Category Archives: Wales

The Giant’s Cairn, the Last Battle and the Lady of the Lake

In just a few weeks I’ll be scaling Snowdon’s lofty heights with a group of friends. It’s been suggested that as the leader of this expedition I should be able to point out landmarks and the history of the place.

1. (Walk) Entering the Horseshoe

2. (Legend) The Giant’s Cairn

3. (Walk) Ascent of Y Lliwedd

4. (Legend) The Last Battle

5. (Walk) The Watkin Path and summit

6. (Walk) Descending the Pyg Track

7. (Legend) The Lady of the Lake

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Edward ‘Squire’ Higgins, Knutsford’s Gentleman Highwayman

Cann Office - Home of Higgins the HighwaymanWhen Edward Higgins arrived in Knutsford in 1756 he took possession of a large house known as the Cann Office. To the local populace he appeared to be a man of high standing. He took to renovating the house and stables and bringing several fine horses, taking on two local youths as apprentices to his groom.

Attending the local hunts, with his skill on horseback and affable manner he was soon welcomed by the local gentry as one of their own. His regular excursions outside the area were assumed to be the actions of a conscientious land owner collecting the rents which funded his extravagant lifestyle.

The following year he married Katherine Birtles, a spinster from a respectable local family and they became closely entwined within local society often dining at their neighbour’s houses and hosting lavish events themselves.

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Vortigern’s Fortress

The Battle of the Dragons

The Battle of the Dragons

At the beginning of the 5th century the Roman Empire started to collapse and the legions were called back from Britain. The vacuum of power was taken up by a king called Vortigern, but he was pressed on all sides by the Picts and the Scotti who saw the loss of the legions as an opportunity to advance over the borders that the Romans had steadfastly guarded.

In desperation Vortigern hired Saxon mercenaries to supplement his own armies, but before long the Saxons began to seize British land for their own and resisted all attempts to send them back to their own lands.

Vortigern called together his advisors and between them they devised a plan to retreat westward into the mountains of Snowdonia and there to build a mighty fortress at Dinas Emrys from which to consolidate his power.

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Beth Gelert; or, the Grave of the Greyhound

To the south of the villiage of Beddgelert in The Snowdonia National Park is a small stone monument marks the resting place of Gelert the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great.

Gelert

Gelert

The spearmen heard the bugle sound,
And cheerly smiled the morn;
And many a brach, and many a hound,
Obeyed Llewelyn’s horn.

And still he blew a louder blast,
And gave a lustier cheer:
‘Come, Gelert come, wer’t never last
Llewelyn’s horn to hear.

‘Oh where does faithful Gelert roam,
The flower of all his race;
So true, so brave, a lamb at home,
A lion in the chase?’

‘Twas only at Llewelyn’s board
The faithful Gelert fed;
He watched, he served, he cheered his lord,
And sentinelled his bed. Read more »

The Birth of Taliesin

Caridwen's Cauldron

Caridwen’s Cauldron

In times past there lived in Penllyn a man of gentle lineage, named Tegid Voel, and  his wife, Caridwen.  And there was born to him of his wife a son  the most ill-favoured man in the world, Avagddu.  Now Caridwen  thought that he was not likely to be admitted among men of noble birth, by reason of his ugliness, unless he had some exalted merits or knowledge.

So she resolved to boil a cauldron of Inspiration and Science for her son, that his reception might be honourable because of his knowledge of the mysteries of the future state of the world.

Then she began to boil the cauldron, which from the beginning of its boiling might not cease to boil for a year and a day, until three blessed drops were obtained of the grace of inspiration.

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The Mabinogion translated by Lady Charlotte Guest

The MabinogionThe Red Book of Hergest, from which The Mabinogion are taken, is a collection of tales and poems written during the fourteenth century. 

Some of the Mabinogion in it have been reconstructed in Norman and Crusading times, but they contain reminiscences of a more distant period, often but half understood by the later story-teller.  Among these are “The Dream of Rhonabwy,” “The Lady of the Fountain,” and “Peredur the son of Evrawc”—the three which happen to come first in the Red Book.  These are Christian, but with distant glimpses of Celtic heathenism.  The adventures are all grouped around Arthur and his knights; and a kind of connection is given to the three tales by the presence of Owen and his mysterious ravens. Others, especially the four Mabinogion properly so called and the Tale of Lludd and Llevelys, are far older; they are older than Christianity, and older than Arthur.

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