The Peniarth Manuscripts are housed within the National Library of Wales and are described as being their most important manuscript collection. The collection itself was gathered by Robert Vaughan and contains some of our most significant Welsh language manuscripts, including The Black Book of Carmarthen (believed to be the earliest surviving manuscript written in the Welsh language) and The White Book of Rhydderch (which contains the earliest version of the Four Branches of The Mabinogi). 

The collection itself is considered to be so important that in July 2010 it was awarded international UNESCO status and included in the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register, which aims to ‘promote documentary heritage of local importance which is also of global significance’.

So what ties these important manuscripts of old with our area? 

Nestled within Peniarth Manuscript number 70, we find Rhyd y Gyfarthfa. Translating to Ford of the Barking, you will find it between Maeshafn and Llanferres, and there is a picturesque walk that will take you from the ford itself into Cascade Woods. The following passage describes the tale:

In Denbighshire there is a parish which is called Llanferes, and there is Rhyd y Gyfarthfa (the Ford of Barking). In the old days the hounds of the countryside used to come together to the side of that ford to bark, and nobody dared go to find out what was there until Urien Rheged came. And when he came to the side of the ford he saw nothing except a woman washing. 

And then the hounds ceased barking, and Urien seized the woman and he had his will of her; and then she said "God's blessing on the feet which brought thee here." "Why?" said he. "Because I have been fated to wash here until I should conceive a son by a Christian. And I am daughter to the King of Annwfn, and come thou here at the end of the year and then thou shalt recieve that boy." 

And so he came and he received there a boy and a girl: that is, Owein son of Urien and Morfudd daughter of Urien.

This tale brings with it a number of mysteries. What was King Urien Rheged, whose kingdom was near Hadrian’s Wall, doing wandering the landscape of what is now Denbighshire? And the mention of Annwfn, or as we know it Annwn, the otherworld of Welsh mythology - if the daughter of the King was in this area does that mean that this place is not spiritual but physical, and is situated nearby? Scholars and theologists have debated for centuries whether Annwn is a physical or a representational place - perhaps an answer is buried somewhere in our landscape, awaiting the day it is discovered.