Introduction Edited text Manuscripts Cymraeg

33. Vita S. Asaph

edited by David Callander


The Life of St Asaph was once contained in the lost Llyfr Coch Asaph (Jones 1968). There, according to early modern transcripts and the Summa or contents list written in 1602, it occupied folios 99v–100v. Llyfr Coch Asaph was a medieval manuscript containing documents relating to the diocese of St Asaph which date from around 1220 to the second half of the fourteenth century (Jones 1968: xxxv). It also contained additions by William Bullock in the second half of the sixteenth century (Jones 1968: xxxiv). No part of this manuscript now survives.

Four transcripts of Llyfr Coch Asaph survive, as well as the closely associated fifteenth-century manuscript NLW SA/MB/22 (Liber Pergameneus). The only transcript which is of major value for this edition is Peniarth 231. The copies of the Life of St Asaph in NLW MS 7011D, NLW 13215E and NLW SA/B/2 are derivative, the last two being copied from the first, which was itself copied from Peniarth 231 (Jones 1968: xviii, xxii). The Life of St Asaph is not found in NLW SA/B/1 or NLW SA/MB/22.

Peniarth 231 is a direct copy of Llyfr Coch Asaph and other medieval manuscripts relating to St Asaph. It was copied by Robert Vaughan (Jones 1968: xi; DWB Online s.n. Robert Vaughan) in around 1620. It is a scholarly transcription (Jones 1968: xii), noting the original folio numbers of Llyfr Coch Asaph, although its transcripts from the extant manuscript NLW SA/MB/22 suggest that Robert Vaughan was not entirely averse to making changes in his copy. Peniarth 231 contains the Life of St Asaph on pp. 106–114, where it is titled ‘Vita Sancti Assaph’, but in the Summa of 1602 (which is copied on pp. 157–198 of Peniarth 231) it is described as ‘Pars vite Beati Kentigerni, et de fundacione Ecclesie Assavensis’ (‘Part of the Life of the Blessed Kentigern, and concerning the foundation of the church of St Asaph’).

Llyfr Coch Asaph was already in an extremely poor condition by the time it was copied, and the Life of St Asaph was particularly poorly preserved (Jones 1968: xxxiv–xxxv). Robert Vaughan noted in Peniarth 231 (p. 108) that ‘two great leaves’ were lacking early in the text as well as an unknown amount of material at the end of it. Gaps are also left on p. 108 of Peniarth 231 to indicate sections of the text which were illegible, and a number of corrupt readings suggest Robert Vaughan may have had difficulty reading the text elsewhere as well (Jones 1968: xii).

List of manuscripts
Peniarth MS 231, pp. 106–114 (c. 1620)