Mapping Medieval Wales: Culhwch and Olwen as Literary Cartography

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper


To tell a story that involves movement across space is to draw a map; perhaps nothing is so evident of this in the realm of early Welsh Arthurian prose literature than that of the twelfth century Culhwch ac Olwen. This paper argues that the onomastic elements of Culhwch could be seen as a resource through which the audience might access an oral and literary ‘map’ of their localities – and through which the author might foster a sense of community and cultural identity – revealing to modern audiences the far more varied functions of oral and literary traditions in medieval Wales.

Utilising Emmaunelle Peraldo’s insights as to the social and political aspects of space, John Carey’s work on the temporal and spatial aspects of the Otherworld, as well as Barbara Piatti’s knowledge and techniques surrounding narrative cartography, this paper adopts a multidisciplinary methodology encompassing approaches including geocriticism and ecocriticism as well as psychogeography. It seeks to demonstrate how in their mapping of the physical world, the Culhwch author simultaneously established, created, re-created, and transformed the real and imaginary landscape of medieval Wales, ultimately contributing to the forming of a complex relationship between the landscape and its inhabitants – past and present.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 0001
EventBangor English Medievalism Transformed 2020: Movement through Arthurian Legend - Bangor, Wales
Duration: 18 Sep 202019 Sep 2020


ConferenceBangor English Medievalism Transformed 2020

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Medieval Studies


  • Literature
  • Landscape
  • Space
  • Geography
  • Cartography


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