Their competence and craftmanship
Howlett charts a tradition of thought and composition from the fifth century to the thirteenth, from the Romano-British writers Pelagius, St Patrick, and Faustus of Riez through a series of prose and verse inscriptions on stone to Gildas, Moucan, the author of the 'Historia Brittonum', the source of the Arthurian legend, Asser, the teacher and biographer of Alfred the Great, the hagiographers Rhygyfarch ap Sulien of Llanba-darn Fawr, Lifris and Caradog of Llancarfan, and finally to Geoffrey of Monmouth and Gerald of Wales, who presented Welsh traditions of Patrick, David, Arthur, and Merlin, of storytelling and music, to a wider European audience.
The sophistication of this literature proves that the Welsh never endured a 'Dark Age', maintaining Latin culture throughout the period in which it was lost elsewhere. The encoded signatures, infixed dates, invective, wit, word play, and architectonic brilliance reveal the Welsh in two aspects, as unique transmitters of a tradition of Latin unbroken from Roman times to the present, and as tutors who laid foundations for the most spectacular literary achievements of their neighbours in Irish, English, and French.
Dr David Howlett is editor of the British Academy's Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and a member of the Comité de Rédaction of the Novum Glossarium Mediae Latinitatis of the Institut de France. He is the author of The Book of Letters of Saint Patrick the Bishop (1994), The Celtic Latin Tradition of Biblical Style (1995), The English Origins of Old French Literature (1996) and British Books in Biblical Style (1997), Britain and Self-Authenticating Insular Charters (2004).