SNAPSHOTS FROM WELSH HISTORY

Welsh History Starts 200,000 Years Ago

Ice Age Wales, the Romans and King Arthur

Valley of the Brecon Beacons (Credit: Aled Llywelyn)

Signs of human habitation in Wales begin about 200,000 years ago. Human teeth have been found from that Ice Age era.

Roman forts are found in the valleys of the Brecon Beacons and some say that the Roman bathhouse built at Caerleon is also the site of later ruins that could possibly have ties to the myths of King Arthur. Walk a few steps from the museum that houses the ruins of the bathhouse and you’ll see a plot of green land that locals say may have been the site of Arthur’s Round Table.

Wales: The Capital of Castles

Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey North Wales (Courtesy: Visit Wales)

Visit Beaumaris Castle, Edward I’s precise concentric design of the 13th century, for a symbol of the brutal battles between the English and Welsh. Beaumaris, on the Island of Anglesey in North Wales is the home of one of Edward I’s “Ring of Iron” Castles: massive and beautiful edifices that were meant to assert his dominance over the land. Today, they are symbols of Welsh endurance and are part of the over 600 castles in Wales that have led travellers to call the country “the capital of castles.”

Druid Stones and Legends of Powerful Women

Pembrokeshire Coast, near Pentre Ifan (Credit: Aled Llywelyn)

Near the seaside 186-mile Pembrokeshire coastal path in Wales is the civil parish of Nevern. This bucolic country town contains one of the largest and best preserved Neolithic dolmens in Wales. These standing stones are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and one of three Welsh monuments to get legal protection. The seven large stones create a portal that was said to be sacred to the Welsh goddess Cerridwen also known as “Keeper of the Cauldron of Knowledge.” Her devotees were said to have been initiated within these stones and visitors can still walk inside and around them—getting inspiration themselves from this ancient monument.

Wales and Coal: a Legacy of Pride and Passion

Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon © Aleksandra Matic

The coal and slate mining industry is a key part of any telling of the history of Wales. To immerse yourself (yes, literally) in the world of Welsh Coal mining and its rich ore of heritage, visit the Big Pit, the National Coal Mining Museum, the abandoned Silver Mountain Experience or the quarry home of the National Slate Museum. You will find yourself understanding how intertwined industry, culture, history and people are in Wales and how proud Welsh families are of their heritage in the hills and valleys of Welsh industry.