his attention
to the archbishop. On the same day, we ferried over the bifurcate
river Maw, {148} where Malgo, son of Rhys, who had attached himself
to the archbishop, as a companion to the king's court, discovered a
ford near the sea. That night we lay at Llanvair, {149} that is the
church of St. Mary, in the province of Ardudwy. {150} This
territory of Conan, and particularly Merionyth, is the rudest and
roughest district of all Wales; the ridges of its mountains are very
high and narrow, terminating in sharp peaks, and so irregularly
jumbled together, that if the shepherds conversing or disputing with
each other from their summits, should agree to meet, they could
scarcely effect their purpose in the course of the whole day. The
lances of this country are very long; for as South Wales excels in
the use of the bow, so North Wales is distinguished for its skill in
the lance; insomuch that an iron coat of mail will not resist the
stroke of a lance thrown at a small distance. The next morning, the
youngest son of Conan, named Meredyth, met us at the passage of a
bridge, attended by his people, where many persons were signed with
the cross; amongst whom was a fine young man of his suite, and one
of his intimate friends; and Meredyth, observing that the cloak, on
which the cross was to be sewed, appeared of too thin and of too
common a texture, with a flood of tears, threw him down his own.


Passage of Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bachan, and of Nevyn, Carnarvon,
and Bangor

We continued our journey over the Traeth Mawr, {151} and Traeth
Bachan, {152} that is, the greater and the smaller arm of the sea,
where two stone castles have newly been erected; one called
Deudraeth, belonging to the sons of Conan, situated in Evionyth,
towards the northern mountains; the other named Carn Madryn, the
property of the sons of Owen, built on the other side of the river
towards the sea, on the head-land Lleyn. {153} Traeth, in the Welsh
language, signifies a tract of sand flooded by the tides, and left
bare when the sea ebbs. We had before passed over the noted rivers,
the Dissenith, {154} between the Maw and Traeth Mawr, and the
Arthro, between the Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bachan. We slept that
night at Nevyn, on the eve of Palm Sunday, where the archdeacon,
after long inquiry and research, is said to have found Merlin
Sylvestris. {155}

Beyond Lleyn, there is a small island inhabited by very religious
monks, called Caelibes, or Colidei. This island, either from the
wholesomeness of its climate, owing to its vicinity to Ireland, or
rather from some miracle obtained by the merits of the saints, has
this wonderful peculiarity, that the oldest people die first,
because diseases are uncommon, and scarcely any die except from
extreme old age. Its name is Enlli in the Welsh, and Berdesey {156}
in the Saxon language; and very many bodies of saints are said to be
buried there, and amongst them that of Daniel, bishop of Bangor.

The archbishop having, by his sermon the next day, induced many
persons to take the cross, we proceeded towards Banchor, passing
through Caernarvon, {157} that is, the castle of Arvon; it is called
Arvon, the province opposite to Mon, because it is so situated with
respect to the island of Mona. Our road leading us to a steep
valley, {158} with many broken ascents and descents, we dismounted
from our horses, and proceeded on foot, rehearsing, as it were, by
agreement, some experiments of our intended pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Having traversed the valley, and reached the opposite side with
considerable fatigue, the archbishop, to rest himself and recover
his breath, sat down on an oak which had been torn up by the
violence of the winds; and relaxing into a pleasantry highly
laudable in a person of his approved gravity, thus addressed his
attendants: "Who amongst you, in this company, can now delight our
wearied ears by whistling?" which is not easily done by people out
of breath. He affirming that he could, if he thought fit, the sweet
notes are heard, in an adjoining wood, of a bird, which some said
was a woodpecker, and others, more correctly, an aureolus. The
woodpecker is called in French, spec, and with its strong bill,
perforates oak trees; the other bird in called aureolus, from the
golden tints of its feathers, and at certain seasons utters a sweet
whistling note instead of a song. Some persons having remarked,
that the nightingale was never heard in this country, the
archbishop, with a significant smile, replied, "The nightingale
followed wise counsel, and never came into Wales; but we, unwise
counsel, who have penetrated and gone through it." We remained that
night at Banchor, {159} the metropolitan see of North Wales, and
were well entertained by the bishop of the diocese. {160} On the
next day, mass being celebrated by the archbishop before the high
altar, the bishop of that see, at the instance of the archbishop and
other persons, more importunate than persuasive, was compelled to
take the cross, to the general concern of all his people of both
sexes, who expressed their grief on this occasion by loud and
lamentable vociferations.


The island of Mona

From hence, we crossed over a small arm of the sea to the island of
Mona, {161} distant from thence about two miles, where Roderic, the
younger son of Owen, attended by nearly all the inhabitants of the
island, and many others from the adjacent countries, came in a
devout manner to meet us. Confession having been made in a place
near the shore, where the surrounding rocks seemed to form a natural
theatre, {162} many persons were induced to take the cross, by the
persuasive discourses of the archbishop, and Alexander, our
interpreter, archdeacon of that place, and of Sisillus, abbot of
Stratflur. Many chosen youths of the family of Roderic were seated
on an opposite rock, and not one of them could be prevailed upon to
take the cross, although the archbishop and others most earnestly
exhorted them, but in vain, by an address particularly directed to
them. It came to pass within three days, as if by divine vengeance,
that these young men, with many others, pursued some robbers of that
country. Being discomfited and put to flight, some were slain,
others mortally wounded, and the survivors voluntarily assumed that
cross they had before despised. Roderic, also, who a short time
before had incestuously married the daughter of Rhys, related to him
by blood in the third degree, in order, by the assistance of that
prince, to be better able to defend himself against the sons of his
brothers, whom he had disinherited, not paying attention to the
wholesome admonitions of the archbishop on this subject, was a
little while afterwards dispossessed of all his lands by their
means; thus deservedly meeting with disappointment from the very
source from which he expected support. The island of Mona contains
three hundred and forty-three vills, considered equal to three
cantreds. Cantred, a compound word from the British and Irish
languages, is a portion of land equal to one hundred vills. There
are three islands contiguous to Britain, on its different sides,
which are said to be nearly of an equal size - the Isle of Wight on
the south, Mona on the west, and Mania (Man) on the north-west side.
The two first are separated from Britain by narrow channels; the
third is much further removed, lying almost midway between the
countries of Ulster in Ireland and Galloway in Scotland. The island
of Mona is an arid and stony land, rough and unpleasant in its
appearance, similar in its exterior qualities to the land of
Pebidion, {163} near St. David's, but very different as to its
interior value. For this island is incomparably more fertile in
corn than any other part of Wales, from whence arose the British
proverb, "Mon mam Cymbry, Mona mother of Wales;" and when the crops
have been defective in all other parts of the country, this island,
from the richness of its soil and abundant produce, has been able to
supply all Wales.

As many things within this island are worthy of remark, I shall not
think it superfluous to make mention of some of them. There is a
stone here resembling a human thigh, {164} which possesses this
innate virtue, that whatever distance it may be carried, it returns,
of its own accord, the following night, as has often been
experienced by the inhabitants. Hugh, earl of Chester, {165} in the
reign of king Henry I., having by force occupied this island and the
adjacent country, heard of the miraculous power of this stone, and,
for the purpose of trial, ordered it to be fastened, with strong
iron chains, to one of a larger size, and to be thrown into the sea.
On the following morning, however, according to custom, it was found
in its original position, on which account the earl issued a public
edict, that no one, from that time, should presume to move the stone
from its place. A countryman, also, to try the powers of this
stone, fastened it to his thigh, which immediately became putrid,
and the stone returned to its original situation.

There is in the same island a stony hill, not very large or high,
from one side of which, if you cry aloud, you will not be heard on
the other; and it is called (by anti-phrasis) the rock of hearers.
In the northern part of Great Britain (Northumberland) so named by
the English, from its situation beyond the river Humber, there is a
hill of a similar nature, where if a loud horn or trumpet is sounded
on one side, it cannot be heard on the opposite one. There is also
in this island the church of St. Tefredaucus, {166} into which Hugh,
earl of Shrewsbury, (who, together with the earl of Chester, had
forcibly entered Anglesey), on a certain night put some dogs, which
on the following morning were found mad, and he himself died within
a month; for some pirates, from the Orcades, having entered the port
of the island in their long vessels, the earl, apprised of their
approach, boldly met them, rushing into the sea upon a spirited
horse. The commander of the expedition, Magnus, standing on the
prow of the foremost ship, aimed an arrow at him; and, although the
earl was completely equipped in a coat of mail, and guarded in every
part of his body except his eyes, the unlucky weapon struck his
right eye, and, entering his brain, he fell a lifeless corpse into
the sea. The victor, seeing him in this state, proudly and
exultingly exclaimed, in the Danish tongue, "Leit loup," let him
leap; and from this time the power of the English ceased in
Anglesey. In our times, also, when Henry II. was leading an army
into North Wales, where he had experienced the ill fortune of war in
a narrow, woody pass near Coleshulle, he sent a fleet into Anglesey,
and began to plunder the aforesaid church, and other sacred places.
But the divine vengeance pursued him, for the inhabitants rushed
upon the invaders, few against many, unarmed against armed; and
having slain great numbers, and taken many prisoners, gained a most
complete and bloody victory. For, as our Topography of Ireland
testifies, that the Welsh and Irish are more prone to anger and
revenge than any other nations, the saints, likewise, of those
countries appear to be of a more vindictive nature.

Two noble persons, and uncles of the author of this book, were sent
thither by the king; namely, Henry, son of king Henry I., and uncle
to king Henry II., by Nest, daughter of Rhys, prince of South Wales;
and Robert Fitz-Stephen, brother to Henry, a man who in our days,
shewing the way to others, first attacked Ireland, and whose fame is
recorded in our Vaticinal History. Henry, actuated by too much
valour, and ill supported, was pierced by a lance, and fell amongst
the foremost, to the great concern of his attendants; and Robert,
despairing of being able to defend himself, was badly wounded, and
escaped with difficulty to the ships.

There is a small island, almost adjoining to Anglesey, which is
inhabited by hermits, living by manual labour, and serving God. It
is remarkable that when, by the influence of human passions, any
discord arises among them, all their provisions are devoured and
infected by a species of small mice, with which the island abounds;
but when the discord ceases, they are no longer molested. Nor is it
to be wondered at, if the servants of God sometimes disagree, since
Jacob and Esau contended in the womb of Rebecca, and Paul and
Barnabas differed; the disciples also of Jesus disputed which of
them should be the greatest, for these are the temptations of human
infirmity; yet virtue is often made perfect by infirmity, and faith
is increased by tribulations. This island is called in Welsh, Ynys
Lenach, {167} or the ecclesiastical island, because many bodies of
saints are deposited there, and no woman is suffered to enter it.

We saw in Anglesey a dog, who accidentally had lost his tail, and
whose whole progeny bore the same defect. It is wonderful that
nature should, as it were, conform itself in this particular to the
accident of the father. We saw also a knight, named Earthbald, born
in Devonshire, whose father, denying the child with which his mother
was pregnant, and from motives of jealousy accusing her of
inconstancy, nature alone decided the controversy by the birth of
the child, who, by a miracle, exhibited on his upper lip a scar,
similar to one his father bore in consequence of a wound he had
received from a lance in one of his military expeditions. Stephen,
the son of Earthbald, had a similar mark, the accident being in a
manner converted into nature. A like miracle of nature occurred in
earl Alberic, son of Alberic earl of Veer, {168} whose father,
during the pregnancy of his mother, the daughter of Henry of Essex,
having laboured to procure a divorce, on account of the ignominy of
her father, the child, when born, had the same blemish in its eye,
as the father had got from a casual hurt. These defects may be
entailed on the offspring, perhaps, by the impression made on the
memory by frequent and steady observation; as it is reported that a
queen, accustomed to see the picture of a negro in her chamber,
unexpectedly brought forth a black child, and is exculpated by
Quintilian, on account of the picture. In like manner it happened
to the spotted sheep, given by Laban out of his flock to his nephew
Jacob, and which conceived by means of variegated rods. {169} Nor
is the child always affected by the mother's imagination alone, but
sometimes by that of the father; for it is well known that a man,
seeing a passenger near him, who was convulsed both behind and
before, on going home and telling his wife that he could not get the
impression of this sight off his mind, begat a child who was
affected in a similar manner.


Passage of the river Conwy in a boat, and of Dinas Emrys

On our return to Banchor from Mona, we were shown the tombs of
prince Owen and his younger brother Cadwalader, {170} who were
buried in a double vault before the high altar, although Owen, on
account of his public incest with his cousin-german, had died
excommunicated by the blessed martyr St. Thomas, the bishop of that
see having been enjoined to seize a proper opportunity of removing
his body from the church. We continued our journey on the sea
coast, confined on one side by steep rocks, and by the sea on the
other, towards the river Conwy, which preserves its waters
unadulterated by the sea. Not far from the source of the river
Conwy, at the head of the Eryri mountain, which on this side extends
itself towards the north, stands Dinas Emrys, that is, the
promontory of Ambrosius, where Merlin {171} uttered his prophecies,
whilst Vortigern was seated upon the bank. There were two Merlins;
the one called Ambrosius who prophesied in the time of king
Vortigern, was begotten by a demon incubus, and found at Caermardin,
from which circumstance that city derived its name of Caermardin, or
the city of Merlin; the other Merlin, born in Scotland, was named
Celidonius, from the Celidonian wood in which he prophesied; and
Sylvester, because when engaged in martial conflict, he discovered
in the air a terrible monster, and from that time grew mad, and
taking shelter in a wood, passed the remainder of his days in a
savage state. This Merlin lived in the time of king Arthur, and is
said to have prophesied more fully and explicitly than the other. I
shall pass over in silence what was done by the sons of Owen in our
days, after his death, or while he was dying, who, from the wicked
desire of reigning, totally disregarded the ties of fraternity; but
I shall not omit mentioning another event which occurred likewise in
our days. Owen, {172} son of Gruffyth, prince of North Wales, had
many sons, but only one legitimate, namely, Iorwerth Drwyndwn, which
in Welsh means flat-nosed, who had a son named Llewelyn. This young
man, being only twelve years of age, began, during the period of our
journey, to molest his uncles David and Roderic, the sons of Owen by
Christiana, his cousin-german; and although they had divided amongst
themselves all North Wales, except the land of Conan, and although
David, having married the sister of king Henry II., by whom he had
one son, was powerfully supported by the English, yet within a few
years the legitimate son, destitute of lands or money (by the aid of
divine vengeance), bravely expelled from North Wales those who were
born in public incest, though supported by their own wealth and by
that of others, leaving them nothing but what the liberality of his
own mind and the counsel of good men from pity suggested: a proof
that adulterous and incestuous persons are displeasing to God.


Of the mountains of Eryri

I must not pass over in silence the mountains called by the Welsh
Eryri, but by the English Snowdon, or Mountains of Snow, which
gradually increasing from the land of the sons of Conan, and
extending themselves northwards near Deganwy, seem to rear their
lofty summits even to the clouds, when viewed from the opposite
coast of Anglesey. They are said to be of so great an extent, that
according to an ancient proverb, "As Mona could supply corn for all
the inhabitants of Wales, so could the Eryri mountains afford
sufficient pasture for all the herds, if collected together." Hence
these lines of Virgil may be applied to them:-

"Et quantum longis carpent armenta diebus,
Exigua tautum gelidus ros nocte reponet."

"And what is cropt by day the night renews,
Shedding refreshful stores of cooling dews."

On the highest parts of these mountains are two lakes worthy of
admiration. The one has a floating island in it, which is often
driven from one side to the other by the force of the winds; and the
shepherds behold with astonishment their cattle, whilst feeding,
carried to the distant parts of the lake. A part of the bank
naturally bound together by the roots of willows and other shrubs
may have been broken off, and increased by the alluvion of the earth
from the shore; and being continually agitated by the winds, which
in so elevated a situation blow with great violence, it cannot
reunite itself firmly with the banks. The other lake is noted for a
wonderful and singular miracle. It contains three sorts of fish -
eels, trout, and perch, all of which have only one eye, the left
being wanting; but if the curious reader should demand of me the
explanation of so extraordinary a circumstance, I cannot presume to
satisfy him. It is remarkable also, that in two places in Scotland,
one near the eastern, the other near the western sea, the fish
called mullets possess the same defect, having no left eye.
According to vulgar tradition, these mountains are frequented by an
eagle who, perching on a fatal stone every fifth holiday, in order
to satiate her hunger with the carcases of the slain, is said to
expect war on that same day, and to have almost perforated the stone
by cleaning and sharpening her beak.


Of the passage by Deganwy and Ruthlan, and the see of Lanelwy, and
of Coleshulle

Having crossed the river Conwy, {173} or rather an arm of the sea,
under Deganwy, leaving the Cistercian monastery of Conwy {174} on
the western bank of the river to our right hand, we arrived at
Ruthlan, a noble castle on the river Cloyd, belonging to David, the
eldest son of Owen {175} where, at the earnest invitation of David
himself, we were handsomely entertained that night.

There is a spring not far from Ruthlan, in the province of Tegengel,
{176} which not only regularly ebbs and flows like the sea, twice in
twenty-four hours, but at other times frequently rises and falls
both by night and day. Trogus Pompeius says, "that there is a town
of the Garamantes, where there is a spring which is hot and cold
alternately by day and night." {177}

Many persons in the morning having been persuaded to dedicate
themselves to the service of Christ, we proceeded from Ruthlan to
the small cathedral church of Lanelwy; {178} from whence (the
archbishop having celebrated mass) we continued our journey through
a country rich in minerals of silver, where money is sought in the
bowels of the earth, to the little cell of Basinwerk, {179} where we
passed the night. The following day we traversed a long quicksand,
and not without some degree of apprehension, leaving the woody
district of Coleshulle, {180} or hill of coal, on our right hand,
where Henry II., who in our time, actuated by youthful and
indiscreet ardour, made a hostile irruption into Wales, and
presuming to pass through that narrow and woody defile, experienced
a signal defeat, and a very heavy loss of men. {181} The aforesaid
king invaded Wales three times with an army; first, North Wales at
the above-mentioned place; secondly, South Wales, by the sea-coast
of Glamorgan and Goer, penetrating as far as Caermarddin and
Pencadair, and returning by Ellennith and Melenith; and thirdly, the
country of Powys, near Oswaldestree; but in all these expeditions
the king was unsuccessful, because he placed no confidence in the
prudent and well-informed chieftains of the country, but was
principally advised by people remote from the marches, and ignorant
of the manners and customs of the natives. In every expedition, as
the artificer is to be trusted in his trade, so the advice of those
people should be consulted, who, by a long residence in the country,
are become conversant with the manners and customs of the natives;
and to whom it is of high importance that the power of the hostile
nation, with whom, by a long and continued warfare, they have
contracted an implacable enmity and hatred, should be weakened or
destroyed, as we have set forth in our Vaticinal History.

In this wood of Coleshulle, a young Welshman was killed while
passing through the king's army; the greyhound who accompanied him
did not desert his master's corpse for eight days, though without
food; but faithfully defended it from the attacks of dogs, wolves,
and birds of prey, with a wonderful attachment. What son to his
father, what Nisus to Euryalus, what Polynices to Tydeus, what
Orestes to Pylades, would have shewn such an affectionate regard?
As a mark of favour to the dog, who was almost starved to death, the
English, although bitter enemies to the Welsh, ordered the body, now
nearly putrid, to be deposited in the ground with the accustomed
offices of humanity.


Of the passage of the River Dee, and of Chester

Having crossed the river Dee below Chester, (which the Welsh call
Doverdwy), on the third day before Easter, or the day of absolution
(holy Thursday), we reached Chester. As the river Wye towards the
south separates Wales from England, so the Dee near Chester forms
the northern boundary. The inhabitants of these parts assert, that
the waters of this river change their fords every month, and, as it
inclines more towards England or Wales, they can, with certainty,
prognosticate which nation will be successful or unfortunate during
the year. This river derives its origin from the lake Penmelesmere,
{182} and, although it abounds with salmon, yet none are found in
the lake. It is also remarkable, that this river is never swollen
by rains, but often rises by the violence of the winds.

Chester boasts of being the burial-place of Henry, {183} a Roman
emperor, who, after having imprisoned his carnal and spiritual
father, pope Paschal, gave himself up to penitence; and, becoming a
voluntary exile in this country, ended his days in solitary
retirement. It is also asserted, that the remains of Harold are
here deposited. He was the last of the Saxon kings in England, and
as a punishment for his perjury, was defeated in the battle of
Hastings, fought against the Normans. Having received many wounds,
and lost his left eye by an arrow in that engagement, he is said to
have escaped to these parts, where, in holy conversation, leading
the life of an anchorite, and being a constant attendant at one of
the churches of this city, he is believed to have terminated his
days happily. {184} The truth of these two circumstances was
declared (and not before known) by the dying confession of each
party. We saw here, what appeared novel to us, cheese made of
deer's milk; for the countess and her mother keeping tame deer,
presented to the archbishop three small cheeses made from their

In this same country was produced, in our time, a cow partaking of
the nature of a stag, resembling its mother in the fore parts and
the stag in its hips, legs, and feet, and having the skin and colour
of the stag; but, partaking more of the nature of the domestic than
of the wild animal, it remained with the herd of cattle. A bitch
also was pregnant by a monkey, and produced a litter of whelps
resembling a monkey before, and the dog behind; which the rustic
keeper of the military hall seeing with astonishment and abhorrence,
immediately killed with the stick he carried in his hand; thereby
incurring the severe resentment and anger of his lord, when the
latter became acquainted with the circumstance.

In our time, also, a woman was born in Chester without hands, to
whom nature had supplied a remedy for that defect by the flexibility
and delicacy of the joints of her feet, with which she could sew, or
perform any work with thread or scissors, as well as other women.


Of the journey by the White Monastery, Oswaldestree, Powys, and

The feast of Easter having been observed with due solemnity, and
many persons, by the exhortations of the archbishop, signed with the
cross, we directed our way from Chester to the White Monastery,
{185} and from thence towards Oswaldestree; where, on the very
borders of Powys, we were met by Gruffydd son of Madoc, and Elissa,
princes of that country, and many others; some few of whom having
been persuaded to take the cross (for several of the multitude had
been previously signed by Reiner, {186} the bishop of that place),
Gruffydd, prince of the district, publicly adjured, in the presence
of the archbishop, his cousin-german, Angharad, daughter of prince
Owen, whom, according to the vicious custom of the country, he had
long considered as his wife. We slept at Oswaldestree, or the tree
of St. Oswald, and were most sumptuously entertained after the
English manner, by William Fitz-Alan, {187} a noble and liberal
young man. A short time before, whilst Reiner was preaching, a
robust youth being earnestly exhorted to follow the example of his
companions in taking the cross, answered, "I will not follow your
advice until, with this lance which I bear in my hand, I shall have

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