Coelbren Y Beirdd

Secondary Sources

Williams, T. IoIo Mss, Llandovey Welsh Manuscript Society, 1848 p. 617-623 Bilingual

Rev. J. William ap Ithel MA, Barddas, London 1874. Vol. 1 & 2 Bilingual

Taliesin Williams (ab IoIo), 'Coelbren Y Beirdd; a Welsh essay on the Bardic Alphabet'. Review By W. Rees in Archaeologica Cambrensis First series, vol. 1 1846 pp. 471-473

John Williams ab Ithel, 'British Letters' in Archaeologica Cambrensis, Vol 3 1852 pp. 21-24

Thomas Stephens, 'An Essay on the Bardic Alphabet called Coelbren Y Beirdd' in Archaeologica Cambrensis Fourth series, July 1872 pp. 181-210. (This is a published copy of NLW Mss 954B previously known as Thomas Stephen 51)


The main sources for the Coelbren originate from the IoIo Mss, and the Barddas prepared by Rev. William ap Ithe,l these were published through the 'Welsh Text Society.' They too are bilingual. IoIo Mss as its known are a collection of loose manuscripts fond within IoIo cottage at his death. Originally collected by Taliesin ap Williams and collated together. It has been indicated or surmised by various sources that these were to be a continuation from the three volumes of the M.A. However, one also has to consider that IoIo had already lectured and introduced the foundations of the Druid doctrine in 1792.

Nevertheless, within the IoIo Mss the Coelbren Y Beridd is introduced through the son of Manogan, which is prior to Beli the Great. There were only ten letters or symbols originally available. Yet, with the coming of the Christian faith, these were increased to eighteen. These were later formed into three divisions under O.I.U., prior to this it division was O.I.O., when only sixteen letters/symbols existed. Over time, the original ten-letters/symbol meanings were lost, but Talhaiarn the bard of Caerlleon upon Usk is said to have reinstated these. Finally, Taliesin ap Williams restores these within IoIo MSS. Instructions on the framework of the bardic wooden frame are given along with its use. Even the preferred material is covered this being made of oak, but hazel and willow is given as an alternative.

Edward Williams suggest and quotes from Llywelyn Sion about the Coelbren y Beriedd, which returned into use after the Glyndwr uprising in the early 15th century. The use of the Coelbren is historically problematic.