Sawyl Penuchel


Sawyl Penuchel

Sawyl Penuchel or Ben Uchel ("high-head", "arrogant"), also known as Samuil Penissel ("low-head", "humble"), was a Brythonic king of the sub-Roman period, who appears in old Welsh genealogies and the Welsh Triads.

The genealogies [; [http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/bonedd.html The Descent of the Men of the North] at [http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/index.html Celtic Literature Collective] ] , in which he appears under both epithets, make him the son of Pabo Post Prydain, a descendant of Coel Hen, the presumed king of the Old North. Some historians, notably John Morris, locate Sawyl in the south Pennines area (the modern Peak District, a name which may date from its settlement by the Anglian Pecset). [Bromwich, "Trioedd Ynys Prydein" p. 256; John Morris (1973), "The Age of Arthur" pp. 214-215; Ford, [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/sawylppn.html Sawyl Penuchel] ; [http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsBritain/BritainThePeak.htm Post-Roman Celtic Kingdoms: the Peak] ] He is listed as one of the 'Three Arrogant Men of the Island of Britain' in the Welsh Triads. [Rachel Bromwich, "Trioedd Ynys Prydein", third edition, 2006, p. 45]

Other genealogies say he was the father of St. Asaph. Elis Geruffydd's "Chronicle" says that his daughter married Maelgwn Gwynedd. [Bromwich, "Trioedd Ynys Prydein", p. 496] An Irish genealogy says that a "Samuel Chendisel" ["Chend-isel" is the Irish equivalent of the Welsh "Pen-issel", "low-head".] married Deichter, daughter of Muiredach Muinderg, the king of Ulster, and they had two sons: Sanctan, who became bishop of Cil-dá-les and founded Kilnasantan in County Dublin, and Matóc Ailithir. The Irish "Liber Hymnorum" confirms that both Sanctan and Matóc came to Ireland from Britain. [Peter C. Bartrum (1993), "A Welsh Classical Dictionary", National Library of Wales, pp. 580-581.]

According to the Welsh "Life of Saint Cadoc", a king named Sawyl Penuchel held court at "Allt Cunedda" near Kidwelly in Carmarthenshire. Cadoc pursued Sawyl's warband after they stole food from Llancarfan Abbey. He found them sleeping under a tree and cut off their hair, before fleeing to a nearby bog. When Sawyl and his men gave chase, they all drowned in the bog. [Bromwich, "Trioedd Ynys Prydein" p. 496; David Nash Ford, [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/sawylppn.html Sawyl Penuchel] at [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/ Early British kingdoms] ] . Whether this is the same king, having fled to Wales after his northern kingdom was overrun by the Saxons, a different man of the same name, or simply an error by the composer of the "Life", is unclear. This Sawyl was supposedly buried in nearby mound known as "Banc Benuchel". A body was excavated there in 1850, covered with a hexagonal stone imitating a battle-shield. [Ford, [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/sawylppn.html Sawyl Penuchel] ]

Geoffrey of Monmouth, in his "History of the Kings of Britain" (1136), uses the name Samuil Penessil for a legendary pre-Roman king of Britain, preceded by Redechius and succeeded by Pir. [ at Wikisource. Lewis Thorpe's translation for Penguin Classics (p. 105) gives two kings, Samuil followed by Penessil.]

References


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