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Irish Influence on Medieval Welsh Literature$
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Patrick Sims-Williams

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199588657

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588657.001.0001

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The Iron House, the Men in Bags, and the Severed Head

The Iron House, the Men in Bags, and the Severed Head

(p.262) 10 The Iron House, the Men in Bags, and the Severed Head
Irish Influence on Medieval Welsh Literature

Patrick Sims‐Williams

Oxford University Press

This chapter (continuing from Chapter 9) begins with the Iron House story in Branwen. Arson in medieval life and literature is discussed, with special reference to Norse material and the Irish sagas Orgain Denna Ríg and Mesca Ulad, but also the Grimms' ‘Six Go Through the World’ and Vercelli Homily IX. It is argued that the Bórama, first attested in the Book of Leinster, is the best Irish parallel to Branwen and that a version of it, probably from St Maedóc's monastery at Ferns, Co. Wexford, influenced the Welsh author here and in his ‘Men in the Bags’ episode. A Leinster sequel, The Battle of Allen, may have influenced his story of Brân's severed head. The Welsh king Brân and Irish king Brandub seem to have been equated.

Keywords:   Iron House, Branwen, arson in Norse, Orgain Denna Ríg, Mesca Ulad, Grimms' ‘Six Go Through the World’, Vercelli Homily IX, Bórama, Book of Leinster, St Maedóc, Ferns Co. Wexford, Battle of Allen, severed head, Brân, Brandub

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