Map of the Mabinogi

My map of the world of the Mabinogi shows the Welsh and English names, and spans from Iwerdun (Ireland) to Llundain (London).

PIC IS BIGGER than shown here – rightclick and save!
Map of the World of the Mabinogi by Shan Morgain

COPYRIGHT remains mine as Shan Morgain, but you are free to rightclick and download for personal use, or teaching, providing the map is unchanged. For publication, please contact me.
>My thanks to John Davies, the sailor, for help locating Gwales (Grassholm) island; and for patient help with the Welsh names from Christine James, my supervisor. Any mistakes are still my responsibility.

Notes about the places in the map.

The boundary between Wales and England is the modern one. In the mediaeval period this fluctuated a good deal, changing according to the fortunes of war and colonisation. The First Branch of the Mabinogi presents Gwent as definitely a Welsh lordship: it was by the later 11thC under English, then Norman invasion.The Third Branch of the Mabinogi locates Henfford (Hereford) on the English side.

The First Branch opens at Arberth in DYFED, shown here at modern Narberth. An alternative location is northerly, near Ceredigion. Here Pwyll sets off to hnt, and later meets Rhiannon. GWENT where Pryderi grows up, is about 100 miles away from Arberth, five days to a week’s travel. Pryderi marries Cigfa of Gloyw (Gloucester) in border country. He adds the territories of Seisyllwch to DYFED (made up of Ystrad Tywi and Ceredigion both frequently contested territories). Annwfn is an anomalous location, possibly outside physical geography, so not shown.
The Second Branch has a Brythonic/ British king holding court at Harlech with its great rock, in GWYNEDD; ruling all Ynys Pydain, Britain. Branwen’s wedding is held at Aberffraw. The British sail west to war in IWERDDON (Ireland). Pryderi, Manawydan and other war Survivors return, to sojourn in Harlech, then Gwales off the DYFED coast. Cernyw (Cornwall) is visible from Gwales’ enchanted hall. Finally the Survivors take Bendigeidfran’s Head to Llundein.
The Third Branch is mainly set in DYFED. It mentions the usurper king Caswallawn in Caint (Kent). Pryderi visits him at Oxford. The Dyfed royals live at Arberth then go east to Henfford (Hereford), then returning to Arberth.
The Fourth Branch moves from the northern borders of DYFED (Ceredigion, Seisyllwch) to GWYNEDD.

Othering a Guest

Othering a Guest   Shan Morgain.

(The Self and the Other: Swansea, 10 October 2014)

Actually managed to get the pics to work this time. All went well except for having to climb THREE flights of stairs because no one fixed the lift.

Matt Wall chaired my panel and sent me feedback. I won’t give all the detail but here are the main points:

You presented with considerable authority and passion for your subject, you used humour and had a style that was informative, while inviting and informal.

The visuals/slides that you used were informative and nicely designed, while there was a little trouble with the software at the beginning of the talk, you overcame this well.  [groan]

Matt thought I should have made my concept of othering more specific.  The 20 mins time limit is a tyranny! but the criticism is an important one. Perhaps a quick image display next time.

Even more interesting Matt questioned me on whether the othering of Guest was by academic or popular response? I did not know how to answer at first which shows how good the question was.  I returned to it later, and explained that the attitudes I had seen were in the Introduction sections of the Mabinogi books, including popular translations. So although the othering is at its core, academic, there are readers ‘in the wild’ who do read introductions and ould be influenced by them. Also key points like Guest being an English upper class lady are on many websites where the Mabinogi is briefly  introduced.

Thanks Matt for a generous review and thoughtful critique.

Here Be Dragons! (Aberystwyth)

Dwy iaith, dau ddiwylliant? / Two languages, two cultures?
Sept 6 Council Chamber, National Library of Wales.
Coordinator: Mary Constantine.

Finally my first presentation this time round in my second postgrad life. Very nice to return to CAWCS at Aberystwyth as a (junior) presenter. With dear John at my side of course.

The hotel was rubbish, the dinner booked on arrival was not at all as ordered. No breakfast in the morning, most unpleasant man who when we left (on time) at 9am ordered us to go which we were glad to do. Then we got in early, tested my presentation images, all worked fine. But no breakfast did mean being tired as the long morning passed. When it was my turn the tech stubbornly refused to run! No carefully prepped pics. Embarrassing.

Everyone was extremely kind about it, and understood. In the end my little piece “Here Be Dragons” on the bridging between two languages and its challenges, was well received.  M. Wynne Thomas turned out to be not at all a stuffed shirt trailing titles, but a canny and generous elder statesman. Mary Constantine was strikingly efficient and welcoming. The debate was fascinating; it reminded me of early feminist days when we felt so grateful of chances to get together. Good to feel less isolated.

2015 plans, papers, conferences

My conference diary 2015 until the summer, updated. Abstracts will be uploaded both here and on
I’m aiming to complete my general review of Mabinogi scholarship summer 2015 which will generate lots for the site. In the autumn I will move to more focus on my own theories. However these are already leaking into my presentations.

Thurs 19 FEB. 3pm. SWANSEA MEMO (Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Research) Director: Prof. Daniel Power. Reading group for mediaevalists.
A triadic prompt for discussion. 1) The Mabinogi. 2) Rhiannon as ‘Tour Guide’ to my research. 3) This website as a research tool, why and how. More info.

Sat 28 FEB Sun 1st MARCH: BRISTOL Conference ‘Rule and Recreation.’
Presenting Sat. 10.45 ‘Exemplars and Shadowplay’ Mabinogi as exemplar of lordly rule; polarity of ideals and cautionary models.

Sat and Sun 20-22 MARCH: FALMOUTH. Conference, ACSIB (Association of Celtic Students of Ireland and Britain). Celtic Studies. Presenting ‘The Mystery of the Three Matriarchs of Britain.’ (Day/ time TBC)

Fri MARCH 27-29: GREGYNOG Conference, AWWE (Assoc. Welsh Writing in English) ‘The Country and the City.’ Presenting ‘Mabinogi Man: Pwyll and Manawydan.’ (Day/ time TBC)

Sat Sun APRIL 11/12 LONDON UCL Conference, EMICS (Early Medieval Interdisciplinary Conference Series). ‘Stories and Storytelling in the Medieval World.’ Presenting Sat PM ‘The oldest prose stories of Britain: the Mabinogi as political project.’

Fri/Sat 17/18 APRIL OXFORD, St. Edmund’s hall. Conference, Medium Aevum. ‘Colour.’ Presenting Sat. 10:45 ‘The Golden Thread: an example of Mabinogi subtlety.’

Fri – Mon 1-4 MAY LONDON Conference. ‘Medieval London and the World.’ Presenting ‘In Defence of the London Ravens’ Defense: deconstructing a deconstruction.'(Day/ time TBC)

Tues JULY 7 LEEDS IMC (International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds) “The Use and Abuse of the Middle Ages in Modern Society.” Presenting Tues 7th panel 4.30-6.00 “The Once and Future Mabinogi”