Two Kings, One Exhibition: New Bendigeidfran ‘Penrolio’ tradition held as part of the ‘Layers in the Landscape’ exhibition


An event, which included the new Bendigeidfran ‘penrolio’ (head rolling) tradition, was held at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David recently.


Penrolio 1

According to a medieval Welsh story in the Mabinogion, the great giant Bendigeidfran loses his head during a battle in Ireland. His head comes back across the sea to Wales and is eventually rolled all the way to London, where it is buried on the White Hill to protect Britain from all afflictions.

As part of this year’s Hen Galan celebrations in Penarth, a model of Bendigeidfran’s head was rolled down Cliff Hill to the beach by artists Parry & Glynn form Coleridge in Wales. Following that event, the head is once again on a journey to London, but not before stopping at various locations along the way. Its first stop was Lampeter, with the King of the Sea Trees, where Bendigeidfran will rest awhile as a temporary addition in the ongoing ‘Layers in the Landscape’ exhibition at the Old College, UWTSD Lampeter. It was also an opportunity to mark the beginning of the 2018 Year of the Sea celebrations.

The current exhibition on UWTSD’s Lampeter campus showcases some of the work produced as part of ‘Layers in the Landscape’, which is an ongoing interdisciplinary project by Erin Kavanagh. She said:

“The 'Penrolio' event brought many different people together; academics and artists, locals and visitors, Christians and Pagans. It remembered old traditions through the creation of something new. I'm delighted to now have Bendigeidfran as part of the 'Layers in the Landscape' exhibition: this project began with him, connecting Wales to Ireland through myth and science across the Irish Sea.

In these tumultuous times of political strife, it seems timely that we should be reminded of our heritage - and so it’s wonderful to see the sculpted head being passed from community to community, many hands making light work of the long journey to London. The King of the Sea Trees, therefore, offered to be the first port of call to offer succour, after leaving Penarth. I’d like to thank everybody that attended and a special thank you to Richard Parry from Coleridge in Wales for bringing the model of Bendigeidfran’s head and playing such an important role in the event.”

Penrolio 2

During the event the head was carried through the University’s gates, accompanied by the Mari Lwyd who was seeing out the last day of the dark season. Richard Parry explained the tale to all present but not before singing his official ‘Penrolio’ song. The head was then rolled up to the top of the Lampeter Motte, which is all that remains of the town’s Medieval castle. After further singing and poetry the head was released and rolled down to the bottom of the Motte.

Following the event Creative Director at Colerdige in Wales, Richard Parry, added:

"I suspect that, in recent years, we've largely forgotten the story of Bendigeidfran and the door frame of sorrows. So it is lovely that communities are getting involved again with rolling his head to London. It was the fastest and most dramatic ‘penrolio’ I've ever seen. It was quite a sight! It would be great if other communities would like to roll him a little on his way. It doesn't have to be a steep hill. Any slope that leads East or South towards London. In the meantime, Erin Kavanagh's exhibition 'Layers in the Landscape' is a wonderful place for Bendigeidfran to rest before the next leg of his journey."

Further Information

For more information please contact Erin Kavanagh at  (#Penrolio #Bendigeidfran #findyourepic @BreninYCoedMor) or Arwel Lloyd, Principal PR and Communications Officer, on 01267 676663 /