Dyrnwyn, the Black Sword Enchanted

 Rhydderch Hael (Welsh: Rhydderch the Generous, fl. 580 – c. 614) was a ruler of Alt Clut, a Brittonic kingdom in the Hen Ogledd or
North Wales by JHH

 “Four kings fought against them, Urien and Rhydderch [Hael] and Gwallawg and Morcant.
Theodoric fought vigorously against Urien and his sons. During that time, sometimes the enemy, sometimes the Cymry were victorious, and Urien blockaded them for three days and three nights in the island of Ynys Metcaut.
But during this campaign, Urien was assassinated on the instigation of Morcant, from jealousy, because his military skill and generalship surpassed that of all the other kings.”

—Historia Brittonum, chapter 63

Dyrnwyn the Black Sword was an enchanted sword and the most powerful weapon in Prydain. It was forged long ago by Govannion the Smith for King Rhydderch Hael, and wielded justly by his descendants until it was lost during the reign of King Rhitta. For some time Dyrnwyn was believed to be merely a legend, even by the very wise.

Owain Ddantgwyn

Owain Ddantgwyn was a prince of North Wales, was a King of Rhos in the late 5th century.
 

North Wales, photo by JHH
 

Owain appears in various ancient Welsh genealogies as the son of Einion Yrth and the father of Cynlas Goch. One of these is given the title, ‘Pedigree of (the Kings of) Rhos. 

According to the Bonedd y Saint, he was also the father of Einion Frenin, king of Llyn, Seiriol, and Meirion. Other than these genealogies, no documentary evidence exists concerning his life.

 

Raglan Castle Photo by JHH
 
Arthurian 

Some Authurian’s have conjectured that Owain could have been the origin of a “real” King Arthur. 

Arthurian scholars, have proposed this by Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman in their book, King Arthur: The True Story (1992).

They suggested that “Arthur” was a nickname and identified its recipient as Owain from a passage in “De Excidio Britanniae.”

 

River Wye, Dogelleau, S. Wales by JHH
 
Its contemporary author, Gildas, refers (in Latin) to Owain’s son, Cynlas, literally as “guider of the chariot which is the receptacle of the bear”. “Bear” in Brythonic is “Arth”, so Phillips and Keatman take this to infer that “the Arthur” was Cynlas’ predecessor, known from the genealogies to be Owain. They go on to claim that Owain ruled in Powys. 

The Owain as Arthur hypothesis draws on the relationships between Owain and his nephew Maelgwn Hir and compares it to the relationship between the Arthur and Mordred of legend.

 

as Malory’s account of Mordred’s treachery is the most well-known and influential version of the story. Malory popularizes an episode from the Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin, commonly called the “May-Day Massacre,” in which Arthur heeds Merlin’s prophecy that the child who will cause the downfall of his kingdom.
 
Maelgwn, the “dragon of the isle” is admonished by Gildas for murdering his uncle (Owain) and seizing his throne, events similar to those of legend whereby Mordred murders his father.

While there is the plausable connection between this Owain of Rhôs and the legend of Arthur of Britain it may also be worthy to note the similarity between Owain’s epithet Ddantgwyn, meaning “white tooth”, and the name of a legendary sword Dyrnwyn, meaning “white hilt”.

 

The Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain (Welsh: Tri Thlws ar Ddeg Ynys Prydain) are a series of items in late medieval Welsh tradition. Lists of the items appear in texts dating to the 15th and 16th centuries.[2] Most of the items are placed in the Hen Ogledd or “Old North”, the Brittonic-speaking parts of what is now southern Scotland and Northern England; some early manuscripts refer to the whole list specifically as treasures “that were in the North. “
 
Excalibur – The Kings Sword 

Dyrnwyn, the sword, is associated with Rhydderch Hael (died c.614), an important king who ruled the northern Kingdom of Strathclyde after Owain Ddantgwyn’s death. 

Rhydderch Hael was also a major protagonist in the war fought against Owain’s great nephew, Rhun Hir ap Maelgwn, who had succeeded Maelgwn Hir in c.547 as the king of Gwynedd, by Strathclyde and her northern allies. 

  
In the course of this war Rhun of Gwynedd would perish in battle in Strathclyde c.586. 

The sword Dyrnwyn was one of the so-called Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain and apparently held magical properties, similar to those associated with Arthur’s legendary sword, Excalibur.

Dyrnwyn the Black Sword was an enchanted sword and the most powerful weapon in Prydain. It was forged long ago by Govannion the Smith for King Rhydderch Hael, and wielded justly by his descendants until it was lost during the reign of King Rhitta. For some time Dyrnwyn was believed to be merely a legend, even by the very wise.

References

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/RhydderchHael 

Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman in their book, King Arthur: The True Story (1992).

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteen_Treasures_of_the_Island_of_Britain

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