Welsh Lesson One

Taken from Basic Welsh: A Grammar and Workbook by Gareth King Welsh Lesson One: Identification Sentences hwn               this                       hwnna                    that y rhain          these                    y rheina              those e/o                 he      […]

Owain Gwynedd’s birthday

When was Owain Gwynedd born?  Here’s the truth:  no idea. Okay, that’s not entirely true.  Like Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, nobody seems to have recorded the date Owain Gwynedd was born, or even the year.  This is fine as far as it goes, because we can make some general estimates.  The problem arises when the birthdays for […]

Halloween in Wales

As I sit here munching candy corn (which my 13 year old declares ‘the best candy’–even better than chocolate–though he can’t have any because he’s allergic to corn), I’m thinking about the Gareth & Gwen Medieval Mystery, The Fallen Princess, which takes place at Halloween.  Except that during the Middle Ages, it was called ‘All […]

Geoffrey of Monmouth

Geoffrey of Monmouth was born sometime around 1100, probably in Monmouth in southeast Wales. “His father was named Arthur. Geoffrey was appointed archdeacon of Llandsaff in 1140 and was consecrated bishop of St. Asaph in 1152. He died c. 1155. Geoffrey is one of the most significant authors in the development of the Arthurian legends. […]

The Beginning of the Dark Ages in Britain

The ‘Dark Ages’ were ‘dark’ only because we lack extensive (or in some instances, any) historical material about the period between 407 AD, when the Romans marched away from Britain, and 1066, when William of Normandy conquered England. “Initially, this era took on the term “dark” . . . due to the backward ways and practices […]

The Celts in Wales

The Irish, Welsh, and Scots all have a Celtic ancestry, but they settled their respective regions before the Roman conquest of Britain.  There is an amazing amount of debate as to the origin of the Celts:  were they Phoenician?  stocky and dark?  tall and blonde?  as culturally cohesive as the label suggests?   The standard theory […]

Gwynedd after 1282

After the Treaty of Aberconwy in 1277 AD, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was reduced to lordship over a small area of land in Gwynedd, mostly west of the Conwy River.  Over the course of the 1282 war, he took back much of what he’d lost.  He was killed, however, on 11 December 1282, and all of Wales […]

Welsh Idioms

To understand a language’s idioms, is to be fluent in the language.  Maybe this isn’t entirely true, but it’s close. When I lived in England, I remember being stumped by the phrase, “it’s like money for old rope.”  I didn’t know if that meant: 1) someone had given me money for old rope–in which case, that was […]

Welsh Names and Places from the Books

  Aberystwyth –Ah-bare-IH-stwith Bwlch y Ddeufaen – Boolk ah THEY-vine (the ‘th’ is soft as in ‘forth’) Cadfael – CAD-vile Cadwallon – Cad-WA/SH/-on Caernarfon – (‘ae’ makes a long i sound like in ‘kite’) Kire-NAR-von Dafydd – DAH-vith Dolgellau – Doll-GE/SH/-ay Deheubarth – deh-HAY-barth Dolwyddelan – dole-with-EH-lan (the ‘th’ is soft as in ‘forth’) Gruffydd […]

Welsh Surnames

It is a standing joke among people who know Wales that there are only a handful of Welsh surnames (last names), consisting primarily of Jones, Evans, Roberts, Thomas, Williams, and Davies. Among English speakers, these last names are clearly derived from first names. Why is that? Why don’t the Welsh have the huge variety of […]