top of page
Above the Clouds
Saith Marchog y Pennaeth
Seven Knights of the Head

Duration: 6 minutes
Opus: 69
Date: 2017



In the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, Brân Fendigaidd is mortally wounded after a battle in Ireland that followed the mistreatment of his sister Branwen ferch Llŷr, who is married to the Irish king. Seven Welsh warriors survive the conflict, among them Manawydan, Taliesin and Pryderi fab Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, whilst Branwen dies of a broken heart. The mortally wounded Brân tells the survivors to cut off his head (this being believed to be the home of the soul) and return it to Britain.

For seven years, the seven surviving Knights of the Head stay in Harlech Castle, where they are entertained by Brân's head, which continues to speak, and where they temporarily forget their sorrow and make merry.

The piece is divided into four sections: ‘Entering Harlech Castle’; ‘Lament for Branwen’; ‘The Knights venerate the Head and it begins to speak’, and ‘The Knights’ Revelry’.

Eb Trumpet; 2 Bb Trumpets; 3 Trombones (2 Tenor; 1 Bass); Tuba

Commissioned by

Gregynog Festival of Music

First performance

Harlech Castle, 2nd July 2017  

Septura -
Simon Cox, Huw Morgan, Alan Thomas (trumpets); Matthew Gee, Matthew Knight, Dan West
(trombones) and Pete Smith (tuba) 

Score & Audio
bottom of page