Arthur in Welsh literature
The Gododdin is one of the earliest surviving poems written in Welsh. It was written by the bard Aneirin around the year 594, and contains the earliest known reference to Arthur.
A series of elegies for the men of the Brythonic kingdom of the title, who died in an attempt to take the Catraeth area - now Catterick in North Yorkshire - from invading Saxon forces, the work takes on the heroic language typical of the time. The penultimate verse reads:
He thrust beyond three hundred, most bold, he cut down the centre and far wing.
He proved worthy, leading noble men; he gave from his herd steeds for winter.
He brought black crows to a fort's wall, though he was not Arthur.
He made his strength a refuge, the front line's bulwark, Gwawrddur.
However, since in Aneirin's lifetime poetry was communicated in the oral tradition, some consider the reference to Arthur to be a later interpolation.
Teliesin, a contemporary of Aneirin, was said to have been bard to King Arthur himself. His poem The Chair Of The Sovereign makes reference to "Arthur the Blessed".
Another of Teliesin's works, Preiddeu Annwn, mentions the warrior's valour; and Journey To Deganwy remembers a time "at the battle of Badon with Arthur, chief giver of feasts, with his tall blades red from the battle which all men remember."