Monks, bishops and booty: ‘Marwnad Cynddylan’ and the Staffordshire Hoard

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Monks, bishops and booty: ‘Marwnad Cynddylan’ and the Staffordshire Hoard

March 5, 2020 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm



Monks, bishops and booty: ‘Marwnad Cynddylan’ and the Staffordshire Hoard

Lecture by Dr Jenny Rowland (University College Dublin)

The lament for Cynddylan, a seventh-century king of Powys, has long been comparatively neglected. Since I edited it many years ago there have been new editions and studies, but the discovery of the Staffordshire hoard has led to welcome wider interest outside the field of early Welsh poetry. The poem in part describes an otherwise unknown battle near Lichfield, and interpretation of the context of the battle requires analysis of Welsh literary material in addition to the better-known historical sources of the period. Welsh bardic poetry, however, can be difficult even for experts so I would like to concentrate on analysis of the key lines in the poem to examine how far we can trust what we think they say and to put to rest some more speculative translations and interpretation. The archaeological evidence might help explain the enigmatic lines featuring a bishop and book-grabbing monks—or the enigmatic lines might illuminate the archaeology! Finally, the poem also alludes to Cynddylan’s host taking great booty, enumerated in detail. The poetic evidence for the role of plunder here and elsewhere in early Welsh poetry may be in theorizing the context of the hoard.


The Department of Archaeology and Conservation at Cardiff University has been strongly involved in the study and publication of the Staffordshire Hoard, and are organising a form of supplementary launch event for the publication in Cardiff in the spring of 2020.

The purpose is to showcase in particular the range of practical issues needed in the study of such a find, from the conservation (undertaken by a Cardiff graduate), graphic reconstruction (Ian Dennis at Cardiff), to project management (a Cardiff graduate and then a Cardiff academic), and finally the distinctly Welsh angle on the interpretation of this hoard and how it represents the Mercian kingship and kingdom of the mid- to later 7th century AD.

More details to follow.

Please contact Jola Zdunek ([email protected]) if you wish to be formally admitted to the Society at this meeting.

The meeting will be held at Cardiff University. The schedule will be:


Restaurant (ground floor), Main Building, Cardiff University

The evening will start at 17.15 with light refreshments.


Large Shandon Lecture Theatre, Main Building, Cardiff University

The Society Meeting will begin at 17.45, including the opportunity to be formally admitted. The evening’s lecture will follow the formal meeting business and admissions.

18.00 (approximate time)

Lecture will begin (guests welcome).

19.00 (approximate time)

Restaurant (ground floor), Main Building, Cardiff University

Wine will be served to guests following the lecture.

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March 5, 2020
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Cardiff University, Main Building, Restaurant
Cardiff University
Cardiff, CF10 3AT United Kingdom