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Tŷ Afon Origins: Welsh Heritage And Culture

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Wales, any introduction should begin outside. It’s a rugged, awe-inspiring land formed by glacial movements during the Pleistocene, a geologic period also known as the Ice Age, which was roughly around 2,600,000 to 11,700 years ago. These glaciers carved out mountains, plateaus, hills, valleys and were partly responsible, along with volcanic rock, for the iconic outcrop of Snowdon itself. While the hills and mountains make up the heart of this captivating little country, rivers run from them like veins. Waterfalls tumble from steep crags, gorges gush between moss-covered trees. It’s as much about water as it is the solid stuff. Lakes of pure Welsh water sit at high altitudes, with the highest, Llyn Llyffant, sitting at 815m above sea level. Llyn Tegid, or Bala Lake, is another key glacial creation, spanning 3.7 miles in length and encircled with pebble beaches, picnic areas and many picturesque viewpoints.

Life, architecture and culture in Wales

Defined by a heritage of agriculture and industry, Wales is also a land of stone, slate and yes, sheep. Sheep outnumber the human population and farming remains big business, as it has done for millennia. This means you’re likely to experience a traffic jam of cows, sheep or tractors at any given moment when cruising along lanes lined with hedgerows. Ancient little villages like our own of Beddgelert lie in the troughs of vast valleys, or sit sleepily in alpine arrangements on the side of steep hills. Inside walls of rubble stone and beneath roofs of slate, open fires crackle heartily and welshcakes are slathered in salted butter. Walking boots are dried and warmed on the hearth, alongside sleeping dogs and woollen socks.

Associated with many quirky traditions and a rich, proud culture; Wales has Celtic origins. Before that, found evidence up and down the country suggests that Neanderthals roamed, hunted and farmed throughout the prehistoric period. Whether or not these early humans had an appreciation for the arts is impossible to say, but we do know that the landscapes of the country have had an effect on artists, writers and musicians in recent history, with famed poets such as Dylan Thomas crediting the powerful pull of these lands as inspiration.

The storytelling element has been prevalent throughout Wales for hundreds of years. The Mabinogion are a collection of the oldest stories, compiled during the 12th and 13th centuries. Featuring many different characters, the tales have gone on to inspire everyone from Fleetwood Mac to George R R Martin.


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