Dic Aberdaron’s grave, St Asaph

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Dic Aberdaron’s grave, St Asaph

Dic Aberdaron – real name Richard Robert Jones – was a traveller and polyglot. He had received little or no education, but reputedly knew 15 languages. He spent most of his lifetime wandering through Wales and England and at one time worked in the docks at London and Dover.

You can see his gravestone in the south-west corner of the churchyard of St Asaph parish church. It’s the only one which was left in situ when the churchyard was tidied and the other tomb slabs were moved to the sides.

He was born in Aberdaron in 1780. His father was a carpenter and boat-builder. Aberdaron is a village on the Llŷn Peninsula – the end of the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way for walkers who don’t cross the water to Bardsey. His nomadic lifestyle began in his youth, as did his acquisition of foreign languages. We know that he was learning Latin at the age of 12, but most his life is poorly documented. He learned ancient Middle Eastern tongues as well as modern European languages such as French and Italian.

He took a cat and many books on his wanderings, sometimes having to sell books to buy clothes or food, and was described as “one quarter idiot, three-quarters genius”. He spent a couple of years writing a Welsh-Hebrew-Greek dictionary but too few people would pay for its publication. The only copy is held in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.

He happened to be staying for a few months in St Asaph when he died in 1843. His tombstone includes the following epitaph by poet Ellis Owen:

Ieithydd uwch ieithwyr wythwaith, gwir ydoedd
Geiriadur pob talaith
Deth angau a’i bymthengiaith
Obryn’n awr mae heb’r un iaith.

This translates as:

A linguist eight times greater than other linguists he truly was,
A dictionary of every state.
Death took his fifteen languages
And now he’s without one language.

Postcode: LL17 0SG    View Location Map


To continue the Words & Music Tour, walk along High Street look for the QR codes near the eastern entrance to the churchyard Navigation next button
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