Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Home, Hills, Myths and Legends - Part 2

Now. Arthur's Castle/Palace, whatever?

OK so I've been brushing up on the legends and folklore of Wales, especially around my home area. What I really like about a lot of these stories is that they often explain the names of various places in Wales and also they are native tales, not those taken from the cultures of various invaders as has happened with a lot of English folklore.

Now from my cursory research there appears to be various combinations of antagonist and hero in everyone of these tales - each of which can be selected in any combination from the following list:

1) King Arthur
2) One or more of his Knights
3) A Saint (of which there appear to be many)
4) One or more Giants (Of which there appear to be even more)
5) Dragons. It's on our flag, of course there were dragons!

Most landmarks, quirks of geography and some place names appear to be explained through the activities of Giants and subsequent hissy fits by Giants. Moel Fenlli is named after a giant who lived there called Benlli Gawr. Moel Fenlli is the other hill in the Clwydian range. Using the Ordnance Survey International 'Happy Mondays Hill Classification System', it is the Bez of the Clwydian range.

Saints appear quite a lot - Llanarmon-Yn-Iâl literally means 'The Church of St Garmon in Iâl'. St Garmon sorted out Benlli Gawr after he tried to help some Picts invade and founded the church in Iâl. Anyway, I digress.

King Arthur obviously appears a lot, being a native Briton and all that. Guinevere is apparently a mutation of Gwenhuifor. There are various tales about him knocking about the place.

One thing that is always true in these tales - if there are Saxons involved, they always lose. Don't think the Romans fare much better to be honest, there is even a tale about how the Saxons were able to invade - as it turns out it was Arthur getting too big for his boots. Tosser.

Right, so thats a few bits in there - my country was essentially formed by tall fat people having tantrums. I am getting a lot of this stuff from an excellent book called 'Supernatural Clwyd'. Hardly an inspiring title bt very well written! I've decided that rather than the constant whining, I am going to reproduce some stories here. Unless of course you don't want me to, but I find it quite interesting and often funny.


Jo said...

Seriously, can you Welsh learn to use vowels properly?

Neat history lesson, though!

MattJ said...

Lol! I was going to put a pronunciation guide in but LL is a difficult one to describe lol! The best I can describe it is to put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and blow out.

I love watching tourists trying to pronounce things, often they dislocate their jaws.

Hanrah said...

Well (Medievalist geek mode on), there are lots of King Arthur references in Wales because that's where the stories actually came from!

In typical English fashion, we invaded, stole all your good stories and pretended they were our own!

If these ever was a guy called Arthur, whom all these stories were based on, he was Welsh. As was Merlin (who probably did exist, although he was probably NOT a wizard. Probably).

MattJ said...

Yeah I know, it's wicked. Even though Arthur was probablt born in Cornwall,that was technically Gwynedd at the time so he is totally Welsh lol!

I've been reading this book a bit, there are so manyb 'Giant X lived here, Giant X had a hissy fit and now Land Feature Y is now called [Welsh Translation] Place where Giant X had hissy fit' Lol!

Hanrah said...

Sorry hun, but not Cornish at all. All the "Camelot is in Cornwall" stuff is crap. The only historical evidence of Arthur comes from two Dark Age Welsh texts.

I'm such a loser!

MattJ said...

oooh really?! I never read about the Camelot being down there, that appears to be some kind of Caravan the amount of places it is claimed to be, I just read that he was born down there then had the good sense to base himself out of Wales proper :p you will have to direct me to some other sources, I am getting quite into this Welsh myth and stuff! lol!

Hanrah said...

As far as I know there are only two, the Welsh Annals and the Historia Brittonum. Both say that Arthur was Welsh and fought the Anglo-Saxons, as did Mordred (the baddie!).

In fact, there is far more evidence of Mordred's historical existance than anyone else's, he figures in quite a few dark age histories and genealogies.

MattJ said...

I think I will stick with folktales for the time being cos they are open to my wild interpretation! lol! I'll move on to what passes for historical fact on the subnject later on! :p

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