Picture of Gerald of Wales

Gerald of Wales

places mentioned

Book I, Ch. 2: Hay and Brecheinia

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Journey through Hay and Brecheinia

Having crossed the river Wye, we proceeded towards Brecheinoc, and on preaching a sermon at Hay,25 we observed some amongst the multitude, who were to be signed with the cross (leaving their garments in the hands of their friends or wives, who endeavoured to keep them back), fly for refuge to the archbishop in the castle. Early in the morning we began our journey to Aberhodni, and the word of the Lord being preached at Landeu,26 we there spent the night. The castle and chief town of the province, situated where the river Hodni joins the river Usk, is called Aberhodni;27 and every place where one river falls into another is called Aber in the British tongue. Landeu signifies the church of God. The archdeacon of that place (Giraldus) presented to the archbishop his work on the Topography of Ireland, which he graciously received, and either read or heard a part of it read attentively every day during his journey; and on his return to England completed the perusal of it.

I have determined not to omit mentioning those occurrences worthy of note which happened in these parts in our days. It came to pass before that great war, in which nearly all this province was destroyed by the sons of Jestin,28 that the large lake, and the river Leveni,29 which flows from it into the Wye, opposite Glasbyry, were tinged with a deep green colour. The old people of the country were consulted, and answered, that a short time before the great desolation30 caused by Howel, son of Meredyth, the water had been coloured in a similar manner. About the same time, a chaplain, whose name was Hugo, being engaged to officiate at the chapel of Saint Nicholas, in the castle of Aberhodni, saw in a dream a venerable man standing near him, and saying, "Tell thy lord William de Braose,31 who has the audacity to retain the property granted to the chapel of Saint Nicholas for charitable uses, these words: 'The public treasury takes away that which Christ does not receive; and thou wilt then give to an impious soldier, what thou wilt not give to a priest.'" This vision having been repeated three times, he went to the archdeacon of the place, at Landeu, and related to him what had happened. The archdeacon immediately knew them to be the words of Augustine; and shewing him that part of his writings where they were found, explained to him the case to which they applied. He reproaches persons who held back tithes and other ecclesiastical dues; and what he there threatens, certainly in a short time befell this withholder of them: for in our time we have duly and undoubtedly seen, that princes who have usurped ecclesiastical benefices (and particularly king Henry the Second, who laboured under this vice more than others), have profusely squandered the treasures of the church, and given away to hired soldiers what in justice should have been given only to priests.

Yet something is to be said in favour of the aforesaid William de Braose, although he greatly offended in this particular (since nothing human is perfect, and to have knowledge of all things, and in no point to err, is an attribute of God, not of man); for he always placed the name of the Lord before his sentences, saying, "Let this be done in the name of the Lord; let that be done by God's will; if it shall please God, or if God grant leave; it shall be so by the grace of God." We learn from Saint Paul, that everything ought thus to be committed and referred to the will of God. On taking leave of his brethren, he says, "I will return to you again, if God permit;" and Saint James uses this expression, "If the Lord will, and we live," in order to show that all things ought to be submitted to the divine disposal. The letters also which William de Braose, as a rich and powerful man, was accustomed to send to different parts, were loaded, or rather honoured, with words expressive of the divine indulgence to a degree not only tiresome to his scribe, but even to his auditors; for as a reward to each of his scribes for concluding his letters with the words, "by divine assistance," he gave annually a piece of gold, in addition to their stipend. When on a journey he saw a church or a cross, although in the midst of conversation either with his inferiors or superiors, from an excess of devotion, he immediately began to pray, and when he had finished his prayers, resumed his conversation. On meeting boys in the way, he invited them by a previous salutation to salute him, that the blessings of these innocents, thus extorted, might be returned to him. His wife, Matilda de Saint Valery, observed all these things: a prudent and chaste woman; a woman placed with propriety at the head of her house, equally attentive to the economical disposal of her property within doors, as to the augmentation of it without; both of whom, I hope, by their devotion obtained temporal happiness and grace, as well as the glory of eternity.

It happened also that the hand of a boy, who was endeavouring to take some young pigeons from a nest, in the church of Saint David of Llanvaes,32 adhered to the stone on which he leaned, through the miraculous vengeance, perhaps, of that saint, in favour of the birds who had taken refuge in his church; and when the boy, attended by his friends and parents, had for three successive days and nights offered up his prayers and supplications before the holy altar of the church, his hand was, on the third day, liberated by the same divine power which had so miraculously fastened it. We saw this same boy at Newbury, in England, now advanced in years, presenting himself before David the Second,33 bishop of Saint David's, and certifying to him the truth of this relation, because it had happened in his diocese. The stone is preserved in the church to this day among the relics, and the marks of the five fingers appear impressed on the flint as though it were in wax.

A small miracle happened at St. Edmundsbury to a poor woman, who often visited the shrine of the saint, under the mask of devotion; not with the design of giving, but of taking something away, namely, the silver and gold offerings, which, by a curious kind of theft, she licked up by kissing, and carried away in her mouth. But in one of these attempts her tongue and lips adhered to the altar, when by divine interposition she was detected, and openly disgorged the secret theft. Many persons, both Jews and Christians, expressing their astonishment, flocked to the place, where for the greater part of the day she remained motionless, that no possible doubt might be entertained of the miracle.

In the north of England beyond the Humber, in the church of Hovedene, the concubine of the rector incautiously sat down on the tomb of St. Osana, sister of king Osred,34 which projected like a wooden seat; on wishing to retire, she could not be removed, until the people came to her assistance; her clothes were rent, her body was laid bare, and severely afflicted with many strokes of discipline, even till the blood flowed; nor did she regain her liberty, until by many tears and sincere repentance she had showed evident signs of compunction.

What miraculous power hath not in our days been displayed by the psalter of Quindreda, sister of St. Kenelm,35 by whose instigation he was killed? On the vigil of the saint, when, according to custom, great multitudes of women resorted to the feast at Winchelcumbe, the under butler of that convent committed fornication with one of them within the precincts of the monastery. This same man on the following day had the audacity to carry the psalter in the procession of the relics of the saints; and on his return to the choir, after the solemnity, the psalter stuck to his hands. Astonished and greatly confounded, and at length calling to his mind his crime on the preceding day, he made confession, and underwent penance; and being assisted by the prayers of the brotherhood, and having shown signs of sincere contrition, he was at length liberated from the miraculous bond. That book was held in great veneration; because, when the body of St. Kenelm was carried forth, and the multitude cried out, "He is the martyr of God! truly he is the martyr of God!" Quindreda, conscious and guilty of the murder of her brother, answered, "He is as truly the martyr of God as it is true that my eyes be on that psalter;" for, as she was reading the psalter, both her eyes were miraculously torn from her head, and fell on the book, where the marks of the blood yet remain.

Moreover I must not be silent concerning the collar (torques) which they call St. Canauc's;36 for it is most like to gold in weight, nature, and colour; it is in four pieces wrought round, joined together artificially, and clefted as it were in the middle, with a dog's head, the teeth standing outward; it is esteemed by the inhabitants so powerful a relic, that no man dares swear falsely when it is laid before him: it bears the marks of some severe blows, as if made with an iron hammer; for a certain man, as it is said, endeavouring to break the collar for the sake of the gold, experienced the divine vengeance, was deprived of his eyesight, and lingered the remainder of his days in darkness.

A similar circumstance concerning the horn of St. Patrick (not golden indeed, but of brass [probably bronze], which lately was brought into these parts from Ireland) excites our admiration. The miraculous power of this relic first appeared with a terrible example in that country, through the foolish and absurd blowing of Bernard, a priest, as is set forth in our Topography of Ireland . Both the laity and clergy in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales held in such great veneration portable bells, and staves crooked at the top, and covered with gold, silver, or brass, and similar relics of the saints, that they were much more afraid of swearing falsely by them than by the gospels; because, from some hidden and miraculous power with which they are gifted, and the vengeance of the saint to whom they are particularly pleasing, their despisers and transgressors are severely punished. The most remarkable circumstance attending this horn is, that whoever places the wider end of it to his ear will hear a sweet sound and melody united, such as ariseth from a harp gently touched.

In our days a strange occurrence happened in the same district. A wild sow, which by chance had been suckled by a bitch famous for her nose, became, on growing up, so wonderfully active in the pursuit of wild animals, that in the faculty of scent she was greatly superior to dogs, who are assisted by natural instinct, as well as by human art; an argument that man (as well as every other animal) contracts the nature of the female who nurses him. Another prodigious event came to pass nearly at the same time. A soldier, whose name was Gilbert Hagernel, after an illness of nearly three years, and the severe pains as of a woman in labour, in the presence of many people, voided a calf. A portent of some new and unusual event, or rather the punishment attendant on some atrocious crime. It appears also from the ancient and authentic records of those parts, that during the time St. Elwitus37 led the life of a hermit at Llanhamelach, the mare that used to carry his provisions to him was covered by a stag, and produced an animal of wonderful speed, resembling a horse before and a stag behind.

Bernard de Newmarch38 was the first of the Normans who acquired by conquest from the Welsh this province, which was divided into three cantreds.39 He married the daughter of Nest, daughter of Gruffydd, son of Llewelyn, who, by his tyranny, for a long time had oppressed Wales; his wife took her mother's name of Nest, which the English transmuted into Anne; by whom he had children, one of whom, named Mahel, a distinguished soldier, was thus unjustly deprived of his paternal inheritance. His mother, in violation of the marriage contract, held an adulterous intercourse with a certain knight; on the discovery of which, the son met the knight returning in the night from his mother, and having inflicted on him a severe corporal punishment, and mutilated him, sent him away with great disgrace. The mother, alarmed at the confusion which this event caused, and agitated with grief, breathed nothing but revenge. She therefore went to king Henry I., and declared with assertions more vindictive than true, and corroborated by an oath, that her son Mahel was not the son of Bernard, but of another person with whom she had been secretly connected. Henry, on account of this oath, or rather perjury, and swayed more by his inclination than by reason, gave away her eldest daughter, whom she owned as the legitimate child of Bernard, in marriage to Milo Fitz-Walter,40 constable of Gloucester, with the honour of Brecheinoc as a portion; and he was afterwards created earl of Hereford by the empress Matilda, daughter of the said king. By this wife he had five celebrated warriors; Roger, Walter, Henry, William, and Mahel; all of whom, by divine vengeance, or by fatal misfortunes, came to untimely ends; and yet each of them, except William, succeeded to the paternal inheritance, but left no issue. Thus this woman (not deviating from the nature of her sex), in order to satiate her anger and revenge, with the heavy loss of modesty, and with the disgrace of infamy, by the same act deprived her son of his patrimony, and herself of honour. Nor is it wonderful if a woman follows her innate bad disposition: for it is written in Ecclesiastes, "I have found one good man out of a thousand, but not one good woman;" and in Ecclesiasticus, "There is no head above the head of a serpent; and there is no wrath above the wrath of a woman;" and again, "Small is the wickedness of man compared to the wickedness of woman." And in the same manner, as we may gather grapes off thorns, or figs off thistles, Tully, describing the nature of women, says, "Men, perhaps, for the sake of some advantage will commit one crime; but woman, to gratify one inclination, will not scruple to perpetrate all sorts of wickedness." Thus Juvenal, speaking of women, say,

- Nihil est audacior illis
Deprensis, iram atque animos a crimine sumunt.
- Mulier saevissima tunc est
Cum stimulos animo pudor admovet.
- colllige, quod vindicta
Nemo magis gaudet quam foemina.

But of the five above-mentioned brothers and sons of earl Milo, the youngest but one, and the last in the inheritance, was the most remarkable for his inhumanity; he persecuted David II., bishop of St. David's, to such a degree, by attacking his possessions, lands, and vassals, that he was compelled to retire as an exile from the district of Brecheinoc into England, or to some other parts of his diocese. Meanwhile, Mahel, being hospitably entertained by Walter de Clifford,41 in the castle of Brendlais,42 the house was by accident burned down, and he received a mortal blow by a stone falling from the principal tower on his head: upon which he instantly dispatched messengers to recal the bishop, and exclaimed with a lamentable voice, "O, my father and high priest, your saint has taken most cruel vengeance of me, not waiting the conversion of a sinner, but hastening his death and overthrow." Having often repeated similar expressions, and bitterly lamented his situation, he thus ended his tyranny and life together; the first year of his government not having elapsed.

A powerful and noble personage, by name Brachanus, was in ancient times the ruler of the province of Brecheinoc, and from him it derived this name. The British histories testify that he had four- and-twenty daughters, all of whom, dedicated from their youth to religious observances, happily ended their lives in sanctity. There are many churches in Wales distinguished by their names, one of which, situated on the summit of a hill, near Brecheinoc, and not far from the castle of Aberhodni, is called the church of St. Almedda,43 after the name of the holy virgin, who, refusing there the hand of an earthly spouse, married the Eternal King, and triumphed in a happy martyrdom; to whose honour a solemn feast is annually held in the beginning of August, and attended by a large concourse of people from a considerable distance, when those persons who labour under various diseases, through the merits of the Blessed Virgin, received their wished-for health. The circumstances which occur at every anniversary appear to me remarkable. You may see men or girls, now in the church, now in the churchyard, now in the dance, which is led round the churchyard with a song, on a sudden falling on the ground as in a trance, then jumping up as in a frenzy, and representing with their hands and feet, before the people, whatever work they have unlawfully done on feast days; you may see one man put his hand to the plough, and another, as it were, goad on the oxen, mitigating their sense of labour, by the usual rude song:44 one man imitating the profession of a shoemaker; another, that of a tanner. Now you may see a girl with a distaff, drawing out the thread, and winding it again on the spindle; another walking, and arranging the threads for the web; another, as it were, throwing the shuttle, and seeming to weave. On being brought into the church, and led up to the altar with their oblations, you will be astonished to see them suddenly awakened, and coming to themselves. Thus, by the divine mercy, which rejoices in the conversion, not in the death, of sinners, many persons from the conviction of their senses, are on these feast days corrected and mended.

This country sufficiently abounds with grain, and if there is any deficiency, it is amply supplied from the neighbouring parts of England; it is well stored with pastures, woods, and wild and domestic animals. River-fish are plentiful, supplied by the Usk on one side, and by the Wye on the other; each of them produces salmon and trout; but the Wye abounds most with the former, the Usk with the latter. The salmon of the Wye are in season during the winter, those of the Usk in summer; but the Wye alone produces the fish called umber,45 the praise of which is celebrated in the works of Ambrosius, as being found in great numbers in the rivers near Milan; "What," says he, "is more beautiful to behold, more agreeable to smell, or more pleasant to taste?" The famous lake of Brecheinoc supplies the country with pike, perch, excellent trout, tench, and eels. A circumstance concerning this lake, which happened a short time before our days, must not be passed over in silence. "In the reign of king Henry I., Gruffydd,46 son of Rhys ap Tewdwr, held under the king one comot, namely, the fourth part of the cantred of Caoc,47 in the cantref Mawr, which, in title and dignity, was esteemed by the Welsh equal to the southern part of Wales, called Deheubarth, that is, the right-hand side of Wales. When Gruffydd, on his return from the king's court, passed near this lake, which at that cold season of the year was covered with water-fowl of various sorts, being accompanied by Milo, earl of Hereford, and lord of Brecheinoc, and Payn Fitz-John, lord of Ewyas, who were at that time secretaries and privy counsellors to the king; earl Milo, wishing to draw forth from Gruffydd some discourse concerning his innate nobility, rather jocularly than seriously thus addressed him: "It is an ancient saying in Wales, that if the natural prince of the country, coming to this lake, shall order the birds to sing, they will immediately obey him." To which Gruffydd, richer in mind than in gold, (for though his inheritance was diminished, his ambition and dignity still remained), answered, "Do you therefore, who now hold the dominion of this land, first give the command;" but he and Payn having in vain commanded, and Gruffydd, perceiving that it was necessary for him to do so in his turn, dismounted from his horse, and falling on his knees towards the east, as if he had been about to engage in battle, prostrate on the ground, with his eyes and hands uplifted to heaven, poured forth devout prayers to the Lord: at length, rising up, and signing his face and forehead with the figure of the cross, he thus openly spake: "Almighty God, and Lord Jesus Christ, who knowest all things, declare here this day thy power. If thou hast caused me to descend lineally from the natural princes of Wales, I command these birds in thy name to declare it;" and immediately the birds, beating the water with their wings, began to cry aloud, and proclaim him. The spectators were astonished and confounded; and earl Milo hastily returning with Payn Fitz-John to court, related this singular occurrence to the king, who is said to have replied, "By the death of Christ (an oath he was accustomed to use), it is not a matter of so much wonder; for although by our great authority we commit acts of violence and wrong against these people, yet they are known to be the rightful inheritors of this land."

The lake also48 (according to the testimony of the inhabitants) is celebrated for its miracles; for, as we have before observed, it sometimes assumed a greenish hue, so in our days it has appeared to be tinged with red, not universally, but as if blood flowed partially through certain veins and small channels. Moreover it is sometimes seen by the inhabitants covered and adorned with buildings, pastures, gardens, and orchards. In the winter, when it is frozen over, and the surface of the water is converted into a shell of ice, it emits a horrible sound resembling the moans of many animals collected together; but this, perhaps, may be occasioned by the sudden bursting of the shell, and the gradual ebullition of the air through imperceptible channels. This country is well sheltered on every side (except the northern) by high mountains; on the western by those of cantref Bychan;49 on the southern, by that range, of which the principal is Cadair Arthur,50 or the chair of Arthur, so called from two peaks rising up in the form of a chair, and which, from its lofty situation, is vulgarly ascribed to Arthur, the most distinguished king of the Britons. A spring of water rises on the summit of this mountain, deep, but of a square shape, like a well, and although no stream runs from it, trout are said to be sometimes found in it.

Being thus sheltered on the south by high mountains, the cooler breezes protect this district from the heat of the sun, and, by their natural salubrity, render the climate most temperate. Towards the east are the mountains of Talgarth and Ewyas.51 The natives of these parts, actuated by continual enmities and implacable hatred, are perpetually engaged in bloody contests. But we leave to others to describe the great and enormous excesses, which in our time have been here committed, with regard to marriages, divorces, and many other circumstances of cruelty and oppression.


25 Hay. - A pleasant market-town on the southern banks of the river Wye, over which there is a bridge. It still retains some marks of baronial antiquity in the old castle, within the present town, the gateway of which is tolerably perfect. A high raised tumulus adjoining the church marks the site of the more ancient fortress. The more modern and spacious castle owes its foundation probably to one of those Norman lords, who, about the year 1090, conquered this part of Wales. Little notice is taken of this castle in the Welsh chronicles; but we are informed that it was destroyed in 1231, by Henry II., and that it was refortified by Henry III.

26 Llanddew, a small village, about two miles from Brecknock, on the left of the road leading from thence to Hay; its manor belongs to the bishops of Saint David's, who had formerly a castellated mansion there, of which some ruins still remain. The tithes of this parish are appropriated to the archdeaconry of Brecknock, and here was the residence of our author Giraldus, which he mentions in several of his writings, and alludes to with heartfelt satisfaction at the end of the third chapter of this Itinerary.

27 Aberhodni, the ancient name of the town and castle of Brecknock, derived from its situation at the confluence of the river Hodni with the Usk. The castle and two religious buildings, of which the remains are still extant, owed their foundation to Bernard de Newmarch, a Norman knight, who, in the year 1090, obtained by conquest the lordship of Brecknock. [The modern Welsh name is Aberhonddu.]

28 Iestyn ap Gwrgant was lord of the province of Morganwg, or Glamorgan, and a formidable rival to Rhys ap Tewdwr, prince of South Wales; but unable to cope with him in power, he prevailed on Robert Fitzhamon, a Norman knight, to come to his assistance.

29 This little river rises near the ruins of Blanllyfni castle, between Llangorse pool and the turnpike road leading from Brecknock to Abergavenny, and empties itself into the river Usk, near Glasbury.

30 The great desolation here alluded to, is attributed by Dr. Powel to Howel and Meredyth, sons of Edwyn ap Eineon; not to Howel, son of Meredith. In the year 1021, they conspired against Llewelyn ap Sitsyllt, and slew him: Meredith was slain in 1033, and Howel in 1043.

31 William de Breusa, or Braose, was by extraction a Norman, and had extensive possessions in England, as well as Normandy: he was succeeded by his son Philip, who, in the reign of William Rufus, favoured the cause of king Henry against Robert Curthose, duke of Normandy; and being afterwards rebellious to his sovereign, was disinherited of his lands. By his marriage with Berta, daughter of Milo, earl of Hereford, he gained a rich inheritance in Brecknock, Overwent, and Gower. He left issue two sons: William and Philip: William married Maude de Saint Wallery, and succeeded to the great estate of his father and mother, which he kept in peaceable possession during the reigns of king Henry II. and king Richard I. In order to avoid the persecutions of king John, he retired with his family to Ireland; and from thence returned into Wales; on hearing of the king's arrival in Ireland, his wife Maude fled with her sons into Scotland, where she was taken prisoner, and in the year 1210 committed, with William, her son and heir, to Corf castle, and there miserably starved to death, by order of king John; her husband, William de Braose, escaped into France, disguised, and dying there, was buried in the abbey church of Saint Victor, at Paris. The family of Saint Walery, or Valery, derived their name from a sea- port in France.

32 A small church dedicated to Saint David, in the suburbs of Brecknock, on the great road leading from thence to Trecastle. "The paroche of Llanvays, Llan-chirch-Vais extra, ac si diceres, extra muros. It standeth betwixt the river of Uske and Tyrtorelle brooke, that is, about the lower ende of the town of Brekenok." - Leland, Itin. tom. v. p. 69.

33 David Fitzgerald was promoted to the see of Saint David's in 1147, or according to others, in 1149. He died A.D. 1176.

34 Osred was king of the Northumbrians, and son of Alfred. He commenced to reign in A.D. 791, but was deprived of his crown the following year.

35 St. Kenelm was the only son and heir of Kenulfus, king of the Mercians, who left him under the care of his two sisters, Quendreda and Bragenilda. The former, blinded by ambition, resolved to destroy the innocent child, who stood between her and the throne; and for that purpose prevailed on Ascebert, who attended constantly on the king, to murder him privately, giving him hopes, in case he complied with her wishes, of making him her partner in the kingdom. Under the pretence of diverting his young master, this wicked servant led him into a retired vale at Clent, in Staffordshire, and having murdered him, dug a pit, and cast his body into it, which was discovered by a miracle, and carried in solemn procession to the abbey of Winchelcomb. In the parish of Clent is a small chapel dedicated to this saint.

36 St. Kynauc, who flourished about the year 492, was the reputed son of Brychan, lord of Brecknock, by Benadulved, daughter of Benadyl, a prince of Powis, whom he seduced during the time of his detention as an hostage at the court of her father. He is said to have been murdered upon the mountain called the Van, and buried in the church of Merthyr Cynawg, or Cynawg the Martyr, near Brecknock, which is dedicated to his memory.

37 In Welsh, Illtyd, which has been latinised into Iltutus, as in the instance of St. Iltutus, the celebrated disciple of Germanus, and the master of the learned Gildas, who founded a college for the instruction of youth at Llantwit, on the coast of Glamorganshire; but I do not conceive this to be the same person. The name of Ty- Illtyd, or St. Illtyd's house, is still known as Llanamllech, but it is applied to one of those monuments of Druidical antiquity called a cistvaen, erected upon an eminence named Maenest, at a short distance from the village. A rude, upright stone stood formerly on one side of it, and was called by the country people Maen Illtyd, or Illtyd's stone, but was removed about a century ago. A well, the stream of which divides this parish from the neighbouring one of Llansaintfraid, is called Ffynnon Illtyd, or Illtyd's well. This was evidently the site of the hermitage mentioned by Giraldus.

38 The name of Newmarche appears in the chartulary of Battel abbey, as a witness to one of the charters granted by William the Conqueror to the monks of Battel in Sussex, upon his foundation of their house. He obtained the territory of Brecknock by conquest, from Bleddyn ap Maenarch, the Welsh regulus thereof, about the year 1092, soon after his countryman, Robert Fitzhamon, had reduced the county of Glamorgan. He built the present town of Brecknock, where he also founded a priory of Benedictine monks. According to Leland, he was buried in the cloister of the cathedral church at Gloucester, though the mutilated remains of an effigy and monument are still ascribed to him in the priory church at Brecknock.

39 Brecheinoc, now Brecknockshire, had three cantreds or hundreds, and eight comots. - 1. Cantref Selef with the comots of Selef and Trahayern. - 2. Cantref Canol, or the middle hundred, with the comots Talgarth, Ystradwy, and Brwynlys, or Eglyws Yail. - 3. Cantref Mawr, or the great hundred, with the comots of Tir Raulff Llywel, and Cerrig Howel. - Powel's description of Wales, p. 20.

40 Milo was son to Walter, constable of England in the reign of Henry I., and Emme his wife, one of the daughters of Dru de Baladun, sister to Hameline de Baladun, a person of great note, who came into England with William the Conqueror, and, being the first lord of Overwent in the county of Monmouth, built the castle of Abergavenny. He was wounded by an arrow while hunting, on Christmas eve, in 1144, and was buried in the chapter-house of Lanthoni, near Gloucester.

41 Walter de Clifford. The first of this ancient family was called Ponce; he had issue three sons, Walter, Drogo or Dru, and Richard. The Conqueror's survey takes notice of the two former, but from Richard the genealogical line is preserved, who, being called Richard de Pwns, obtained, as a gift from king Henry I., the cantref Bychan, or little hundred, and the castle of Llandovery, in Wales; he left three sons, Simon, Walter, and Richard. The Walter de Clifford here mentioned was father to the celebrated Fair Rosamond, the favourite of king Henry II.; and was succeeded by his eldest son, Walter, who married Margaret, daughter to Llewelyn, prince of Wales, and widow of John de Braose.

42 Brendlais, or Brynllys, is a small village on the road between Brecknock and Hay, where a stately round tower marks the site of the ancient castle of the Cliffords, in which the tyrant Mahel lost his life.

43 St. Almedha, though not included in the ordinary lists, is said to have been a daughter of Brychan, and sister to St. Canoc, and to have borne the name of Elevetha, Aled, or Elyned, latinised into Almedha. The Welsh genealogists say, that she suffered martyrdom on a hill near Brecknock, where a chapel was erected to her memory; and William of Worcester says she was buried at Usk. Mr. Hugh Thomas (who wrote an essay towards the history of Brecknockshire in the year 1698) speaks of the chapel as standing, though unroofed and useless, in his time; the people thereabouts call it St. Tayled. It was situated on an eminence, about a mile to the eastward of Brecknock, and about half a mile from a farm-house, formerly the mansion and residence of the Aubreys, lords of the manor of Slwch, which lordship was bestowed upon Sir Reginald Awbrey by Bernard Newmarche, in the reign of William Rufus. Some small vestiges of this building may still be traced, and an aged yew tree, with a well at its foot, marks the site near which the chapel formerly stood.

44 This same habit is still (in Sir Richard Colt Hoare's time) used by the Welsh ploughboys; they have a sort of chaunt, consisting of half or even quarter notes, which is sung to the oxen at plough: the countrymen vulgarly supposing that the beasts are consoled to work more regularly and patiently by such a lullaby.

45 The umber, or grayling, is still a plentiful and favourite fish in the rivers on the Welsh border.

46 About the year 1113, "there was a talke through South Wales, of Gruffyth, the sonne of Rees ap Theodor, who, for feare of the king, had beene of a child brought up in Ireland, and had come over two yeares passed, which time he had spent privilie with his freends, kinsfolks, and affines; as with Gerald, steward of Penbrooke, his brother-in-law, and others. But at the last he was accused to the king, that he intended the kingdome of South Wales as his father had enjoied it, which was now in the king's hands; and that all the countrie hoped of libertie through him; therefore the king sent to take him. But Gryffyth ap Rees hering this, sent to Gruffyth ap Conan, prince of North Wales, desiring him of his aid, and that he might remaine safelie within his countrie; which he granted, and received him joiouslie for his father's sake." He afterwards proved so troublesome and successful an antagonist, that the king endeavoured by every possible means to get him into his power. To Gruffyth ap Conan he offered "mountaines of gold to send the said Gruffyth or his head to him." And at a subsequent period, he sent for Owen ap-Cadogan said to him, "Owen, I have found thee true and faithful unto me, therefore I desire thee to take or kill that murtherer, that doth so trouble my loving subjects." But Gruffyth escaped all the snares which the king had laid for him, and in the year 1137 died a natural and honourable death; he is styled in the Welsh chronicle, "the light, honor, and staie of South Wales;" and distinguished as the bravest, the wisest, the most merciful, liberal, and just, of all the princes of Wales. By his wife Gwenllian, the daughter of Gruffyth ap Conan, he left a son, commonly called the lord Rhys, who met the archbishop at Radnor, as is related in the first chapter of this Itinerary.

47 This cantref, which now bears the name of Caeo, is placed, according to the ancient divisions of Wales, in the cantref Bychan, or little hundred, and not in the Cantref Mawr, or great hundred. A village between Lampeter in Cardiganshire and Llandovery in Caermarthenshire, still bears the name of Cynwil Caeo, and, from its picturesque situation and the remains of its mines, which were probably worked by the Romans, deserves the notice of the curious traveller.

48 The lake of Brecheinoc bears the several names of Llyn Savaddan, Brecinau-mere, Llangorse, and Talyllyn Pool, the two latter of which are derived from the names of parishes on its banks. It is a large, though by no means a beautiful, piece of water, its banks being low and flat, and covered with rushes and other aquatic plants to a considerable distance from the shore. Pike, perch, and eels are the common fish of this water; tench and trout are rarely, I believe, (if ever), taken in it. The notion of its having swallowed up an ancient city is not yet quite exploded by the natives; and some will even attribute the name of Loventium to it; which is with much greater certainty fixed at Llanio-isau, between Lampeter and Tregaron, in Cardiganshire, on the northern banks of the river Teivi, where there are very considerable and undoubted remains of a large Roman city. The legend of the town at the bottom of the lake is at the same time very old.

49 That chain of mountains which divides Brecknockshire from Caermarthenshire, over which the turnpike road formerly passed from Trecastle to Llandovery, and from which the river Usk derives its source.

50 This mountain is now called, by way of eminence, the Van, or the height, but more commonly, by country people, Bannau Brycheinog, or the Brecknock heights, alluding to its two peaks. Our author, Giraldus, seems to have taken his account of the spring, on the summit of this mountain, from report, rather than from ocular testimony. I (Sir R. Colt Hoare) examined the summits of each peak very attentively, and could discern no spring whatever. The soil is peaty and very boggy. On the declivity of the southern side of the mountain, and at no considerable distance from the summit, is a spring of very fine water, which my guide assured me never failed. On the north-west side of the mountain is a round pool, in which possibly trout may have been sometimes found, but, from the muddy nature of its waters, I do not think it very probable; from this pool issues a small brook, which falls precipitously down the sides of the mountain, and pursuing its course through a narrow and well- wooded valley, forms a pretty cascade near a rustic bridge which traverses it. I am rather inclined think, that Giraldus confounded in his account the spring and the pool together.

51 The first of these are now styled the Black Mountains, of which the Gadair Fawr is the principal, and is only secondary to the Van in height. The Black Mountains are an extensive range of hills rising to the east of Talgarth, in the several parishes of Talgarth, Llaneliew, and Llanigorn, in the county of Brecknock, and connected with the heights of Ewyas. The most elevated point is called Y Gadair, and, excepting the Brecknock Van (the Cadair Arthur of Giraldus), is esteemed the highest mountain in South Wales. The mountains of Ewyas are those now called the Hatterel Hills, rising above the monastery of Llanthoni, and joining the Black Mountains of Talgarth at Capel y Ffin, or the chapel upon the boundary, near which the counties of Hereford, Brecknock, and Monmouth form a point of union. But English writers have generally confounded all distinction, calling them indiscriminately the Black Mountains, or the Hatterel Hills.

Gerald of Wales, The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales (Oxford, Mississippi, 1997)

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