(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Aneirin (uh-NI-rihn) was a younger son of a king of the Northern Pennines. Educated in Llancarfan, Wales, he soon gained a reputation as an accomplished poet, becoming known as Prince Aneirin of the Flowing Verse, Aneirin the Inspired, High King of Bards, and Prince of Poets.

Aneirin is best known for his epic poem, Y Gododdin (sixth century c.e.; The Gododdin, 1969). This poem is the firsthand account of the Battle of Catraeth, in which the Britons attempted to retake this city from the invading Saxons. The Gododdin is also the earliest extant writing in which Arthur and Myrddin (Merlin) are mentioned.

In later life, Aneirin reportedly became a monk, returning to the monastery at Llancarfan. Legend has it that he was martyred there, and many later honored him as a saint.


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

The Gododdin is generally considered the first British epic poem, and the earliest surviving work to be written in the vernacular. There is some ongoing academic controversy regarding the authenticity of the references to Arthur and Myrddin.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Griffen, Toby D. Names from the Dawn of British Legend: Taliesin, Anerin, MyrddinlMerlin, Arthur. Llanerch, Wales: Llanerch, 1994.

Koch, John T. The Gododdin of Aneirin: Text and Context from Dark Age North Britain. Andover, Mass.: Celtic Studies Publications, 1997.

Wood, Carol L. An Overview of Welsh Poetry Before the Norman Conquest. New York: Edward Mellen Press, 1996.