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Ennini / Enhinti - Llys Nini?


Eninni was a Celtic princess living around 580 AD. She was the sister of King Urien Rheged or Urien O  Gŵyr  (Gower in Welsh), whose kingdom was based in Cumbria (north England and south Scotland).  Urien was High King of Briton, leading the petty Kings of Britain against the invading Saxons and Angles.  The legend is that Urien was beating the invaders back towards the sea. However, Morgan,  one of the minor kings became increasingly jealous of Urien’s success and arranged for his assassination.





Llys Nini


Egerton Phillimore, in his notes in Owen’s Pembrokeshire Part lll. p323n2, is quite definite about the origin of “Nini” in Llysnini.  He says that “she (Eninni) was said to be the sister of Urien Rheged, and her name occurs in Llys Nini, near Penlle’r Gaer (‘Penllergare’) in Welsh Gower”. 


He also informs us in Owen’s Pembrokeshire Part lV,  p399 that:

“ the 1812 or Merthyr ed. of Powel’s Hist. of Wales, the name Trenynni is given where Oxwich should be, and would appear to be the Welsh name for that place; cf. Llys Nini in Welsh Gower, p323 above, note 2.”


We know from the Llys Nini Quit claim of 1507, that the property was described as “ancient” even then. If the story of Eninni settling there is true then the site would have been settled by Eninni about 900 years before the quit claim was written, which would be regarded as ancient rather than just “old.”

An unattributed source, but probably from Dwnn’s Heraldic Visitations of Wales, 41 (which some authorities believe is more romance than fact) gives the following genealogy for Urien (19)


Cynfarch Oer  (Cynfarch the Cold) was probably a 6th century king of Rheged, while Cynfarch’s wife was reputedly Nyfain ferch Brychan from Brycheiniog, (Breconshire), which gives a south Wales connection.


Cynfarch’s  children were:

Enynny C 476 who married Caradog Freichfras the King of Gwent. (and/or Glywysing?)

Urien Rheged – Urien O  Gŵyr

Erfiddyl ( daughter) c 478 who married Eiffer Gosgorddfawr (of the Great Army) the King of Ebrauc.

Anarawn C 482 Bishop of Llydaw ( Brittany)

Llew c484

Arawn c486 King of North Salway.


Some authorities suggest that Caradog Freichfras was a plausible historical figure, also known as Caradoc ap Ynyr, the ruler of Gwent around the 6th century, and was based at Caerwent, (the Roman town of Venta Silurum). They interpret his name as a remembrance of the earlier hero Caratacus, implying a continuity of tradition from the pre-Roman culture of the Silures who occupied a large part of south Wales from the River Loughor to the Severn and beyond.


However other genealogies give Tewdrig ap Llywarth (B c488 South Wales) as Enynny’s husband and shows that her line included Kings of Gwent, Glywysing and Morgannwg. (19)


The Iolo Manuscripts (13) strongly associates Urien with Gower, particularly Oystermouth and Loughor and if Nini (Enynny) really did marry a King of Glywysing ( see map) then it is quite possible that her court would be at the western edge of their territory in Gower.

If true, this supports the idea that Nini had strong family connections with Gower and even the Loughor area and with Gwent, which in the C5th encompassed the former  lands of the Silures and therefore may have stretched as far west as the Loughor.  If Philimore is correct, then either Eninni, (the sister of Urien Rheged), travelled from the old kingdom of Rheged to set up home in Gower, or perhaps  two places in Gower were named after her.


 Cors Einon and Llys Nini near Penller’rgaer Penllergaer (originally called Gorseinon or Corsenion) are geographically close to each other, as are Porth Einon and Trenynni (the former name of Oxwich) on the Gower coast. This suggests that may be a link between Eninni and Eynon.


However, if Eninni and Einon were contemporaries this Eynon is certainly not the Einon ap Owain ap Hywel after whom Gorseinon may be named, as there is nearly 300 years between their supposed dates. 


Gwlad Nini project has not, to date, had time to search Bartrum’s Welsh genealogies for a link between Eninni and Einon, but the genealogy from the Derwas Family History (19) based on Dwnn’s Heraldic Visitations of Wales 41 and cited in the genealogy 4 U sites (20).


However the above states that “Enynny ferch Cynfarch” was married to “Tewdrig ap Llywarch” and that Eynon may have been Tewdrig’s brother, but that is not a strong link.


However the C6th was very male dominated.  Would Eninni, Enyny or Nini, even as Queen of Glywysing have a court named after her, so perhaps there is another explanation.


ENYNNY (standardized modern form)

frrom Heather Rose Jones



In the same generation as Urien and Efrddyl, also described as a daughter of Cynfarch Oer, but with no identification of the mother, is Enynny, the mother of Meurig, who figures in the Life of Saint Cadog. There is a certain amount of difficulty in reconciling the dates and geography involved. The events involving Cadog are located around Gwynllwg in the south-east of Wales -- although the re-location from the North might reasonably be explained by a marriage. Bartrum (WCD) assigns Cadog a date ca. 495 (and his Life mentions enough historic personages that he may be considered reasonably pinned down) and Meurig a questionable date ca. 470 although it isn't at all clear what this calculation is based on. Assuming Enynny is accurately identified as a sister of Urien Rheged, that gives her a date ca. 500, and while Meurig's father is mysteriously absent from most references to him, in at least one place he is identified as Caradog Freichfras, who is assigned a calculated date ca. 470. The most likely explanation is that multiple people have been conflated in some fashion here, but sorting them out is probably impossible. It appears that all the information about the name Enynny comes via the S. Cadog connection, so even if this is a different woman than the possible northern woman, it is the evidence we must examine. (Bartrum WCD & EWGT)

Textual Sources

Enhinti Life of S. Cadog (Cotton Ms. Vespasian A xiv (ca. 1200), written ca. 1100)

Henninni (ibid)

Enynny (Peniarth Ms. 131, ca. 1475; other versions of this text have less reliable forms such as Efynny Cardiff Ms. 25 1640; Enyni Peniarth Ms. 131 before 1547)

a mis-copied form can be seen in:

Emminni JC Ms. 20 written late 14th c., copied from ms ca. 1200

and we can safely ignore the very corrupt, later forms:

Henfyn (Harleian Ms. 2414 fo. 59v; Mostyn 212b p.59, both late 16th c.)

With the exception of the possible conflation of more than one woman of the name here, I know of no other examples of this name.

Linguistic Analysis

The profusion of forms for this name is less of a problem for reconstruction than some inherent ambiguities. Both nh and nt appear in Old and Medieval Welsh for original *nt (the precise nature of the sound could depend on various positional factors, so the appearance of both in Enhinti need not be a problem). Borrowings into English in the 6th century show that the pronunciation of *nt was still firmly [nt] at this time. However nh could also derive from nVs if the s began the second element of a compound (Jackson p.514), and this h would have been lost by late Medieval Welsh, just as one deriving from nt would. So we can set up two avenues to explore:

_nt_nt_ (with the underscores filled in by vowels)

_n_-S_nt_ (ditto)

This s at the beginning of second elements shifted to being pronounced [h] and written h probably some time during the first half of the 6th century, and direct evidence is lacking for the date of this woman's life. So even if we lean towards that explanation, we're still left with uncertainty about the expected forms at our desired date.

The initial vowel has many of the same problems as that of Efrddyl -- by the 7th century we could assume that it has assumed the form e, but before that we have a number of possible origins. The other vowels seem likely to be original, but there must have been some entire syllable lost at the end in order to preserve the final vowel (i.e., we aren't dealing with an original -ntia losing an inflectional ending, but rather with an original -nti_a with the space filled with a consonant or semi-vowel). One possibility here would be -ntiga, and another might be -ntiia (= [-ntija]), but there may be other possibilities as well.

If etymological connections could be made with other names, it might be possible to narrow down the suggestions here, but as it stands, they multiply too rapidly to be manageable. After the syllable loss and sound-shifts leading up to the 7th century, it would be reasonable to suggest Entintia or Enhintia as a Latinate written form, and ['En-hIn-hi] as a pronunciation (or, in English syllables, "EN-hinn-hee"), whatever the origins. But I will decline to try a form earlier than the 7th century.


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