The Celtic Literature Collective

The Death of Maelgwn Gwynedd

Maelgwn betook himself to Ros church seated near his court, in a nook of ground, on all sides saving one environed with the sea, and therefore easy of all roads to be guarded and kept fromteh company of people: therefore he shut himself so that he could not see or be seen of anybody (save those which did attend upon him), causing a diligent watch should be kept, lest any should come near the place, and when he had remained there a good while, he one day looked through a chink in the church door, and was presently infeced with the air, so that he soon afterwards died, and when his men thought it time to serve him with necessaries, he lay silent, that they thought he was fast asleep, but when they had staid very long, in expectation of his awaking, one of htem said that his silence was too long to be one of sleep, and they went to his bed and found him dead thereon, whereupon grew the proverb which with us is yet in use, when one sleepeth beyond measure or is dead we say 'Hir hun Faelgwn yn eglwys Ros', that is to say, the long sleep of Maelgwn in the Church of Rhos, being so long that he never awakened... Maelgwn's body is said to be interred in Ynys Seiriol.


Bromwich notes that this proverb--Hir hun Faelgwn yn eglwys Ros--is found in a more primitive form in the B version of Annales Cambriae, where it is recorded as Hir hun Wailgun en llis Ros. His death is generally given as 547, and was likely due to a plague. The plague itself is thought to be related to a comet which hit the earth ca. 536, causing a minor nuclear winter.


Panton MS. 51: Evan Evan's copy of Robert Vaughan's notes to Trioedd Ynys Prydein in NLW MS.7857D. translated by Rachel Bromwich in Trioedd Ynys Prydein. Cardiff: UWP, 1963. pp. 438-439.

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