World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Welsh Triads


Welsh Triads

The Welsh Triads (Welsh Trioedd Ynys Prydein, literally "Triads of the Island of Britain") are a group of related texts in medieval manuscripts which preserve fragments of Welsh folklore, mythology and traditional history in groups of three. The triad is a rhetorical form whereby objects are grouped together in threes, with a heading indicating the point of likeness. For example, "Three things not easily restrained, the flow of a torrent, the flight of an arrow, and the tongue of a fool".[1]


  • Contents 1
  • Earliest surviving collection 2
  • Later collections 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The texts include references to King Arthur and other semi-historical characters from Sub-Roman Britain, mythic figures such as Bran the Blessed, undeniably historical personages such as Alan IV, Duke of Brittany (who is called Alan Fyrgan) and Iron Age characters such as Caswallawn (Cassivellaunus) and Caradoc (Caratacus).

Some triads simply give a list of three characters with something in common (such as "the three frivolous bards of the island of Britain"[2]) while others include substantial narrative explanation. The triad form probably originated amongst the Welsh bards or poets as a mnemonic aid in composing their poems and stories, and later became a rhetorical device of Welsh literature. The Medieval Welsh tale Culhwch and Olwen has many triads embedded in its narrative.

Earliest surviving collection

The earliest surviving collection of the Welsh Triads is bound in the manuscript Peniarth 16, now at the National Library of Wales, which has been dated to the third quarter of the 13th century and contains 46 of the 96 triads edited by Rachel Bromwich. Other important manuscripts include Peniarth 45 (written about 1275), and the pair White Book of Rhydderch (Welsh: Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) and Red Book of Hergest (Welsh: Llyfr Coch Hergest), which share a common version clearly different from the version behind the collections in the Peniarth manuscripts.[3]

Later collections

The 18th century Welsh antiquarian

  • Triads from the Red Book of Hergest
  • Triads from MS Peniarth 54
  • Triads of Northern Britain
  • Triads of the Knights of King Arthur's Court
  • Bardic Triads from MS Peniarth 20
  • Triads of Ynys Prydein

External links

  • Rachel Bromwich, editor and translator. Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Welsh Triads. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, Second Edition 1978. ISBN 0-7083-0690-X
  • Rachel Bromwich, editor and translator. Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Welsh Triads. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, Third Edition, 2006. ISBN 0-7083-1386-8
  • W. Probert (trans) (1977), Iolo Morganwg, The Triads of Britain


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Alan Lupack, "The Oxford guide to Arthurian literature and legend",Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-921509-X, p.21
  3. ^  
  4. ^  


See also


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.