Armes Prydein (vawr) ‘The (great) prophecy of Britain’
verse beg. Dygogan awen dygobryssyn

  • Old Welsh
  • verse
  • Medieval Welsh poetry

An early Welsh prophetic poem which envisages a future in which the Welsh will join forces with other peoples of Britain and Ireland to resist and drive out the English.

Armes Prydein (vawr)
‘The (great) prophecy of Britain’

In the manuscript, the poem is headed Arymes Prydein vawr, traditionally translated as ‘The great prophecy of Britain’, although some scholars have suggested that mawr is more likely to belong with Prydein. The title is echoed in a similar phrase, Arymes yr ynys hon (‘The prophecy of this island’), towards the end of the poem (l. 194).

First words (verse)
  • Dygogan awen dygobryssyn
pp. 13.1–18.25
rubric: ‘Arymes Prydein vawr’
beg. ‘DYgogan awen dygobryssyn’
  • Old Welsh
verse (primary)
Number of lines: 199
Textual relationships
Related: Dygogan awenDygogan awenA short Welsh prophetic poem.


Medieval Welsh poetryMedieval Welsh poetry


id. 47094


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Williams, Ifor [ed.], Armes Prydein: The Prophecy of Britain. From the Book of Taliesin, tr. Rachel Bromwich, Mediaeval and Modern Welsh Series, 6, Dublin: DIAS, 1972.
[ed.] Williams, Ifor, Armes Prydein: o Llyfr Taliesin, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1955.
[ed.] Skene, William F., The four ancient books of Wales, containing the Cymric poems attributed to the bards of the sixth century, 2 vols, Edinburgh, 1868.
123–129 (text), 398–399 (notes) [‘Poem VI’]
[tr.] Skene, William F., The four ancient books of Wales, containing the Cymric poems attributed to the bards of the sixth century, vol. 1, Edinburgh, 1868.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>, <link>, <link>

Secondary sources (select)

Olson, Lynette, “Armes Prydein as a legacy of Gildas”, in: Jonathan M. Wooding, and Lynette Olson (eds), Prophecy, fate and memory in the early medieval Celtic world, Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2020. 170–187.
Thomas, Rebecca, and David Callander, “Reading Asser in early medieval Wales: the evidence of Armes Prydein Vawr”, Anglo-Saxon England 46 (2017): 115–145.  

This article examines the connections between Asser's Life of King Alfred and the tenthcentury Welsh poem Armes Prydein Vawr. It studies the use of the place-name Santwic ‘Sandwich’ in Armes Prydein, and presents evidence that this form derives from a written source. An investigation of the sources containing this place-name before the late tenth century raises the distinct possibility that Asser's Life was the source drawn upon by the Welsh poet. Examination of the context in which Sandwich occurs in Asser and Armes Prydein highlights striking similarities in usage, strengthening the argument for a connection between the two texts. Further correspondences between these works are noted before discussing the potential implications of this new finding for our understanding of Asser (and his reception) and Armes Prydein more generally.

German, Gary D., “L’Armes Prydein Vawr et la Bataille de Brunanburh: les relations géopolitiques entre Bretons, Anglo-Saxons et Scandinaves dans la Bretagne insulaire du Xe siècle”, in: Magali Coumert, and Yvon Tranvouez (eds), Landévennec, les Vikings et la Bretagne: en hommage à Jean-Christophe Cassard, Brest: CRBC, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, 2015. 171–209.
Tolstoy, Nikolai, “When and where was Armes Prydein composed?”, Studia Celtica 42 (2008): 145–149.
Isaac, G. R., “Armes Prydain Fawr and St David”, in: J. Wyn Evans, and Jonathan M. Wooding (eds), St David of Wales: cult, church and nation, 24, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2007. 161–181.
Breeze, Andrew, “Sorrowful tribute in Armes Prydein and The Battle of Maldon”, Notes and Queries NS 47 (2000): 11–13.
Breeze, Andrew, “Armes Prydein, Hywel Dda, and the reign of Edmund of Wessex”, Études Celtiques 33 (1997): 209–222.  
[FR] Armes Prydein, Hywel Dda, et le règne d’Edmond de Wessex.
Deux textes témoignent de relations entre Edmond de Wessex (939-46) et Hywel le Bon (f 950), de Dyfed : ce sont le poème politique Armes Prydein «La prophétie de Grande-Bretagne» et une note annalistique pour 945 recueillie par le chroniqueur du XIIIe siècle. Roger de Wendover. On montre que des allusions jusque ici obscures, dans le poème, se rapportent à la capitulation d’Edmond devant les Vikings, à Leicester, au début de 940. Cela prouverait que Armes Prydein a été écrit à la fin de 940, et que ce texte appelait à attaquer les Anglais en 941. La note annalistique pour 945 évoque l’aide apportée par un roi inconnu, «Leolin», à l’attaque menée par Edmond contre le Strathclyde. «Leolin» ne peut s’expliquer que par la déformation du nom de Hywel, qui a dû donner à Edmond de solides renforts militaires dans son expédition au Nord de la Grande-Bretagne. L’examen de ces problèmes difficiles introduit un éclairage nouveau sur les relations anglo-galloises au début du Xe siècle.

[EN] Two texts provide evidence for relations between Edmund of Wessex (939)46) and Hywel the Good (d. 950) of Dyfed. They are the political poem Armes Prydein ‘The Prophecy of Britain’and an annal for 945 preserved by the thirteenth-century chronicler Roger of Wendover. Hitherto obscure references in the poem can be shown to refer to Edmund’s capitulation to the Vikings at Leicester in early 940. It can thus be proved that Armes Prydein was written in late 940, and that it called for an attach on the English in 941. The annal for 945 refers to the help given by an obscure king ‘Leolin’ in Edmund’s attack on Strathclyde. ‘Leolin’can be explained only as a corruption of the name of Hywel, who must have given Edmund strong military support in this attack on North Britain. The solution of these cruxes thus breaks new ground on Anglo-Welsh relations in the early tenth century.
Persée – Études Celtiques, vol. 33, 1997: <link>
Fulton, Helen, “Tenth-century Wales and Armes Prydein”, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, New Series 7 (2001): 5–18.
Dumville, David N., “Brittany and ‘Armes Prydein Vawr’”, Études Celtiques 20 (1983): 145–159.  
Réévaluation des conditions historiques où fut écrit le poème gallois Armes Prydein Vawr (une prophétie politique appelant les Bretons à s’unir contre les Anglo-Saxons) . Ce poème daterait du milieu du Xe siècle. L’ intervention des bretons armoricains dans la «coalition celtique » évoquée par l’auteur du poème est surprenante, car les Bretons étaient alliés aux rois Anglo-saxons dans la première moitié du Xe s . ; mais cela se comprend si l’on admet que le poème évoque des mythes plutôt que des réalités. Le mythe de l’union des bretons armoricains et insulaires est un thème symbolisé par les rois Conan et Cadwaladr, deux chefs, armoricain et gallois, qui doivent réunifier les bretons. Leurs noms ont dû être associés par la tradition littéraire bien avant Armes Prydein Vawr.
Persée – Études Celtiques, vol. 20, 1983: <link>
Griffen, Toby D., “Nonsyllabics in Armes Prydein”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 3 (May, 1994): 75–93.
Sims-Williams, Patrick, “The early Welsh Arthurian poems”, in: Rachel Bromwich, A. O. H. Jarman, and Brynley F. Roberts (eds), The Arthur of the Welsh. The Arthurian legend in medieval Welsh literature, 1, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1991. 33–71.
35, 50
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
October 2010, last updated: February 2024