Here be Dragons: 5 Fascinating Facts about Wales

Welsh dragon in Ebbw Vale

Welsh dragon in Ebbw Vale by the roving sheep on Flickr

This is a guest post by Francesca of www.northwalesborderlands.co.uk

The ancient country of Wales, located on the western coast of Great Britain, defended itself against conquerors for many centuries, but it has upheld its culture, traditions and language through continued adversity. As a country, it has remained strong and proud and modern-day Wales is one of the most interesting places to visit in the United Kingdom.

A holiday in Wales can allow visitors the opportunity to see castles that are full of architectural beauty and provide a wonderful day out for the family. Food festivals and markets are abundant and every family should explore the lichen-covered forests to look for dragons and fairies.

As Wales is enveloped in history, there are many myths and legends which permeate this Celtic land. These include the Arthurian legend, the blue stones of Stonehenge, which may have arrived by glacier or by human hands and the numerous stories of dragons which dominated storytelling of the past.

Here are our five fascinating facts about Wales:

Llanferr

Llanferr thingy majig (virtualtourist.com)

Longest Place Name in the World

If you would like to visit a place believed to have the longest name in the world, then a trip to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch should be one of the stops on your holiday in Wales. The translation is “St Mary’s Church In the Hollow of the White Hazel Near To the Rapid Whirlpool of Llantysilio of the Red Cave” and it is located on the island of Anglesey.

Arthurian Legend

It is widely believed that King Arthur’s kingdom was in Wales (sometime between the 5th and 6th centuries AD) and that the Black Book of Carmarthen (the oldest book of poetry in Welsh) held in the National Library of Wales has vital information to prove this. The foundation of the legend is based on a warrior king who protected his Celtic people against Saxon invaders in the 5th century, after the Romans left the Britain. It was a society built upon loyalty, trust, chivalry and honour.

In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s book Historia Regum Britanniae 1136, there are details of King Arthur’s birth, his rise to the throne, the battles he fought and his death. There are also many mentions of Merlin, Guinevere and Mordred and it is considered by many to be a firm basis of King Arthur and Camelot’s existence.

Welsh (Cymraeg or y Gymraeg) Language

Out of a population of approximately three million people, only 21% speak Welsh. The highest concentration of first-language Welsh speakers is in the north and west of Wales. Interestingly, the Welsh language does not contain the letters K Q V and Z as it follows the Latin alphabet in using digraphs (two letters used to make one sound, such as dd, ff, ng, ll, ph, rh and th in Welsh).

Union Flag with Wales

Union Flag with Wales added (Wikipedia)

The Union Flag

In 1603, when England, Scotland and Ireland united, the Union Flag (later dubbed the Union Jack) was commissioned. Wales was not represented on the Union Flag as it was already recognised under the Kingdom of England since 1282. So some people have designed their own (see above).

Castles

Wales is regarded as having the largest number of castles in the world. There are approximately 400 castles, with around 100 still standing. Of these, some of the most popular to visit are Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle and Beaumaris Castle.

This guest post was written on behalf of www.northwalesborderlands.co.uk by Francesca, a travel writer from the UK

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3 thoughts on “Here be Dragons: 5 Fascinating Facts about Wales

  1. I just thought you might be interested to know that the longest place name in the world is actually in New Zealand (Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu). It also has a “toothbrush fence”, a giant statue of some “gumboots” (Wellingtons), and an odd compulsion to occasionally die their sheep pink. To me, it’s the home of quirkiness!

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