Cynddylan, or Cynddylan ap Cyndrwyn was a seventh-century Prince of Powys associated with Pengwern. The son of King Cyndrwyn, Cynddylan is described in the poem Marwnad Cynddylan (Elegy of Cynddylan) as a king of Dogfeiling, a sub-kingdom of Gwynedd near to Rhuthun in the middle of Denbighshire, in modern-day Wales.
With the collapse of the Roman Empire and the invasion of the Saxons, the remains of the civitas of the Cornovii held on to their lands in the lowland border regions of Wales (Herefordshire and Shropshire). By the beginning of the seventh century King Cystennin was the dominant ruler in the Old North, while King Cyndrwyn "the Stubborn" ruled Powys. Several Early Welsh saga poems, known collectively but rather misleadingly as Canu Llywarch Hen ("The Poetry of Llywarch Hen"), survive that describe this Brythonic/early Welsh kingdom, however they were probably not composed until some time after the events alluded to and are to some degree mythologised. Cyndrwyn died before 642 when his sons, chief of whom was Cynddylan, joined Penda of Mercia in the defeat of King Oswald of Northumbria at the Battle of Maserfield (Welsh: Maes Cogwy), which may have taken place just outside Oswestry.
Cynddylan is first mentioned in the poems at the Battle of Maes Cogwy when the army of Penda was apparently hard pressed and "Cynddylan brought them aid". One of the poems says that Cynddylan brought "seven hundred men" to the battle, but this round figure is probably symbolic. In the aftermath of victory Penda and Cynddylan seem to have fallen out and Cynddylan, allied with Morfael of Caer Lwydgoed (Lichfield), defeated an Anglo-Saxon army with bishops under the walls of the town, possibly in 655. According to the poems, Cynddylan and his brothers stood and fought at the ford of the River Tren, which may have been the River Tern or the River Trent.
Red Book of Hergest
Poetry referencing Cynddylan is contained in the Red Book of Hergest (Llyfr Coch Hergest), a collection of Welsh prose and poetry copied down in the fourteenth-century, which also includes the tales of the Mabinogion:
Marwnad Cynddylan (Elegy for Cynddylan), a poem mourning the death of Cynddylan, possibly of ninth century composition;
Canu Heledd (Song of Heledd) is purportedly composed by Cynddylan's sister Heledd, the sole surviving member of the House of Powys. The cycle of englynion takes the form of Princess Heledd lamenting the destruction of her home and the death of her family (including her brothers, one of whom was Cynddylan, her sister Ffreuer and the royal court), at the hands of the English. Most scholars date the Canu Heledd poems to the ninth century, but they may well be representative of earlier works in the oral tradition which are now lost.
- Jones, R. Harries (1868a), "Collections, historical & archaeological relating to Montgomeryshire", Collections Historical & Archaeological Relating to Montgomeryshire (London: J. Russel Smith, published 1868) I: 433–472
|chapter=ignored (help) – The Elegy of Llywarch Hen, with annotation and discussion
- Jones, R. Harries (1868), "Collections historical & archaeological relating to Montgomeryshire", Collections Historical & Archaeological Relating to Montgomeryshire (London: J. Russel Smith, published 1869) II: 1–41
- Remfry, P.M., Whittington Castle and the families of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Peverel, Maminot, Powys and Fitz Warin (ISBN 1-899376-80-1)
- Marwnad Cynddylan in Welsh and English.
- Canu Heledd in Welsh and English (click on the links in the frame to get to each section of the poem).
- The Death-song of Cynddylan (MS NLW4973).