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The Manuscript Peniarth 28 is one of the oldest of Welsh Manuscripts. It is the Latin version of the Laws of Hywel Dda, and dates back to the thirteenth century. The expert on early Welsh manuscripts Mr. Daniel Huws states that because it is written in Latin it’s likely to have been intended for an ecclesiastic rather than legal use. He states “that the evidence of the text points to south west Wales as a likely area of origin.” According to other scholars perhaps the Latin translation was written at the Cistercian Abbey at Whitland.
Peniarth 28 is different from any of the Welsh medieval law manuscripts because of the unique illustrations it contains. They fall into two categories. Firstly those which portray the king and some of the twenty four officials of his court, as well as other figures, and secondly a series of drawings of birds, animals and things of legal value. This indicates the start of the different sections of the Laws of Hywel Dda.
Daniel Huws states “that there is a particular interest attached to the drawings as they are the only manuscript drawings of contemporaries by a thirteenth century Welshman.”
Apart from the illustration of the King sitting on his throne all the others are very simple drawings. They are probably the work of the scribe, as they appear to have been drawn in the same ink as the text.
The Court Judge
The Court Judge seated in his chair as he declares the law from his book. He was entitled to his land free and his horse in attendance.
The Chief Groom
The Chief Groom looked after the King's Horses
The Blacksmith at work. The blacksmith was honoured because he was a highly skilled craftsman, and important enough to have a chair in the court.
The Sergeant holding the Lance as part of his office.
The Steward (the distain) with a dish in his hand.
The Chief Falconer
Hawking was a favourite pursuit of the Princes, and there was great honour upon the officer who looked after the falcons.