Design of an Early Medieval Boat

In the Preiddeu Annwfn (Spoils of Annwfn), a Welsh poem from the Book of Taliesin, Prydwen (Pridwen) was the name of Arthur’s ship. According to Norris J. Lacy, this poem (on the basis of linguistic criteria) took on its present form about 900 AD. Arthur’s boat, Prydwen ( meaning 'fair face') is also mentioned three times in the 11th century Culhwch and Olwen.

In the Preiddeu Annwfn, Arthur and his men sail to Caer Sidi (the Fairy Fortress) to free the captive Gwair.

Perfect was the captivity of Gwair in Caer Sidi, Thanks to Pwyll and Pryderi’s emissary

Before him no one entered in to it, The heavy, dark chain held the faithful youth

And before the spoils of Annwfn sorely he sang, And thenceforth remains he till doom a bard

Three freights of Prydwen went we thither, But only seven returned from Caer Sidi

In Culhwch and Olwen, Arthur’s band of men set sail to Ireland aboard his ship Prydwen to acquire the cauldron of Diwrnach. However, Diwrnach treats them to a feast but denies them the cauldron. One of Arthur’s warriors, LLenlleawc the Irishman, kills Diwrnach’s entire retinue using Caledfwlch (Caliburn or Excalibur).


Geoffrey of Monmouth states in his 12th century Historia regum Britanniae that Pridwen is Arthur’s shield. However, this conflicts with his shield having earlier been named as Wynebgwrthucher in Culhwch and Olwen, and also the fact that both previous works - i.e. Culhwch and Olwen and Preiddeu Annwfn, have declared Prydwen to be Arthur’s ship.

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