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A Large 19th Century Coat of Arms, Depicting the Fifteen Noble Tribes of Wales

Oil on canvas; depicting the arms of the fifteen Noble Tribes of North Wales, alongside the arms of Owain the Great, the first ‘Prince of Wales’, enclosed within an oak frame with gilded slip, and ‘Royal Tribes of Wales’ metal ribbon banner to the top. The heraldic decoration explores the illustrious history of these Nobles, descendants from the ‘Five Royal Tribes of Wales’, that spans from both the pre and post Norman invasion of 1066. Hailing from the old principality of Wales; Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, Merionethshire, Denbighshire and Flintshire, the Noble Tribes are laid out as follows;
1. Hwfa Ap Cynddelw, 2. Llywarch ap Bran, 3. Gweirdd ap Rhys Goch, 4. Cilmin Troed-Ddu, 5. Collwyn ap Tangno, 6. Nefydd Hardd, 7. Maelog Crym, 8. Marchudd ap Cynan, 9. Hedd Molynog, 10. Braint Hir, 11. Marchweithian, 12. Edwin of Tegaingl, 13. Ednowain Bendew, 14. Eunydd of Gwerngwy, and 15. Ednowain ap Bradwen.

The arms possess a pleasing simplicity of design and arrangement, with clear, direct, and distinctive ensigns for the battlefield. The atmosphere conveyed is undoubtedly medieval, reminiscent of the non armorial personal seals which were in widespread in 13th Century Wales, giving them a parred back and quiet vernacular. The arms depicted are most likely referenced from ‘The Royal Tribes of Wales’ by antiquarian and genealogist Philip Yorke of Erddig (1743-1804) published in 1799. A more developed example is to be found on two folios of a 16th, possibly 17th Century, manuscript in the British Library, Harleian MS 1970, fos 34r-v, where the list is accompanied by a number of heraldic designs. A related set of set of fifteen painted arms can be seen above the chimneypiece in the ‘Tribes Room’ at Erddig (photo included for reference).

Further Literature:” Arms of the XV Noble Tribes of North Wales”, by Major Francis Jones, TD, MA, FSA. Coat of Arms no 36, October 1958
Provenance: The Estate of Lord Kenyon, Flintshire

Height: 213 cm, 83 7/8″
Width: 177.5 cm, 69 7/8″