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Keyne


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Brychan

Cadoc (d. c. 560) founder and abbot of Llancarfan

Anglesey

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(?6th century),

patron of St Keyne (Cornwall) and possibly of Llangeinor (Mid Glamorgan), but not, according to Ekwall, of Keynsham (Somerset), which means ‘Ceagin's (Caega's) hamm’. There was no ancient cult of Keyne in Somerset, which also militates strongly against the attribution of Keynsham to Keyne by Camden and other antiquaries. Traditionally Keyne was one of the daughters of Brychan, the Welsh patriarch whose children were Christian pioneers of South Wales and Cornwall. She was outstandingly beautiful but refused all offers of marriage, became a solitary on the other side of the Severn (location unspecified), migrated to Cornwall, met Cadoc at Mount St Michael, and was persuaded by him to return to Wales, where she died. Haddan and Stubbs, however, consider that she is among the saints ‘of whom no reliable evidence can be found that they ever existed at all’. A popular legend about her has been given literary expression in a ballad by Southey called The Well of St Keyne: the tradition is that if the husband or the wife is the first to drink of its waters, he or she will thereby ‘get the mastery’. A Cornishman left his bride at the church porch in order to be the first at the well, but he was outwitted by her as she already had taken a bottle of the well-water to church. Feast: 8 (or 7) October.

N.L.A., ii. 102–4 (late and of little value); Baring-Gould and Fisher, ii. 52–5; G. H. Doble, St Nectan, St Keyne (‘Cornish Saints’, no. 25) and in Downside Review (1931), 156–72; B.L.S., x. 51.

Subjects: Christianity.


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