Guest-written Papers
Reference Abbreviations
Guidance Articles for Researchers
Single Family Analysis
Families of Mixed Origin
Family Pedigrees
Mis-identified Same-Named People in Wales
Battles and Historical Events
Ancient Welsh Territories
Welshmen in Llydaw, Brittany
The Men of the North
Legendary History Prior to 1st Century BC
Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees
Papers Related to Maxen Wledig
Bartrum's "Pedigrees of the Welsh Tribal Patriarchs"
Britain's Royal Roman Family
The Royal Family of Powys
2nd Powys Royal Dynasty
The Royal Family of Gwynedd
Men Descended from Tudwal Gloff
Royal Family of Gwent/ Glamorgan
Royal Family of Brycheiniog
15 Noble Tribes of Gwynedd
The 5 Plebian Tribes of Wales
Glast and the Glastening
Papers about Rhiryd Flaidd and Penllyn
The Men of Collwyn ap Tangno of Lleyn
Edwin of Tegeingl and his Family
Ednowain Bendew in Welsh pedigrees
Ithel of Bryn in Powys
Idnerth Benfras of Maesbrook
Tudor Trefor and his Family
Trahaearn ap Caradog of Arwystli
The Family of Trahaearn ap Caradog
Cadafael Ynfyd of Cydewain
Maredudd ap Owain, King of Deheubarth
Sandde Hardd of Mortyn
The Floruit of Einion ap Seisyllt
The 5 Dafydd Llwyds of Llanwrin Parish
Cowryd ap Cadfan of Dyffryn Clwyd
Osbwrn Wyddel of Cors Gedol
Bradwen of Llys Bradwen in Meirionydd
Who Was Sir Robert Pounderling?
Sir Aaron ap Rhys
Eidio Wyllt - What Was His Birthname?
Ifor Bach, Lord of Senghenydd
Ancestors and Children of the Lord Rhys

                                     IN SEARCH OF GWGAN GLEDDYFRUDD
                                                  By Darrell Wolcott
         In a previous article on Caradog Freich Fras, we discussed a man called Gwgan Gleddyfrudd of the ninth century and mentioned that others say a man of the same name also lived in the seventh century.  We shall begin with his "biographies" as given by various writers:
         Peter Bartrum says "Gwgon of the Red Sword is mentioned in a triad as one of the Three Gatekeepers at the Battle of Perllan Fangor.  The battle of Perllan Fangor, i.e. the Battle of Chester, was in 613.  According to Leland[1], Porth Hogan "The Gate of Gwgan" was the name of one of the gates to the monastic enclosure of Bangor Iscoed.  In the tale of "Rhonabwy's Dream", he is mentioned as a companion of Owain ab Urien and a contemporary of Arthur but this is evidently one of the anachronisms with which that tale abounds.[2]  His pedigree is given in "Progenies Keredic" where he is made the son of "Lauch filli Lucho filli Kedich filli Keredic".  In Jesus College Ms 20, he is son of Llawr ap Cedic ap Ceredig ap Cunedda.  These pedigrees are one or two generations too short if Gwgan was at the battle of Chester, but they indicate a belief that he was a man of Ceredigion, and there are poetic references which suggest this.  Pedigrees of some North Wales tribal patriarchs make him a son of Caradog Freich Fras, but these seem to be quite fictitious."[3]
          Rachel Bromwich disagrees with these comments: "Gwgan Gleddyfrudd appears to have been a local hero of Ceredigion, perhaps to be identified with "Guocaun map Mouric" of Harleian Genealogies 26, the last king of Ceredigion, whose sister Angharad married Rhodri Mawr, and who met his death by drowning in the year 871.  Obviously a man who died in 871 could not have been present at the battle of Chester in 613, or a contemporary with the two seventh-century figures who are named with Gwgan as having been present at the battle in triad 60, but this is not necessarily an objection to the identification.  He may be classed with the small group of figures from later Welsh history whom the triads deliberately bring together with legendary heroes of the sixth and seventh centuries.  Analogous instances prove that the introduction of Gwgan's name here presents no argument against the identification of Gweith Perllan Vangor with the battle of Chester, or against the identification of the two other characters named in the triad with contemporary figures of the seventh century.  Bangor Is-coed rather than Chester itself may thus have been the real site of the engagement."[4]
          The triad to which both writers refer is Triad #60[5] which reads:
          "Tri Phorthawr Gweith Perllan Vangor:  Gwgon Gledyfrud, a Madawc ap Run, a Gwiawn ap Kyndrwyn"  which translates into:
          Three Gatekeepers at the battle of Bangor Orchard:  Gwgan Red Sword, Madog ap Rhun and Gwiawn ap Cyndrwyn
           Our discussion begins with the identification of the battle of Bangor Orchard with the battle of Chester.  The only authority to so identify it is the 15th century Brut Cleopatra which ends its rendering of the story of the battle of Chester as given by Geoffrey of Monmouth with the words "a hwnnw a elwyt gewith perllan bangor" or "that one was the battle of Bangor Orchard".  However, this may have been no more than an allusion to the triad itself.  It must remain an open question when and where the triad battle was fought since Bangor Is-coed on the Dee in Maelor Saesneg near Chester is not the only Bangor in north Wales.[4]  Nor is the famous 613 battle the only one ever contested around Bangor Is-coed.[6] 
          While there do appear to be men named Madog ap Rhun and Gwiawn ap Cyndrwyn who lived in the seventh century[7], no one can be sure the triad reference is to those specific men. Just as Rachel Bromwich points to a Gwgan who lived in the ninth century, many other men were named Rhun and Madog was even more common. Her association of Gwgan with Ceredigion partly relies on the pedigrees cited by Peter Bartrum, both of which fail chronologically to date the triad Gwgan to 613. The Gwgan in those pedigrees, should we accept them, would have been too old to be on the battlefield at Chester. And the man whose name appeared on a gate at the Bangor monastery when John Leland visited there in the 1530's could be any Gwgan from any preceeding date.  The third name, Gwiawn ap Cyndrwyn, is equally difficult to show as certainly being a man who lived in the sixth century; while he appears among the sons of Cyndrwyn of Powys[8] who did live in that era, that list could have taken the name from the triad.
         The argument made by Bromwich to allow her to place Gwgan in the ninth century works equally well to identify him with the son of the second Caradog Freich Fras[9] who belongs, not to Ceredigion in south Wales, but to Tegeingl at the mouth of the Clwyd in north Wales.  During the era we have assigned to that Gwgan, many battles raged in that part of Wales.  There are accounts of Anarawd ap Rhodri Mawr (c. 850-916) promising the Men of the North lands in north Wales if they would assist in the expulsion of the Saxons from territory which the latter had overrun and occupied.[10] These wars would have afforded a ninth century Gwgan ample opportunity to be dubbed "red sword"; one such battle could have been at the orchards of Bangor just as easily as the one fought in 613.
          Nothing in the evidence allows us to say with assurance that no Gwgan Gleddyfrudd lived in the seventh century, but proof that one did is even less convincing.  However, the triad which appears to associate Gwgan with north Wales, together with the pedigrees which cite him as the ancestor of Llywarch Hwlbwrch and others, does point to a man of that name living in the ninth century.  Bartrum's characterization as "quite fictitious" that group of pedigrees which name his father as Caradog Freich Fras would appear to be unjustified. But then he was obviously referring to the Caradog Freich Fras of c. 475.
[1] John Leland "Itinerary in Wales", edited by Lucy T Smith, Carbondale, 1964, vol iii pp 68 renders the gate's name Hogan but notes the name was Wgan in the original text
[2] Owain ap Urien dates from c. 540/550 and could not have been an associate of Arthur
[3] P C Bartrum "A Welsh Classical Dictionary", 1993, pp 325; we have used the words in the source but condensed the account, so this is not an exact quote
[4] Rachel Bromwich "Trioedd Ynys Prydein", Cardiff, 1961; our excerpts are taken from pp 164 and 389/390 and presented in a consolidated summary
[5] ibid pp 163
[6] The Dee valley was contested by the Welsh and the Saxons for much of the ninth century; armies entering Wales through this valley would have been opposed near Bangor as well as at other points along the river
[7] One Madog ap Rhun occurs in Jesus College Ms 20, 16 in a branch of a Powys family and should be dated c. 570;  another man of Powys named Cyndrwyn was the father of the Cynddylan, whose death at the hands of the Saxons in the sixth/seventh century was lamented in a famous poem "Canu Heledd" attributed to Llywarch Hen. 
[8] Bonedd yr Arwyr, 1 lists children of Cyndrwyn but curiously omits the most noted of all, Cynddylan.  No ancestry is cited for this Cyndrwyn
[9] See the article "Ynyr Gwent and Caradog Freich Fras" at the link below:
[10] Jones, Williams & Pughe "The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales", Denbigh, 1870; pp 688 cites the entry dated 890 in one version of Brut y Tywysogyon.  Also refer to the paper "The Retaking of Northeast Wales" at the link below: