Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Latin: Vendotia, Venetia

A historical region in northwest Wales, known for its significance in Welsh history and its role as a medieval Welsh kingdom. Gwynedd, today, is a county within that country. In Latin it was known as Vendotia, the home of Vendotii (Venetii).

The earlier kings are legendary, but about the Arthurian time are thought to have been Einion (until AD 443), Cadwallon I (Catwallaun Law-Hir) (AD 443-517) and the famous Maelgwn (AD 517-47). The Annales Cambriae tell us that Maelgwn was the king of Gwynned until 537, when he died of a plague. Cadwallon is mentioned by Geoffrey as Arthur’s contemporary.

Vortigern arrived here looking for a place to build a fortress as a defense against the Saxons. He found a spot in the mountains of Eryri, or Snowdon.

Gwynedd | 0 to the 9th century AD

Roman Period | 1st – 5th centuries
The Roman presence in Britain during this period had an impact on the region, which was inhabited by Celtic tribes. Gwynedd, along with the rest of Wales, was part of the Roman province of Britannia during the Roman occupation. The Romans established fortifications, roads, and settlements in the region.

Post-Roman/Early Medieval Period | 5th – 9th centuries
After the decline and withdrawal of Roman influence in the early fifth century, Wales entered a period often referred to as the post-Roman period. The native Britons, influenced by Romanized culture, continued to inhabit Wales.

The fifth to seventh centuries saw increased migration and invasions, including interactions with Irish, Anglo-Saxons, and other groups. The emergence of early Welsh kingdoms occurred during this time, including Gwynedd. The political landscape was characterized by local rulers and fragmentation. These kingdoms often had fluid borders and were characterized by tribal affiliations.

Kingdom of Gwynedd
Gwynedd emerged as a distinct Welsh kingdom during this period, centered in the northwest of Wales. The kingdom included territories from the coast to the mountains. The early rulers of Gwynedd belonged to the House of Cunedda, a Welsh royal dynasty that claimed descent from Cunedda Wledig, a legendary figure who played a role in the sub-Roman period.

The region played a role in the political dynamics of early medieval Wales. Gwynedd had interactions with neighboring Welsh kingdoms and other external powers, including the Anglo-Saxons to the east. The region’s strategic location along the western coast of Britain likely influenced its interactions with other territories.

The early medieval period in Gwynedd was characterized by a blend of Celtic, Roman, and emerging Welsh influences. The Welsh language began to evolve during this time, and the process of Christianization took place with the arrival of Christianity.

Viking Raids | 8th – 9th centuries
Gwynedd and other parts of Wales were subject to Viking attacks, beginning in the late eighth century. Vikings were known for their seafaring prowess and often targeted coastal settlements, monasteries, and trade routes. The island of Anglesey, located just off the coast of Gwynedd, was a notable target for Viking attacks due to its strategic location and potential for plunder.

Some Vikings who conducted raids also established settlements in parts of Wales, including Anglesey. These settlements were often used as bases for further raids and trade. One significant event was the Battle of Anglesey Sound, which took place in 896 AD. A combined force of Vikings and Anglo-Saxons attacked the Welsh forces of Merfyn Frych, the King of Gwynedd. The battle resulted in the defeat of the Welsh forces.

In the eleventh century, the Normans conquered England, and their presence in England contributed to a decline in Viking raids. By this time, the influence of Vikings of Wales had also waned.

Gwynedd consisted of the counties of Anglesey, Carnarfon, and Denbigh; it was sometimes applied to all North Wales, according to The Place-names in Wales (1912).

Annales Cambriae | c. 960-980
Historia Brittonum | Probably Nennius, early 9th century