Welsh Mythology

The Gods and Spirits of Wales

BRANWEN

Welsh Messenger legendary mortal

The First Courier

Sister of Brân and Manawydan.

She was given in marriage to Matholwch, an Irish King. This caused a spat of troubles as her half-brother Efnisien had not been consulted and took umbrage. He caused damage to the king’s livestock and Brân had to offer compensation.

When Branwen produced a son, Gwern, things settled down for a few years, but then she was suddenly banished to the kitchen and treated like a scullion. Here she managed to tame a bird that came after crumbs to become the first carrier pigeon. Only it wasn’t a pigeon but a starling. Nevertheless it made a splendid courier, and when she tied a message to its leg, it made a first class delivery to Brân.

When Brân got the news he blew his top, raised an army and rushed it to Ireland. There was one of those battles where just about everyone bit the dust, including Brân, hit with a poisoned arrow. On his instructions a handful of survivors brought his head home in a magic cauldron (he seems to have had a collection) and he became the notorious Talking Head.

Gwern was killed, Efnisien perished and the kingdom was decimated. We don’t know what happed to Branwen. Or the starling.

Branwen Facts and Figures

Name: Branwen
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names:

Gender: Female
Type: legendary mortal
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Messages
Area of expertise: Messenger

Good/Evil Rating: GOOD, quite approachable
Popularity index: 871

Cite this article

Here's the info you need to cite this page. Just copy the text in the box below.

Article last revised on May 19, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

Permissions page