Llanawstl: Trying to read the entry for Hawystl in the Welsh Peniarth manuscript 127

I’m still trying to establish whether there was a locality in Wales, Llanawstl, which might relate to the Cornish St Austell. My first post on this is here.

The Welsh National Library has online here a very useful resource: Peter Bartrum, A Welsh Classical Dictionary: People in History and Legend up to about A.D. 1000 (1993).  This contains an entry for the female saint Hawystl, daughter of the kinglet Brychan, mentioned in some of the sources.  Bartrum writes:

HAWYSTL (ferch Brychan).
She first appears as a saint ‘in Caer Hawystl’ and a daughter of Brychan in Peniarth MS.127 p.52, and this is copied in a number of later manuscripts. The name seems to have taken the place of Tudwystl which is omitted from the list in Peniarth MS.127. See Plant Brychan §3x in EWGT p.83. It has been suggested that she is the saint of Llanawstl (destroyed) in Machen, Gwent (W. J. Rees, Lives of the Cambro-British Saints, p.607; LBS III.252), But see s.n. Austell.

“EWGT” = Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts, ed. P. C. Bartrum, Cardiff, 1966.
“LBS” = The Lives of the British Saints, by S.Baring Gould and John Fisher, 4 vols., London, 1907-13.

Rees’ statement we have already examined.  But what about this Peniarth manuscript?  Well, it’s a manuscript written in Welsh.  I don’t know anything about Welsh manuscripts.

So I was really rather impressed to discover that a lot of the Peniarth manuscripts are online at the National Library of Wales, together with a link to the necessary catalogue, Evans, J. G., Report on manuscripts in the Welsh language (1898–1910), volume 1.2, p.775. This allows rank laymen like myself to work with the primary sources, at least to some degree.

As far as I can tell, the material on page 52, as one might expect, is a list of the daughters of Brychan.  The manuscript itself was written around 1510, with some additions in 1523.

The actual manuscript is online here.  What seems to be the sixth item is the one we want:

I wonder what we can make of this, knowing no Welsh?

First, if this is about “Hawystl” then the “s” must be a long-s.

Next, the name of Brychan is obvious in each of the three lines, so the word that precedes it must be “ferch” or “verch” (as Bartrum tells us), meaning “daughter [of]”.  Apparently it can be abbreviated “vch”, and it looks as if that has happened here.  So that means the last word in our sentence is “Hawstl”.

At this point I recall that Rees gave a list of the daughters of Brychan, in Latin and English, in a somewhat different version where Hawystl was replaced by Tudhistel.  So we can use the names as a key to the paleography.  P.604 has the English in his version here.

The next name in his list, and ours is Tybie.  That gives us the “e”, but also shows that the first letter is in the margin!  “T … ybie”.  So our line starts with “H” and then “Awystl”.

Some of the words are clearly a formula – “y sy?? yn sante?”  I’m going to guess that sy?? is sydd – thank you Google predictive text!  So we get:

Hawystl vch. Brychan y sydd yn santer yn ghaer hawystl.

What does this mean?

Well, with the aid of Google I believe that “y” means “the”, “sydd” means “which”, “yn” means “in”.  “Ghaer Hawystl” is plainly Bartrum’s “Caer Hawystl”.  I would guess that “santer” – I’m not sure of the last letter – is oratory, or shrine, or whatever.  So… without knowing any Welsh, it would seem to say that Hawystl has her saint-thingie in a place called Caer Hawystl?  No doubt a Welsh-speaking reader can correct me!

This tells us no more than we started with, but it’s still fun to try!

Does anybody else want to have a go?

Update: Looks like it might be “santes”, i.e. saint.

The posts in this series:


4 thoughts on “Llanawstl: Trying to read the entry for Hawystl in the Welsh Peniarth manuscript 127

  1. Peniarth MS 127 p.52.
    Old orthography. Hawystl vch Brychan y sydd santes ynghaerhawystl.
    Modern orthography. Hawystl ferch Brychan y sydd santes yn’gaer hawystl.
    Trans. Hawystl daughter of Brychan who is the saint in Caer Hawystl (the fortress of Awystl).

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