Cor Tewdws

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Cor Tewdws or Bangor Tewdws (Meaning "college" or "chief university" of Theodosius) was a Celtic monastery and college in what is now Llantwit Major, Glamorgan, Wales. It is believed to have been founded c. 395, making it the oldest established school in Great Britain. Today, the ruins of the monastery and college are believed to be under the St. Illtyd's Church in Llantwit Major.

First College of Theodosius[edit]

The original college was said to have been established by (or in honour of) the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, and was named after him. In 380, Theodosius declared Nicene Christianity the only legitimate Imperial religion, ending support for traditional polytheistic religions and customs.[1] The College of Theodosius is believed to have been founded c. 395, making it the earliest school, former or extant, in all of Great Britain. It has even been called "the oldest college in the world".[2] It was founded during the last years of the Roman occupation of Britain, which ended c. 409 - 410 AD. After the withdrawal of the Roman legions, Britain suffered incursions of the Irish, Scots, and Picts, who raided British settlements, sacking villages and carrying off the inhabitants as slaves. The college was reputedly burnt down in 446, with different sources attributing the destruction to Irish pirates and Saxon war bands.[3] Though there is a lack of contemporary sources, later writers state that St Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates while at the College.

Bangor Tewdws[edit]

After the sack of the College of Theodosius, the site lay barren for 62 years, until it was re-established by St. Illtud c. 508. According to the Book of Llandaff, St. Dubricius commissioned Illtud to re-establish the college, and the place came to be known as Llanilltud Fawr.

According to Iolo Morganwg's oft-quoted but generally incorrect Iolo MSS (see Historical Sources below), Illtud founded seven churches at the college, with seven enclosures, and appointed seven companies to each church, with seven cells for each company, and each company constituting a choir, with seven learned men in each cell.[4] This would mean the college had around 2000 - 2400 students at any given time. Whether the college was ever this large has not been confirmed by archeological excavation, but many well-known Celtic saints are said to have attended the college, including St. David of Wales, Gildas the historian, Samson of Dol, St. Paul Aurelian, and Paulinus.

The college was a primary learning center of Sub-Roman Britain (now Wales), but was unfortunately situated in a location on the Glamorgan Plain that exposed it to hostile incursions from Irish pirates, and to Viking raids. The college is said to have been destroyed by the Danes in 987, and by the Normans in the late 11th century.[5] After the Norman sack, many of the college's endowments were transferred to the Abbey of Tewkesbury by Robert Fitzhamon.[6] Cor Tewdws was rebuilt in 1111, but probably on a reduced scale. It also lost its right of sanctuary for a time, before the right was restored by Nicholas, Bishop of Llandaff, in 1150. It was finally dissolved by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.[3]

Historical Sources[edit]

That the college existed as early as 450 AD is quite probable, given its prominence in contemporary 5th and 6th century written sources, such as the Life of Sampson and portions of the Book of Llandaff. However, many of the details concerning the founding the monastery and college are to be found in the Iolo MSS, compiled by the discredited Iolo Morganwg, who is believed to have forged much of his source material. The information in his Iolo MSS concerning Cor Tewdws is highly suspect, and has been discounted by historians on several points.[7]


  1. ^ Theodosius I. "Banning of Other Religions Theodosian Code XVI.i.2". Medieval Sourcebook. Paul Halsall. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  2. ^ Griffin, Justin E. "Glastonbury and the Grail: Did Joseph of Arimathea Bring the Sacred Relic to Britain?". page 94. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  3. ^ a b Lewis, Samuel (1849). "Laleston - Lawrenny". A Topographical Dictionary of Wales: 459–473. Retrieved January 14, 2007.
  4. ^ Morganwg, Iolo. "Iolo manuscripts. A selection of ancient Welsh manuscripts, in prose and verse, from the collection made by the late Edward Williams, Iolo Morganwg, for the purpose of forming a continuation of the Myfyrian archaiology; and subsequently proposed as materials for a new history of Wales". Internet Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  5. ^ Hall, S. C. The Book of South Wales, the Wye, and the Coast. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  6. ^ Fryer, A. C. "Llantwit Major: A Fifth Century University". Retrieved 20 February 2014.


Coordinates: 51°24′30″N 3°29′17″W / 51.4084°N 3.4881°W / 51.4084; -3.4881