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The Thirteen Treasures of the island of Britain

Updated on September 14, 2009
Merlin took the Treasures from the gaurdians.
Merlin took the Treasures from the gaurdians.



In the times before the Anglo-Saxon invasions that divided up the Island of Britain and before the conversion to Christianity, there are tales of thirteen treasures.Most of the information can be gleaned from a careful study of some ancient manuscripts;

The Red book of Hergest; Written sometime between 1382 AD and 1410 AD. Now kept at JesusCollege, Oxford.

The White book of Rhydderch; Also from the late 14th century, now at the National Library of Wales.

Black book of Carmarthen; Contains poetry from the 9th century to the 12th. Many of the poems are written in the voice of Myrddin (Merlin)

Our ancestors kept an oral tradition rather than a written one. With a population that generally had little or no reading skills the best way to teach was in story or poetry. These were easily remembered and so then, were the lessons. The above mentioned manuscripts refer to earlier works, some written some oral. They need deciphering but there is no doubt that the ancient wisdom of our Welsh ancestors was very profound.

One other point with regard to the name “Myrddin” When Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote “Historia Rex Brittaniae” (The History of the Kings of Britain) he gave Norman-French names to the heroes. For example;

Gwenhwyfar became Guinevere and Medrawd became Mordred. Unfortunately “Myrddinas” means “Shitty” in Norman-French so he translated it as “Merlinas” However it seems that Myrddin was not a name. It was a title. The ancient title given to the Arch-Druid. So there is the Merlin who was Arthur’s counselor, the Merlin who went mad after the battle of Arderydd, and many others. So who was the Merlin in the tale of the thirteen treasures?

One more piece of the puzzle to solve.

The gaurdians meet.
The gaurdians meet.

The Thirteen Treasures;

The keepers of the Treasures met, where is not clear. The manuscripts say “In the North” but this was before the island was divided. A possibility is Ystrad Cludd known today as Strathclyde.

Here the Merlin spoke and requested that the Thirteen Treasures be handed over to him. The keepers were unwilling but they finally agreed that if he could obtain the Horn of Bran of the North, they would all surrender theirs. This was not the same Bran as the giant king Bendigeidfran or Bran the Blessed. This man was known to never part with any possession so it was believed that he would never surrender this Horn. However, Merlin succeeded in obtaining the horn and the others gave up their treasures to him.

These are the thirteen treasures;

Corn Bran Galed o’r Gogledd, The Horn of Bran of the North. Whatever drink was wished for would be found in it.

Dyrnwyn, Gleddyf Rhydderch Hael, White Hilt, The sword of Rhydderch the generous.Named “White Hilt” because when an honorable man drew it, it would flame from tip to hilt.

Mwys Gwyddno Garanhir, The hamper of Gwyddno Long Shanks. Food for one man would be put in it and when opened food for a hundred would be found inside.

Car Morgan Mwynfawr, The chariot of Morgan the wealthy. Step into the chariot and wherever you wish to be you will arrive instantly.

Cebystr Clydno Eiddyn. The Halter of Clyddno Eiddyn. It was fixed at the foot of his bed. Whatever horse he wished for, it would be there in the morning.

Cyllell Llawfrodedd Farchog. The knife of Llawfrodedd the horseman. It would serve for twenty four men to sit at table.

Crochan Dyrnwch Gawr. The Cauldron of Dyrnwch the Giant. If meat for a coward were put in it, it would never boil but meat for a brave man would boil immediately. So the coward might be recognized.

Hogalen Tudwal Tudglyd. The whetstone of Tudwal Tudglyd. If a brave man sharpened his blade on it and drew blood from his enemy, the enemy would die. If a cowardly man sharpened his blade on it, his opponent would be none the worse.

Brethyn Badarn Beisrydd. The cloak of Padarn. If a well-born man put it on it would fit him perfectly. A low-born it would fit not at all.

Gren a Desgyl Rhygenydd Ysgolhaig. The Crock and Dish of Rhygenydd the Cleric. Whatever food might be wished for was found in them.

Gwyddbwyll Gwenddolau ap Ceidio. The chess board of Gwenddolau son of Ceidio. If the pieces were set they would play by themselves. The board was made of gold and the men silver.

Llen Arthur yng Ngernyw. The Mantle of Arthur in Cornwall. Whoever was under it could not be seen and he can see everything.

Through the tower on Glastonbury Tor. Into the mists of Avalon.
Through the tower on Glastonbury Tor. Into the mists of Avalon.


 These are the thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain. Merlin took them to “The Castle of Glass” and there they are kept today. Where that castle of glass is remains a mystery.

It is said that the Welsh Goddess, Arianrhod, lives in a Castle of Glass hidden somewhere in Snowdonia. Where she spins the threads that make the web of life.

Another possibility is Glastonbury Tor, said to be a portal to Annwn the Welsh otherworld. A place of joy and eternal youth where souls wait to re-enter the mortal realm.

The ancient Welsh also had their Messiah. It is said that if the thirteen treasures could be brought back together in this mortal world then the “Mab Darogan” The son of prophecy would arise.

Here is a mystery fit for Indiana Jones, anyone up for adventure?


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    • James Bardis profile image

      James Bardis 

      4 years ago


    • iantoPF profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Freeman 

      9 years ago from Pen-Bre, Cymru/Wales


      I do hope to write a number of articles on the ancient history of wales and the original Britons. Our indigenous heritage should receive a wider audience than has been the case to date. Thank you for your support.

    • knell63 profile image


      9 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Another great Hub Ianto. We have such a wonderful and rich history, great to see the rest of the world are being given a chance to find out more about our gem of a country.

    • iantoPF profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Freeman 

      9 years ago from Pen-Bre, Cymru/Wales

      Thank you Sufidreamer. I intend to write a lot more about the old Welsh legends.

    • Sufidreamer profile image


      9 years ago from Sparti, Greece

      Fantastic Hub - I love Welsh history and spent many childhood years devouring books about Celtic mythology and beliefs.

      Looking forward to more work about the rich and unique history of your proud country :)


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