There are historical stories associated with just about every lake, rock and hill in Wales. There are modern Welsh legends too – people who have enriched the world with invention and creativity. Here are just a few of our favourites.
The Red Dragon
It’s everywhere you look in Wales: the red dragon has been a symbol of Wales for 2,000 years, the banner of Celtic tribes, Welsh
princes and Tudor kings. Legend speaks of an epic battle between a red and white dragon beneath a castle, while historians point to the Romans. Either way, it’s a very pretty flag.
Princess Dwynwen was unlucky in love, so became a nun and prayed for young lovers to have better luck than she did. And so St Dwynwen became the Welsh patron saint of lovers, whose day we honour every year on 25 January. Llanddwyn Island on Anglesey is
a magical spot where you can visit the beautiful ruins of Llanddwyn Church.
St David’s Day, 1 March, is a big deal in Wales, and we celebrate our patron saint in school eisteddfodau, concerts and street parades. St David was a 5th-century bishop who founded the present-day cathedral in Pembrokeshire and several monasteries in Wales and Brittany.
Legend has it that Arthur was a British warrior who fought the invading Saxons around AD500. Within a few hundred years, he was being celebrated in Welsh poems and folk legends, acquiring a supernatural sidekick, Merlin the wizard.
The warrior prince, immortalised in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1, led the last major rebellion against the English in the early 1400s, before mysteriously vanishing.
The ‘mountain of angels’ has panoramic views of both the Pembrokeshire coast and Preseli Hills, from where the bluestones that helped to build Stonehenge came.
Okay, the stadium has been rebuilt. But this is still the hallowed ground on which Gareth Edwards scored THAT try for the Barbarians against New Zealand in 1973, and where Welsh football legend Ian Rush scored his iconic goal in 1991 when Wales beat World Champions Germany.
Welsh men and women have made a big impact on world culture. Actors like Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta Jones, singers Sir Tom Jones and Dame Shirley Bassey, and Paralympic legend Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson. Literary giants Dylan Thomas and Roald Dahl, fashion icon Laura Ashley, the philosopher Bertrand Russell – and 16 signatories of the US Declaration of Independence were of Welsh descent.
Legends in the making
A new generation of Welsh men and women have taken to the global stage. Actors Michael Sheen, Matthew Rhys, Ioan Gruffudd, Iwan Rheon and Erin Richards. Bryn Terfel, the finest bass baritone of the modern era. Sports stars like Gareth Bale, Jade Jones and Sir Dave Brailsford. The designer Bethan Gray and CERN physicist Lyn Evans. Experts in their field, every one. (visitwales.com)