Monday, 21 May 2012

Mabinogion of Maentwrog

Historic Wales

Well, we already know that the Oakeley Arms is situated in one of the most stunning areas of Snowdonia (and who can blame us for being a teeny bit biased.....), but we're finding it completely fascinating that we continue to find out brilliant snippets of history and legends about our lovely little spot ,that we never knew about before!

This week it's the turn of the famous Welsh stories, The Mabinogion. Of course, we had heard about the tales themselves, but did you know that our little village of Maentwrog is written about in the legends?

Legend has it that a long, long time ago, Pryderi, the Mabinogi King of Dyfed, was killed in a bloody battle against the magician Gwydion. Pryderi can't stand up to the power and magic of Gwydion and loses the battle. He lay dying in the Afon Glaslyn before being taken to the hamlet of Maentwrog for his burial.

Not exactly a chirpy tale is it, but then the Mabinogi aren't known for their uplifting stories in their exploration of themes like royalty, armies, gods and religion, fall and redemption, marriage, love, infidelity, family ties and gruesome battles.

They are the most famous of all the Welsh legends, and possibly in the world. The tales have been hugely influential, and have said to inspire such mythical figures as Arthur and Merlin, and were really the first "fantasy and adventure" stories that are still popular today.

So, just where did they come from? They jumped into popular culture in the mid 1800s when Lady Charlotte Guest was the first person to translate the tales from ancient Welsh into English. But before then, they were a collection of tales and myths that appear in literary works of the 14th century, although some scholars believe they were written down as early as the 12th century.

The Mabinogion features stories that are set in all across our beautiful country, so you're never far away from an ancient legend. Visit nearby Harlech to see the sculpture of The Two Kings - a sad story about Branwen.

The Two Kings at Harlech

If you'd like to find out more, there's loads of information on the Mabinogion website

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