History Files

Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles

Celts of Cymru


Dunoding (Romano-Britons) (Wales)

FeatureWith the expulsion of Roman officials in AD 409 (see feature link), Britain again became independent of Rome and was not re-occupied. The fragmentation which had begun to emerge towards the end of the fourth century now appears to have accelerated, with minor princes, newly declared kings, and Roman-style magistrates all vying for power and influence while also facing the threat of extinction at the hands of the various barbarian tribes which were encroaching from all sides.

FeatureIn the west, largely in what would become modern Wales, this process seems to have started earlier and taken place more quickly. Even by the start of the fifth century it is apparent that several territories had emerged here. The process seems to have been triggered by the reorganisations of Magnus Maximus in the late fourth century (see feature link), with what later tradition would claim as the creation of the 'kingdoms' of 'North Wales', 'South Wales', and 'Mid-South Wales'.

FeaturePerhaps not originally a Roman district which later became a Welsh cantref, unlike Rhos, Dunoding was granted to, or was acquired by, Venedotia during the creation of this principality by Cunedda (sometimes shown in later Welsh texts as Cunedag). It was located in the Porthmadog and Harlech region of western Gwynedd, on the southern edge of the Llŷn peninsula (see feature link for more on Gwynedd's sub-kingdoms). It was neighboured to the west by Afflogion, to the north by the core of Gwynedd, to the east by Rhufoniog and Edeyrnion, and to the south by Meirionydd.

Upon Cunedda's death the Dunoding territory was passed onto his fourth son, probably in the mid-fifth century AD, an event which saw it converted into a sub-kingdom of what was becoming better known as Gwynedd. After a relatively long period of personal control by the princes of Dunoding within Gwynedd's overall borders, the sub-kingdom was apparently later drawn back under the direct control of its Gwyneddian overlord ('king' was a Germanic title, while the Welsh used the Latin princeps).

The origin of the name is purportedly based on that of the first ruling prince: Dynod. This is sometimes shown as Dunod, and that version would be closer to the Romano-British original. Alternatively the Latinised 'Dunautus' may also have been used by a newly-created royal family which already had Latinised links in its original homeland amongst the Venicones.

A Latin letter 'u' in Dunod (the classical Latin 'v') became a 'y' in Welsh, but was still pronounced either as a 'u' or an 'i', depending on the word. The 'i' sound follows the 'u' sound in time (the 'i' comes later), so that the progression ends with an 'i' in many cases. The 'u' is clearly the oldest form here - Dunod - with Dynod being a later Welsh version of the name.

As for the name of the sub-kingdom itself, the '-ing' suffix is an English interpretation (or misinterpretation) which shows up in 'Dunoding'. The principality should also not be confused with the similarly-named Dunoting of northern Britain which was created in the sixth century. The equivalent Welsh suffix to the English '-ing' is '-ion', and the two seem to have been an automatic translation between the languages, with the Anglo-Saxons habitually substituted 'ing' for '-ion'.

The principality and its ruling dynasty should more properly be Dunodion or Dynodion, although Welsh consonant shifts always leave room for uncertainty.

Virtually nothing seems to be known about the territory within Dunoding during its existence as a sub-kingdom. Only later medieval genealogies record the names of its ruling princes, probably using oral tradition as their source. For that reason the names are probably reliable, as it would be the duty of each ruling prince to be able to recite the list of his ancestors back to Cunedda - a powerful and highly important figure to have in one's family tree. The sub-kings themselves, though, would have been very much a junior branch of the family, probably without any particular right to challenge for the kingship of Gwynedd itself.

Roman Canterbury

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from Ancestry of the Kings and Princes of Wales (genealogical document in Old Welsh), from The Landscape of King Arthur, Geoffrey Ashe, from Wales and the Britons, 350-1064, T M Charles-Edwards (Oxford University Press, 2013), from Welsh Genealogies AD 300-1400, Peter Bartrum, from The Oxford History of England: Anglo-Saxon England, Sir Frank Stenton, from History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth, from the Historia Brittonum (The History of the Britons), Nennius, from the Annales Cambriae, James Ingram (taken from the Harleian manuscript, the earliest surviving version, London, Everyman Press, 1912), from A History of the English Church and People, The Venerable Bede (Leo Sherley-Price translation - revised by R E Latham), and from External Link: Ancient Wales Studies.)

fl c.445

Dunautus / Dynod ap Cunedag

Fourth son of Cunedda Wledig of Venedotia.

fl c.475

Einion ap Dynod


fl c.500

Dingad ap Einion



FeatureDingad's cousin, Owain Ddantgwyn of Rhos, is murdered by Maelgwyn Gwynedd, king of all Venedotia, at the very start of the latter's kingship. Maelgwyn is perhaps better known during his own lifetime as Maglocunus (see feature link for more on Owain Ddantgwyn).

Tremadog Bay
This view of Gwynedd overlooks Tremadog Bay, near Harlech, which formed part of the Gwyneddian sub-kingdom of Dunoding between the fifth and tenth centuries

fl c.530

Meurig ap Dingad



Rhun Hir of Gwynedd has to fight off an attempted invasive takeover by his brother-in-law, Prince Elidyr of Alt Clut. Elidyr thinks his claim is stronger because Rhun is illegitimate, but he fails to recognise Gwyneddian law which gives equal accession rights to both legitimate and illegitimate offspring.

Elidyr is killed in battle on the Cadnant Brook in Gwynedd. Are the Gwyneddian sub-kings called upon to bolster Rhun's forces against this outside threat?

fl c.560

Einion ap Meurig


fl c.590

Isaag ap Einion



In one of the bloodiest and hardest fought battles of its time, several British kings form a coalition to halt Æthelfrith of Bernicia at the Battle of Caer Legion (Chester). Cearl of the Mercians could also be involved on the British side (according to scholarly theory).

FeatureIago ap Beli of Gwynedd and Selyf of Powys are both killed, and the battle is a disastrous British defeat. As lords of Gwynedd, Isaag ap Einion of Dunoding, Idris Gawr of Meirionnydd, and Cadwal Cryshalog of Rhos would also be expected to involve themselves with their own bands of warriors (see one of Geoffrey of Monmouth's more accurate entries about this campaign via the feature link).

Map of Britain AD 550-600
At the start of this period, the Angle and Saxon kingdoms on the east and south coasts were firmly established. Many of the rapidly-formed Romano-British territories in those areas had been swept away in the late fifth century (click or tap on map to view full sized)

fl c.620

Podgen Hen 'the Old' ap Isaag


fl c.650

Poedlew ap Podgen


fl c.680

Iddon ap Poedlew


fl c.710

Brochfael ap Idon


Brochfael ap Idon is possibly named after the better known Brochfael Ysgythrog of sixth century Paganes. The name is an intriguing one. The second part of it is the familiar 'fael', which can also be shown as 'mael' in other variations and 'maglo' going further back in time. It means 'servant, slave, follower', and so on.

The first part is rather more puzzling. 'Broch' seems to derive from proto-Celtic 'broko', meaning 'anger', which also means 'badger' ('angry animal'). It still means both in modern Welsh, but its origins as a name are unknown.

Vale of Meifod
Brochfael Ysgythrog is presented as a warrior hero who was fond of hunting, one of his resorts being the Vale of Meifod near Welshpool (shown here), but he is also connected with Pengwern, the eastern region of Powys - 'Brochwel Yscithroc, consul of Chester, who dwelt in a town then called Pengwerne Powys, and now Shrewsbury (Salopia)' - modern Shropshire

Was there some (local) deity who was a personification of anger? Or was there some family emblem from tribal days, a badger totem perhaps? Its re-use in seventh century Meirionnydd and eighth century Dunoding suggests that it has been popularised to an extent by the earlier Powysian king.

fl c.740

Eigion ap Brochfael



Caradog ap Meirchion is a ninth generation descendant of Cynlas Goch, ruler of Rhos. Now with the death of Rhodri Molwynog, he is able to seize the throne and pronounce himself the ruling Prince Caradog ap Meirchion of Gwynedd.

fl c.770

Iouanwal ap Eigion


fl c.800

Caradog ap Iouanwal


fl c.830

Bleidudd ap Caradog



During the reign of Merfyn Vrych of Gwynedd those Britons who still reside in what is becoming England are obliged to renounce their British ancestry or leave the country and their homes within three months.

Lleyn peninsula
The expansion of Rhos to take in the Lleyn peninsula under the command of St Einion Frenin may have threatened the over-king of Gwynedd as a potential rival, a possible reason for it being merged back into Gwynedd proper by Rhun Hir in the mid-sixth century

Perhaps it is this insult which prompts the prince to engage in battle against Beorhtwulf of Mercia (whom the Welsh annals name Berthwryd). The battle at Cyveiliawc (otherwise called Ketill or Cetyll), is apparently very severe and the king is killed.

In the same year another battle is fought at Fferyllwg, 'between the Wye and the Severn', although it is unknown who commands the Welsh forces. It is they who carry the day this time (a further battle is fought on the same site about two years later, which ends in stalemate).

fl c.860

Cuhelm ap Bleidudd

Son. Last of the Dunodion kings. Died around 925?


Upon the death of Rhodri Mawr, and according to his wishes, Wales is officially divided between his sons. Anarawd succeeds him in Gwynedd and retains Deheubarth, ruling from the Gwyneddian palace of Aberffraw on Mona, Cadell is confirmed in Seisyllwg, and Merfyn in Powys.

Rhodri Mawr
There was never a king of Wales (a Germanic title, while the Welsh used the Latin princeps) but Rhodri Mawr perhaps came closest to achieving the reality of either, uniting all of the Welsh principalities under his control but then undoing the process by ensuring that they were divided amongst his sons upon his death


The line of descent from Dynod apparently ends with Cuhelm, so the territory is fully merged back into a Gwynedd which is ruled by Idwal Foel. At the same time the territory is divided into the cantrefi of Eifionydd and Ardudwy.

The Norman conquest of Gwynedd in 1283 sees the cantrefi assigned to the counties of Caernarfonshire and Meirionnydd respectively. Today both are part of a revived Welsh county of Gwynedd.

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