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BRAN The Blessed and Enygeus

BRAN The Blessed. Bran Fendigaid ap Llyr Llediaith. (Bran Vendigaid, Bendigeid Vran, Bran Fendigaid, Bendigeidfran, Branovices, Bendigeiduran, Bendigeid = Blessed). (Geoffrey of Monmoth confuses him with Bren, Brennus)(Often mixed with Bron, who is a separate person of later date) (Often mixed together with a later mythological creation called The Fisher-King). The name "Bran" translates from Welsh as "raven". King of Siluria (now Monmouthshire), and king of Britain in Welsh mythology.

Born (20-10BC-S15)(about 60 A.D.-S?)(6 A.D.-S?) (21 B.C.-S4)(29 B.C.-S7); son of LLYR Llediaith (King Lear) ap Baran and Penarddun. Some sources (?) say that Iweriadd is the mother of Bran and Branwen. Said to have became King of Burgundy in right of his wife, the sole heiress of its royal house. (S6).

Bran the Blessed, the son of Llyr Llediaith, the first of the race of the Cymry who was converted to the faith in Christ ; and his family is the most ancient of the Holy Families of the Island of Britain. Arwystli Hen, a man from Italy; came with Bran, the son of Llyr, to the Island of Britain to teach the Christian faith. Saint Iliid, a man of Israel, who came with Bran, the son of Llyr, from Rome to teach the Christian faith to the race of the Cymry. (S15).

Eigen, the daughter of Caradoc, the son of Bran, the son of Llyr Llediaith, wife of Sallwg, lord of Garth Mathrin. Saint Lleurwg, called Lleuver Mawr [the great luminary,] the son of Coel, the son of Cyllin, the son of Caradoc, the son of Bran, the son of Llyr Llediaith, sent to Pope Eleutherius to request bishops to confer baptism on those of the race of the Cymry who should believe in Christ. Saint Gwerydd, the son of Cadwn, the son of Cenau, the son of Eudav, of the family of Bran the Blessed, the son of Llyr Lledi aith. Saint Gwynno, of the family of Bran the Blessed, the son. (S15).

Since his son Caradawg is often confused with Caradoc (Caractacus), who was taken to Rome; Bran is often confused with Cunobelin. The story that Bran was taken as a captive to Rome where he joined the household of St. Paul, returning to Britain with Aristobulus and Joseph of Arimathea some years later, and thus becoming among the first to introduce Christianity to the Island, hence his epithet of "the Blessed;" is a result of this confusion, and is a late 17th century fabrication based on misinformation.

He married Enygeus, a sister of Casswallan, who was his mother’s brother. [He married his mother’s sister?]. Casswallan was a British king in 62 A.D., and was made commander of all British forces in Caesar’s first invasion in 55 B.C. He was forced to pay tribute and died in 48 B.C. [These dates are improbable.] (S3).

He is often said to have as a wife Anna, the daughter of St. Joseph of Arimathea, probably through confusion with his grandmother, Beli Mawr's wife. {S12}. Bran was said to have been an early King of the Silures tribe of Gwent. His castle was Corbenic or Castell Dinas Bran, the later home of the later Kings of Powys. Both names deriving from the word Raven or Crow. {S12}. In Welch mythological tales he is described to be a giant, of such a large size that no house could contain him. In Celtic mythology, Bran appears as a semi-humanized giant residing at Castell Dinas Bran. There appears to be no archaeological evidence for his worship. {S12}. Geoffrey of Monmouth transformed him into an early British King named Brennius, though his story probably relates to King Bran Hen of Bryneich. {S12}. Bran was ruler of a large area of southeastern Britain from about 1 A.D. to about 42 A.D. Bran was King of Siluria, also commander of the British fleet. In the year A.D. 36 he resigned the crown to his son Caradoc and became Arch-Druid of the college of Siluria, where he remained some years.

He is attributed with the saying, “Let him who is a chief be a bridge.”

Some sources say he died in 42 A.D., others that he was living, “old,” in 60 A.D. Also (36-50AD-S15).


Role in the Mabinogion

He appears in several of the Welsh Triads, but his most significant role is in the Second Branch of the Mabinogion, “Branwen, daughter of Llyr” (Branwen verch Llyr).

Matholwch, King of Ireland, visited Bran to ask for the hand of Bran's sister Branwen in marriage. Bran agreed to this, but during a feast to celebrate the betrothal, Efnisien, a half-brother of Branwen and Bran, arrived and asked what was going on. When told, he was furious that Branwen had been given in marriage without his permission, and vented his spleen by mutilating Matholwch's horses. Matholwch was deeply angered until Bran gave him a magic Cauldron of Knowledge (or Cauldron of Healing) (Holy Grail?) which restored the dead to life.

Once in Ireland, Branwen was treated cruelly by her husband, Matholwch, and was forced to work in the kitchen. She tamed a starling and sent it across the Irish Sea with a message to her brother Bran, who sailed from Wales to Ireland to rescue her with his brother, Manawydan. When Matholwch saw the giant, he asked for peace and built a house big enough for him. Matholwch agreed to let Bran live with them and give the kingdom to Gwern (Gwern means Alder), his son by Branwen. The Irish lords didn't like the idea, so they hid themselves in flour bags to attack the Welsh. Efnisien guessed what was happening and killed them inside the bags by squeezing their heads, then threw Gwern into the fire.

The Alder tree referred to it. Sacred for the belief of its 'bleeding' when cut down, the wood of this tree was used by 'Bran the Blessed' for the piles of a bridge he constructed across the Irish Sea in order to rescue his sister Branwen. Because of its underwater durability it was used for such practical things as watermill wheels, canal lock-gates and milk pails.

In the ensuing war, the Irish at first had the advantage because of Matholwch's magic cauldron. When the Irish dead were placed in it, they came to life and were able to fight as well as ever. Efnisien lay down among the dead and was placed in the cauldron, then broke it, bursting his heart and dying in the process. The Welsh eventually won the war, but only seven men survived. Bran himself was mortally wounded and ordered that his head should be cut off. On the return of the survivors to Wales, Branwen died of grief for all the destruction on her account and was buried beside the River Alaw in Anglesey.

When Bran was wounded in the foot (or thigh) with the poisoned javelin, and though no causal nexus is mentioned, the islands of Ireland and Britain were rendered desolate. Bran commanded his followers to cut off his head and to travel with it, first to Harlech and then to Gwales (Grassholm Island off Dyfed, Pembrokeshire). Obeying his commands, they spent seven years at Harlech, regaling themselves with meat and drink. Then, setting out for Grassholm, they found there a fair royal place, a great hall, overlooking the sea. That night they spent there without stint, and we may infer that they continued to feast, as they had at Harlech, for eighty years, in the company of the uncorrupted head of Bran. This was called the Hospitality of the Wondrous Head." - Roger Sherman Loomis, The Grail, From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol. If the hospitality of the Noble head took place on Grassholm, then when Heilyn opened the door and looked towards Cornwall, Lundy is the nearest land.

The text version:

The mighty king Bran, a being of gigantic size, sat one day on the cliffs of his island in the Atlantic Ocean, near to Hades and the Gates of Night, when he saw ships sailing towards him and sent men to ask what they were. They were a fleet sent by Matholweh, the king of Ireland, who had sent to ask for Branwen, Bran's sister, as his wife. Without moving from his rock Bran bid the monarch land, and sent Branwen back with him as queen.

But there came a time when Branwen was ill-treated at the palace; they sent her into the kitchen and made her cook for the court, and they caused the butcher to come every day (after he had cut up the meat) and give her a blow on the ear. They also drew up all their boats on the shore for three years, that she might not send

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for her brother. But she reared a starling in the cover of the kneading-trough, taught it to speak, and told it how to find her brother; and then she wrote a letter describing her sorrows and bound it to the bird's wing, and it flew to the island and alighted on Bran's shoulder, "ruffling its feathers" (says the Welsh legend) "so that the letter was seen, and they knew that the bird had been reared in a domestic manner." Then Bran resolved to cross the sea, but he had to wade through the water, as no ship had yet been built large enough to hold him; and he carried all his musicians (pipers) on his shoulders. As he approached the Irish shore, men ran to the king, saying that they had seen a forest on the sea, where there never before had been a tree, and that they had also seen a mountain which moved. Then the king asked Branwen, the queen, what it could be. She answered, "These are the men of the Island of the Mighty, who have come hither to protect me." "What is the forest?" they asked. "The yards and masts of ships." "What mountain is that by the side of the ships?" "It is Bran my brother, coming to the

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shoal water and rising." "What is the lofty ridge with the lake on each side?" "That is his nose," she said, "and the two lakes are his fierce eyes."

Then the people were terrified: there was yet a river for Bran to pass, and they broke down the bridge which crossed it, but Bran laid himself down and said, "Who will be a chief, let him be a bridge." Then his men laid hurdles on his back, and the whole army crossed over; and that saying of his became afterwards a proverb. Then the Irish resolved, in order to appease the mighty visitor, to build him a house, because he had never before had one that would hold him; and they decided to make the house large enough to contain the two armies, one on each side. They accordingly built this house, and there were a hundred pillars, and the builders treacherously hung a leathern bag on each side of each pillar and put an armed man inside of each, so that they could all rise by night and kill the sleepers. But Bran's brother, who was a suspicious man, asked the builders what was in the first bag. "Meal, good soul," they

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answered; and he, putting his hand in, felt a man's head and crushed it with his mighty fingers, and so with the next and the next and with the whole two hundred. After this it did not take long to bring on a quarrel between the two armies, and they fought all day.

After this great fight between the men of Ireland and the men of the Isles of the Mighty there were but seven of these last who escaped, besides their king Bran, who was wounded in the foot with a poisoned dart. Then he knew that he should soon die, but he bade the seven men to cut off his head and told them that they must always carry it with them--that it would never decay and would always be able to speak and be pleasant company for them. "A long time will you be on the road," he said. "In Harlech you will feast seven years, the birds of Rhiannon singing to you all the while. And at the Island of Gwales you will dwell for fourscore years, and you may remain there, bearing the head with you uncorrupted, until you open the door that looks towards the mainland; and after you have once opened that door you can stay no longer, but

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must set forth to London to bury the head, leaving it there to look toward France."

So they went on to Harlech and there stopped to rest, and sat down to eat and drink. And there came three birds, which began singing a certain song, and all the songs they had ever heard were unpleasant compared with it; and the songs seemed to them to be at a great distance from them, over the sea, yet the notes were heard as distinctly as if they were close by; and it is said that at this repast they continued seven years. At the close of this time they went forth to an island in the sea called Gwales. There they found a fair and regal spot overlooking the ocean and a spacious hall built for them. They went into it and found two of its doors open, but the third door, looking toward Cornwall, was closed. "See yonder," said their leader Manawydan; "that is the door we may not open." And that night they regaled themselves and were joyful. And of all they had seen of food laid before them, and of all they had heard said, they remembered nothing; neither of that, nor of any sorrow whatsoever. There they remained

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fourscore years, unconscious of having ever spent a time more joyous and mirthful. And they were not more weary than when first they came, neither did they, any of them, know the time they had been there. It was not more irksome for them to have the head with them, than if Bran the Blessed had been with them himself. And because of these fourscore years, it was called "The Entertaining of the Noble Head."

One day said Heilwyn the son of Gwyn, "Evil betide me, if I do not open the door to know if that is true which is said concerning it." So he opened the door and looked towards Cornwall. And when they had looked they were as conscious of all the evils they had ever sustained, and of all the friends and companions they had ever lost, and of all the misery that had befallen them, as if all had happened in that very spot; and especially of the fate of their lord. And because of their perturbation they could not rest, but journeyed forth with the head towards London. And they buried the head in the White Mount.

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The island called Gwales is supposed to be that now named Gresholm, eight or ten miles off the coast of Pembrokeshire; and to this day the Welsh sailors on that coast talk of the Green Meadows of Enchantment lying out at sea west of them, and of men who had either landed on them or seen them suddenly vanishing. Some of the people of Milford used to declare that they could sometimes see the Green Islands of the fairies quite distinctly; and they believed that the fairies went to and fro between their islands and the shore through a subterranean gallery under the sea. They used, indeed, to make purchases in the markets of Milford or Langhorne, and this they did sometimes without being seen and always without speaking, for they seemed to know the prices of the things they wished to buy and always laid down the exact sum of money needed. And indeed, how could the seven companions of the Enchanted Head have spent eighty years of incessant feasting on an island of the sea, without sometimes purchasing supplies from the mainland?


Association with the Tower of London

According to the Triads, Bran's head was buried in Gwynfryn (the 'White Mount') in Caer-Lundein (London) where the White Tower now stands. As long as it remained there, Britain would be safe from invasion. However, King Arthur dug up the head, declaring the country would be protected only by his great strength. There have been attempts in modern times to link the still-current practice of keeping ravens at the Tower of London under the care of Yeomen Warder Ravenmaster, and with this story of Bran, whose name means Raven.

The Tower Hill Legend from the original:

Tri Matkud Ynys Prydein:

Penn Bendigeituran uab Llyr, a guduwyt yn y Gvynuryn yn Llundein, a’e wyneb ar Ffreinc. A hyt tra uu yn yr ansavd y dodet ymo, ny doei Ormes Saesson byth y’r ynys hon; […]

A llyna y Tri Anvat(dat)kud pan datgudwyt:
[…]Ac Arthur a datkudyaud Penn Bendigeituran o’r Gvynnvrynn. Kan nyt oed dec gantau kadv yr Ynys honn o gedernit neb, namyn o’r eidan ehun.

“Three fortunate concealments of the Island of Britain:
The Head of Bran the Blessed, son of Llyr, which was concealed in the White Hill in London, with its face towards France; and as long as it was in the position in which it was put there, no Saxon oppression would ever come to this island; […]

And they were the Three Unfortunate Disclosures when these were disclosed.
[…]And Arthur disclosed the Head of Bran the Blessed from the White Hill, because it did not seem right to him that this island should be defended by the strength of anyone, but by his own”. (Trioedd Ynys Prydein/The Welsh Triads. Rachel Bromwich. pp.88-89).


Born 17 (B.C.or A.D.?) in Cornwall. Said to be a daughter of Joseph of Arimathea, but this is confusing her with Anna, wife of Beli Mawr. (S3, S12)

CHILDREN Bran The Blessed and Enygeus:
  1. CARADOC ap Bran. (Caradawg)(Caradoc, Caradawc, Caradog, Caradog mab Brân). Born (about 80 A.D.)(lived about 37 BC.) at Trevan, Llanilid, Glamorganshire, Wales. He died in Siluria (Monmouthshire). Usurped and killed by Caswallawn ap Don. He is confused with the historical Caradoc (Caractacus), who fought the Roman legions at the time of the Claudian invasion (AD 43), and was later handed over to governor Ostorius (Ostorious) Scapula, in 51 AD. He is also confused with Caradawc Vreichvras of about 500 A.D.
  2. Bran (Brons) ap Bran.
  3. Avallach ap Bran



Bran Siluria ap Llyr Lleddiarth (Bran Fendigaid)(Bran the Blessed),  Arch Druid
Avallach ap Bran
Euddolen Ap Afallach
Eudos Ap Euddolen
Eifydd Ap Eudos
Eudeyrn ap Eifydd and Millisanndia verch Seysild
Euddigan ap Eudeyrn and Generys verch Tegwaret
Ryddrech Rhodri ap Euddigan and Margareta verch Eynon
Gloyw Gwallthir ap Rhodi
Gwidolin ap Gloyw
Gwidol ap Gwidolin and Dinoi of Lidinin
Guorthenau Vortigern ap Gwidol and Sevira ferch Macsen
Cadeyrn, King of Powys, (Gwrtheyrn) Vortigern  
Kadell (Cadell) ap Caderyn (c580-?)
Gwnfyw Frych  ap Cadell 
Gwynnan ap Gwnfyw Frych
Gwriawn (Gwylawr)  ap Gwynnan  (c615-?)  
Byordderch ap Gwriawn (c650-?)
Bywyn ap Byordderch  (c705-?) 
Gwaethgar Gwaeddgar ap Bywyn (c755-?) 
Gwrgant (Gwrgeneu) ap Gwaeddgar (c790-?)
Cadfarch ap Gwrgant  (c830-?)
Ynyr ap Cadfarch (c870-949) and Rheingar verch Lluddoccaf
Tudor Trevor ap Ynyr (900-948) and Angharad verch Hywel Dda
Dyngad ap Tudor Trevor (c930-?) and Sissely verch Seferws (Seferys)
Rhiwallon ap Dyngad of Maelor Gymraeg (c965-1073) 
Caradog ap Rhiwallon (c1000-?)
Breichiol ap Caradog (c1030-?) 
Pyll ap Breichiol (c1060-?) 
Meurig ap Pyll of Penhros  (c1095-?) 
Caradog ap Meurig of Penrhos  (c1125-?)
Iorwerth ap Caradog (c1160-?) and Alis verch Bleddyn Broadspear
Adam Gwent
Adam ap Iorwerth (Adam Gwent) (c1190-1246), of Llanfriafael and Goleuddydd verch Hywel
John ap Adam (Adam Fynchan)(John ap Adam) (c1220-c1270) and N.N. Burchill/(verch Dafydd)
John ap Adam  (c1255-c1310)  md Elizabeth de Gournay
(Sir) Thomas ap Adam (c1307-c1342)  md Joan Inge
John ap Adams and Millicent Bessylls
John Adams (c1360-c1424)  and Clara Powell  (changed name from ap Adams to Adams)
Roger Adams (1392-?) and Jane Ellyott
Thomas Adams (1422-?) and Maria Upton
John Adams (1452-?) and Jane (Renneigh) Benneleigh
John Adams (1482-1557) and Catharine Stebbing
John Adams (1502-?)  and Margaret Squier
Richard Adams (c1530-1603) and Margaret Armager
Robert Adams (1568-1602) and Elizabeth Sharlon
Robert Adams and Eleanor Wilmot
Elizabeth Adams and Edward Phelps
Samuel Phelps and Sarah Chandler
John Phelps and Sarah Andrews
John Phelps and Deborah Lovejoy
Samuel Phelps and Margaret Nevins
Ebenezer Ferrin and Lydia Phelps
Samuel Ferrin and Sally Clotilda Powell
Lydia Powell Ferrin and George William Washington Williams
George William Williams and Harriett Thurston
Minnie Williams and Clive Vernon Tenney
Mildred Ella Tenney and Glenn Russell Handy
Deborah Lee Handy and Rodney Allen Morris