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Arberth is one of the chief courts of Dyfed, which had seven cantrefs, so seven main courts in all. The lord would make a circuit of these main courts. Key events take place in the First and Third Branch at Gorsedd Arberth, a mound close by the court.

Pronounced ARB -air -th.

Arberth is sometimes thought of as the chief, central court of Dyfed. The text does not support this; it is described as ‘a’ chief court. This accords completely with the mediaeval Welsh ruler’s custom of making a circuit around a number of chief courts cf. Gwydion and Gilfaethwy in the Fourth Branch.

The location of Arberth in Dyfed, is in modern Pembrokeshire; either at modern Narberth or a few miles from Cardigan at Nant Arberth. The latter would place a chief court in a region which was a contested zone, frequently invaded and changing hands between southern Dyfed and northern Gwynedd. That makes a chief court unlikely. John Bollard gives modern Narberth as the best candidate. Its central position for transport on both the main east-west, and north-south axes by land, and easy access to the southern ports, is a solid basis in terms of economics.

There are remains of a Norman castle at the southern Narberth site today (SN112145). As successive waves of rulers tend to build on existing strongpoints, this may well be the ancient site of the court of Arberth.

(First published 28/07/2014:  Shan Morgain)


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