The Book of Taliesin contains a collection of some of the oldest poems in Welsh, many of them attributed to the poet Taliesin, who was active toward the end of the sixth century and sang the praises of Urien Rheged and his son Owain ab Urien. Other poems reflect the kind of learning with which the poetassociated, deriving partly from Latin texts and partly from native Welsh tradition.
This manuscript preserves the texts of such famous poems as “Armes Prydein Fawr,” “Preiddeu Annwfn” (which refers to Arthur and his warriors sailing across the sea to win a spear and a cauldron), elegies to Cunedda and Dylan eil Ton, as well as the earliest mention in any Western vernacular of the feats of Hercules and Alexander the Great.
The manuscript is incomplete, having lost a number of its original leaves, including the first one. The Book of Taliesin was copied by a single scribe, probably in Glamorgan, and is designated Peniarth MS 2 by the National Library of Wales.