Culture of Wales
Wales is a country in Western Europe that has a distinctive culture including its own language, politics and music. Wales is represented by the symbol of the red Welsh Dragon, but other national emblems include the leek and daffodil; the Welsh words for leeks and daffodils are related and it is that one of the symbols came to be used due to a misunderstanding for the other one, though it is less clear which came first. Although Wales has been identified as having been inhabited by humans for some 230,000 years, as evidenced by the discovery of a Neanderthal at the Bontnewydd Palaeolithic site in north Wales, it is the Welsh rulers of the Middle Ages who have proven to be the most influential. Building on the construction in Wales during the Roman era of occupation, these early kingdoms were influenced by Ireland. Several Kingdoms arose at that time, including Gwynedd and Deheubarth. While Rhodri the Great in the 9th century was the first ruler to oversee a large portion of Wales, it was not until 1055 that Gruffydd ap Llywelyn united the individual Welsh kingdoms and began to annex parts of England.
Gruffydd was killed by his own men on 5 August 1063 while Harold Godwinson sought to engage him in battle. This was just over three years before the Norman invasion of England, which led to a drastic change of fortune for Wales. By 1070, the Normans had seen successes in their invasion of Wales with Gwent fallen and Deheubarth plundered; the invasion was complete by 1093. However, the Welsh rebelled against their new overlords the following year, the Welsh kingdoms were re-established and most of the land retaken from the Normans over the subsequent decades. While Gwynedd grew in strength, Powys was broken up after the death of Llywelyn ap Madog in the 1160s and was never reunited. Llywelyn the Great rose in Gwynedd and had reunited the majority of Wales by his death in 1240. After his death, King Henry III of England intervened to prevent Dafydd ap Llywelyn from inheriting his father's lands outside Gwynedd, leading to war; the claims of his successor, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, conflicted with those of King Edward I of England.
The Tudors of Penmynydd grew in power and influence during the 13th to 15th centuries, first owning land in north Wales, but losing it after Maredudd ap Tudur backed the 1400 uprising of Owain Glyndŵr. Maredudd's son, Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur, anglicised his name to become Owen Tudor, was the grandfather of Henry Tudor. Henry took the throne of England following the Wars of the Roses when his forces defeated those of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field; the House of Tudor continued to reign through several successive monarchs until 1603, when James I took the throne for the House of Stuart. Official symbols of Wales include the Welsh Dragon and leek. Both the dragon and leek date back to the 7th century, as King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd had his soldiers wear the vegetable during battle against Saxons to make it easier to identify them, he introduced the Red Dragon standard, although this symbol was most introduced to the British Isles by Roman troops. It may have been a reference to the 6th century Welsh word draig, which meant "leader".
The standard was appropriated by the Normans during the 11th century, used for the Royal Standard of Scotland. Richard I of England took a red dragon standard with him on the Third Crusade; the colours of the leek were used for the uniforms of soldiers under Edward I of England. Both symbols were popular with Tudor kings, with Henry VII of England adding the white and green background to the red dragon standard, it was forgotten by the House of Stuart, who favoured a unicorn instead. By the 17th and 18th centuries, it became common practice in Great Britain for the gentry to wear leeks on St. David's Day. In 1807, a "a red dragon passant standing on a mound" was made the King's badge for Wales. Following an increase in nationalism in 1953, it was proposed to add the motto Y ddraig goch ddyry cychwyn to the flag; this was poorly received, six years Queen Elizabeth II intervened to put the current flag in place. The daffodil is a more recent development, becoming popular during the 19th century, it may have been linked to the leek.
During the 20th century, the daffodil rose to rival the prominence of the leek as a symbol of Wales. Prime Minister David Lloyd George ensured that the daffodil had a place in the investiture of Edward, Prince of Wales; the traditional Welsh costume and Welsh hat were well known during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Princess Alexandrina Victoria had a hat made for her when she visited Wales in 1832; the hat was popularised by Sydney Curnow Vosper's 1908 painting Salem, but by its use had declined. Before the Roman occupation, the dominant religion in Wales was a pagan one, led by the druids. Little is known about the traditions and ceremonies, but Tacitus, whose claims were sometimes exaggerated, stated that they performed human sacrifice: he says that in AD 61, an altar on Anglesey was found to be "drenched with the blood of their prisoners". Christianity was introduced to Wales through the Romans, after they abandoned the British Isles, it survived in South East Wales at Hentland. In the 6th century, this was home to the first Celtic saint.
The largest religion in modern Wales is Christianity, with 58% of the population describing themselves as Christian in the 2011 census. T
Calan Mai or Calan Haf is a May Day holiday of Wales held on 1 May. Celebrations start on the evening before, known with bonfires; the tradition of lighting bonfires celebrating this occasion happened annually in South Wales until the middle of the 19th century. Calan Haf parallels other May Day traditions in Europe. On Nos Galan Mai or May Eve, villagers gather hawthorn branches and flowers which they would use to decorate the outside of their houses, celebrating new growth and fertility. In Anglesey and Caernarfonshire it would be common on May Eve to have gware gwr gwyllt "playing straw man" or crogi gwr gwellt "hanging a straw man". A man who had lost his sweetheart to another man would make a man out of straw and put it somewhere in the vicinity of where the girl lived; the straw man had a note pinned to it. The situation led to a fight between the two men at the May Fair. Being the time between Summer and Winter, Calan Haf would be the time to stage a mock fight between the two seasons; the man representing Winter carried a stick of blackthorn and a shield that had pieces of wool stuck on it to represent snow.
The man representing Summer was decorated with garlands of flowers and ribbons and carried a willow-wand which had spring flowers tied on it with ribbons. A mock battle took place in which the forces of Winter threw straw and dry underbrush at the forces of Summer who retaliated with birch branches, willow rods, young ferns; the forces of Summer would win and a May King and Queen were chosen and crowned, after which there was feasting, dancing and drinking until the next morning. May Day was the time that the twmpath chwarae or "tump for playing" was opened. Through the summer months in some villages the people would gather on the twmpath chwarae in the evenings to dance and play various sports; the green was situated on the top of a hill and a mound was made where the fiddler or harpist sat. Sometimes branches of oak decorated the mound and the people would dance in a circle around it. Dawnsio haf "summer dancing" was a feature of the May Day celebration, as was carolau Mai "May carols" known as carolau haf "summer carols" or canu dan y pared "singing under the wall", these songs being of a bawdy or sexual nature.
The singers would visit families on May morning accompanied by a harpist or fiddler, to wish them the greetings of the season and give thanks to "the bountiful giver of all good gifts." If their singing was thought worthy, they would be rewarded with food and money. Common drinks during Calan Mai festivities were mead. Sometimes it was made of herbs, including woodruff, a sweet-smelling herb, put in wine in times past to make a man merry and act as a tonic for the heart and liver. Elderberry and rhubarb wines were popular and the men liked various beers. Trefor M. Owen. Welsh Folk Customs. Gomer Press, Llandysul 1987 Marie Trevelyan. Folklore and Folk Stories of Wales. EP Publishing Ltd, Wakefield 1973 Hilaire Wood. "Welsh Customs for Calan Haf". Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. CS1 maint: Unfit url
History of Wales
The history of Wales begins with the arrival of human beings in the region thousands of years ago. Neanderthals lived in what is now Wales, or Cymru in Welsh, at least 230,000 years ago, while Homo sapiens arrived by about 31,000 BC. However, continuous habitation by modern humans dates from the period after the end of the last ice age around 9000 BC, Wales has many remains from the Mesolithic and Bronze Age. During the Iron Age the region, like all of Britain south of the Firth of Forth, was dominated by the Celtic Britons and the Brittonic language; the Romans, who began their conquest of Britain in AD 43, first campaigned in what is now northeast Wales in 48 against the Deceangli, gained total control of the region with their defeat of the Ordovices in 79. The Romans departed from Britain in the 5th century. Thereafter Brittonic language and culture began to splinter, several distinct groups formed; the Welsh people were the largest of these groups, are discussed independently of the other surviving Brittonic-speaking peoples after the 11th century.
A number of kingdoms formed in present-day Wales in the post-Roman period. While the most powerful ruler was acknowledged as King of the Britons, some rulers extended their control over other Welsh territories and into western England, none were able to unite Wales for long. Internecine struggles and external pressure from the English and the Norman conquerors of England, led to the Welsh kingdoms coming under the sway of the English crown. In 1282, the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd led to the conquest of the Principality of Wales by King Edward I of England; the Welsh launched several revolts against English rule, the last significant one being that led by Owain Glyndŵr in the early 15th century. In the 16th century Henry VIII, himself of Welsh extraction as a great grandson of Owen Tudor, passed the Laws in Wales Acts aiming to incorporate Wales into the Kingdom of England. Under England's authority, Wales became part of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 and the United Kingdom in 1801. Yet, the Welsh retained their culture despite heavy English dominance.
The publication of the significant first complete Welsh translation of the Bible by William Morgan in 1588 advanced the position of Welsh as a literary language. The 18th century saw the beginnings of two changes that would affect Wales, the Welsh Methodist revival, which led the country to turn nonconformist in religion, the Industrial Revolution. During the rise of the British Empire, 19th century Southeast Wales in particular experienced rapid industrialisation and a dramatic rise in population as a result of the explosion of the coal and iron industries. Wales played a willing role in World War One; the industries of Empire in Wales declined in the 20th century with the end of the British Empire following the Second World War, while nationalist sentiment and interest in self-determination rose. The Labour Party replaced the Liberal Party as the dominant political force in the 1940s. Wales played a considerable role during World War Two along with the rest of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Allies, its cities were bombed extensively during the Nazi Blitz.
The nationalist party Plaid Cymru gained short lived momentum in the 1960s. In a 1997 referendum Welsh voters approved the devolution of governmental responsibility to a National Assembly for Wales, which first met in 1999; the earliest known human remain discovered in modern-day Wales is a Neanderthal jawbone, found at the Bontnewydd Palaeolithic site in the valley of the River Elwy in North Wales, whose owner lived about 230,000 years ago in the Lower Palaeolithic period. The Red Lady of Paviland, a human skeleton dyed in red ochre, was discovered in 1823 in one of the Paviland limestone caves of the Gower Peninsula in Swansea, South Wales. Despite the name, the skeleton is that of a young man who lived about 33,000 years ago at the end of the Upper Paleolithic Period, he is considered to be the oldest known ceremonial burial in Western Europe. The skeleton was found along with jewellery made from a mammoth's skull. Following the last ice age, Wales became the shape it is today by about 8000 BC and was inhabited by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.
The earliest farming communities are now believed to date from about 4000 BC, marking the beginning of the Neolithic period. This period saw the construction of many chambered tombs dolmens or cromlechs; the most notable examples of megalithic tombs include Bryn Celli Ddu and Barclodiad y Gawres on Anglesey, Pentre Ifan in Pembrokeshire, Tinkinswood Burial Chamber in the Vale of Glamorgan. Metal tools first appeared in Wales about 2500 BC copper followed by bronze; the climate during the Early Bronze Age is thought to have been warmer than at present, as there are many remains from this period in what are now bleak uplands. The Late Bronze Age saw. Much of the copper for the production of bronze came from the copper mine on the Great Orme, where prehistoric mining on a large scale dates from the middle Bronze Age. Radiocarbon dating has shown the earliest hillforts in what would become Wales, to have been constructed during this period. Historian John Davies, theorises that a worsening climate after around 1250 BC required more productive land to be defended.
The earliest iron implement found in Wales is a sword from
The pibgorn is a Welsh species of idioglot reed aerophone. The name translates as "pipe-horn", it is historically known as cornicyll and pib-corn. It utilises a single reed, cut from elder or reed, like that found in the drone of a bagpipe, an early form of the modern clarinet reed; the single chambered body of the elder pipe has a occurring parallel bore, into which are drilled six small finger-holes and a thumb-hole giving a diatonic compass of an octave. The body of the instrument is traditionally carved from a single piece of bone. Playable, extant historical examples in the Museum of Welsh Life have bodies cut and shaped of elder. Another, unplayable instrument at the Museum of a date, is made from the leg bone of an unspecified ungulate. Contemporary instruments are bored from a variety of fruitwoods, or exotic hardwoods; the reed is protected by a stock of cow-horn. The bell is shaped from a section of cow-horn; the pibgorn may be attached to a bag, with the additional possibility of a drone, called pibau cwd.
A double-pipe of unknown provenance, dated 1701 held by the Museum of Welsh Life has caused some controversy as to its possible Welsh or Mediterranean origin. The pipes in Wales, of which the pibgorn is a class, are mentioned in the laws of Hywel Dda; the earliest transcription of these dates from 1250 and specify that "the King should recognise the status of a Pencerdd in his service by giving him an appropriate instrument - either Harp, Crwth or Pipes." In modern Welsh orthography these three instruments are called telyn and pibau. Peniarth 20 c 1330, states that there are three types of wind instrument: "Organ, a Phibeu a Cherd y got", "organ, pipes and bag music". However, the instrument itself is older than these references, is part of a pattern of distribution of similar idioglot reedpipes and bag-hornpipes throughout Asia and North Africa that includes the "Old British pibcorn or hornpipe" alboka, arghul and others. William Morris writes in a letter to his brother the folklorist Richard Morris in 1759: " How pleasing it was to see the young farmworkers with their pibau cyrn under their arms....gathering the cows and piping'Mwynen Mai' and'Meillionnen’."According to Daines Barrington, who presented the pibgorn specimen shown at the Museum of Welsh life to Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London, an Anglesey landowner called Mr Wynn of Penhesgedd, offered an annual prize for pibgorn playing towards the end of the eighteenth century.
One such competition at Castellior Farm attracted 200 players. There is a further description by Siôn Wiliam Prichard of Christmas celebrations on the Castellior farm where the pibgorn and other instruments were played. Barrington described the tone of the instrument as played to him: "by one of the lads... considering the materials of which the pibgorn is composed is very tolerable"David Griffith recalls his father telling him that "playing the Pibgorn was a common thing in those days in the South and that farmers' servant men were in the habit of carrying them with them when driving cattle to the fairs." The Reverend Meredith Morris of The Gwaun Valley in Pembrokeshire writes in his autobiography in 1910: "Mabsantau, gwylnosau, &c, were their red-letter days, the rude merrimaking of the village green the pivot of all, worth living for in a mundane existence. I do not remember much about the Gwylmabsant and the Gwylnos - I came a quarter of a century too late for those wonderful orgies - but I remember the neithior with its all-day and all-night rollicking fun.
We did not have the crwth, but we had the fiddle, the harp, or a home-made degenerate sort of pibgorn. I myself am a tolerable player on the simplified bibgorn." After a hiatus of fifty years, the pibgorn, alongside instruments such as the crwth and the triple harp, has witnessed a resurgence in popularity as part of a general revival of interest in Welsh folk music. Some modern instruments play a tempered scale to accommodate fixed pitch instruments such as guitar or keyboard, are pitched in D. Historical instruments play in a variety of pitch. Jonathan Shorland, after measuring and playing the instruments in co-operation with the then-keeper of instruments, D. Roy Saer, at the Museum of Folk Life in Wales, concluded that the instrument made of bone was no longer playable due to splitting. Of the two elder pipes, The shorter instrument gave a six-finger key note near to F and played a scale close to the Locrian mode; the longer instrument gave a six-finger key note near to an unnamed mode. Shorland noted that the finger hole for the sixth note was shaped differently and was smaller than the rest, that the flat note was intentional.
Contemporary pibgorn makers in Wales include Jonathan Shorland, John Tose, John Glennydd, Keith Lewis, Gafin Morgan, Gerard KilBride. In Scotland, Julian Goodacre. In the United States. Contemporary repertoire makes use of folksong and Hymn tunes adapted to the instrument and printed collections of dance music that may be adapted to fit the instrument's
Y Fro Gymraeg
Y Fro Gymraeg is a name used to refer to the linguistic area in Wales where the Welsh language is used by the majority or a large part of the population. However, unlike its equivalent in Ireland, Y Fro Gymraeg does not have official government recognition; the importance of Y Fro Gymraeg "powerhouse" to the rest of Wales was formulated over a few months by a Bangor college lecturer, Owain Owain, in January 1964, when he published in his Tafod y Ddraig magazine a map outlining Y Fro. In an article dated 12 November 1964, he wrote: Enillwn y Fro Gymraeg, ac fe enillir Cymru, ac oni enillir Y Fro Gymraeg, nid Cymru a enillir; this stress on the importance of protecting Y Fro Gymraeg became an important element in the policy of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg and would be reflected in the activities of other language movements such as Cymuned. A generation or two ago one could say that all of western Wales, from Anglesey to parts of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, lay in the Bro, that it included significant parts of western Powys and of the former county of Clwyd.
But today the territory of the language as a majority language has shrunk. A substantial portion of four Welsh counties lies within Y Fro Gymraeg, which includes other communities in surrounding counties; the four main counties with a majority of Welsh-speaking inhabitants are Gwynedd, Carmarthenshire and Anglesey, although in these counties one cannot say that every town and village is a Welsh stronghold. Surrounding areas included in the Bro, with a significant percentage of Welsh speakers, include parts of Neath Port Talbot, parts of western Powys, northern Pembrokeshire, the uplands of Conwy, the uplands and countryside of Denbighshire and parts of the district of Swansea, it is accepted that Welsh medium education is the largest contributor to the revival of the language. Education in Y Fro Gymraeg is through the medium of Welsh, which accounts for about 70% of the school timetable, on average. In Y Fro Gymraeg road signs appear with the Welsh name first in non-predominantly Welsh speaking areas.
Official publications in general are bilingual with Welsh appearing first. Gàidhealtachd: the Scottish Gaelic speaking areas of Scotland Gaeltacht: the Irish speaking areas of Ireland List of Welsh principal areas by percentage Welsh language Map by the Welsh Language Board of percentage of people who said they could speak Welsh