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Welsh History Review


Vol. 5, nos. 1-4 1970-71

The place-names of Dinas Powys hundred : Book review.

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polations are scribal. The rejection of the possibility of creative improv-
ization and variation or compilation, as understood by adherents of the
Milman Parry theory, is curt. But it does not imply that the attempt at
estimating the extent and the character of oral variation in the trans-
mission of this verse should be abandoned. The section on metrics is
deliberately inconclusive. The whole subject requires further detailed
investigation in order to try to understand more fully not only the apparent
irregularities (due only in part to textual imperfections and modern-
ization), but also the unquestionable archaism of some of the patterns.
Finally and most importantly, Professor Jackson now expresses the firm
conviction that the Gododdin and its Gorchanau were 'put together soon
after the battle of Catraeth'. In the course of both oral and scribal trans-
mission they were modified and modernized and a text got to Wales about
the ninth century, probably via Strathclyde.
The translation or summary version follows the order of the manuscript
verse by verse with cross-references to variants. We are supplied with a
summary of verses or parts of verses the interpretation of which is still
more or less obscure, and a 'fairly literal' translation of sections that are
reasonably intelligible. The decision to render the 'translation' in this way
was wise in view of the fact that the text bristles with many uncertainties
and difficulties. In this version Professor Jackson once again displays the
very high standard of precision and thoroughness that he has maintained
for many years on a very broad front of Celtic scholarship. He indicates
that this work was not written to supersede Sir Ifor's massive study of the
Gododdin. But it is bound to arouse renewed interest in the poem. It should
also help scholars to adopt a fresh approach to several aspects of the study of
the poetry of the Cynfeirdd. Welsh readers will be aggrieved only by the
unfortunate, but understandable, subtitle of the book-a book that is an
important and stimulating evaluation of a poem that we will continue to
regard, proudly and justifiably, as Welsh.
University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1968. Pp. xxxvi, 359. 75s.
This is the most comprehensive survey of the place-names of a part-
icular region of Wales ever to be published, and as such it is an important
addition to scholarship in this field. It is now thirty-seven years since
Sir Allen Mawer addressed the Court of the University of Wales on the
making of a survey of the place-names of Wales along the lines of that of
the English Place-Name Society, of which he was then the Director, but
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