Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Welsh Castles and Other Fine Rock Piles

In Wales road signs are bilingual and locals – even many young people - speak Welsh, an ancient Celtic language. Reminders that this is an old, old land are everywhere. I visited Pentre Ifan, a 5,500 year old
megalith (like Stonehenge), closed my eyes and pressed my hands against a giant boulder. Spirits soared and whispered in the wind, the voices of those buried here long ago.

Other monuments to ancient culture – castles – are found around every corner for there are an astonishing 641 in Wales. These old walls, where battles raged to preserve language and culture, come in many shapes and forms. Some of my favourites are pictured here. Caerphilly, surrounded by a vast moat, is the largest in the country, second in size only to Windsor in the UK, and home to the ghostess called the Green Lady. You can walk through the battlements, imagining the sieges, jousts, music and voices that echoed there. Laugharne anchors the town of
the same name. At one time, Dylan Thomas worked in one of the turrets. In Brecon, the old fortifications have been incorporated into the more modern (1836) Brecon Castle Hotel. And, of course, there is Cardiff Castle, with its stolid walls and colourful clock-tower set right in the heart of the city. It dates to Roman times and includes lavish apartments and an interior Norman keep.

There are many, many more castles. If the old walls could speak, they would tell wondrous tales of haunting beauty, as can only be told in the lilting Welsh language.

If You Go, You Gotta Know
Wales Information: www.americas.visitwales.com