Delw y byd‘Image of the world’

  • Middle Welsh
  • prose

Delw y byd is a Middle Welsh translation of Book 1 of the medieval Latin encyclopedia Imago mundi, written by Honorius Augustodunensis.

multiple versions

The text of the first book of Imago mundi, and therefore Delw y byd, can be divided into four sections: Earth, Water, Air and Fire. The first section (Earth) provides a description of the world in general, Paradise, Asia, Europe and Africa. The section on Water deals with the oceans, fresh and salt water, fish inhabiting the sea, and tempests. This is followed by the Air-section which discusses the twelve winds and aerial phenomena. The final section on Fire deals with astronomy (according to the Ptolemaic (geocentric) system) and ends in a description of the Heaven of heavens.


Four distinct versions exist of Honorius Augustodunensis’ Imago mundi: 1110, 1123, 1133, and 1139. There are two different versions of Delw y byd: one translation is based on the 1110 version, and another on the 1123 version. There is a third possible translation, which may be a variant of the 1110 version. The chapter numbering system has been taken from Natalia Petrovskaia’s edition of Delw y byd.

The different medieval manuscript versions:

  • Version A = translation of the 1110 version of Imago mundi
  • Version B = translation of the 1123 version of Imago mundi
  • Version A516 = possibly a third translation, possibly a variant on version A

Medieval manuscript witnesses:

Early modern manuscript witnesses:
  • Middle Welsh

13th century (earliest medieval manuscript witness) down to the mid-16th century (latest early modern manuscript witness).

prose (primary)
Textual relationships
Version A of Delw y byd derives from the Latin text of Imago mundi of which a fragment is preserved in Rawlinson B 484. No Latin source manuscript of Imago mundi has yet been identified for version B.
(Possible) sources: Imago mundiImago mundi
Related: Imago mundiImago mundi



Imago mundiImago mundi

Honorius AugustodunensisHonorius Augustodunensis


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.] Petrovskaia, Natalia I., Delw y byd: a medieval Welsh encyclopedia, MHRA Library of Medieval Welsh Literature, London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2020.  

This edition presents extracts from the medieval Welsh encyclopedia Delw y Byd. A medieval Welsh translation of the first book of the Latin encyclopedia known as Imago Mundi, written by Honorius Augustodunensis in the first quarter of the twelfth century, this text is a fine example of the ties between the intellectual world of Europe and Wales in the late-twelfth/early-thirteenth centuries, when the text was translated, ties that brought across the scientific knowledge based on Roman and late antique sources. Structured according to the four elements: earth, water, air and fire, the text presents geographical, anthropological, and astronomical information, often with historical and mythological contexts. The present edition follows that organizational principle, providing a glimpse into the medieval understanding of the overarching structure of the universe.

The text is presented in its historical and literary context, with an updated account of its transmission. A commentary on the scientific context of the most interesting passages is provided, as well as a linguistic one. The edition also provides an overview of the variants by printing parallel texts based on all surviving medieval manuscript witnesses for a number of selected chapters. This includes sections of two previously unpublished medieval witnesses of the text. The accompanying glossary includes vocabulary from all extracts included in the edition.

This edition reproduces a selection of chapters (67 out of a total of 136) and two introductory letters. The chapters have been chosen based on structure, use, and representativeness. The edition is mostly based on version A. Variant chapters from version B are provided where the variation is of particular interest.

The introduction provides the following:

  • Background information on and the different versions of Imago mundi
  • Information on previous editions of Imago mundi and Delw y byd
  • A description of the content of the text
  • Information on the different manuscripts which contain Delw y byd and their manuscript contexts
  • Information on the different versions of Delw y byd
  • Information on the relationships between the Imago mundi and Delw y byd manuscripts
  • Notes on the editorial method and commentary.
[dipl. ed.] Thomas, Peter Wynn [ed.], D. Mark Smith, and Diana Luft [transcribers and encoders], Welsh prose (Rhyddiaith Gymraeg) 1300–1425, Online: Cardiff University, 2007–present. URL: <http://www.rhyddiaithganoloesol.caerdydd.ac.uk>.
Transcriptions of all the medieval manuscript witnesses of Delw y byd (here called "Delw'r Byd") can be found here, except for that of Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, Peniarth 17. direct link
[ed.] Lewis, Henry, and Pol Diverres, Delw y byd: Imago mundi, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1928.  
Latin text of the Imago mundi in parallel with versions of the Middle Welsh translation Delw y byd, principally from Peniarth MS 17, the Red Book of Hergest and the White Book of Rhydderch.
This edition is structured as follows:
  • Text A: provides the whole text from Peniarth 17 and uses the fuller copy in the Red Book of Hergest (cols. 977-994) to fill in the missing chapters. The Latin text is printed opposite to the Welsh text.
  • Text B: combines the White Book of Rhydderch and the shorter copy of the Red Book of Hergest (cols. 502-516).
  • Text C: provides the remainder of the fuller copy of the Red Book of Hergest (cols. 994-998) which was not used for text A.
  • Appendix: provides other minor pieces from the Red book of Hergest and Cardiff 6 (now known as Cardiff MS 2.83) manuscripts.

The introduction provides information on:

  • The content of Imago mundi
  • The different manuscripts which contain Delw y byd and their relation to one another and the Latin text
  • Editorial methods and the ordering of the different texts in the edition
  • The author of the Imago mundi, Honorius Augustodunensis

Secondary sources (select)

Petrovskaia, Natalia I., “Mythologizing the conceptual landscape: religion and history in Imago mundi, Image du monde, and Delw y byd”, in: Matthias Egeler (ed.), Landscape and myth in northwestern Europe, 2, Turnhout: Brepols, 2019. 195–211.
Petrovskaia compares the conceptual landscape that is painted in the French (Image du monde) and Welsh (Delw y byd) translation of the first book of the Latin encyclopedia Imago mundi. The Welsh translation is overall more faithful and its objective seems to have been to present as closely as possible the substance of Imago mundi in the Welsh vernacular learned corpus. The alteration to the conceptual landscape of Delw y byd in relation to Gascony does not interfere excessively with the original Latin text and could be explained as the translators providing a more familiar term for the area to a Welsh audience.
Petrovskaia, Natalia, “The concept of Europe in the medieval Welsh geographical treatise Delw y byd”, Celtic Forum: The Annual Reports of the Japan Society for Celtic Studies 21 (2018): 23–34.  

The present article discusses the concept of Europe in Delw y Byd, the medieval Welsh translation of the geographical section of the twelfth-century encyclopedia Imago mundi, written in Latin by Honorius Augustodunensis. The research presented here forms part of the project ‘Defining Europe in Medieval European Geographical Discourse: the Image of the World and its Legacy, 1110-1500’ funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. An early version of this article was presented at the Japan Society for Celtic Studies Annual Congress in October 2017 as 「ウェールズの地理学 書 Delw y Byd における「ヨーロッパ」のコンセプトについて」.

Petrovskaia, Natalia, “Delw y byd: la traduction médiévale en gallois d’une encyclopédie latine et la création d’un traité géographique”, Études Celtiques 39 (2013): 257–277.  
[FR] Cet article propose une investigation sur les origines du traité géographique gallois Delw y Byd ainsi que sa relation au texte latin original, Imago Mundi. Cette étude décrit la tradition manuscrite du texte gallois et identifie la branche de la tradition latine d’où provient Delw y Byd. Elle établit l’existence de deux traductions galloises indépendantes du premier livre (le livre géographique) d’Imago Mundi et démontre que l’une des traductions est dérivée de la version du texte latin représentée dans le fragment d’Imago Mundi qui est préservé dans le manuscrit de la Bibliothèque Bodléienne à Oxford : Ms Rawlinson B 484. Une date et une provenance approximative sont également proposées pour ce manuscrit Rawlinson B 484, et des informations nouvelles sont fournies sur les attaches galloises potentielles d’un autre manuscrit d’Imago Mundi : Cambridge, Corpus Christi College Ms 66.

[EN] Delw y Byd : the Welsh medieval translation of a Latin encyclopaedia and the creation of a geographical tract.
The present article is an investigation into the origins of the Welsh geographical treatise Delw y Byd and its relation with its Latin original, Imago Mundi. It presents an overview of the manuscript tradition of the Welsh text, and identifies the branch of the Latin tradition from which Delw y Byd is derived. It establishes the existence of two independent Welsh translations of the first, geographical, book of Imago Mundi and demonstrates that one of these translations is based on the Latin text represented in the fragment of Imago Mundi preserved in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson B 484. A date and approximate provenance are provided for Rawlinson B 484, and new light is thrown on the potential Welsh contacts of another manuscript of Imago Mundi, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 66.
Journal volume:  Persée – Études Celtiques, vol. 39, 2013: <link>
Petrovskaia, Natalia I., “La disparition du quasi dans les formules étymologiques des traductions galloises de l’Imago mundi”, in: Élise Louviot (ed.), La formule au Moyen Âge, 15, Turnhout: Brepols, 2013. 123–141.  

The present article examines the changes undergone by etymological formulae in the process of translation, in the 13th century, of Honorius Augustodunensis’ 12th century Latin treatise Imago Mundi ‘Image of the World’ into Welsh. In order to make the amount of evidence manageable, the article focuses on a specific feature of the etymological formulae and their translations – the word quasi. Depending on the context, this word is sometimes rendered into Welsh, but more often disappears from the translated text. The aim of the present article is to provide an explanation for this phenomenon. The data is, for the Latin text, taken from Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 66, and for the Welsh text, from Oxford, Jesus College, 111 and Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, Peniarth 17. The article also provides, as background information, a short description of the relationship between the Latin and the Welsh manuscript traditions of this text, which the author intends to publish elsewhere in full. An Appendix provides all of the examples of the etymological use of quasi from the Latin and Welsh texts examined, along with the author’s French translations.

Falileyev, Alexander, “Delw y byd revisited”, Studia Celtica 44 (2010): 71–78.
Falileyev argues for a new edition of Delw y byd to be produced. He points out that the edition of Lewis and Diverres wrongly attributes several sections of the text to Isidore’s Etymologies. More recent work on Imago mundi has taken place, and these sections can now be attributed to stem from a different version of the Latin text. Furthermore, two more manuscripts containing fragments of the B version of Delw y byd are now known. Editing methods have changed since 1928 and a lot more research is available which could be used and consulted. Lastly, recent work on the Latin texts of Imago mundi reveals that the two versions of Delw y byd (A and B) are two separate translations based on two different recensions of Imago mundi (1110 and 1123). Variations between the different versions might help identify the Latin originals which were used for Delw y byd. This would require an extensive study into the Imago mundi manuscripts preserved in the British libraries.
Petrovskaia, Natalia, Medieval Welsh perceptions of the Orient, Cursor Mundi, 21, Turnhout: Brepols, 2015. xxxv + 241 pp.  
This book introduces a new theoretical framework for the examination of medieval Western European perceptions of the Orient. Through the application of the medieval concept of translatio studii et imperii, it proposes the identification of three distinct conceptions of the Orient in medieval sources: Biblical, Classical, and Contemporary. Welsh textual material from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is used as a case-study to develop and illustrate this theory. This study brings historical sources to bear on previously unexplained literary phenomena and it examines the evolution of texts and ideas in the process of transmission and translation. The sources analysed here include vernacular and Latin texts produced in Wales, as well as material that has been translated into Welsh such as Imago mundi and legends about Charlemagne. It thus combines an important and much-needed account of the development of Welsh attitudes to the East with a unique analysis of Oriental references across an extensive literary corpus.
(source: Brepols)
3–16 [‘The Inage of the World’] The first section of chapter 1 (pp. 3-16, entitled “The Image of the World”) discusses Imago mundi and its Welsh translation Delw y byd.

Pp. 6-9 discuss the content, earliest manuscripts, and different recensions of Imago mundi, as well as a Welsh manuscript which contains this Latin text (Exeter, Cathedral Library, 3514).

Pp. 9-10 discuss the different medieval manuscripts and recensions of Delw y byd. The omitted and included chapters are noted per manuscript as well.

The discussion on pp. 12-15 shows that the translators of Delw y byd followed their source text as closely as possible, and that the minimal intervention was aimed at making the material clear to its new Welsh audience.
Flint, Valerie I. J., “Honorius Agustodunensis: imago mundi”, Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age 49 (1982): 7–153.
This is the latest edition of Imago mundi, the text from which Delw y byd was translated. Flint seeks to reproduce the 1139-recension of Imago mundi in her edition, as well as to show the variants of the earlier recensions.

Flint’s chapter divisions are taken over by Natalia Petrovkskaia in most of her articles and in her edition of Delw y byd (with the chapter division of Lewis and Diverres' edition between brackets).

In her introduction, Flint provides information on:
- The author of Imago mundi, Honorius Augustodunensis
- Possible candidates for the “Henricus” to whom Imago mundi is dedicated in some English manuscripts
- The structure of the work
- The sources Honorius used for the work
Migne, Jacques-Paul (ed.), Saeculum XII, Honorii Augustodunensis opera omnia, ex codicibus mss. et editis nunc primum in unum collecta, Patrologia Latina, 172, Paris, 1895.
Internet Archive: <link> Digitale-sammlungen.de: <link> Digitale-sammlungen.de: <link>
This work contains an edition of the Imago mundi, the text from which Delw y byd is translated, on pp. 115-188.

The Latin text of Imago mundi printed opposite to text A in Lewis and Diverres’ edition of Delw y byd has been taken from this work.

The chapter division of this edition has been taken over by Lewis and Diverres. Natalia Petrovskaia reproduces this chapter division in square brackets in most of her articles and in her edition of Delw y byd.
Lloyd, Nesta, and Morfydd E. Owen (eds), Drych yr Oesoedd Canol, Cardiff: University of Wales, Cardiff, 1986.
116–118, 123–127 This book reproduces three extracts from Lewis and Diverres’ edition of Delw y byd in its section on medieval geography. Each extract is preceded by a short introduction.

The first extract (41. Y Byd, pp. 116-118) is taken from pp. 25-26 (chapters 6-7) of Lewis and Diverres’ edition, and discusses the five zones of the earth and the TO-division of the world. The introduction provides more information on the zones and TO-division, as well as some information on the knowledge of the world at large present in Wales before the arrival of Imago mundi/Delw y byd.

The second extract (44. Affrig, pp. 123-125) is taken from pp. 45-48 (chapters 32-33) of Lewis and Diverres’ edition, and discusses Africa and its various countries, cities, places and seas. The introduction provides an overview of the content given in the extract alongside some extra information.

The third extract (45. Ewrop, pp. 125-127) is taken from pp. 39-45 (chapters 22-25 and 31 (omitting the last sentence)) of Lewis and Diverres’ edition, and discusses Europe and some of its countries (Riphean Mountains, Lower Scythia, Upper Germany, Lower Germany, Britain, and Ireland) and rivers. The introduction provides an overview of the content given in the extract alongside some extra information.
Isaac, Graham R., Simon Rodway, Silva Nurmio, Kit Kapphahn, and Patrick Sims-Williams [eds.], Rhyddiaith Gymraeg o lawysgrifau’r 13eg ganrif: fersiwn 2, Aberystwyth: Aberystwyth University, Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies, 2013. Computer file.
Transcription of Peniarth 17 (see direct link), which contains Delw y byd.

Pen. 17.doc > see “t. 17” – “t. 26” for the transcription of Delw y byd.

Mynegair Peniarth 17.doc > see for an index of the contents of Peniarth 17.
- On the first page under “Delw y Byd”: the number on the left represents the manuscript page number, whilst the numbers to the right represent the page and line numbers of Lewis and Diverres’ edition of Delw y Byd.
- On the second page under “Delw y Byd”: the number on the left represents the page number of Lewis and Diverres’ edition, whilst the numbers on the right represent the page and line numbers of the manuscript.

nod. Pen. 17.doc > see for notes. direct link
Petrovskaia, Natalia, and Kiki Calis, Images of the world: manuscript database of the imago mundi tradition, Online, ...–present. URL: <https://imagomundi.hum.uu.nl/>. 

The “Images of the World” Manuscripts Database of the Imago Mundi Tradition is part of the 3-year research project Defining ‘Europe’ in Medieval European Geographical Discourse: the Image of the World and its Legacy, 1110-1500, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) under the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme VENI. The project commenced on February 1, 2017, at The Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON), Faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University.

The database includes over 350 manuscripts containing the Imago Mundi of Honorius Augustodunensis and its vernacular adaptations. Manuscripts containing fragments, extracts, and extensive quotations in compilations are also included. Vernacular texts loosely based on the Imago mundi, as well as texts that constitute translations in the conventional sense of the word are included in the database. (For a full list of texts currently included, see below).

The database is intended both a tool for researchers interested in the Imago Mundi tradition and a way of presenting the results of the Defining Europe project. One of the goals of the project is to establish how the medieval geographical definition of Europe as found in the Imago Mundi spread in the period 1110-1500. The dissemination of Honorius’s text through Europe is thus a central interest of the database. The manuscript catalogue presented in the database is thus complemented by an interactive map, permitting the user to track the historical locations of individual manuscripts (where known).

This database includes manuscripts containing Imago mundi and its vernacular adaptations and translations, including Delw y byd. The “About” page includes a general bibliography which provides library catalagues, and primary and secondary literature for Delw y byd. The database itself includes all manuscripts which contain Delw y byd apart from Cardiff, Central Library, MS 2.83. Each manuscript entry includes general information about the manuscript such as the title, shelfmark, language, text type and historical locations. The folia on which Delw y byd occurs are also included. The “Details”-section of each entry contains further information on the manuscript and provides a more detailed bibliography.
Evans, J. Gwenogvryn, Report on manuscripts in the Welsh language, vol. 1: Peniarth, Historical Manuscripts Commission, London, 1899.
Internet Archive: <link>
306–316, 339–340 Peniarth MS 5 (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) is discussed on pp. 306-316
P. 306: mentions “Imago mundi” amongst the content of Peniarth MS 5
P. 307: discusses ff. ii-iiii of the manuscript, which contain Delw y byd

Peniarth MS 17 is discussed on pp. 339-340
P. 339: mentions “concerning the FOUR ELEMENTS, the PLANETS,&c.” amongst the content of Peniarth 17
Pp. 339-340: discusses pp. 17-26 of the manuscript, which contain Delw y byd
Evans, J. Gwenogvryn, Report on manuscripts in the Welsh language, vol. 2: Jesus College, Oxford; Free Library, Cardiff; Havod; Wrexham; Llanwrin; Merthyr; Aberdâr, Historical Manuscripts Commission, London, 1902.
Internet Archive: <link>
1–29, 104–110 Oxford, Jesus College, MS 111 is discussed on pp. 1-29
P. 2: discusses cols. 502 l.19 – 516 l.26) of the manuscript, which contains Delw y byd
Pp. 7-8: discusses cols. 975-999 of the manuscript, which contain Delw y byd

Cardiff, Central Library, 2.83 (here referred to as Cardiff, Free Library, MS 6) is discussed on pp. 104-110
P. 104: discusses pp. 25-26 of the manuscript, which contain Delw y byd
Evans, J. Gwenogvryn, Report on manuscripts in the Welsh language, vol. 2: Plas Llan Stephan; Free Library, Cardiff, Historical Manuscripts Commission, London, 1903.
Internet Archive: <link>
718–719, 726–727 Llanstephan MS 137 is discussed on pp. 718-719
P. 718: mentions “Imago mundi” amongst the content of the manuscript that is copied from the Red Book of Hergest (Oxford, Jesus College, MS 111, see pp. 1-29)

Llanstephan MS 148 is discussed on pp. 726-727
P. 726 mentions “Imago mundi” (ff. 91-98) amongst the content of the manuscript that is copied from the Red Book of Hergest (Oxford, Jesus College, MS 111, see pp. 1-29)
Huws, Daniel, “Table of Welsh vernacular medieval manuscripts”, in: Daniel Huws, Medieval Welsh manuscripts, Cardiff and Aberystwyth: University of Wales Press, 2000. 57–64.
58–61 Huws provides dates for most of the manuscripts which contain Delw y byd (excluding Cardiff, Central Library, MS 2.83, Llanstephan 137, and Llanstephan 148) on pp. 58, 59, 60, and 61.
Huws, Daniel, “Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch”, in: Daniel Huws, Medieval Welsh manuscripts, Cardiff and Aberystwyth: University of Wales Press, 2000. 227–268.
The White Book of Rhydderch (Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS 4-5) is discussed in depth on pp. 227-268.
Guy, Ben, “A Welsh manuscript in America: Library Company of Philadelphia, 8680.O”, National Library of Wales Journal 36:1 (2014): 1–26.
Library of Wales: <link>
2, 5, 6–7 Guy discusses the content, codicological information, and provenance of Philadelphia, Library Company of Philadelphia, 8680.O.

P. 2: mentions Delw y byd amongst the content of 8680.O. and its location on ff. 1r-2v.

P. 5: mentions the scribe, date, and script of the Delw y byd-fragment.

P. 6-7: mentions the physical production (pricking ruling, leaf size, writing space, number of lines and ordering of folia) of the Delw y byd-fragment and how it most likely originates from the same manuscript as the calendar on ff. 3-4.
Macray, William D., Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Bodleianæ, vol. 5: partis quintæ ... viri munificentissimi Ricardi Rawlinson, J.C.D., fasc. 1: [A-B], Oxford, 1862.
 : <link>
693 P. 693 provides general information on MS Rawlinson B 467, which contains Delw y byd.
Petrovskaia, Natalia I., “The travels of a quire from the twelfth century to the twenty-first: the case of Rawlinson B 484, fols. 1–6”, in: Simon Horobin, and Linne Mooney (eds), Middle English texts in transition: a festschrift dedicated to Toshiyuki Takamiya on his 70th birthday, York: York Medieval Press, 2014. 250–267.
251, 253, 265 Petrovskaia discusses the provenance the first 6 folia of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS B 484, which contain the Latin text Imago mundi.

On pp. 251, 253 and 265 of the article she mentions the importance of this fragment as the possible exemplar of the A Version of Delw y byd, the Welsh translation of Imago mundi.
Try, Rebecca, “NLW MS 5267B: a partial transcription and commentary”, MPhil thesis, Cardiff, Welsh and Celtic Studies, 2015.
 : <link>
8, 9, 11 P. 8: mentions that the beginning of Delw y byd, the first text in the manuscript, is wanting.

P. 9: mentions Delw y byd amongst the content of Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS 5267B and its location on ff.1-10 of the manuscript.

P. 11: classifies Delw y byd as “geographical or the natural world”.
Roberts, Brynley F., “Un o lawysgrifau Hopcyn ap Tomas o Ynys Dawy”, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 22:3 (1967, 1966–1968): 223–228.
225 Roberts discussed Hopcyn ap Tomas as a patron of manuscripts, as well as the scribe (Hywel Fychan) whose work is visible in the Red Book of Hergest (Oxford, Jesus College, MS 111) and a number of other manuscripts composed for Hopcyn and his brother Rhys. Then Philadelphia, Library Company, MS 8680.O and its composition, content, additional notes, provenance and colophon is discussed.

P. 225: mentions Delw y byd amongst the content of Philadelphia, Library Company, MS 8680.O, as well as the text's location and included chapters in the manuscript. Roberts identifies these fragments as belonging to Version B of Lewis and Diverres’ edition.
Darina Knoops, Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
January 2022, last updated: June 2022