Bamberg cryptogram

  • Latin
  • prose
  • Hiberno-Latin texts
Letter from Suadbar, one of four Irish scholars on the continent (the others being Caínchobrach, Fergus and Dominnach), to their teacher Colgu. It relates that when the group had been received at the court of Merfyn Frych (king of Gwynedd, r. 825-844), a cryptic message was left for them by an Irish scholar called Dubthach. To put the wisdom of the Irishmen to the test, it contained a cryptogram, the key to which involved substituting Greek numerals for Roman letters. Once deciphered, the message would read Mermin rex Conchn [sic] salutem (‘Merfyn the king greets Cyngen’, i.e. Cyngen ap Cadell, king of Powys). In a final note, an error in the form of Cyngen’s name (Conch(e)n, betraying Irish influence, for Concen) is pointed out.
Ascribed to: Suadbar [Irish scholar]Suadbar ... Irish scholar
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  • Latin
  • Secondary language(s): Greek
prose (primary)


Hiberno-Latin textsHiberno-Latin texts


Merfyn Frych
Merfyn Frych
(fl. mid–9th century)
king of Gwynedd

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Cyngen ap Cadell
Cyngen ap Cadell
(d. 854/55)
king of Powys; son of Cadell

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Dominnach [Irish scholar]Dominnach ... Irish scholar
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Caínchobrach [Irish scholar, fl. 9th century]Caínchobrach ... Irish scholar, fl. 9th century
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Fergus [Irish scholar, fl. 9th century]
Fergus ... Irish scholar, fl. 9th century
(fl. 9th century)
No short description available

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Dubthach [cryptographer]Dubthach ... cryptographer
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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.] Derolez, R., “Dubthach’s cryptogram: some notes in connexion with Brussels MS 9565-9566”, L'antiquité classique 21 (1952): 359–375.
Persée: <link>
Text from the Bamberg MS
[ed.] Stokes, Whitley, “On a mediaeval cryptogram”, The Academy 42 (July–December 1892, 1892): 71–72.
[ed.] Loth, J., “Un nouveau cryptogramme”, Annales de Bretagne 8 (1892–1893): 289–293.

Secondary sources (select)

Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí, Early medieval Ireland, 400–1200, Longman History of Ireland, London: Longman, 1995.
223–224, 226
Chadwick, Nora K., “Early culture and learning in North Wales”, in: Nora K. Chadwick, Kathleen Hughes, Christopher N. L. Brooke, and Kenneth H. Jackson (eds), Studies in the early British church, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958. 29–120.
Derolez, R., Runica manuscripta: the English tradition, Rijksuniversiteit te Gent. Werken uitgegeven door de Faculteit van de Wijsbegeerte en Letteren, 118, Brugge: De Tempel, 1954.
Kenney, James F., “Chapter VI: The expansion of Irish Christianity”, in: James F. Kenney, The sources for the early history of Ireland: an introduction and guide. Volume 1: ecclesiastical, Revised ed., 11, New York: Octagon, 1966. 486–621.
556 [id. 363.]
Heiberg, J. L., “Et lille Bidrag til Belysning af Middelalderens Kendskab til Græsk”, Oversigt over det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs 1889 (1888–1889): 198–204.
Internet Archive: <link>
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
June 2014, last updated: January 2024