Roberts, Brynley F., “The discovery of Old Welsh”, Historiographia Linguistica 26:1–2 (Jan., 1999): 1–21.

  • journal article
Citation details
“The discovery of Old Welsh”
Abstract (cited)

Edward Lhuyd's (1660-1709) Archaeologia Britannica (Oxford 1707), was intended to be a study of early British history together with copies of some of the original source material. The only volume to appear, entitled Glossography, printed glossaries and grammars of the Celtic languages and lists of Irish and Welsh manuscripts, and it set out the principles of phonetic changes and correspondences so that linguistic and written evidence for the relationships of the first (Celtic) inhabitants of the British Isles could be evaluated. The antiquity of the evidence was of prime importance. Lhuyd sought the 'very ancient' written sources which would bridge the gap between the post-Roman inscriptions and the medieval Welsh manuscripts which he had seen. Humphrey Wanley (1672-1726), the Old English scholar, drew his attention to the Lichfield gospel book and two Latin manuscripts at the Bodleian Library which contained Welsh glosses and Lhuyd himself discovered the Cambridge Juvencus manuscript. These were the oldest forms of Welsh which he had seen. He analysed the palaeography, the orthography and vocabulary of these witnesses, and although he was not able fully to comprehend these records, he was able to begin to describe the characteristics of the British insular hand and to define some of the features which distinguished Old Welsh from Middle Welsh.

Subjects and topics
Old Welsh
History, society and culture
Edward LhuydLhuyd (Edward)
(d. 1709)
Llwyd (Edward)
No short description available
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Dennis Groenewegen
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March 2021