Medieval Welsh Horses Had Weird Names

While preparing my article on the early editions of the Welsh Arthurian material, I came across a passage from Loth’s French translation of the Welsh triads. And the first triads were, who would guess it, about horses.

Here they are, Horse triads from the Black Book of Caermarthen:

Three horses of booty from the Island of  Prydein: Carnavlawc (Carn-gavlauc, ‘forked feet’, whatever that might mean), the horse of Owein ab Uryen; Bucheslwm Seri, the horse of Gwgawn Cleddyvrudd (Cleddyv-rudd, ‘of the red sword’); and Tavautir Breichir (Tavawt Hir, ‘long tongue’; Breich Hir, ‘long arm’), the horse of Kadwallawn ab Kadvan.

Three tom eddystr (horses) from the Island of  Prydein: Arvwl Melyn (‘the great yellow’), the horse of Pascen ab Uryen; Duhir Tervenhydd, (‘the long lovely black’) the horse of Selyv ab Kynan Garwyne; and Drudlwyd (‘the valiant grey’), the horse of Rydderch Hael.

Three petty coursers from the island of Prydein: Gwyneu Godwff Hir (‘the bay with a long neck), the horse of Kei; Ruthyr Chon Tuth Bleidd (‘the impetuous with a wolf’s trot’), the horse of Gilbert Kadgyffro; and Keincaled (‘the hard beauty’), the horse of Gwalchmei.

Three alert coursers from the island of Prydein; Lluagor, the horse of Karadawc Breichvras; and Melynlas (‘the broken white’), the horse of Kaswallawn ab Bely.


Lady Ana and her steed

So take your pick! For myself, I would choose Keincaled, Gawain’s steed – I like the meaning, and at least you won’t break your tongue trying to pronounce it. Although the shorter the better, maybe I should stick to ‘Fizz’.


About thegrailquest

Anastasija Ropa holds a doctoral degree from Bangor University (North Wales), for a study in medieval and modern Arthurian literature. She has published a number of articles on medieval and modern Arthurian literature, focusing on its historical and artistic aspects. She is currently employed as guest lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Sport Education. Anastasija’s most recent research explores medieval equestrianism in English and French literary art and literature, and she is also engaged as part-time volunteer horse-trainer. In a nutshell: Lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Sport Education Graduate of the School of English, University of Wales, Bangor. Graduate of the University of Latvia Passionate about history, particularly the Middle Ages A horse-lover and horse-owner
This entry was posted in Arthurian Literature, equestrian history, Medieval animals, Medieval horses, Medieval Literature, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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