Cuneda-Cunedda 400 or 450 CE


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Cuneda-Cunedda 400 or 450 CE


Cunedda is an important figure in Welsh tradition along with being credited of leading a movement or migration of people from the north into present day North Wales. This has been dated to the late 4th century c. 395. Any large movement has been attributed to be the result of a deliberate act. Tradition informs the purpose was to prevent the incursion of Gaelic settlers from Ireland as the Roman dominance diminished. It is from this movement and authority exercised by Cuneda, which becomes the founding dynastic line of further generations of leaders in Wales, whom trace their lineage to this branch. Indeed his offspring names also contribute to the naming of various districts which later were combined and recognized within Wales in 1536.

Nennis informs us that Cunnedda had eight sons and they originally derived from the area of Manaw Goddodin prior to traversing south. The area has been further identified by scholars relating to the area of Stirling to the river shore of the Forth. Although the dates are uncertain various suggestions have been raised, between the years of 400-10 AD/CE, while another later date of 450AD/CE has been allocated to the move. However Nennis might have one to believe the movement is primarily due to the incursion of the Dessi into South Wales. The Dessi originated from Waterford in Southern Ireland, moved and settled around Dyfed due to a rift with Cormac mac Art. Indeed the historia Britannia may leave one with the impression that Cunedda secured the area and subsequently set up residence replacing them in Dyfed. This in itself may not be the case, specifically where the Dessi penetrated north to Haverfordwest, and east to Kidwelly and the Gower districts. More realistically Cunedda moved against the Linsterman who had settled in the Llyn and on Anglesey first, later to moved on the south. From all these areas ogam inscriptions on standing stones together with the defaced Roman alter appear prominent in the later records.

However it would appear that his sons also subdued various areas under there control. For instance his son Dunoding has been attributed with giving his name to the area of Ceredigion. One can only assume that he also subdued the area under his authority. Likewise Einawn Yrth becomes the founder of Anglesey dynasty from which his lineage derives Maelgwn Gwynedd and Cadwallon ap Cadfan (Lawhir). All are specific leaders associated Cunnda. but the saints from the 5th and 6th centuries also claim decent from this line.

Although Cunnedda has been associated with Roman and native blood earlier in the 20th century by scholars supported by the genealogy text of the Harleian Ms 3859. The one link which remains elusive is the association with Roman Chester or indeed any other Roman inhabitation in Wales. Such evidence could support that argument further. While that link remains unproved one remains in the realms of oral tradition. Similar problems surround the authenticity of the elegy attributed Taliesin in praise of Cunedda.


Bartrum, P.C. Early Welsh Genealogical Tact, University of Wales Press, Cardiff 1966

Bromwich, R., Triod Ynys Prydein, University of Wales Press 1961

Rachel Bromwich (ed) The beginnings of Welsh Poetry: Studies By Sir Ifor Williams, University Press of Wales Cardiff, 1980

Nennius, Historia Britaina,

O'Rahilly C., Ireland and Wales, Longmans, London 1924

Seebohm, F., The Tribal System of Wales, Longmans, Green and co, London 1904 (2nd edition)

Williams I., Wales and the North in Cumberland transactions, 1952

Last updated December 5th, 2005