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OpenLearn Live: 9th February 2016

Updated Tuesday, 9th February 2016

The king who saw a tree bend and embraced peace and the day when pancakes are centre stage. Free learning at the heart of your world.

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OpenLearn live makes the links between your world and the world of free learning.

Yesterday, we caught up with FutureLearn, looked hard at death, and celebrated Chinese new year

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Today's posts

  • Welsh kings: Cynan Garwyn
  • Pancake day

Pancake day

You'll have spotted we don't have a great deal for you today - but we do have pancakes. Including a couple of superior pancake recipes

Explore pancakes with OpenLearn

Welsh kings: Cynan Garwyn

This week, we're looking at a different King from Wales every day. Yesterday, we celebrated Rhodri The Great. Today, we're digging back to the 6th Century, and meeting Cynan Garwyn, King of Powys.

Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf  - a waterfall in the Brecon Beacons National Park where the River Neath rises Creative commons image Icon Gareth Lovering Photography under Creative Commons BY-ND 4.0 license A waterfall at the source of the River Neath

Cynan is fairly remarkable in kings from what is now Wales, as he never (as far as we can tell) fought an Englishman - or an ancestor of an Englishman. That's not so say he didn't fight - he fought the Men of Gwent; he fought in Dyfed; in Cornwall and Angelsey. But no Anglo-Saxons, at least as far as the records show.

He actually stopped fighting altogether - according to Lifris' Life of St Cadog, Cynan was going to have a dust-up with the King of Glamorgan. The people of Glamorgan were so unsettled by this, they asked St Cadog to get involved. The clergy who lived at the Saint's house went to meet the King but were blocked by the River Neath. One of the vicars climbed a tree to talk to Cynan from a high vantage point. The tree bent down to touch the other side of the river and, seeing St Cadog's team be granted this extraordinary power to turn a tree into a bridge, Cynan thought this quite the miracle and gave up his warlike ways. Peace, he proclaimed, would flow through the lands he controlled.


Cynan is the subject of Trawsganu Kynan Garwyn Mab Brochfael, a poem which celebrates his warriorhood more than his tendency to be spooked by bendy trees.

Inspired? Try our free course Discovering Wales and Welsh





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