Fonds GB 0210 IDRTER - Idris Foster Papers,

Identity area

Reference code



Idris Foster Papers,


  • 1924-1984 / (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.186 cubic metres (43 boxes, 1 volume, 1 drawer)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Idris Llewelyn Foster (1911-1984), Celtic scholar, was born in Carneddi, Bethesda, Caernarfonshire. After attending Bethesda County School he went to the University College of North Wales, Bangor, graduating in Latin and Welsh, and was awarded a MA in 1935. He spent time in Dublin and Bonn before being appointed Head of the Department of Celtic at the University of Liverpool in 1936. After serving in Naval Intelligence during World War Two he became Jesus Professor of Celtic at Oxford and a Fellow of Jesus College, where he stayed from 1947 until his retirement in 1978. He was noted as a scholar and teacher in the fields of Medieval Welsh and Irish. He wrote on early Welsh poetry and was pre-eminent in the study of Medieval Welsh prose, his most important research being into the tale of Culhwch ac Olwen. He wrote numerous articles and essays and co-edited the volumes Culture and Environment (1963) and Prehistoric and Early Wales (1965). His edition of Culhwch ac Olwen was published posthumously by the University of Wales Press (1992), edited by Rachel Bromwich and D. Simon Evans. He also edited the Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1954-1977. He was involved with many organisations and committees, including the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries and Cyngor yr Iaith Gymraeg. He was Chairman of the Council and President of the Court of the National Eisteddfod, Treasurer and Vice-President of the National Library of Wales, President of the Cambrian Archaeological Association and a member of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales. He was knighted in 1977. Following his retirement he lived in Carneddi and died there in 1984.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Deposited by Idris Foster, 1978. Converted into a donation by his nephew and niece, the Rev. Gareth Foster and Mrs. Sian Thomas, who donated further papers in 1984.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers of Sir Idris Foster comprising correspondence; personal papers, 1953-1978; papers, 1963-1978, relating to the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries; radio and television scripts, [1949x1984]; notes and correspondence relating to his work on `Culhwch ac Olwen', including copies of his MA thesis, 1935-1961; scholarly and academic notes; papers relating to the National Eisteddfod, 1960-1985; material on Ireland and the Irish language, 1958-1982; copies of university dissertations, 1924-[1980]; drafts and typescript versions of articles, lectures and broadcasts received by Foster, 1949-1983; and index slips of Old and Middle Irish and Middle Welsh words; papers relating to the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1947-1978, the University of Wales, 1936-1984, including the Board of Celtic Studies,1955-1975; Jesus College and Oxford University, 1960-1984, the Church in Wales, 1957-1983, archaeological bodies, the Ancient Monuments Board for England and Ancient Monuments Board for Wales, 1960-1985, the National Eisteddfod, 1960-1985, Cyngor yr Iaith Gymraeg, 1973-1977, and other councils, committees and societies, 1951-1984.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: All records donated to the National Library of Wales have been retained..


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged by date of deposit, with original order retained. The correspondence is mainly arranged alphabetically.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, Welsh, Middle Welsh, Old and Middle Irish, Cornish.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A hard copy of a box list is available at the National Library of Wales.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Project identifier


Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.;AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

February 2003


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by Rhys Jones for the ANW project. The following sources were used to compile this description: NLW, Rhestr Gryno o Bapurau Idris Foster (Summary List of Idris Foster Papers); Stephens, Meic, Oxford Companion to the Literature of Wales (Oxford, 1986); Evans, D. Ellis, 'Sir Idris Foster' in Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (1985), pp. 331-336.

Accession area