The Physicians of Myddfai (Meddygon Myddfai) were a succession of physicians who lived in the parish of Myddfai in Carmarthenshire, Wales.
Instructions for preparing herbal medicine attributed to the family have survived in the Red Book of Hergest, which dates from the late 14th century, and in other, “more recent”, Welsh manuscripts.
The “more recent” Welsh manuscripts have been used since as a definite guide to Druid herbal medicine.
With renewed 19th century “Christian” interest in Druidry, antiquarians visited Myddfai parish to collect further oral traditions regarding the family of physicians, including a legend of its origins. The first reference to this story occurs in a diary compiled by the topographer Richard Fenton, who visited the parish in 1808.
The story was subsequently expanded in an article in 1821 periodical The Cambro-Briton and in an introduction to the 1861 book Meddygon Myddvai. The latter version was based on the oral accounts given by three elderly residents of the parish in 1841 to William Rees.
The book Meddygon Myddvai, published in 1861 by John Pughe, collects together most of the materials attributed to the Physicians, which it groups under two manuscripts. What it terms the “first” manuscript is the material included in the Red Book of Hergest, corrected by comparison with other copies.
The “second” manuscript, however, consists of materials found in a manuscript formerly known as MS Llanover C.24 and now held by the National Library of Wales. It was brought to light by, and is partly in the hand of, the antiquarian and bard Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams).
The text purports to be a collection of herbal medicinal prescriptions and herb names compiled by Hywel Feddyg ab Rhys ab Llywelyn ab Philip Feddyg, a descendant of the Physicians of Myddfai.
However, the Llanover “Meddygon Myddfai” manuscript is one of Williams’ forgeries, and was compiled by him based on the materials he found in a manuscript compiled by Harri Jones of Pontypool.
So, whilst the information found in the first part can be credited (with extensive revisions) to the Red Book of Hergest, the latter part of Meddygon Myddvai can be dismissed as another fraud, whose prolific material has been promulgated by modern Druid Orders.