History Files


Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles

Celts of Cymru





FeatureThis was a region in what was still at this time in the process of becoming Wales. Initially Rhos was likely to have been part of the territory of the kingdom of Ceredigion but it seems to have been granted to, or acquired by, Gwynedd. This event saw it converted into a sub-kingdom of Gwynedd in the late fifth century. After a short period of expansion within Gwynedd's overall borders, it was later apparently drawn back under the direct control of its Gwyneddian overlord.

The origin of the name is obscure, but it may have its basis in the former Roman cantref name. It is sometimes also known as the kingdom or territory of Penllyn.

Curiously, a certain Cunoricus (Cynyr Ceinfarfog in later Welsh sources) is claimed as governing cantref Pebidiog within the kingdom of Dyfed in the late fifth century. Caer-Gynyr (later known as Caer Cai) near Bala in Penllyn is also claimed as being his - which raises the possibility of an interesting scenario. It seems unlikely that the first Gwyneddian ruler of Rhos was in place before AD 480, which raises the interesting prospect of Cunoricus being a Romano-British warlord or official who is replaced or succeeded by the newcomers who now ruled Gwynedd. It was certainly a sign of the times on Britain's western coastline.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson.)

c.480 - 517

Owain Ddantgwyn (White-Tooth)

Youngest son of Einion Yrth of Gwynedd.


FeatureOwain is murdered by Maelgwyn Gwynedd almost as soon as the latter acquires the throne of Gwynedd.

517 - c.540

Cynlas Goch (the Red) (ap Owain)

Cinglas (Cuneglasus). Mentioned by Gildas.


The sense of humour sometimes exhibited by the Welsh (even today) in naming their offspring is evident in Cynlas Goch. Perhaps better known as Cuneglasus in his own time is mentioned in records as ruddy (a redhead), but his name literally means 'blue dog' ('cuno-' meaning dog and 'glasus' meaning blue).


Einion ap Cynlas (St)

Feature King of Lleyn. Allowed to absorb Afflogion.


At some point in his lifetime, Einion ap Cynlas inherits the minor territory of Afflogion, on the Lleyn Peninsula, after the death of its last appointed ruler, which may be Afloyg ap Cunedda, but is more likely to be an unknown son or grandson. Allowed to merge this territory with Rhos, Einion now holds eastern Gwynedd and the whole of the Lleyn Peninsula.

Lleyn Peninsula
The expansion of Rhos to take in the Lleyn Peninsula may have threatened the over-king of Gwynedd as a potential rival


Rhos loses any autonomy it might possess as over-king Rhun Hir of Gwynedd draws the kingdom under his direct control. Einion's family appear to remain important lords in eastern Gwynedd after they cease to be kings, and a ninth generation descendant of Cynlas became King Caradog ap Meirchion of Gwynedd in the eighth century.

754 - 798

Caradog ap Meirchion

King of Rhos and Gwynedd.

798 - 825

Hywel ap Caradog

Son. King of Rhos. Sometimes incorrectly attributed to Manau.


Hywel fights Cynan Tyndaethwy for control of Mon (Anglesey). He apparently wins, as he holds Mon for about three years. The Rhos pedigree from Harleian Ms 3859 terminates with Hywel, leaving his successors as a matter of some guesswork, but one theory places the fifth century Caradog Freich Fras of Gwent here as Hywel's son.