Annales Cambriae (Latin for The Annals of Wales) is the name given to
a complex of Cambro-Latin chronicles compiled or derived from diverse
St David's in Dyfed, Wales. The earliest is a 12th-century
presumed copy of a mid-10th century original; later editions were
compiled in the 13th century. Despite the name, the Annales Cambriae
record not only events in Wales, but also events in Ireland, Cornwall,
Scotland and sometimes further afield, though the focus of
the events recorded especially in the later two-thirds of the text is
2 Source for the Arthurian legend
3 See also
5 External links
The principal versions of
Annales Cambriae appear in four manuscripts:
A: London, British Library, MS. Harleian 3859, folios 190r-193r.
B: London (Kew), National Archives, MS. E.164/1 (K.R. Misc. Books,
Series I) pp. 2–26
C: London, British Library, MS.
Cotton Domitian A.i, folios 138r-155r
D: Exeter, Cathedral Library, MS. 3514, pp. 523–28, the Cronica
ante aduentum Domini.
E: ibid., pp. 507–19, the Cronica de Wallia.
A is written in a hand of about 1100x1130 AD, and inserted without
title into a manuscript (MS) of the
Historia Brittonum where it is
immediately followed by a pedigree for Owain ap Hywel (died 988).
Although no explicit chronology is given in the MS, its annals seem to
run from about AD 445 to 977 with the last entry at 954, making it
likely that the text belongs to the second half of the 10th century.
B was written, probably at the
Cistercian abbey of Neath, at the end
of the 13th century. It is entitled Annales ab orbe condito adusque A.
D. mcclxxxvi .
C is part of a book written at St David's, and is entitled Annales ab
orbe condito adusque A. D. mcclxxviii [or 1278?]; this is also
of the late 13th century.
Two of the texts, B and C, begin with a World Chronicle derived from
Isidore of Seville's Origines (Book V, ch. 39), through the medium of
Bede's Chronica minora. B commences its annals with Julius Caesar's
invasion of Britain "sixty years before the incarnation of the Lord."
After A.D. 457, B agrees closely with A until A ends. C commences its
annals after the empire of
Heraclius (AD 610-41) at a year
corresponding to AD 677. C mostly agrees with A until A ends, although
it is clear that A was not the common source for B and C (Dumville
2002, p. xi). B and C diverge after 1203, C having fewer and briefer
D and E are found in a manuscript written at the
Cistercian abbey of
Whitland in south-west
Wales in the later 13th century; the Cronica
ante aduentum Domini (which takes its title from its opening words)
extends from 1132 BC to 1285 AD, while the Cronica de Wallia extends
from 1190 to 1266.
A alone has benefited from a complete diplomatic edition (Phillimore
Source for the Arthurian legend
There are two entries in the Annales on King Arthur, one on Medraut
(Mordred), and one on Merlin. These entries have been presented in the
past as proof of the existence of Arthur and Merlin, although that
view is no longer widely held because the Arthurian entries could have
been added arbitrarily as late as 970, long after the development of
the early Arthurian myth.
The entries on Arthur and
Mordred in the A Text:
Year 72 (c. AD 516) The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the
cross of our Lord Jesus Christ on his shoulders for three days and
three nights and the Britons were victors.
Year 93 (c. 537) The Strife of Camlann in which Arthur and Medraut
(Mordred) fell and there was death in Britain and in Ireland.
Concerning Arthur's cross at the Battle of Badon, it is mirrored by a
Nennius where Arthur was said to have borne the image of
Virgin Mary "on his shoulders" during a battle at a castle called
Guinnion. The words for "shoulder" and "shield" were, however,
easily confused in
Old Welsh – *scuit "shield" versus *scuid
"shoulder"  – and
Geoffrey of Monmouth played upon this dual
tradition, describing Arthur bearing "on his shoulders a shield"
emblazoned with the Virgin.
Old Welsh Merdin) is not mentioned in the A Text, though there
is mention of the battle of Arfderydd, associated with him in medieval
Year 129 (c. 573) The Battle of Armterid
Texts B and C omit the second half of the year 93 entry. B calls
Arfderydd "Erderit"; C, "Arderit". In the B Text, the year 129 entry
continues: "between the sons of Elifer and Guendoleu son of Keidau in
which battle Guendoleu fell and
Merlin went mad". Both the B and C
texts display the influence of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum
Britanniae, and this is reflected in the Arfderydd entry by the
choice of the Latinized form Merlinus, first found in Geoffrey's
Historia, as opposed to the expected
Old Welsh form Merdin.
History of Wales
English historians in the Middle Ages
^ Phillimore, Egerton (ed.), 1888 "The
Annales Cambriae and Old Welsh
Genealogies from Harleian MS. 3859", Y Cymmrodor; 9 (1888) pp.
141-183. Annales Cambriae, the A-text.
^ John Morris (1973). The Age of Arthur, a history of the British
Isles from 350 to 650, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson
^ a b Jones, W. Lewis. The Cambridge History of English and American
Literature in 18 Volumes, Vol. I, XII, §2. Putnam, 1921. Accessed 30
^ Geoffrey of Monmouth. History of the Kings of Britain, IX, §IV.
^ Gough-Cooper, 2012
Brett, Caroline, 1988 'The Prefaces of Two Late Thirteenth-century
Welsh Latin Chronicles', Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 35,
Dumville, David N., 1972-74 'Some aspects of the chronology of the
Historia Brittonum', Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 25,
Dumville, David N., 1977 'Sub-Roman Britain: history and legend',
History 62, pp. 173–192.
Dumville, David N., 1977/8 'The Welsh Latin annals', Studia Celtica
12/13, pp. 461–467 (review of Hughes 1974)
Dumville, David N., 1984 'When was the 'Clonmacnoise Chronicle'
created? The evidence of the Welsh annals', in Grabowski K. &
Dumville D.N., 1984 Chronicles and Annals of Mediaeval
Wales: The Clonmacnoise-group of texts, Boydell, pp. 209–226.
Dumville, David N. (ed, and trans.), 2002 'Annales Cambriae, A.D.
682-954: Texts A-C in Parallel', Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and
Celtic, University of Cambridge.
Dumville, David N. 2004 '
Annales Cambriae and Easter', in The
Medieval Chronicle III, Rodopi, Amsterdam & New York.
Gough-Cooper, Henry, 2010 'Annales Cambriae, from Saint Patrick to AD
682: Texts A, B & C in Parallel.' The Heroic Age: A Journal of
Early Medieval Northwest Europe, Issue 15 (October 2012) The Heroic
Grigg, Erik, 2009 ' 'Mole Rain' and other natural phenomena in the
Welsh annals: can mirabilia unravel the textual history of the Annales
Cambriae?' Welsh History Review 244, p. 1-40.
Hayward, P.A., 2010 The Winchcombe and Coventry chronicles: hitherto
unnoticed witnesses to the work of John of Worcester, (2 vols.) Tempe,
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
Hughes, Kathleen, 1974 'The Welsh Latin chronicles: Annales Cambriae
and related texts', in (1980) Celtic Britain in the Early Middle Ages,
Boydell, pp. 67–85.
Hughes, Kathleen, 1980 'The A-text of Annales Cambriae', in Celtic
Britain in the Early Middle Ages, Boydell, pp. 86–100
Jones, T., 1948, Cronica de Wallia and other Documents from Exeter
Cathedral Library MS. 3514, Oxford University Press.
Ker, N.R. 1955, 'Sir John Prise'. The Library, 5th series, x (1955),
Miller, Molly, 1975 'The Commanders at Arthuret', Transactions of the
Cumberland and Westmorland Archaeological and Antiquarian Society, New
Series, 75, pp. 96–118.
Miller, Molly, 1977/8 'Date-Guessing and Dyfed', Studia Celtica 12/13,
Miller, Molly, 1979 'The disputed historical horizon of the Pictish
king-lists', Scottish Historical Review, 58, pp. 1–34.
+Miller, Molly, 2004 'Final stages in the construction of the Harleian
Annales Cambriae: the evidence of the framework' in The Journal of
Celtic Studies JCS 4, Brepols.
Phillimore, Egerton (ed.), 1888 'The
Annales Cambriae and Old Welsh
Genealogies from Harleian MS. 3859', Y Cymmrodor 9 (1888)
pp. 141–183 .
Phillimore, Egerton (ed.), 1890/1 'The publication of the Welsh
historical records', Y Cymmrodor 11 (1890/1) pp. 133–75.
Remfry, P.M., 2007, Annales Cambriae. A Translation of Harleian 3859;
PRO E.164/1; Cottonian Domitian, A 1;
Exeter Cathedral Library MS.
3514 and MS Exchequer DB Neath, PRO E, Castle Studies Research and
Publishing (ISBN 1-899376-81-X)
Williams (ab Ithel), John, ed. (1860),
Annales Cambriae (444 –
1288), London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts
Stephenson, David, 2008 'Welsh Chronicles' Accounts of the Mid-Twelfth
Century', Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies, No. 56, Aberystwyth, CMCS,
Stephenson, David, 2010 'Gerald of
Annales Cambriae ',
Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies, No. 60, Aberystwyth, CMCS, pp
Wiseman, Howard, 2000 'The derivation of the date of Badon in the
Annales Cambriae from
Bede and Gildas' Parergon 17.2, pp. 1–10.
Wiseman, Howard, 2002 'The derivation of the date of the Arthurian
entries in the
Annales Cambriae from
Bede and Gildas' Vortigern
Complete editions of A, B, C, D and E are available here
An English translation of the original annals (combining text from
MSS. A, B & C for the period from the mid-5th century to the
mid-10th) can be found here.
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