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Bringing the Tales and Stories of the Ancient Celts to your Fireside

Category: Welsh

Welsh Traditions and Folklore

Welsh Costume - Welsh Traditions

Welsh Traditional Costume

Wales is a country steeped in tradition. Even the Methodist revival in the 18th century, whose stern Puritanism banished the ancient Celtic traditions, was unable to stamp out all remains of their traditions.

Today the old tales are kept alive by the Welsh speakers. There are an estimated 600,000 of them and the numbers are increasing. Traditional Welsh culture has been kept alive by the popularity of the Royal National Eisteddfod, a ceremonial gathering of musicians, poets and craftsmen.

In the late 19th century children were not encouraged to speak Welsh in school. If they did so, they were punished by having a piece of wood called a ‘Welsh Not’ hung around their neck.

Love Spoons – historic Welsh Tradition

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Cantre'r Gwaelod - the Sunken Land or Lowland Hundred

4,000 year-old Deer antlers found off Welsh coast

A dear friend of ours pointed us to a discovery made during the Spring this year of a set of 4,000 year-old Red Deer antlers on a beach in Borth, Ceredigion in Wales. Recent storms have revealed a whole new section of the Sunken Lands in Cardigan Bay. From 5,000 year-old trees whose stumps have been preserved by the peat, to parts of a wattle walkway made of branches, sticks or logs that must have enabled people to cross the wet ground easily. Now a huge set of antlers, identified as belonging to a Red Deer, have been found found under 1 metre of water.

There’s an ancient folk tale about Cantre’r Gwaelod, or the Sunken Hundred, which was once a fertile land and township before it was lost beneath waves. It is believed that the land extended nearly 20 miles west of Cardigan Bay, but Cantre’r Gwaelod was lost to floods when, apparently, Mererid, the priestess of a fairy well had neglected her duties, resulting in the well overflowing.

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The Mythology of the Green Man and the Green Knight

The Significance of Green

Green has been known for untold ages as the colour of the fairy. Green was so universally recognised, as the colour of the fairy that many in Scotland refused to wear it as to do so would be to invite the anger of the fairy folk. “Greenies” and “greencoaties” were common euphemisms used in Britain for the fairy.

Green was a colour shunned by many as being associated with evil fairies and witches. But why green? Green is also associated with nature, with ripening life, with fertility and that is the reason.

Green was a colour shunned by many as being associated with evil fairies and witches. But why green? Green is also associated with nature, with ripening life, with fertility and that is the reason.

During the formation of Christianity nature was seen to exist for the pleasure and consumption of man. That nature should exist as an entity unto herself, with powers beyond man’s, was a thought that put fear into many.

Later, nature was viewed as evil and anything associated with nature was seen in a similar way. That green represented the power and fertile life of nature slowly came to be associated with evil, and thus Pagan, forms bent on the torment of mankind.

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Witch Bottle

The Welsh Witch of Medieval History

The History books tell us that the Welsh Witch was misunderstood and misrepresented commonly in the middle ages.

“The term witch has meant many things to many people over the years,” says Dr Kathleen Olsen of the University of Wales, Bangor.

“But for most of the Middle Ages the word really meant the local healer, someone who made poultices and medicines and perhaps had charms or spells for healing cattle and other farm animals.”

Be that as it may, the powers of darkness certainly had an appeal to some people.

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Green Fairy Islands of Wales


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Green faeries Islands from the Green Fairy Islands of Wales article

Faerie Island

A form of Welsh popular belief as to the whereabouts of fairy-land corresponds with the Avalon of the Arthurian legends. The green meadows of the sea, called in the triads Gwerddonau Lion, are the Green fairy islands of Wales.

Many extraordinary superstitions survive with regard to these islands. They were supposed to be the abode of the souls of certain Druids, who, not holy enough to enter the heaven of the Christians, were still not wicked enough to be condemned to the tortures of Annwn, and so were accorded a place in this romantic sort of purgatorial paradise. In the fifth century a voyage was made, by the British king Gavran, in search of these enchanted islands; with his family he sailed away into the unknown waters, and was never heard of more.

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Cadair Bronwen from the Welsh Goddesses in the Landscape of Wales article

Welsh Goddesses in the Landscape of Wales


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We are very proud to have permission to bring you this article by Cherryl Straffon from Goddess Alive about the ladies from the Mabinogion and their place in the Welsh Landscape. She says:

Welsh myth and legend is replete with Goddess figures. As recorded in The Mabinogi and other early Welsh texts, the stories of Welsh Goddesses like Rhiannon, Branwen/ Bronwen, Arianrhod, Blodeuwedd and Cerridwen have echoed down through the ages, and their tales are just as relevant today (see for example ‘Arianrhod’ by Claire Hamilton.) Given their importance to the early Celts in Wales it would not be surprising to find traces of them in the Welsh landscape, where a number of natural features are named after them. Arianrhod can be found at Caer Arianrhod, a rock 1.2km/¾mile off the west coast of North Wales.

It is all that remains of the land where the Goddess and her women attendants dwelt in a story from the Fourth branch of The Mabinogi. Her son was called Dylan, who became a sea God, and in Claire’s words, she was “a very powerful Goddess, guardian of the Seat of Poetic Inspiration and linked with the sea, the moon and the stars”. Her land was eventually inundated and all the inhabitants were drowned, but this may be later patriarchal disapproval of a free and independent Goddess-woman who shared her land with other women and had powerful magic powers.

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PRINCESS GWENLLIAN The Last Warrior Princess

PRINCESS GWENLLIAN The Last Warrior Princess


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The Main Battlefield Location

Maes Gwenllian (Gwenllian’s Field) is located a mile north of the town of Kidwelly in Carmarthenshire.

It’s the site of an ancient battlefield which changed the course of local history in South West Wales.

The name of the field commemorates the bravery of Princess Gwenllian, the wife of Prince Gruffudd ap Rhys.

Welsh Kingdom of Deheubarth

During the early part of it’s history Wales was divided into individual kingdoms, each ruled by a Prince. In 1136, the rulers of the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth were Prince Gruffudd and his wife Princess Gwenllian.

Deheubarth was one of the strongest kingdoms in Wales. Its territories included Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Cardigan, Gower and the western parts of Swansea. The royal court of the kingdom was based at Dinefwr, near Llandeilo.

Norman Invasion

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Original Artwork: Arianrhod’s Sky by Selena Fenech - "Women of the Celts: the Welsh Goddess Arianrhod – Bad Mother or Mythic Goddess?"

Women of the Celts: the Welsh Goddess Arianrhod – Bad Mother or Mythic Goddess?


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We’re very proud to bring you an article by Claire Hamilton about the famous Welsh Goddess. She says:

Arianrhod was a Welsh Goddess who lived on an island off the west coast of Wales. At the centre of her castle was a turning glass tower, which contained the mystical Seat of Poetic Inspiration. Her name Arianrhod means ‘starry wheel’.

She is obviously a very powerful Celtic Goddess even though she apparently completely disgraces herself as a mother within her story.

The Story of the Welsh Goddess Arianrhod

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Scottish warlord may have helped save Welsh on the Llyn Peninsula from Irish invaders


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Scientists may have discovered a link between the Picts and North Wales

Scientists may have discovered a link between the Picts and North Wales

New evidence shows a Scottish warlord may have helped save Welsh on the Llyn Peninsula from Irish invaders. If you missed it at the end of last year (2015), S4C broadcast a new TV series, called DNA Cymru which shows the results of new research into Welsh and Scottish DNA. The research was carried out as part of ScotlandsDNA – a project tracing the ancestry of the Scottish people – and the forerunner of a similar project now tracing the ancestry of the Welsh – CymruDNAWales.

The fresh scientific research has given added support to the theory mentioned in the Historia Brittonum in which a 9th century chronicler and monk, Nennius, in Wales, described a rescue.

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Pryderi - new Episode

New Celtic Myth Episode – A Mother’s Worry, A Mother’s Pride


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At long last, we’re proud to announce the release of the 13th and final episode in the story of Pwyll and Rhiannon that is the First Branch of the Mabinogi. In our last episode, Pwyll’s long-time friend, Teyrnon has beaten off the Monster from the Deeps and has discovered a beautiful baby boy wrapped in silks left in its wake. He and his wife decide to rear the child, but what of the misery of Rhiannon? In this episode, Teyrnon makes a decision and we finally discover what really happened to Pwyll and Rhiannon’s child.

 

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We hope you enjoy the Show!

Gary & Ruthie xxx

The Loudness Wars start with this Episode

{Techy stuff – please feel free to ignore!}

We may be slow to catch on to the rest of the Audio world, but have just discovered the Loudness Wars. Have you noticed that when you are watching a movie or a show that when the commercials come on, the volume seems to go up to a painful level? There seems to be a noticeable difference in levels across all sorts of broadcast media. This has occurred as a result of advertisers and producers compressing their audio to make it as loud and noticeable as possible. A side effect on music has been that overly compressed music has become louder and punchier but has lost much of its dynamic range.

ITU BS.1770-3 Standard

ITU BS.1770-3

A Little while back legislation was introduced to level our the playing field and bring a standard to ‘loudness’ known as ITU BS.1770-3. Stateside this was implemented using the ATSC/85 (and variants) standard and the rest of the world used the European Broadcasting standard known as EBU R-128.

With this Show, we have started to ensure that our shows are EBU R-128 Compliant (which also includes the ITU standard) so you should find that your listening experience is much more pleasant that it may have been before. We will, as time allows, go back and retro-edit our back catalogued so that all of our shows are Compliant to this standard.

For more notes about Loudness compliance, check out R128Audio’s site.

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