Illustration of Welsh poetry

The Red Book of Hergest

The Red Book of Hergest, believed to have been written some time between 1375 and 1425, includes a mixture of poetry and prose.

The manuscript was named after its former home, Hergest Court in Herefordshire, and for its red leather binding. It was presented to Jesus College, Oxford in 1701 by the Reverend Thomas Wilkins of Llanbleddian.

Of the several copyists believed to have worked on the manuscript, one was Hywel Fychan fab Hywel Goch of Buellt, working for his employer, Hopcyn ap Tomas ap Einion of Ynysforgan, Swansea, whom the manuscript may have been compiled for.

The book is best known as a source of the tales of the Mabinogion, along with the White Book of Rhydderch. Most notably, it contains tale of the Dream of Rhonabwy. It also had much of its poetry reproduced in the Four Ancient Books of Wales, William F Skene's 1868 anthology of dark-age Welsh bardic poetry.

The red book also contains historical texts, including a Welsh translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, poems and a series of Triads.

Also contained in the manuscript is a collection of herbal remedies attributed to Rhiwallon Feddyg, the first of a family of country doctors who lived in the parish of Myddfai, collectively known as the Physicians of Myddfai.

Chwedlau Myrddin

Ynys Gudd Morgana

Stori Ynys Gudd Morgana

Ewch ar anturiaethau gyda'r cymeriadau yn ein straeon a gemau.

Wales arts

Catrin Dafydd (Image © Catrin Howells)

Meet the writers

Find out about the writers behind our mythical Merlin tales.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.