The Peniarth Manuscripts

The Contents of the Peniarth Manuscripts

The Peniarth Manuscripts is the most important of the Library’s manuscript collections. The collection was established by Robert Vaughan (c.1592-1667), Hengwrt, Meirioneth, who gathered for his library manuscripts in the following languages:


However Vaughan’s main interest was the Welsh language. He collected in Hengwrt a great number of our most significant Welsh language manuscripts, including

The History of the Peniarth Manuscript Collection

The manuscripts were preserved at Hengwrt for generations, and some other volumes were added to them over the years. When Sir Robert Williames Vaughan of Hengwrt died in 1859, without an heir, he left the collection to his friend W W E Wynne, who moved the manuscripts to the Peniarth Library, Meirioneth.

The whole collection was bought by Sir John Williams (1840-1926) in 1904. When W R M Wynne, the eldest son of W W E Wynne died in 1909, the manuscripts were transferred from Peniarth to the new National Library at Aberystwyth.

International UNESCO Status

In July 2010, the Peniarth Manuscripts Collection was included on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register. The register is part of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) programme to support documentary heritage, and to promote preservation of, and access to, the world’s archive holdings and library collections. Country-level Memory of the World Registers exist around the globe, helping to promote documentary heritage of local importance which is also of global significance.


To find out more about the history of the Hengwrt-Peniarth manuscripts, see

  • Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales(Aberystwyth, 1940-2003), vol. I, pp. iii-xxiii

For descriptions of individual manuscripts, see

  • MSS 1-327 and 533-9 (the collection’s Welsh language manuscripts): J Gwenogvryn Evans’ catalogue, Report on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language (London, 1898-1910), volume. I, pp. 297-1126
  • MSS 328-532 (manuscripts mainly in languages other than Welsh): descriptions in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales (1943-2003), vol. I, pp. 1-22, other than a small number of manuscripts that did not come to the Library in 1909
  • MSS 540-61 and the 'Ancient Peniarth Manuscripts' (all the manuscripts that did not come to the Library in 1909): typescript cataloguePeniarth MSS: A Catalogue of Additional Manuscripts (1990)

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