NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia

Thirteen Treasures of Britain

Thirteen Treasures of the Isle of Britain, Tri Thlws ar Ddeg Ynys Brydain/Prydain

Thirteen magical artifacts mentioned in Welsh manuscripts. Some of them suggest themes in Arthurian literature, though only one names Arthur directly.

The list reflects elements of original Celtic tales as well as the influence of medieval romances imported into Wales from the continent. Merlin was supposed to have procured these from their owners and taken them to his abode of glass.

  1. White-Hilt
    A sword belonging to Rhydderch the Generous. It could grant wishes to its bearer. Rhydderch appears as Merlin’s master in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini.
  2. The Hamper of Gwyddno (Garanhir) Long-Shank
    It could multiply one man’s meal into enough food for a hundred men. This food-producing ability is shared with other treasures.
  3. The (Drinking) Horn of King Bran (Galad) the Blessed
    A man drinking from it would find that it contained any drink that he desired.

    R. S. Loomis saw this horn as one of the origins of the Grail, and thought that cor benoit (“blessed horn”) was the origin of Corbenic (Carbonek), the Grail castle in the Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal.
  4. The Chariot of Morgan the Wealthy
    Cadair, Neu Car Morgan Mwynfawr
    A magical form of transport, described as either a chair or a car. It could instantly transport its rider to his desired location, owned by Morgan Mwynfawr.
  5. The Halter of Clydno Eiddin
    It would produce any horse that its owner desired to ride.
  6. Cyllel Llawfrodedd
    Cyllel Llawnrodded, Kyllell
    A Druidic sacrificial knife owned by Llawfrodedd the Horseman. The knife had the marvellous property to serve twenty-four men at once with meat.
  7. The Cauldron of Diwrnach the Giant
    Meat intended for a brave man would boil in the cauldron, but meat to be fed to a coward would not. The cauldron was thus used to separate heroes from knaves.

    In Culhwch and Olwen, Arthur sacks Ireland and returns to Britain with the cauldron, full of Ireland’s treasure. This cauldron and others of its kind (appearing in The Spoils of Annwn and Branwen) have been seen as an origin for the Grail, to which Robert de Boron gives the ability to divide the pure from the perfidious.
  8. The Whetstone of Tudwal Tudglyd
    A brave man who sharpened his sword on the stone would be able to slay his enemy with one blow, but a coward would get no use from it.
  9. The Coat of Padarn Red-Coat
    It would fit a nobly-born man, but would not fit a churl. This ability is shared by the many magic chastity mantles in Arthurian legend, and it echoes in the name of the Knight of the Ill-Fitting Coat. Padarn’s hagiography contains an Arthruian episode.
  10. The Crock of Rhygenydd the Cleric
  11. The Dish of Rhygenydd the Cleric
    It would produce whatever food its owner desired. This dish has also been suggested as an origin for the Grail, which has a similar ability in the First Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval.
  12. The Gwyddbwyll Board of Gwenddolau son of Ceidio
    The pieces would play by themselves. Gwyddbwyll is a Welsh game analogous to chess. Peredur encounters an enchanted gwyddbwyll board in his tale, and magic chessboards of this nature appear in Chrétien’s Perceval, the Vulgate Lancelot, and Vostaert’s Roman van Walewein.
  13. The Mantle of Arthur in Cornwall
    When Arthur wore it, he was invisible. This mantle, called Gwenn, also appears in The Dream of Rhonabwy.

Some late manuscripts delete at least one of these treasures and add two additional items:

  • The Mantle of Tegau Eurfon
    It revealed whether a woman was chaste or unchaste. Such mantles are prolific in French and German romances that describe chastity tests.
  • The Stone and Ring of Eluned (Lunete)
    Mentioned in Chrétien de Troyes’s Yvain and the Welsh Owain.