Cynuit: a loose end

Nothing much going on today, so …

The trail of Saint Cunetus across the Brittonic regions

The trail of Saint Cunetus across the Brittonic regions

It seems that from the early Old Welsh period (mid eighth century) or centuries earlier there was someone by the name of *Coneto/Conet/Conoit/Cunetus(?) active in the southern Brittonic regions – Wales, Cornwall and Brittany; he was probably a local ‘saint’ who perhaps travelled around setting up communities like the early clasau which eventually developed into parishes with churches then dedicated to the founder.

But who was, or might have been, this Cynwyd Cynwydion to whom, it is claimed, the church at Llangynwyd was dedicated? Old Welsh documents record the existence of a Cynwyd Cynwydion: is he the same person as *Coneto/Cunetus or someone quite different? And what do we know about him anyway?

The -ion ending is either a territorial suffix (like Ceredig > Ceredigion) or a tribal name (Madog Madogion, where Madogion has been taken as the ‘tribe of Madog). Could it perhaps originally have been just the -ion suffix of pluralisation? so he would have been Cynwyd of the Cynwyds, his immediate family and descendants.  In looking for a region called ‘Cynwydion’, we are without positive clues.

There are various ‘genealogies’ (sometimes contradicting each other), for example the Bonedd Gwŷr y Gogledd, or the Pedigree of the Men of the North, the Brittonic Cumbric region – Strathclyde and across the border into present day Cumbria. Bonedd also means nobility, and this record purports to be the lineage of the 4th-6th c. rulers in the region. History mixed with legend.

Damnonia and Rheged were the Brittonic regions kn own as Y Gogledd

Damnonia and Rheged were the Brittonic regions known as Y Gogledd

Under the descendants of Coel Hen, the Bonedd lists Kynnvyt Kynnvydyon and his four sons: they are Clydno Eidin (i.e. Edinburgh), Cynan Genhir, Cynuelyn Drvsgyl (said to have fought at the Battle of Arfderydd c. 573 – perhaps Arthuret in the Borders) and Catravt Calchuynyd (Kelso?).

A fifth son is sometimes included, also mentioned in a Triad:

Three Bull-Protectors (Armed Warriors?) of the Island of Britain:

  • Kynwawr Catgaduc (Cynfar Host Protector), son of Kynwyt Kynwydyon
  • and Gwendoleu son of Keidaw
  • and Urien son of Kynwarc

 And another triad mentions:

The three hundred swords of the Cynferchyn [Cynfarch’s tribal warband], and the three hundred shields of the Cynwydion [Cynwyd’s warband], and the three hundred spears of the Coeling [Coel’s warband]: on whatever expedition they might go in unison, they would never fail.’
.
So Cynwyd Cynwydion was an illustrious ruler in the North, father of warriors – but a ‘saint’ who travelled in Wales, the far South West of England and Brittany … ?
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