We are pleased to announce that Professor Patrick Sims-Williams FBA has been awarded the Francis Jones Prize in Welsh History 2019 by Jesus College for his recent publication The Book of Llandaf as a Historical Source (2019). The award is made on the recommendation of a panel of judges who, between them, cover the main periods of Welsh history.
The annual Francis Jones Prize was endowed in 2017 by Sir David Lewis, an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, to celebrate Welsh historical literature. It is named in memory of Francis Jones (1908–1993), a former Wales Herald Extraordinary.
The Book of Llandaf as a Historical Source studies the early-twelfth-century Book of Llandaf, which provides valuable information on the early medieval history of south-east Wales and the adjacent parts of England but also many notorious ‘bogus documents’. Patrick focuses on the book’s 159 charters, which purport to date from the fifth to eleventh century, arguing that most of them are genuine seventh-century and later documents that were adapted and ‘improved’ to impress Rome and Canterbury in the context of Bishop Urban of Llandaf's struggles in 1119-34 against the bishops of St Davids and Hereford and the ‘invasion’ of monks from English houses such as Gloucester and Tewkesbury. He defends the authenticity of most of the Llandaf charters' witness lists, elucidates their chronology, and analyses the processes of manipulation and expansion that led to the extant Book of Llandaf.
Patrick said; “I am delighted to be awarded the prize for my book, especially because I was unaware how my ideas on its controversial topic had been received by specialists in Welsh history.”
On The Book of Llandaf as a Historical Source, the judging panel commented;
“Patrick Sims-Williams’ book was a highly scholarly investigation of a crucial source for early Welsh history, namely the Book of Llandaf, but one that is very difficult to use because it is the outcome of an editing process in the twelfth century. The evidence needs very careful sifting and that is exactly what the book achieves.”
Patrick is Emeritus Professor of Celtic Studies at Aberystwyth University, and President of the International Congress of Celtic Studies. He is the founding editor and publisher of ‘Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies’ in 1993. Between 1998 and 2008 he served on the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and, since 2007, he has directed the British Academy project ‘The Development of the Welsh Language/Datblygiad yr Iaith Gymraeg.’ He has won a number of prizes for his work, including the 1999 Antiquity Prize for Best Paper in 1998, the 2007 G. T. Clark Award (Cambrian Archaeological Association), for ‘The Celtic Inscriptions of Britain: Phonology and Chronology’ and the 2011 Vernam Hull Prize, for ‘Irish Influence on Medieval Welsh Literature’.