Englynion Bedd - Grave poems

For anyone on facebook who might be interested, there is a new group run by Guto Rhys (I’ve included a bio below) called Englyn Bedd, Here is what the group is all about (in Welsh and English), so if anyone would like to join in, especially if you can help outside of Wales (see the blurb!), I’m sure Guto would be delighted.

Ein hamcan yma yw diogelu rhan bwysig o dreftadaeth lenyddol, hanesyddol a chymdeithasol Cymru.

Ers ail hanner yr ail ganrif ar bymtheg bu’n draddodiad naddu englynion marwnadol ar gerrig bedd neu feini coffa rhai Cymry. Pery’r traddodiad yn fywiog hyd heddiw. Ledled Cymru y mae miloedd lawer ohonynt, a nifer helaeth heb eu cofnodi erioed. Y mae llawer hefyd mewn lleoedd eraill fel mynwentydd lladdedigion y Rhyfel Mawr. Ceir hefyd lawer yn yr Unol Daleithiau, trefi mawrion Lloegr ac yn y Wladfa. Byddwn i’n bwrw amcan bod rhyw 25,000 ohonynt. Mae llawer yn prysur ddirywio oherwydd traul amser swrth a’r hin ac mae gwir angen eu cofnodi a’u diogelu fel rhan greiddiol o ddiwylliant materol a chymdeithasol y genedl. I’r perwyl hwn yr ydym yn annog aelodau i ymweld â mynwentydd a chofnodi’r holl englynion. Y mae nodyn nad oes englynion mewn mynwent hefyd yn werthfawr. Yr ydym hefyd yn annog aelodau i dynnu lluniau – gyda’r ffôn er enghraifft. Byddai uwchlwytho lluniau yn ddigon i amddiffyn yr arysgrifau a gall pobl eraill eu trawsysgrifio. Os ydych yn tynnu lluniau da o beth fyddai tynnu sawl un fel bo’r arysgrif oll yn ddarllenadwy. Da hefyd tynnu ambell lun cyffredinol fel bo modd lleoli’r garreg. Cofiwch roi’r camera ar high definition.

Hefyd, efallai fod gennych wybodaeth am rai o’r beirdd neu’r meirwon neu ryw weledigaeth am gynnwys yr englynion. Mae croeso mawr ichwi eu nodi a’u trafod yma.

Os ydych yn gwybod am gasgliadau sydd eisoes yn bod rhowch wybod. Cofiwch hefyd bod croeso ichwi ychwanegu cyfeillion FB a fyddai â diddordeb yn y maes hwn.

Our aim is to photograph, collect, transcribe and discuss the corpus of Welsh strict-meter grave elegies with the aim of preserving this important aspect of Welsh culture.

Since the middle of the seventeenth century there is an unbroken tradition of carving elegiac englynion on Welsh gravestones. The tradition is dominated by the ‘englyn unodl union’, a short four-lined stanza of 30 syllables. This is composed on ‘cynghanedd’, a strict combination of alliteration and rhyme which can take years to master. I would estimate that there are at least 25, 000 examples, spread throughout Wales apart from a few areas that were anglicised prior to about 1650. There are also many hundreds outside Wales, in particular in Patagonia, Liverpool and the United States. In addition to this there are some which are associated with war-graves, in particular the First World War. We are desperate to gather photographs or transcriptions of those in the United States especially as the vital local knowledge is rapidly being lost.

With changes in society and language the local knowledge is being lost in Wales depriving us often of even the names of the bards or matters relating to those commemorated. The weather has had its toll on many englynion and with the closure of chapels and churches gravestones are being lost or moved.

We appeal on all to take photographs and upload them to the group. Any sort of contextual information is also of great importance. Please do all you can to help us preserve this important aspect of Welsh culture and do encourage others to do so. This is a fascinating field and there is a great amount of work to be done. Eventually we hope to digitise the whole corpus and create a searchable website with maps, photographs, transcriptions and so on. Diolch.

Guto Rhys
A specialist in ‘The Pictish Language’, Guto is the author of the Ulpan Gaelic language course and works with historical linguistics.
Guto holds degrees in Welsh, medieval Scottish history and he has a PhD on ‘The Pictish Language’. He works primarily with historical linguistics (Celtic), Early medieval insular and Brittonic history and Welsh dialectology. He is also the author of the hugely successful Ulpan Gaelic language course. He has lived in Wales, Madrid, Glasgow, Rennes, rural Brittany and currently resides in Brussels.
He is passionate about archaeology, architecture, history, sociology, Welsh mythology and legends, and languages, and he speaks Welsh, Breton, French and Spanish fluently. He also has good degrees of command over Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, Italian, Catalan, Old English and Latin. He has published widely on Celtic languages and cultures.


Thanks for the information about the group. I’ve joined but haven’t yet found if they have any sort of index as to what’s already been recorded. Anyway, I’ll watch and learn and photograph any englynion I come across.