Southwest Wales has a rich and fascinating history, steeped in myth, legend and folklore. Whether you are interested in Celtic mythology, pre-historic Pembrokeshire or you want to see dramatic ancient castles and burial chambers, this area has plenty on offer.
In local tradition, Carmarthen is said to have been the birthplace of Merlin the magician of King Arthur fame, who made a prophecy about the Old Oak Tree that has become the symbol of the town; ‘When Merlin’s Oak shall tumble down, so shall fall Carmarthen Town’. Ironically, the Old Oak did fall, to make way for Tesco Extra… a statue of Merlin was carved from the oak trunk by a local artist, and now stands in Merlins Walk shopping precinct.
A visit to Pembroke Castle, the birthplace of Henry VII, is always a great day out. Take in the 75ft high great keep, or any of the lively exhibitions and reenactments. Fortified Norman strongholds are still dotted all over the area; Carew, Llanstephan, Laugharne and Kidwelly Castles are all well preserved, accessible and and suitable for children.
At the mouth of the river Taf, lies Laugharne, the home of renowned Welsh poet Dylan Thomas for the last four years of his life. His Boat House, where he lived with his wife and children still stands overlooking the beautiful estuary, and is preserved as a museum and tearooms. The writing shed where he penned some of his finest works, including Under Milk Wood, has been kept in a similar manner to what it would have been when he died in 1953. Throughout 2014, Dylan Thomas’s centenary will be celebrated at events all over Wales.
The Carmarthenshire County Museum and the Pendine Museum of Speed offer informative accounts of our local past.
The best way to find out more about this area’s fascinating history, is to come and experience it for yourself!