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Owain ap Urien


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In Welsh bardic poetry Owain is given as 'Owain map Urien' - 'Owain son of Urien.' 

He appears in Chretien de Troyes earliest romance, 'Erec,' as 'Yvain li Fiz Urien' 

 Geoffrey of Monmouth mentions Owain in his 'Hist.Reg.'

Mordred 0r Owain?
Mordred or Owain?                                                                                                                             Arthurian Gallery

The 'Dream of Rhonabwy' from the Mabinogion mentions Owain's ravens (warriors) as slaying Arthur's war band. 

The Mabinogion

This tale can be interpreted as a poetic retelling of events surrounding the battle of Camlann 

Owain = Mordred = Mabon


The Welsh romance 'Iarles y Ffynnawn' and Chretien de Troyes French poem 'Yvain' both tell of the adventures of 'Owain ab Urien' - ('Yvain .... fiz au roi Urien') and the fountain.

The tale of 'Owain and the Lady of the Fountain' appears in the Mabinogion a collection of welsh prose tales put together between the latter part of the 11th and the end of the 13th centuries. 

Some versions of the 'Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain' give the ring of Lunette as one of the treasures, showing that the story of Owain and the Lady must have been widely known.

In the story the resemblance of the name of the countess, Alundyne, to the word Lundy is striking, but, as if  to emphasise the connection an early English version of this story reads;-

" The riche lady Alundyne,

The dukes daughter of Landuit."

Both names differ far less from 'Lundy' than do many other of the names in the Arthurian myths which have become changed over the years. 

( see elsewhere for scribal confusion etc.) 

The name of the countess appears as Laudine in 'Yvain.'

The name of the maidservant, Luned becomes, in the French Romances, Lunette.

In " Jones' Welsh Bards" Luned is said to be the same person as Elined one of the daughters of Brychain. The same Elined who is thought, by some authorities to be St. Elen, the source of the three ancient church dedications on Lundy, at Abbotsham and at Croyde.

In the variant versions of the tale of 'Owain and Luned and the lady of the fountain' the castle is either on an island or a tower in a woodland glade.


Owain in the triads

Among the Triads there is one relating to Owain; :- "Three Knights of Battle were in the court of Arthur: Cadwr the Earl of Cornwall, Launcelot du Lac, and Owain the son of Urien. And this was their characteristic,- that they would not retreat from battle, neither for spear, nor for arrow, nor for sword. And Arthur never had shame in battle the day he saw their faces there. And they were called the Knights of Battle."

'Owain, son of Urien' appears as one of the 'Three Fair (Blessed, Holy) Princes of the Island of Britain.


Owain's Grave

The Welsh Graves of the Warriors gives;

"The grave of Owain ap Urien is of quadrangular form

Under the turf of Llan Morvael."

'Bet Owein ab Urien im pedryal bit

dan gverid llan Morvael.....

in llan belet bet Owein.' -

Robert Graves, in "The White Goddess", states that "quadrangular form" usually refers to the type of grave also described as Kistvaen. There is, or was, a Kistvaen on Lundy. It was excavated in 1851 and possessed similarities to the reputed grave of the renowned Celtic bard, Taliesin, near Aberystwyth. It has also been said to resemble Wayland Smith's cave in Berkshire. Kistvaen graves were not for ordinary people. Nothing was found in the Kistvaen on Lundy to suggest the original occupant. Could it have been Owain? 


The respected scholar R.S. Loomis in 'Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance' concludes that the Black Knight whom Owain defeated was none other than Arawn. Geoffrey of Monmouth names Owain as the successor to Arawn.

Owain = Mordred = Mabon


related pages



Owain and the Lady of the Fountain

The Dream of Rhonabwy




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