Detail of folio 6v.
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Peniarth MS 28 belongs to this first generation of law-books, being written probably in the middle of the thirteenth century, a date arrived at by Daniel Huws on palaeographical and physical grounds; this challenges J. Gwenogvryn Evans's dating of the last quarter of the twelfth century. However, the manuscript differs from its contemporaries in a number of respects. It is much larger than the other law-books of the period, probably intended for a library rather than the pocket of a lawyer, and it is written in Latin rather than in Welsh. But what singles it out most is the series of illustrations it contains portraying the king and the officials of his household. The conclusion to be drawn is that the scribe of Peniarth MS 28 had been commissioned to write a special copy of the Welsh laws, probably a presentation copy for some dignitary. The fact that it is written in Latin suggests an ecclesiastic rather than a lawyer, maybe a non-Welshman. Textual evidence suggests that it was probably written in south-west Wales.
The 'Laws of Hywel Dda' is the term applied to a system of native Welsh law named after Hywel Dda (died 950). He is credited with its codification. None of the surviving Welsh law manuscripts, however, are earlier than the second quarter of the 13th century. Although they contain a law that is of 12th and 13th century origin, scholars are agreed that these manuscripts contain a core of matter that is much earlier in date.