Wales-Watching

Cara/Andrea here, inviting you to come on another peregrination . . .

Between the glittering elegance of London’s ballrooms, the bubbling charms of Bath’s Pump Room and the rugged splendor of Scotland’s Highlands, Wales—and the Welsh—tend to get overlooked in historical romance stories. I’m not sure why bucks of the ton and men in kilts get all the attention, for after a recent visit to the country, I came away utterly . . . enchanted!

Wales-flag Really, how can one not fall in love with a country that features Y Ddraig Goch—the Red Dragon—on its national flag. Dragons play a big role in Welsh mythology. The Historia Brittonum, which dates to around 820, contains the first written reference of the fanciful beast as the symbol of Wales. Ancient tradition then has it spreading its wings as the battle standard of King Arthur and other noble Celtic leaders.

Caerleon_Amphitheatre The Arthurian legends are part of the heart and soul of Welsh heritage. Camelot and the Round Table is said to have existed in the present-day town of Caerleon, which also was headquarters of the Second Legion Augusta, the Roman force which occupied this part of Britannia  from around 75 to 300 AD. Today, you can explore the impressive ruins of the bath complex built by the soldiers, and walk around a circular amphitheater built into the verdant meadows.

King_arthur It was Geoffrey of Monmouth, who in the 12th century wrote the first detailed accounts of the fabled ruler and his exploits. Arthur, Uther Pendragon, Merlin, Mordred—his Historia Regum Britanniæ, a chronicle of the lives of Britain’s rulers, served as inspiration for centuries of Welsh bards. (Geoffrey didn’t mention Camelot. That embellishment to the story originated in the French courtly romances of Chretien de Troyes.)

The_Mabinogion-8 These core tales of Arthur are also part of one of the most famous historic Welsh literary works—The Mabinogian. Inspired by folklore, myth and history, these collection of tales were part of the rich oral tradition of storytelling before being written down in the 13th century. They were first translated from Welsh into English in  the early 1800s by Lady Charlotte Guest, daughter of the 9th Earl of Lindsey , who worked from two late medieval manuscripts—the Red Book of Hergest and the White Book of Rhydderch. (Lady Charlotte traveled extensively in Europe after the death of her Welsh husband, and was an avis art collector. She bequeathed a wonderful ceramics collection to the V&A Museum, and an assortment of fans, playing cards and board games to the British Museum.)

An aura of mystery and magic pervade these imaginative tales—which I’ve been told shouldn’t be surprising, as  the Welsh are a people who love language, both written and spoken. Celts are renowned for their storytelling traditions, so poetry and song are deeply rooted in their culture. To this day, it’s given voice in a variety of artistic expression, both in English and in their wonderfully tongue-twisting native language. (Like the Scots and the Irish, the Welsh have an uneasy history with England. Conflict has colored the past centuries, both before and after the first Act of Union in 1536 joined Wales to its larger neighbor . . . but that is a subject for another time.)

Country2 Inspiration is easy to understand when you are in Wales. It is a small land of immense and scenic natural beauty—craggy coastline, sandy beaches, rolling meadows, majestic mountains. Though it’s only 8,00 square miles in size (roughly the size of Massachusetts) it features a great variety of terrain, from the bucolic pastures of the Wye Valley in the southeast to the rugged Snowdon Mountain range in the northwest. (Sir Edmund Hilary trained in Wales for his famous ascent of Mt. Everest.)

Carphillycastle For those of us who love history, Wales is equally alluring. Over 600 castles dot its hilltops and peaks, including Caerphilly, one of the largest in all of Europe, Castell Coch, built in the 19th century by the Marquess of Bute, and Caernarfon, a splendid Medieval fortress built by Edward I, where the present-day Charles was crowned Prince of Wales. There is also a wealth of fascinating museums and libraries to explore. Or you can meander through the winding country roads, visiting places like Caerfyrddin, said to be the birthplace of Merlin, and Llyn y Fan Fach, a remote lake in the Black Mountains which has its very own Lady of the Lake legend.

Hay And then there is Hay-on-Wye, a tiny town on the English border that is a must-see for anyone who loves the printed page. World famous for it antiquarian, specialty and secondhand bookshops—there are over 30 for a population of 1500—Hay-on-Wye holds an annual festival in late spring that draws people from all over the globe for author readings, panel discussions, and a general celebration of literature.  But even if you can’t make it for that week, the stores are open year-round, as is a large traditional market on Thursdays, which features antiques, crafts, flowers, homebaked goods and local foods.

Cheesestack Speaking of foods, all the wonderful things to see and do require a goodly amount energy. So it’s fortunate that Welsh food is so delicious. Make sure to stop often at one of the many charming tea shops. Welsh cakes, a sort-of flat scone dusted with sugar, and bara brith, a fruit cake laced with raisins and walnuts, are two of my favorite snacks. Salt marsh lamb and Usk Valley beef win culinary kudos. Oh, and don’t get me started on the amazing array of local artisanal cheeses. Teifi Celtic Promise, Cenarth Perl Las, Gorwydd Caerphilly . . . needless to say, I came home packing a few extra pounds—alas, on my person, not in my suitcase!

Ioan-gruffuddThis short tour does not nearly do justice to the magical kingdom that is Wales. (If you've never been to this part of Great Britain, I heartily recommend a visit!) Like Celtic bards of old, I could wax poetic for hours describing the hauntingly beautiful legends and landscapes. However, I shall leave you with just a last, short word. I dearly love my traditional British historical heroes—a London Corinthian, with gleaming Hessians and a perfectly tied Trone d’Amour still makes my heart go pitter-pat. And a Highlander with kilt and claymore is a sight to make any lady swoon. But after meeting a number of black-haired, blue-eyed Welshmen, with the lilt of laughter and poetry in their voices, I’m already imagining a hero for my new trilogy. His name is Gruffydd . . .or Rhys . . . or Ioan . . . (shown here is Welshman Ioan (Horatio Hornblower) Gruffudd as Lancelot. Need I say more?)

Now, how about you? Are you familiar with Wales and its legends? Did you love the stories of King Arthur and the Round Table as much as I did as a child? Or did you have a favorite tale or myth from another country. (My mother was Swiss, so I also grew up knowing all about William Tell and his famous apple!)

130 thoughts on “Wales-Watching”

  1. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Wales, and it’s probably one of my favorite places in Britain (there are so many good ones to choose from!).
    I really like North Wales, and find the Welsh castles (or their ruins) are just as interesting as their larger English counterparts. One of my favorite afternoons was driving to find Castell Y Bere, the ruins of a castle built by Llewelyn the Great, which is literally out on a goat track. But the view was gorgeous and the sheep didn’t mind sharing.

    Reply
  2. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Wales, and it’s probably one of my favorite places in Britain (there are so many good ones to choose from!).
    I really like North Wales, and find the Welsh castles (or their ruins) are just as interesting as their larger English counterparts. One of my favorite afternoons was driving to find Castell Y Bere, the ruins of a castle built by Llewelyn the Great, which is literally out on a goat track. But the view was gorgeous and the sheep didn’t mind sharing.

    Reply
  3. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Wales, and it’s probably one of my favorite places in Britain (there are so many good ones to choose from!).
    I really like North Wales, and find the Welsh castles (or their ruins) are just as interesting as their larger English counterparts. One of my favorite afternoons was driving to find Castell Y Bere, the ruins of a castle built by Llewelyn the Great, which is literally out on a goat track. But the view was gorgeous and the sheep didn’t mind sharing.

    Reply
  4. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Wales, and it’s probably one of my favorite places in Britain (there are so many good ones to choose from!).
    I really like North Wales, and find the Welsh castles (or their ruins) are just as interesting as their larger English counterparts. One of my favorite afternoons was driving to find Castell Y Bere, the ruins of a castle built by Llewelyn the Great, which is literally out on a goat track. But the view was gorgeous and the sheep didn’t mind sharing.

    Reply
  5. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Wales, and it’s probably one of my favorite places in Britain (there are so many good ones to choose from!).
    I really like North Wales, and find the Welsh castles (or their ruins) are just as interesting as their larger English counterparts. One of my favorite afternoons was driving to find Castell Y Bere, the ruins of a castle built by Llewelyn the Great, which is literally out on a goat track. But the view was gorgeous and the sheep didn’t mind sharing.

    Reply
  6. Super post, Cara/Andrea. Thank you! I love Wales. It feels as remote, atmospheric and exciting as Scotland to me. I suppose that’s a feature of the Celtic nations. So many fabulous legends and stories. I would love to see more historicals set there.
    My dh is part-Welsh and his grandfather was called Taliesin after the bard in the Mabinogion. Until last week I didn’t think I had any Welsh ancestry at all and then discovered I was descended from Princess Nesta of Wales. Cue much amazement and excitement in this household!

    Reply
  7. Super post, Cara/Andrea. Thank you! I love Wales. It feels as remote, atmospheric and exciting as Scotland to me. I suppose that’s a feature of the Celtic nations. So many fabulous legends and stories. I would love to see more historicals set there.
    My dh is part-Welsh and his grandfather was called Taliesin after the bard in the Mabinogion. Until last week I didn’t think I had any Welsh ancestry at all and then discovered I was descended from Princess Nesta of Wales. Cue much amazement and excitement in this household!

    Reply
  8. Super post, Cara/Andrea. Thank you! I love Wales. It feels as remote, atmospheric and exciting as Scotland to me. I suppose that’s a feature of the Celtic nations. So many fabulous legends and stories. I would love to see more historicals set there.
    My dh is part-Welsh and his grandfather was called Taliesin after the bard in the Mabinogion. Until last week I didn’t think I had any Welsh ancestry at all and then discovered I was descended from Princess Nesta of Wales. Cue much amazement and excitement in this household!

    Reply
  9. Super post, Cara/Andrea. Thank you! I love Wales. It feels as remote, atmospheric and exciting as Scotland to me. I suppose that’s a feature of the Celtic nations. So many fabulous legends and stories. I would love to see more historicals set there.
    My dh is part-Welsh and his grandfather was called Taliesin after the bard in the Mabinogion. Until last week I didn’t think I had any Welsh ancestry at all and then discovered I was descended from Princess Nesta of Wales. Cue much amazement and excitement in this household!

    Reply
  10. Super post, Cara/Andrea. Thank you! I love Wales. It feels as remote, atmospheric and exciting as Scotland to me. I suppose that’s a feature of the Celtic nations. So many fabulous legends and stories. I would love to see more historicals set there.
    My dh is part-Welsh and his grandfather was called Taliesin after the bard in the Mabinogion. Until last week I didn’t think I had any Welsh ancestry at all and then discovered I was descended from Princess Nesta of Wales. Cue much amazement and excitement in this household!

    Reply
  11. I love Ioan Gruffudd–but I thought he played Lancelot in the movie (and Clive Owen was Arthur.) Or is this a different movie?
    My family–from way back–comes from Wales.
    I was probably more a fan of Robin Hood than King Arthur and his good knights. 🙂 I’ve always been a bigger fan of the outlaws than the ones on the right side of the law. *sheepish shrug*

    Reply
  12. I love Ioan Gruffudd–but I thought he played Lancelot in the movie (and Clive Owen was Arthur.) Or is this a different movie?
    My family–from way back–comes from Wales.
    I was probably more a fan of Robin Hood than King Arthur and his good knights. 🙂 I’ve always been a bigger fan of the outlaws than the ones on the right side of the law. *sheepish shrug*

    Reply
  13. I love Ioan Gruffudd–but I thought he played Lancelot in the movie (and Clive Owen was Arthur.) Or is this a different movie?
    My family–from way back–comes from Wales.
    I was probably more a fan of Robin Hood than King Arthur and his good knights. 🙂 I’ve always been a bigger fan of the outlaws than the ones on the right side of the law. *sheepish shrug*

    Reply
  14. I love Ioan Gruffudd–but I thought he played Lancelot in the movie (and Clive Owen was Arthur.) Or is this a different movie?
    My family–from way back–comes from Wales.
    I was probably more a fan of Robin Hood than King Arthur and his good knights. 🙂 I’ve always been a bigger fan of the outlaws than the ones on the right side of the law. *sheepish shrug*

    Reply
  15. I love Ioan Gruffudd–but I thought he played Lancelot in the movie (and Clive Owen was Arthur.) Or is this a different movie?
    My family–from way back–comes from Wales.
    I was probably more a fan of Robin Hood than King Arthur and his good knights. 🙂 I’ve always been a bigger fan of the outlaws than the ones on the right side of the law. *sheepish shrug*

    Reply
  16. Do I have to genuflect to you now, Princess Nicola, LOL! What a fun discovery. (And love the name Taliesin.)
    I think you are right about the Celts—wonderful legends and a magical sort of spirit surround their heritage. I can’t wait to go back to Wales.

    Reply
  17. Do I have to genuflect to you now, Princess Nicola, LOL! What a fun discovery. (And love the name Taliesin.)
    I think you are right about the Celts—wonderful legends and a magical sort of spirit surround their heritage. I can’t wait to go back to Wales.

    Reply
  18. Do I have to genuflect to you now, Princess Nicola, LOL! What a fun discovery. (And love the name Taliesin.)
    I think you are right about the Celts—wonderful legends and a magical sort of spirit surround their heritage. I can’t wait to go back to Wales.

    Reply
  19. Do I have to genuflect to you now, Princess Nicola, LOL! What a fun discovery. (And love the name Taliesin.)
    I think you are right about the Celts—wonderful legends and a magical sort of spirit surround their heritage. I can’t wait to go back to Wales.

    Reply
  20. Do I have to genuflect to you now, Princess Nicola, LOL! What a fun discovery. (And love the name Taliesin.)
    I think you are right about the Celts—wonderful legends and a magical sort of spirit surround their heritage. I can’t wait to go back to Wales.

    Reply
  21. You must watch the movie if you haven’t seen it! It kind of deviates from the Welsh side of the legend (or at least doesn’t allude to it) except for the language the Woads talk. Its fabulous though. Men in armour on horseback, being all heroic etc.
    I long for another team-up of Ioan and Clive. It was a good match. Yes, Ioan was Lancelot.

    Reply
  22. You must watch the movie if you haven’t seen it! It kind of deviates from the Welsh side of the legend (or at least doesn’t allude to it) except for the language the Woads talk. Its fabulous though. Men in armour on horseback, being all heroic etc.
    I long for another team-up of Ioan and Clive. It was a good match. Yes, Ioan was Lancelot.

    Reply
  23. You must watch the movie if you haven’t seen it! It kind of deviates from the Welsh side of the legend (or at least doesn’t allude to it) except for the language the Woads talk. Its fabulous though. Men in armour on horseback, being all heroic etc.
    I long for another team-up of Ioan and Clive. It was a good match. Yes, Ioan was Lancelot.

    Reply
  24. You must watch the movie if you haven’t seen it! It kind of deviates from the Welsh side of the legend (or at least doesn’t allude to it) except for the language the Woads talk. Its fabulous though. Men in armour on horseback, being all heroic etc.
    I long for another team-up of Ioan and Clive. It was a good match. Yes, Ioan was Lancelot.

    Reply
  25. You must watch the movie if you haven’t seen it! It kind of deviates from the Welsh side of the legend (or at least doesn’t allude to it) except for the language the Woads talk. Its fabulous though. Men in armour on horseback, being all heroic etc.
    I long for another team-up of Ioan and Clive. It was a good match. Yes, Ioan was Lancelot.

    Reply
  26. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series takes place in part in Wales. Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Shining Company is, I think, a retelling of the Mabinogion. They are magical, poetic books aimed at YA but I loved them when I read them as an adult (one of the benefits of parenthood is discovering books and authors through my children). I’ll be in London and then in the Peak District later this month, but I’ll have to add Wales to the list of places to go — the combination of secondhand bookshops and cheese is extremely tempting.

    Reply
  27. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series takes place in part in Wales. Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Shining Company is, I think, a retelling of the Mabinogion. They are magical, poetic books aimed at YA but I loved them when I read them as an adult (one of the benefits of parenthood is discovering books and authors through my children). I’ll be in London and then in the Peak District later this month, but I’ll have to add Wales to the list of places to go — the combination of secondhand bookshops and cheese is extremely tempting.

    Reply
  28. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series takes place in part in Wales. Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Shining Company is, I think, a retelling of the Mabinogion. They are magical, poetic books aimed at YA but I loved them when I read them as an adult (one of the benefits of parenthood is discovering books and authors through my children). I’ll be in London and then in the Peak District later this month, but I’ll have to add Wales to the list of places to go — the combination of secondhand bookshops and cheese is extremely tempting.

    Reply
  29. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series takes place in part in Wales. Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Shining Company is, I think, a retelling of the Mabinogion. They are magical, poetic books aimed at YA but I loved them when I read them as an adult (one of the benefits of parenthood is discovering books and authors through my children). I’ll be in London and then in the Peak District later this month, but I’ll have to add Wales to the list of places to go — the combination of secondhand bookshops and cheese is extremely tempting.

    Reply
  30. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series takes place in part in Wales. Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Shining Company is, I think, a retelling of the Mabinogion. They are magical, poetic books aimed at YA but I loved them when I read them as an adult (one of the benefits of parenthood is discovering books and authors through my children). I’ll be in London and then in the Peak District later this month, but I’ll have to add Wales to the list of places to go — the combination of secondhand bookshops and cheese is extremely tempting.

    Reply
  31. Andrea, what a magical journey. Thank you for this short introduction. I’ve read some of the mythology, and I love it for its pomp and grandeur, not to mention hawt heroes.
    Ioan Gruffyd was amazing as William Wilberforce in AMAZING GRACE. (He comes a close second to Richard Armitage–jus’sayin’…)
    Princess Nicola, heh. How did you discover just exciting news?

    Reply
  32. Andrea, what a magical journey. Thank you for this short introduction. I’ve read some of the mythology, and I love it for its pomp and grandeur, not to mention hawt heroes.
    Ioan Gruffyd was amazing as William Wilberforce in AMAZING GRACE. (He comes a close second to Richard Armitage–jus’sayin’…)
    Princess Nicola, heh. How did you discover just exciting news?

    Reply
  33. Andrea, what a magical journey. Thank you for this short introduction. I’ve read some of the mythology, and I love it for its pomp and grandeur, not to mention hawt heroes.
    Ioan Gruffyd was amazing as William Wilberforce in AMAZING GRACE. (He comes a close second to Richard Armitage–jus’sayin’…)
    Princess Nicola, heh. How did you discover just exciting news?

    Reply
  34. Andrea, what a magical journey. Thank you for this short introduction. I’ve read some of the mythology, and I love it for its pomp and grandeur, not to mention hawt heroes.
    Ioan Gruffyd was amazing as William Wilberforce in AMAZING GRACE. (He comes a close second to Richard Armitage–jus’sayin’…)
    Princess Nicola, heh. How did you discover just exciting news?

    Reply
  35. Andrea, what a magical journey. Thank you for this short introduction. I’ve read some of the mythology, and I love it for its pomp and grandeur, not to mention hawt heroes.
    Ioan Gruffyd was amazing as William Wilberforce in AMAZING GRACE. (He comes a close second to Richard Armitage–jus’sayin’…)
    Princess Nicola, heh. How did you discover just exciting news?

    Reply
  36. Thank you for your enthusiastic description of Wales and its history and heritage. My mother was Welsh and my childhood holidays were spent in Mid-Wales [yes, the Welsh divide up their country into three parts]in green valleys and on bracken covered hills, wandering freely in a wild landscape with only a few sheep for company. Plenty to fuel the imagination. I remember there were lots of superstitions about the fairies and ways to avoid angering them.
    Certainly there is plenty to enjoy on a future visit, Cara. Meanwhile, Diolch yn fawr.

    Reply
  37. Thank you for your enthusiastic description of Wales and its history and heritage. My mother was Welsh and my childhood holidays were spent in Mid-Wales [yes, the Welsh divide up their country into three parts]in green valleys and on bracken covered hills, wandering freely in a wild landscape with only a few sheep for company. Plenty to fuel the imagination. I remember there were lots of superstitions about the fairies and ways to avoid angering them.
    Certainly there is plenty to enjoy on a future visit, Cara. Meanwhile, Diolch yn fawr.

    Reply
  38. Thank you for your enthusiastic description of Wales and its history and heritage. My mother was Welsh and my childhood holidays were spent in Mid-Wales [yes, the Welsh divide up their country into three parts]in green valleys and on bracken covered hills, wandering freely in a wild landscape with only a few sheep for company. Plenty to fuel the imagination. I remember there were lots of superstitions about the fairies and ways to avoid angering them.
    Certainly there is plenty to enjoy on a future visit, Cara. Meanwhile, Diolch yn fawr.

    Reply
  39. Thank you for your enthusiastic description of Wales and its history and heritage. My mother was Welsh and my childhood holidays were spent in Mid-Wales [yes, the Welsh divide up their country into three parts]in green valleys and on bracken covered hills, wandering freely in a wild landscape with only a few sheep for company. Plenty to fuel the imagination. I remember there were lots of superstitions about the fairies and ways to avoid angering them.
    Certainly there is plenty to enjoy on a future visit, Cara. Meanwhile, Diolch yn fawr.

    Reply
  40. Thank you for your enthusiastic description of Wales and its history and heritage. My mother was Welsh and my childhood holidays were spent in Mid-Wales [yes, the Welsh divide up their country into three parts]in green valleys and on bracken covered hills, wandering freely in a wild landscape with only a few sheep for company. Plenty to fuel the imagination. I remember there were lots of superstitions about the fairies and ways to avoid angering them.
    Certainly there is plenty to enjoy on a future visit, Cara. Meanwhile, Diolch yn fawr.

    Reply
  41. Cara, thank you for the gorgeous pictures (the most gorgeous being Ioan/Lancelot!) and for the history lesson. As you say, Wales is often overlooked in historical fiction, yet the few books I’ve read that were set in Wales were memorable. Mary Balogh wrote a book (the title escapes me) where the heroine lived in Wales, and Balogh (who is Welsh herself) wrote movingly of the mountain folk, mining, and the singing. From what little I’ve read of the Welsh people, I think they must be fiercely proud and independent, with emotions that run deep.
    A lovely post, Cara. This is something I appreciate so much about the Wench blog–the many fascinating posts about historical subjects, seen through the personal lens of a Wench eye. Much better than reading a history book!

    Reply
  42. Cara, thank you for the gorgeous pictures (the most gorgeous being Ioan/Lancelot!) and for the history lesson. As you say, Wales is often overlooked in historical fiction, yet the few books I’ve read that were set in Wales were memorable. Mary Balogh wrote a book (the title escapes me) where the heroine lived in Wales, and Balogh (who is Welsh herself) wrote movingly of the mountain folk, mining, and the singing. From what little I’ve read of the Welsh people, I think they must be fiercely proud and independent, with emotions that run deep.
    A lovely post, Cara. This is something I appreciate so much about the Wench blog–the many fascinating posts about historical subjects, seen through the personal lens of a Wench eye. Much better than reading a history book!

    Reply
  43. Cara, thank you for the gorgeous pictures (the most gorgeous being Ioan/Lancelot!) and for the history lesson. As you say, Wales is often overlooked in historical fiction, yet the few books I’ve read that were set in Wales were memorable. Mary Balogh wrote a book (the title escapes me) where the heroine lived in Wales, and Balogh (who is Welsh herself) wrote movingly of the mountain folk, mining, and the singing. From what little I’ve read of the Welsh people, I think they must be fiercely proud and independent, with emotions that run deep.
    A lovely post, Cara. This is something I appreciate so much about the Wench blog–the many fascinating posts about historical subjects, seen through the personal lens of a Wench eye. Much better than reading a history book!

    Reply
  44. Cara, thank you for the gorgeous pictures (the most gorgeous being Ioan/Lancelot!) and for the history lesson. As you say, Wales is often overlooked in historical fiction, yet the few books I’ve read that were set in Wales were memorable. Mary Balogh wrote a book (the title escapes me) where the heroine lived in Wales, and Balogh (who is Welsh herself) wrote movingly of the mountain folk, mining, and the singing. From what little I’ve read of the Welsh people, I think they must be fiercely proud and independent, with emotions that run deep.
    A lovely post, Cara. This is something I appreciate so much about the Wench blog–the many fascinating posts about historical subjects, seen through the personal lens of a Wench eye. Much better than reading a history book!

    Reply
  45. Cara, thank you for the gorgeous pictures (the most gorgeous being Ioan/Lancelot!) and for the history lesson. As you say, Wales is often overlooked in historical fiction, yet the few books I’ve read that were set in Wales were memorable. Mary Balogh wrote a book (the title escapes me) where the heroine lived in Wales, and Balogh (who is Welsh herself) wrote movingly of the mountain folk, mining, and the singing. From what little I’ve read of the Welsh people, I think they must be fiercely proud and independent, with emotions that run deep.
    A lovely post, Cara. This is something I appreciate so much about the Wench blog–the many fascinating posts about historical subjects, seen through the personal lens of a Wench eye. Much better than reading a history book!

    Reply
  46. So glad that you had the opportunity to visit the same places that entranced me two summers ago – Caerphilly, Caerleon, and Hay on the Wye! Did you play golf at the Celtic Manor? It will be hosting the Ryder Cup later this month!

    Reply
  47. So glad that you had the opportunity to visit the same places that entranced me two summers ago – Caerphilly, Caerleon, and Hay on the Wye! Did you play golf at the Celtic Manor? It will be hosting the Ryder Cup later this month!

    Reply
  48. So glad that you had the opportunity to visit the same places that entranced me two summers ago – Caerphilly, Caerleon, and Hay on the Wye! Did you play golf at the Celtic Manor? It will be hosting the Ryder Cup later this month!

    Reply
  49. So glad that you had the opportunity to visit the same places that entranced me two summers ago – Caerphilly, Caerleon, and Hay on the Wye! Did you play golf at the Celtic Manor? It will be hosting the Ryder Cup later this month!

    Reply
  50. So glad that you had the opportunity to visit the same places that entranced me two summers ago – Caerphilly, Caerleon, and Hay on the Wye! Did you play golf at the Celtic Manor? It will be hosting the Ryder Cup later this month!

    Reply
  51. Wonderful post, Cara. My father-in-law was Welsh, so I was lucky enough to hear a lot about Wales in the 28 years I knew him. In 2009, I spent 3 weeks in England and Ireland, and we had one night in Caernafon (sp) while we waited to take the ferry across to Ireland. An absolutely lovely city!
    I love stories and mythology from all of that part of the world, though I think my favorites are the Irish tales of the Fianna, and Oisin and Tir na Nog.
    I’m planning a return trip to Ireland for my 50th birthday, though, and I’m hoping to spend a little more time in Wales.

    Reply
  52. Wonderful post, Cara. My father-in-law was Welsh, so I was lucky enough to hear a lot about Wales in the 28 years I knew him. In 2009, I spent 3 weeks in England and Ireland, and we had one night in Caernafon (sp) while we waited to take the ferry across to Ireland. An absolutely lovely city!
    I love stories and mythology from all of that part of the world, though I think my favorites are the Irish tales of the Fianna, and Oisin and Tir na Nog.
    I’m planning a return trip to Ireland for my 50th birthday, though, and I’m hoping to spend a little more time in Wales.

    Reply
  53. Wonderful post, Cara. My father-in-law was Welsh, so I was lucky enough to hear a lot about Wales in the 28 years I knew him. In 2009, I spent 3 weeks in England and Ireland, and we had one night in Caernafon (sp) while we waited to take the ferry across to Ireland. An absolutely lovely city!
    I love stories and mythology from all of that part of the world, though I think my favorites are the Irish tales of the Fianna, and Oisin and Tir na Nog.
    I’m planning a return trip to Ireland for my 50th birthday, though, and I’m hoping to spend a little more time in Wales.

    Reply
  54. Wonderful post, Cara. My father-in-law was Welsh, so I was lucky enough to hear a lot about Wales in the 28 years I knew him. In 2009, I spent 3 weeks in England and Ireland, and we had one night in Caernafon (sp) while we waited to take the ferry across to Ireland. An absolutely lovely city!
    I love stories and mythology from all of that part of the world, though I think my favorites are the Irish tales of the Fianna, and Oisin and Tir na Nog.
    I’m planning a return trip to Ireland for my 50th birthday, though, and I’m hoping to spend a little more time in Wales.

    Reply
  55. Wonderful post, Cara. My father-in-law was Welsh, so I was lucky enough to hear a lot about Wales in the 28 years I knew him. In 2009, I spent 3 weeks in England and Ireland, and we had one night in Caernafon (sp) while we waited to take the ferry across to Ireland. An absolutely lovely city!
    I love stories and mythology from all of that part of the world, though I think my favorites are the Irish tales of the Fianna, and Oisin and Tir na Nog.
    I’m planning a return trip to Ireland for my 50th birthday, though, and I’m hoping to spend a little more time in Wales.

    Reply
  56. So glad you enjoyed my impressions of Wales, Sherrie and Cynthis. It was an all-too-short visit and I look forward to going back and spending more time exploring. The aura of myth and history really did fascinate me, and it;s physically such a beautiful place.

    Reply
  57. So glad you enjoyed my impressions of Wales, Sherrie and Cynthis. It was an all-too-short visit and I look forward to going back and spending more time exploring. The aura of myth and history really did fascinate me, and it;s physically such a beautiful place.

    Reply
  58. So glad you enjoyed my impressions of Wales, Sherrie and Cynthis. It was an all-too-short visit and I look forward to going back and spending more time exploring. The aura of myth and history really did fascinate me, and it;s physically such a beautiful place.

    Reply
  59. So glad you enjoyed my impressions of Wales, Sherrie and Cynthis. It was an all-too-short visit and I look forward to going back and spending more time exploring. The aura of myth and history really did fascinate me, and it;s physically such a beautiful place.

    Reply
  60. So glad you enjoyed my impressions of Wales, Sherrie and Cynthis. It was an all-too-short visit and I look forward to going back and spending more time exploring. The aura of myth and history really did fascinate me, and it;s physically such a beautiful place.

    Reply
  61. Kim, your description of Caerleon was one of the reasons it was a must-see on my trip! And yes, I did play golf on the 210 course at Celtic manor, and can’t wait to watch the Ryder Cup later this month! Some of the last holes are going to be succh fun to watch the pros play for they are very challenging 9to say the least.) I also played at Royal Porthcawl, which I loved! I think it may be one of my favorite courses in the world—but then, I really love links golf, and it was a really memorable experience, with a spectacular sandy beach on one side, and sheep grazing on the other. The heather was in riotous bloom, coloring the grasses with subtle shades of purple and pink . . . you get the picture!

    Reply
  62. Kim, your description of Caerleon was one of the reasons it was a must-see on my trip! And yes, I did play golf on the 210 course at Celtic manor, and can’t wait to watch the Ryder Cup later this month! Some of the last holes are going to be succh fun to watch the pros play for they are very challenging 9to say the least.) I also played at Royal Porthcawl, which I loved! I think it may be one of my favorite courses in the world—but then, I really love links golf, and it was a really memorable experience, with a spectacular sandy beach on one side, and sheep grazing on the other. The heather was in riotous bloom, coloring the grasses with subtle shades of purple and pink . . . you get the picture!

    Reply
  63. Kim, your description of Caerleon was one of the reasons it was a must-see on my trip! And yes, I did play golf on the 210 course at Celtic manor, and can’t wait to watch the Ryder Cup later this month! Some of the last holes are going to be succh fun to watch the pros play for they are very challenging 9to say the least.) I also played at Royal Porthcawl, which I loved! I think it may be one of my favorite courses in the world—but then, I really love links golf, and it was a really memorable experience, with a spectacular sandy beach on one side, and sheep grazing on the other. The heather was in riotous bloom, coloring the grasses with subtle shades of purple and pink . . . you get the picture!

    Reply
  64. Kim, your description of Caerleon was one of the reasons it was a must-see on my trip! And yes, I did play golf on the 210 course at Celtic manor, and can’t wait to watch the Ryder Cup later this month! Some of the last holes are going to be succh fun to watch the pros play for they are very challenging 9to say the least.) I also played at Royal Porthcawl, which I loved! I think it may be one of my favorite courses in the world—but then, I really love links golf, and it was a really memorable experience, with a spectacular sandy beach on one side, and sheep grazing on the other. The heather was in riotous bloom, coloring the grasses with subtle shades of purple and pink . . . you get the picture!

    Reply
  65. Kim, your description of Caerleon was one of the reasons it was a must-see on my trip! And yes, I did play golf on the 210 course at Celtic manor, and can’t wait to watch the Ryder Cup later this month! Some of the last holes are going to be succh fun to watch the pros play for they are very challenging 9to say the least.) I also played at Royal Porthcawl, which I loved! I think it may be one of my favorite courses in the world—but then, I really love links golf, and it was a really memorable experience, with a spectacular sandy beach on one side, and sheep grazing on the other. The heather was in riotous bloom, coloring the grasses with subtle shades of purple and pink . . . you get the picture!

    Reply
  66. Thank you, Cara, for the lovely tour of the home of my ancestors. My father was three quarters Welsh and a quarter English. Welsh was spoken on a daily basis in his grandparents’ homes in Pennsylvania. His ancestors (both sides) came to the United States in 1890 and 1892 to work in the coal mines. My great great grandfather, Griffin Hughes, died in a mining accident at the age of 36 and left his young wife with 9 children to raise.
    I have visited Wales once for a few days when I was in undergrad school on a college choir tour. After we performed a concert in a church in Towyn I persuaded the congregation to sing Amazing Grace in Welsh so I could tape it for my Dad. It was amazing and my Dad cherished that tape. Of course when they found out I was nearly half Welsh AND an aspiring opera singer they assured me that my singing voice came from the Welsh side of my family!
    I want to go back one day and do some research into my family tree. The countryside is amazing and I love the rich history!

    Reply
  67. Thank you, Cara, for the lovely tour of the home of my ancestors. My father was three quarters Welsh and a quarter English. Welsh was spoken on a daily basis in his grandparents’ homes in Pennsylvania. His ancestors (both sides) came to the United States in 1890 and 1892 to work in the coal mines. My great great grandfather, Griffin Hughes, died in a mining accident at the age of 36 and left his young wife with 9 children to raise.
    I have visited Wales once for a few days when I was in undergrad school on a college choir tour. After we performed a concert in a church in Towyn I persuaded the congregation to sing Amazing Grace in Welsh so I could tape it for my Dad. It was amazing and my Dad cherished that tape. Of course when they found out I was nearly half Welsh AND an aspiring opera singer they assured me that my singing voice came from the Welsh side of my family!
    I want to go back one day and do some research into my family tree. The countryside is amazing and I love the rich history!

    Reply
  68. Thank you, Cara, for the lovely tour of the home of my ancestors. My father was three quarters Welsh and a quarter English. Welsh was spoken on a daily basis in his grandparents’ homes in Pennsylvania. His ancestors (both sides) came to the United States in 1890 and 1892 to work in the coal mines. My great great grandfather, Griffin Hughes, died in a mining accident at the age of 36 and left his young wife with 9 children to raise.
    I have visited Wales once for a few days when I was in undergrad school on a college choir tour. After we performed a concert in a church in Towyn I persuaded the congregation to sing Amazing Grace in Welsh so I could tape it for my Dad. It was amazing and my Dad cherished that tape. Of course when they found out I was nearly half Welsh AND an aspiring opera singer they assured me that my singing voice came from the Welsh side of my family!
    I want to go back one day and do some research into my family tree. The countryside is amazing and I love the rich history!

    Reply
  69. Thank you, Cara, for the lovely tour of the home of my ancestors. My father was three quarters Welsh and a quarter English. Welsh was spoken on a daily basis in his grandparents’ homes in Pennsylvania. His ancestors (both sides) came to the United States in 1890 and 1892 to work in the coal mines. My great great grandfather, Griffin Hughes, died in a mining accident at the age of 36 and left his young wife with 9 children to raise.
    I have visited Wales once for a few days when I was in undergrad school on a college choir tour. After we performed a concert in a church in Towyn I persuaded the congregation to sing Amazing Grace in Welsh so I could tape it for my Dad. It was amazing and my Dad cherished that tape. Of course when they found out I was nearly half Welsh AND an aspiring opera singer they assured me that my singing voice came from the Welsh side of my family!
    I want to go back one day and do some research into my family tree. The countryside is amazing and I love the rich history!

    Reply
  70. Thank you, Cara, for the lovely tour of the home of my ancestors. My father was three quarters Welsh and a quarter English. Welsh was spoken on a daily basis in his grandparents’ homes in Pennsylvania. His ancestors (both sides) came to the United States in 1890 and 1892 to work in the coal mines. My great great grandfather, Griffin Hughes, died in a mining accident at the age of 36 and left his young wife with 9 children to raise.
    I have visited Wales once for a few days when I was in undergrad school on a college choir tour. After we performed a concert in a church in Towyn I persuaded the congregation to sing Amazing Grace in Welsh so I could tape it for my Dad. It was amazing and my Dad cherished that tape. Of course when they found out I was nearly half Welsh AND an aspiring opera singer they assured me that my singing voice came from the Welsh side of my family!
    I want to go back one day and do some research into my family tree. The countryside is amazing and I love the rich history!

    Reply
  71. Lovely post Cara/Andrea.
    I’m so pleased you were impressed by the amphitheatre at Caerleon – probably the best preserved in Britain). I love it myself – so atmospheric.
    My great-grandfather owned Caldy Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire in South Wales, and was entitled to call himself ‘Lord of the Manor of Caldy’. As Caldy had only a hundred or so inhabitants, I, personally, think that is pushing it a bit far!

    Reply
  72. Lovely post Cara/Andrea.
    I’m so pleased you were impressed by the amphitheatre at Caerleon – probably the best preserved in Britain). I love it myself – so atmospheric.
    My great-grandfather owned Caldy Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire in South Wales, and was entitled to call himself ‘Lord of the Manor of Caldy’. As Caldy had only a hundred or so inhabitants, I, personally, think that is pushing it a bit far!

    Reply
  73. Lovely post Cara/Andrea.
    I’m so pleased you were impressed by the amphitheatre at Caerleon – probably the best preserved in Britain). I love it myself – so atmospheric.
    My great-grandfather owned Caldy Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire in South Wales, and was entitled to call himself ‘Lord of the Manor of Caldy’. As Caldy had only a hundred or so inhabitants, I, personally, think that is pushing it a bit far!

    Reply
  74. Lovely post Cara/Andrea.
    I’m so pleased you were impressed by the amphitheatre at Caerleon – probably the best preserved in Britain). I love it myself – so atmospheric.
    My great-grandfather owned Caldy Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire in South Wales, and was entitled to call himself ‘Lord of the Manor of Caldy’. As Caldy had only a hundred or so inhabitants, I, personally, think that is pushing it a bit far!

    Reply
  75. Lovely post Cara/Andrea.
    I’m so pleased you were impressed by the amphitheatre at Caerleon – probably the best preserved in Britain). I love it myself – so atmospheric.
    My great-grandfather owned Caldy Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire in South Wales, and was entitled to call himself ‘Lord of the Manor of Caldy’. As Caldy had only a hundred or so inhabitants, I, personally, think that is pushing it a bit far!

    Reply
  76. Louisa, thank you for sharing your family history! Your musical talents must definitely come from your Welsh forebearers because all the o people I talked to there about song being such an integral part of the culture. The tape you made for your father sounds “amazing!”
    I hope you get to back soon and do your research!

    Reply
  77. Louisa, thank you for sharing your family history! Your musical talents must definitely come from your Welsh forebearers because all the o people I talked to there about song being such an integral part of the culture. The tape you made for your father sounds “amazing!”
    I hope you get to back soon and do your research!

    Reply
  78. Louisa, thank you for sharing your family history! Your musical talents must definitely come from your Welsh forebearers because all the o people I talked to there about song being such an integral part of the culture. The tape you made for your father sounds “amazing!”
    I hope you get to back soon and do your research!

    Reply
  79. Louisa, thank you for sharing your family history! Your musical talents must definitely come from your Welsh forebearers because all the o people I talked to there about song being such an integral part of the culture. The tape you made for your father sounds “amazing!”
    I hope you get to back soon and do your research!

    Reply
  80. Louisa, thank you for sharing your family history! Your musical talents must definitely come from your Welsh forebearers because all the o people I talked to there about song being such an integral part of the culture. The tape you made for your father sounds “amazing!”
    I hope you get to back soon and do your research!

    Reply
  81. Well, let me horn in on some honor here. I’m descended from Prussian nobility! “Lady Anne” would be fine. 🙂
    Have you read the “Here Be Dragons” trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman? They trace the history of the last (real) princes of Wales. Amazing books, altho. the first is my favorite.
    I got to visit Wales when I was in jr. hi., but of course was too young to appreciate it. I hope to go back some day. My husband is dying to go to Hay-on-Wye so I know I’ll at least get there some day! 🙂
    Black hair and blue eyes. Yummy. 😉

    Reply
  82. Well, let me horn in on some honor here. I’m descended from Prussian nobility! “Lady Anne” would be fine. 🙂
    Have you read the “Here Be Dragons” trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman? They trace the history of the last (real) princes of Wales. Amazing books, altho. the first is my favorite.
    I got to visit Wales when I was in jr. hi., but of course was too young to appreciate it. I hope to go back some day. My husband is dying to go to Hay-on-Wye so I know I’ll at least get there some day! 🙂
    Black hair and blue eyes. Yummy. 😉

    Reply
  83. Well, let me horn in on some honor here. I’m descended from Prussian nobility! “Lady Anne” would be fine. 🙂
    Have you read the “Here Be Dragons” trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman? They trace the history of the last (real) princes of Wales. Amazing books, altho. the first is my favorite.
    I got to visit Wales when I was in jr. hi., but of course was too young to appreciate it. I hope to go back some day. My husband is dying to go to Hay-on-Wye so I know I’ll at least get there some day! 🙂
    Black hair and blue eyes. Yummy. 😉

    Reply
  84. Well, let me horn in on some honor here. I’m descended from Prussian nobility! “Lady Anne” would be fine. 🙂
    Have you read the “Here Be Dragons” trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman? They trace the history of the last (real) princes of Wales. Amazing books, altho. the first is my favorite.
    I got to visit Wales when I was in jr. hi., but of course was too young to appreciate it. I hope to go back some day. My husband is dying to go to Hay-on-Wye so I know I’ll at least get there some day! 🙂
    Black hair and blue eyes. Yummy. 😉

    Reply
  85. Well, let me horn in on some honor here. I’m descended from Prussian nobility! “Lady Anne” would be fine. 🙂
    Have you read the “Here Be Dragons” trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman? They trace the history of the last (real) princes of Wales. Amazing books, altho. the first is my favorite.
    I got to visit Wales when I was in jr. hi., but of course was too young to appreciate it. I hope to go back some day. My husband is dying to go to Hay-on-Wye so I know I’ll at least get there some day! 🙂
    Black hair and blue eyes. Yummy. 😉

    Reply

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