Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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BEUNO (d. 642? ), patron saint .

He is widely commemorated in North Wales . Under his patronage are Aberffraw , Trefdraeth , Clynnog , Penmorfa , Carngiwch , Pistyll , and Botwnnog in Gwynedd , and Llanycil , Gwyddelwern , Berriw , and Betws Cydewain in Powys . Llanfeuno in Ewias Lacy alone represents him in South Wales . Of these foundations Clynnog (for Celynnog ) was much the most important. The group of clergy who held it appear in the oldest manuscript of the Venedotian Code , under the name of ‘ clas Beuno ,’ as warranting (with Bangor ) the legal privileges of the cantref of Arfon . According to tradition, the site was given by Gwyddeint , a cousin of Cadwallon , king of Gwynedd , and, therefore, about 630 . A long list of other donors who enriched the community in later years appears in the records of the church; they made it one of the wealthiest foundations in north-west Wales . At Clynnog , the fame of the founder was perpetuated in many ways. ‘ Bedd Beuno ’ marked his resting place, ‘ Ffynnon Beuno ’ was his healing well, ‘ Cored Beuno ’ his weir, ‘ Cyff Beuno ’ his strong chest of solid oak, ‘ Nod Beuno ’ the notch on the ear of cattle dedicated to him, ‘ Llyfr Beuno ’ the repository of his claims.

Notwithstanding this wealth of local commemoration, history has little to tell of the saint . The only extant life is a brief Welsh summary of about 1350 contained in the Book of the Anchorite of Llanddewi Brefi (ed. J. Morris-Jones and J. Rhys , Oxford , 1894 ). This makes him a scion of the royal stock of Morgannwg , born on the banks of the Severn in Powys , educated at Caerwent , settled at Berriw (until driven away by the approach of the English ), at Gwyddelwern , at Holywell (where he plays a part in the story of S. Winifred ), and finally at Clynnog , where he ended his days on Low Sunday (British reckoning) . As his festival was almost everywhere observed on 21 April , it may perhaps be inferred that this was the date of his death in 642 .

Sources:

  • The Lives of the British Saints , i, 208-21;
  • Eben Fardd , Cyff Beuno (1863) (Tremadoc, 1863 ).

Author:

Sir John Edward Lloyd, D.Litt., F.B.A., F.S.A. (1861-1947), Bangor

Published date: 1959