John Toland.

A new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory online

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All these degrees were given to men of learning,
as well poets as musicians. All these foresaid
degrees of learning were given by the king, or in
his presence in his palace, at every three years
end, or by a licence from him in some fit place
thereunto (appointed) upon an open disputation
had before the king or his deputy in that behalf,
and then they were to have their reward accord-
ing to their degrees. Also there were three kinds
of poets. The one was Prndudd: the other was
Tevluwr: the third was Klerivr. These three
kinds had three several matters to treat of. The
Prududd was to treat of lands, and the praise of
princes, nobles, and gentlemen, and had his cir-
cuit among them. The Tevluwr did treat of
merry jests, and domestical pastimes and affairs,
having his circuit among tL>e countrymen, and bis
re wait! according to his calling. Tlie Clerivr did
treat of invective and rustical poetry, differing
from the Prududd and Tevluwr; and his circuit
was among the yeomen of the country. As for
their habits, they were certain long apparel down
to the calf of their leggs, or somewhat lower, and
were of diverse colours.

JV, To the fourtli questioii I say, the Bard wa.s


a herald to, record all the acts of the princes and
nobles, and to give arms according to deserts.
They were also poets, and cou'd prognosticate
certain things, and gave them out in metre. And
further there were three kinds of Beirdd (the
plural of Bardd) viz. Privardd, Posivardd, Ar-
wyddvardd. The Priveirdd {jp\nv2L\\y) were Merlin
Silvester, Merlin Ambrosius, and Taliessin; and
the reason they were call'd Priveirdd, be-
cause they invented and taught such philosophy
and other learning as were never read or heard of
by any man before. The interpretation of this
word Privardd is prince, or first learner, or learn-
ed man : for JBardd was an appellation of all learn-
ed men, and professors of learning, and prophets,
as also were attributed to them the titles of Pri-
vardd, Posvardd, and Artiyddvard, Sardd Telyn.
And they call Merlin Ambrosius by the name of
Sardd Gortheyrn, that is, Vortiger's Philosopher,
or learned man, or Prophesyer. Sardd Telyn is
he that is doctor of the musicians of the harp, and
is the chief harp in the land, having his abode in
the king's palace: and note no man may be called
Privardd, but he that inventeth such learning,
and arts, or science, as were never taught before.
The second kind of Bardd is Posvardd, and those
Posveirdd were afterwards Prydiddion: for they
did imitate and teach vhat the Priveirdd had set
forth, and must take tlicir author front one of them ;
for they themselves are no authors, but registers


and propagators of the learning invented by the
others. The third kind is Arivyddvard, that is
by interpretation an Ensigvrbard, and indeed is a
herald at arms; and his duty was to declare the
genealogy and to blazon the arms of nobles and
princes, and to keep the record of them, and to
alter their arms according to their dignity or de-
serts. These were with the kings and princes in
all battles and actions. As for their garments, I
think they were long, such as the Prydiddion had ;
for they challenge the name of Beirdd ut supra.
Whereas some writers, and for the most part all
foreners that mention the Beirdd, do write that
JSard has his name given him from one Bardus,
who was the first inventor of Barddonieth, and
some say he was the fourth l^ing of Britain ; I say
it is a most false, erroneous, and fabulous surmise
of foren writers, for there never was any of that
name either a king or king's son of Britain. But
there was a great scholar and inventor both of
poetical verses and musical lessons that was some
time king of Britain. His name was Blegywryd
ap Gdsyllt, and he was the 56th supreme king of
Great Britain, and dy'd in the 2067th year after
the deluge, of whom it is written that he was the
famousest musician that ever lived in Britain. No
writer can show that Bard had his name from
Bardus, it being a primitive British word that has
the foresayd significations. And Barddonieth
(which is the art, function, and profession of the

H h


Bardd) is also us'd for prophesy and the inter-
pretation thereof, and also for all kinds of learn-
ing among us that the Beirdd were authors of.

V. As for the fifth question, the king had al-
ways a chief judge resident in his court, ready to
decide all controversies that then happen'd, and
he was called Egnat Llys. He had some privi-
lege given him by the king's houshold officers, and
therefore he was to determine theii* causes gratis.
As for the tri anhepkor brenin, I think it super-
fluous to treat of them here, seeing you have this
matter in my book of laws more perfect than I
can remember it at this time. Look in the table
among the trioedd kyfraith, and those are set down
in two or three several places of the book. And
if you cannot find it there, see in the office of
Egnat Llys, or Pen tevlu, or yffeirinid llys, and
you'll be sure to find it in some of those places.
I do not find in my book of laws, that there were
any officers for the law that did dwell in the king's
palace, but onely his Egnat Llys, that was of any
name, or bore any great office: for he was one of
the tri anhepkor brenin.

VI. As for the sixth question, I say that there
were resident in the country but Egnat Comot,
that I can understand. But when an assembly
met together for the title of lands, then the king
in his own person came upon the land ; and if he
cou'd not come, he appointed some deputy for
him. There came with the king his chief judge,


and called unto him his Egnat Komot, or coun-
try-judge, together with some of his council that
dwelt in the Komot, where the lands lay that were
in the controversy, and the free-holders also of
the same place, and there came a priest or prelate,
two counsellors, and two Rhingill or Serjeants,
and two champions, one for the plaintiff and ano-
ther for the defendant; and when all these were
assembled together, the king or his deputy viewed
the land, and when they had viewed it, they caused
a round mount to be cast up, and upon the same
was the judgment seat placed, having his back to-
ward the sun or the weather. Some of these
mounts were made square and some round, and
both round and square bore the name of Gorsed-
devy dadle, that is, the mount of pleading. Some
also have the name of him that was chief judge or
deputy to the king in that judicial seat; and it
was not lawful to make an assembly no where for
title of lands, but upon the lands that were in con-
troversy. These Gorsedde are in our country,
and many other places to be seen to this day; and
will be ever, if they be not taken down by men's
hands. They had two sorts of witnesses, the one
was Gwyhyddyeid, and the other Amhiniogev.
The Gicylyddyeid were such men as were born in
the Komot, where the lands that were in contro-
versy lay, and of their own perfect knowledge did
know that it was the defendants right. And Am-
kiniogev were such men as^ had their lands raear-


ing on the lands that were in controversy, and
hemmed up that land. And the oath of one of
those Amhiniogev, otherwise called Keidweid, was
better than the oath of twain that were but Gw^-
hyddyeid. Look in the table of my book of laws
for the definition of Keidweid, Amhiniogev, and
Givybyddyeid, and how the king did try his caus-
es ; and that will manifest it more at large. The
Mayer and the Kangellaivr had no authority
amongst the Britons for any lands but the kings
lands ; and they were to set it and let it, and to
have their circuit amongst the king's tenants; and
they did decide all controversies that happened
amongst them. Vide in the table of my book of
laws for the definition of Mayer and KangeUamr.
VII. To the seventh question, I say that there
were in this land about a hundred superial kings,
that governed this land successively; that were
of the British blood : yet notwithstanding there
were under them divers other princes that had the
name of kings, and did serve, obey, and belong to
the superial king, as the king of Alban or Prydyn
or Scotland, the king of J^ymbery or Wales, the
king of Gwneydd or Venedotia. Yet notwith-
standing the same law and government was used
in every prince or king's dominion, as Mas in the
superial king's proper dominion; unless it were
that some custom or i}ri\ilegf' did belong to some
place of the kingdom more than to another: and
every inferiour king was to execute the law upon


all transgressors that offended in their dominion.
In the time of Kassibelanus there arose some
controversy between the superial King Kaswal-
lawne and Ararwj', king of London, one of his
inferior kings, about a murther committed. The
case is thus. The superial king keeping his court
within the dominion of one of the inferior kings,
a controversy falling between twain within the
court, and there and then one was slain, the ques-
tion is, Whether the murtherer ought to be tryed
by the officers and privilege of the superior king,
or of the inferior king. I think that the murtherer
ought to be tried by the law and custom of the
inferior king's court, because it is more seemly
that the superior king's court, which did indure
in that country but a week or twain, or such like
time, should lose his privilege there for that time,
than the inferior king's court should lose it for
ever. Vide in lihro meo de legibus. It may seem
to those that have judgment in histories, that this
was the very cause that Ararwy would not have
his kinsman tried by the judges and laws or privi-
lege of Kaswallawne, whose court did remain in
the dominion of Aranvy but a little while, but
wou4d have the felon tried by his judges and his
court. There is no mention made of Talaith any
where amongst the Britons before the destruction
of Britain, but that there were in Britain but one
superial crown and three Talaith or coronets or
Prince's crowns ; one for the Alban, another for


Wales, and the third for Kerniw or Komwale.
There were divers others called kings which never
wore any crown or coronet, as the kings of Dyved
in South Wales, the king of Kredigion, and such,
and yet were called kings, and their countries
were divided as you shall see in the next question.
VIII. To the eighth question, I say, that ac-
cording to the primitive law of this land, that
Dyfivwal Mod Mvd made, for before the laws of
Dyfnwal Moel Mvd the Trojan laws and customs
were used in this land, and we cannot tell what
division of lands they had, nor what officers but
the Druidion, he divided all this land according
to this manner, thus : Trihud y gronin haidd, or
thrice the length of one barly corn maketh a
Modvedd or inch, three Modvedd or inches mak-
eth a Palf or a palm of the hand, three PaJf or
palm maketh a Troedvedd or foot, 3 feete or Tro-
edvedd maketh a Kam or pace or a stride, 3 Kam
or strides to the Naid or leape, 3 Naid or leape
to the Grwmg, that is, the breadth of a butt of
land or Tir; and mil of those Tir maketh 3IiI-
tir, that is, a thousand Tir or mile. And that
was his measure for length which hath been used
from that time to this day; and yet, and for su-
perficial measuring he made 3 hud gronin Iiaidd,
or barly corn length, to the Modvedd, or inch, 3
Modvedd or inch to the Paff or hand breadth, 3
Pa{/' to the Troedvedd or foot, 4 Troedvedd or
foot to the Veriav or the short yoke, 8 Troedvedd


or foot to the Neidiav, and 12 Troedvedd or foot
in the Gesstiliav and 16 Troedvedd in the Hiriav.
And a pole or rod so long, that is 16 foot long,
is the breadth of an acre of land, and 30 poles or
rods of that length, is the length of an Erw or
acre by the law, and four Erw or acre maketh a
Tyddyn or messuage, and four of that Tyddyn or
messuage maketh a Rhandir, and four of those
Jthandiredd maketh a Gqfel or tenement or hoult,
and four Gqfel maketh a Tref or township, and
four Tref or townships maketh a Maenol or Mae-
nor, and twelve Maenol or Maenor and dicy dref
or two townships maketh a Kwmwd or Gemot,
and two Kwmwd or Gemot maketh a Kantref or
Cantred, that is a hundred towns or townships.
And by this reckoning every Tyddyn containeth
four Eriv, every Rhandir containeth sixteen JEnr,
and every Gafel containeth sixty-four Erw.
Every town or township containeth two hundred
fifty six Eriv or acres, these Erws being fertile
arable land, and neither meadow nor pasture nor
woods. For there was nothing measured but
fertile arable ground, and all others was termed
wastes. Every Maenol containeth four of these
townships, and every Kwmwd containeth fifty of
these townships, and every Cantred ii, hundred of
these townships, whereof it hath its name. And
all the countries and lords dominions were divided
by Comtreds or Cantre, and to every of these Ca/i-
tredSf Gomot$i Mamors, Towns, Gafels, were given


some proper names. And Givlad or country
was the dominion of one lord or prince, whether
the Givlad were one Cantred or two, or three or
four, or more. So that when I say he is gone
from Givlad to Givlad, that is, from country to
country, it is meant that he is gone from one
lord or prince's dominion to another prince's do-
minion; as for example, when a man committeth
an offence in Gwynedd or Northwales, which con-
taineth ten Cantreds, and fleeth or goeth to Powi/s,
which is the name of another country and prince's
dominion, which containeth ten other Cantreds,
he is gone from one country or dominion to ano-
ther, and the law cannot be executed upon him,-
for he is gone out of the country. Tegings is a
country and containeth but one Cantred, and
DyfrvH Glwyd was a country, and did contain
but one Cantred. And when any did go out of
Tegings to Dyfrvn Ghvyd, for to flee from the
law, he went out from one . country to another.
And so every prince or lord's dominion was
Gwlad or country to that lord or prince, so that
Givlad is Pagus in my judgment. Sometimes a
Cantred doth contain two Comot, sometimes three,
or four, or five; as the Cantrefe of Glamorgan or
Morganwg containeth five Comots. And affer
that the Normans had won some parts of the
country, as one lord's dominion, they constituted
in that same place a senescal or steward, and that
was called in the British tongue Swifddog, that is


an officer ; and the lordship that he was steward
of was called Swydd or office, and of these Swyd-
dev were made shires. And Gwydd is an office
be it great or small, and Sicyddog is an officer
likewise of all states ; as a sheriff is a Swyddog,
his sheriff-ship or office, and the shire whereof he
is a sheriff, is called Swydd. So that Swydd doth
contain as well the shire as the office of a sheriff,
as Swydd Amwythig is the shire or office of the
steward, senescal, or sheriff of Salop, &c.

IX. As for the ninth question, the greatest and
highest degree was JBrenin, or Teyen, that is, a
king; and next to him was a Twysog, that is
a duke; and next to him was a Jarll, that is
an earl; and next to him was an Arglwydd, that
is a lord ; and next to him was a Banvn, and that
1 read least of. And next to that is the Sreir or
Vchelwr, which may be called the squire: next to
this is a Gwreange, that is a yeoman; and next to
that is an Alttud\ and next to that a Kaeth, which
is a slave; and that is the meanest amongst these
nine several degrees. And these nine degrees had
three several tenures of lands, as Maerdir, Vche-
lordir, Priodordir. There be also other names
and degrees, which be gotten by birth, by office
and by dignity; but they are all contained under
the nine aforesaid degrees.

X. As for the tenth question, I do not find nor
have not read neither to my knowledge, in any
chronicle, law, history or poetry, and dictipnary,

I i

246 't^v:. HISTORY

any such vf^ord: but I find in tlie laws and chro-
nicles, awd in manj- other places this word' Rhaith
to be used for the oath of 100 men, or 200 or 300*,
or such like number, for to exCii'Se some heinous
fact; and the more heinous was the fact, the more
men must be had in the Rhaith to excuse it;
and one must be a chief man to excuse it amongst
them^ and that is called Penrhaith, as it were the
foreman of the jury, and he must be the best,
wisest, and discreetest of all the others. And to
my remembrance the RJiaithw^r, that is the men
of the RJmith, must be of those that are next of
kin, and best known to the supposed offender, to
excuse him for the fact.

XI. As for the eleventh question, I say that I
find a steward and a controller to be used for a
Distain in my dictionary. 1 canliot find any
greater definition given it any where, then is given
it in my b(/ok of laws. Vide Distaine, in the table
of my book of laws.

Xir. To the twelfth question, I say, that the
Britons had many councils, and had their coun-
sellors scatter'd in all the lordships of the land.
And when any controversy or occasion of counisel'
happened in Stcynedd, the king called his connsel-
lors that had their abode there, for to counsel for
matters depending there, together with those that
were there of his court or guard: for the king hlid
his chief judge and certain of his council always
in his company; and when the king had any oc-

OF ^HE DRUim. 247

casij,0» of (COUJjsd for matters depending in D^jsje-
tia, or Powys, or Cornwal, he called those of his
cowjqisel that dwelled in those coasts for to coun-
sel with them. And they went to a certain pri-
vate Jj^ouine or tower on a top of a hill, or some so-
litary place of counsel far distant from any dv/el-
ling, and there advised unknown to any man but
to the counsellors themselves; and if any great
alteration or need of counsel were, tljat did per-
tain to all the land, then the king assited unto him
all his counsellors to some convenient place for
to take their advice; and that happen 'd but very

Dii Gallorum.



Belenus, vel


Onvana. ^nqra, Hib.


Adraste. Andate.


Yergobretus. < brethr,
t Hib.

Officioeum MAXiaiR



Bardi. Bard, Baird,B..
Droi, Dru-

Eubages, corrupt^ pro


r Droi,
t idJte,







MiLiTUM Species,

Ga^late. ^Gaiscio-
Lghach, H.

Bagaudae. Bagadai.

Armorum Nomina.









Tard, Hib.


f Carnan, vide-
las, quaeras.

MachincB Sellica.






Curruum Nomina.







Vestium Nomina.





Bardiacus, pro Bardis.

* Linna, saga quadra et mollia sunt, df quibus Plaut. Linnar
tooperta est textrino Gallia. Isidor.

Linna Diodoro est «■«)"« '(•""t, et Varroni mollis sagus, Hiber-
bIs hodiernis indusium est non una mutata littera.


Bai'dociicuUus, etiam pro Bartlis.
Braccjfi, pro omnibus, JSreaccan.

Atiimalium Nomina.

Marc, Equus.
Rhaphius, Lupus Cervinus.
Abrana, Simla.
Barracaceae, Pellium, &c.
Lug. Cornix. Mus.
Clupea. Piscis species.





Note I. — Page 54.
y3 MONG those institutions which are thought to be irrecoverably
tost, one is that of the Druids, ^c. — This mistake is founded oa
the opinion that the Druids were a religious sect totally distinct
from all others; and that, as they committed nothing to writing,
their institutions perished when the order became extinct. But
Druidism was only a branch of the worship of the sun, at one
time universal; and so long as the well authenticated history of
that worship in any nation remains, the history of Druidism caa
never be completely lost.

Note II.— Page 57.

Since the Anglo Saxons having learned the word Dry from,
the Irish and British for a magician, Sfc. — This etymology of
the Saxon Dry from the Celtic Draoi or Draoid, pronounced
Drui and Druid, is confirmed by Dr. Smith in his History of the
Druids, and by Dr. Jamieson in his- History of the Culdees.
The absurd custom of deriving every thing from the Greek and
Latin is now, and indeed very properly, losing ground. The
Celtic Druid literally signifies a magician; and hence the trans,
lators of the New Testament into Gaelic, finding no other word
in that language fit for their purpose, rendered Simon Magus^
SimOn the Druid. In the Gaelic, ao is equivalent to the Greek
Ypsilon, but has been commonly, though very erroneously, ren-
dered by the Saxon y. Hence it is obvious that the Sason Dry,
the Greek Drys, with the addition of the terminating Sigma, and
the Gaelic Drui, are the same. The name appears, from the


254 NOTES.

fabulous accounts of the Hamadrt/ades, to be of the most remote
antiquity. These nymphs were said to be born, and to die with
their favourite oaks. But from this we can only with certainty
infer, that certain individuals were, at a very early period, so
much addicted to particular trees, or rather groves, that when
these were cut down they disappeared. Dri/s in the Greek does
not radically signify an Oak, but a Tree. The Saxon Dry, pro-
nounced Dree, is the modern English Tree. By far the most
probable etymon of the word Draoi, pronounced Drui, is from
Dair, an oak, and Aoi, a stranger or guest. Hence we have the
compound word Dairaoi, and by abbreviation Draoi, signifying
an inhabitant of the oak; a term exactly corresponding with the
notion entertained of the Hamadryades by the ancient Greeks.
To those better acquainted with the Greek than the Celtic it was
very natural to derive Druid from the Greek Drys; but the fact
is, that the Greek Dri/s is the Celtic Draoi, Griecally terminated.

Note III.— Page 57.

Of these degrees, the Arch-Druid excepted, there's little to be
found in the classic authors that treat of the Druids ; iho^ tifj/
7nuch and very particularly in the Celtic writings and monuments.
—No man had better access to know, or was better qualified to
judge of the Celtic writings than Mr. Teland. As I will have
occasion, in a future note, to enlarge' on this head, I shall only
at present endeavour to impress on the reader's mind, that the
Irish manuscripts are of great antiquity, and contain many im-
portant particulars respecting the Druids.

Note IV.— Page 59.
While they had the address to get themselves exempted /rom
hearing arms, Sfc. — This exemption is mentioned by Casar, lib.
4. cap. 14. Druides a hello abesse consueverunt, neque tribitta
•una cum reliquis pendunt ; militia: vacationem, omnium que rerum
hahent immunitaiem : i. e. " The Druids are accustomed to be
absent from war, nor do they pay tribute along with the rest,-

NOTES. 255

they are exempted from military service, and possess, in ail
things, tlie most extensive immunities."

Note V.— Page 59.

These privileges allured great numbers to enter into their com-
munities, Sfc. — 'Caesar, lib. 4. cap. 14. Tantis excitati prcemiis ;
et sua sponte multi in disciplinam conveniunt, et a propinqvis pa^
rentibusque mittuntur. Magnum ibi numerum versvum ediscere
dicuntur. Itaque nonnidli annos vicenos in disdplina permanent^
i, e. " Allured by these rewards many voluntarily enter into their
discipline, and many are sent by their parents and relations.
There they are said to get by heart a great number of verses.
Therefore some remain twenty years under their discipline."

Note VI.— Page 62,

The pretensions of the Druids to work miracles, Sfc. — A man
Ignorant of the history of the Druids may perhaps be startled at
the knowledge of astronomy here ascribed to them. Ccesar,
■who had good access to know the fact, says lib.- 4. cap, 14.
Multa preterea de sideribus, atque eorum motri, de mundi ac ter-
rarum magnitudine; de rerum natura^ de Deorum immortalium
VI, ac potestale disputant, et Juventuti transdunt, i. e. " They
have besides many disquisitions, concerning the heavenly bodies,
and their motions, concerning the size of the world, and the
different parts thereof; concerning the nature of the universe
and the strength and power of the immortal gods, and these
they communicate to their pupils." As miracles among the hea-
then nations were only natural phaenomena misunderstood, or

Online LibraryJohn TolandA new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory → online text (page 15 of 31)