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About Dr Sara Elin Roberts

My research area, the medieval law of Wales, Cyfraith Hywel, is such a rich source for getting to grips with Welsh society and its relationship with the outside world in the central medieval period that working on this topic has led me into so many exciting areas of research, teaching and publications, from women’s rights in medieval Wales to the power struggles of the Wars of the Roses.

In particular I am interested in questions of gender, governance, power and identity in post-Conquest Wales and the March, as well as in the manuscript culture that lay behind the extraordinary dissemination of medieval Welsh legal texts between the thirteenth and the fifteenth centuries. I have also worked extensively on the poetry of the fourteenth-century Welsh poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym.


I contribute to the teaching of the following undergraduate modules:

  • Europe and the Wider World: Turning Point in History 1000-2000
  • The Mystery of History


My research takes an interdisciplinary approach to medieval Welsh history, using the many surviving lawtexts, in Welsh and Latin, to illuminate life and society in late medieval Wales and the March. Ranging across social, cultural, political and intellectual history, my investigation of the law-texts not only sheds light on the activities of the intellectual elite (lawyers, churchmen, poets, etc), and their participation in a precocious native literary culture, but also gets at the preoccupations and mentalities of the ordinary people of medieval Wales.

I also work extensively on the March of Wales, and my article ‘What’s Yours is Mine: Cyfraith Hywel and the Law of the March’ was the winner of the Mortimer History Society Essay Prize for 2018.


I am the Celtic Section Editor for the Brill journal The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies:

I am the Secretary of Seminar Cyfraith Hywel, and I am also responsible for the Welsh law website,

Published Work

Monographs and Major Works:

Archwilio Cymru’r Oesoedd Canol: Testunau o Gyfraith Hywel [Exploring Medieval Wales: Law Texts from Cyfraith Hywel] (Texts and Studies in Medieval Welsh Law IV, 2015)

Jasper: The Tudor Kingmaker (Fonthill, 2015)

Llawysgrif Pomffred: An Edition and Study of Peniarth MS 259B (Brill, ‘Medieval Law and its Practice Series’, 2010).  and Cerddi Dafydd ap Gwilym (UWP, 2010).

The Legal Triads of Medieval Wales (University of Wales Press, July 2007; 2nd ed January 2011).

Other publications (selected):

‘The Welsh Legal Triads’ (London, Selden Society, 2015). Also published as ‘The Welsh Legal Triads’ in T. G. Watkin (ed), The Welsh Legal Triads and Other Essays (The Welsh Legal History Society Volume XII, Bangor, 2015), 1-22.

‘More Plaints in Welsh Medieval Law’, Studia Celtica 48 (2014), 171-199.

‘The Iorwerth Triads’, Tome: Studies in Medieval Celtic History and Law in Honour of Thomas Charles-Edwards, ed. Fiona Edmunds and Paul Russell (Boydell and Brewer, 2011), 155-74.

‘‘Gwreic wyf fi’: Transition to Womanhood in Medieval Wales’, in Middle-Aged Women in the Middle Ages, ed. S. Niebrzydowski, (Boydell and Brewer, 2011), 25-36.

“‘By the authority of the Devil”: the operation of Welsh and English Law in Medieval Wales’, Authority and Subjugation in Writing of Medieval Wales ed. Ruth Kennedy and Simon Meecham-Jones (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 85-97.

In preparation:

Forthcoming: ‘What’s Yours is Mine: Cyfraith Hywel and the Law of the March’. Winner of the Mortimer History Society Essay Prize 2018, to be published in Journal of the Mortimer History Society.

Forthcoming: ‘The Welsh Laws’ in K. Hurlock and E. Cavell (ed), A Companion to Medieval Wales (Brill, 2016)

Forthcoming: ‘‘A rather laborious and harassing occupation’: the Creation of the Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales (1841)’ in Thomas Gobbitt (ed), Law | Book | Culture in the Early and High Middle Ages (Brill, 2019).

Forthcoming: ‘Living off the Land in Medieval Welsh Law’ in A. Seaman and R. Comeau (ed), Living off the Land (Windgather Press, 2019).

In Preparation: The Making of Law in Medieval Wales: this is a monograph on the textual relationships of the Welsh law manuscripts, and it questions the views presented in the historiography, suggesting instead an alternative way of reading the manuscripts.

In Preparation: ‘Textual Development of the Welsh Laws – the Evidence of the Triads’.

In Preparation: ‘Siasbar Hir: y Beirdd a Siasbar Iarll Penfro’ [A study of the poetry to Jasper Earl of Pembroke]


BA (Wales), M.St. (Oxford), D.Phil (Oxford), FHEA, FRHistS.