Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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BRYNACH , saint ( fl. late 5th cent. — early 6th cent. )

The chief source for the Brynach legend is a ‘life’ composed probably in the 12th cent. and now preserved in B.M. Cotton Vesp. MS. A. xiv.

The wealth of local details makes it almost certain that the author was a native of Cemais in north Pembs. The ‘life’ reveals nothing of the saint's antecedents, but Welsh tradition remembers him as Brynach Wyddel ( the Irishman ) . After a pilgrimage to Rome and a sojourn of some years in Brittany , Brynach landed at Milford in south Pembs. He moved thence to a spot on the river Gwaun , and then on to the banks of the river Nevern . His final settlement was made at the modern Nevern on the banks of the river Caman , a tributary of the Nevern . The lord of that country, whose name was Clechre , surrendered possession of part of the district to Brynach , and there the latter remained, leading a life of rigorous asceticism. The majority of his foundations were in this region of north Pembrokeshire , and a cross standing in Nevern churchyard is still known (apparently without justification) as S. Brynach's Cross .

His festival is observed on 7 April .


  • The Lives of the British Saints , i, 321-7;
  • Wade-Evans , Vitae Sanctorum Britanniae et Genealogiae (Cardiff, 1944) , 2-15;
  • Antiquity , 1945 , 182-4;
  • An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire. VII—County of Pembroke (1925) , 263;
  • Nash-Williams , The Early Christian Monuments of Wales (Cardiff, 1950) , 197-200;
  • O'Hanlon , Lives of the Irish saints, with special festivals, and the commemorations of holy persons, compiled from calendars, martyrologies, and various sources relating to the ancient Church history of Ireland (1875) , iv, 75-6.


Hywel David Emanuel, M.A., (1921-70), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959