Over the past few weeks I have been researching the many historic and cultural links between Wales and Brittany. Its shown me that we have a shared history going back to the Stone Age. I find is staggering how little people seem to know about it.
So I have made a film which pulls the lid off all this shared history, culture and language and explores the following in more depth:
Neolithic standing stones
The arrival of the Celts and the tribes who settled in both places
The language we share and why
The place names you find in both countries
The co operation between both nations in the wars against the Saxons in Briton and the Franks in France
The Welsh saints who established the Breton church
King Arthur’s place in both nation’s history
What we have to show for it all today
Across 30 minutes we visit the places where all the action happened and the sources of all this information.
I also should pre-warn you that there are some beautiful beaches and pretty towns filled with mediaeval architecture in this video which might promote a need to go on holiday – I can only apologise.
Feel free to share on social media, please please please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already and if you want to find out more about any of the places or stories featured in this video, then please scroll dwon past the video it self to where I have shared all you need to know.
Further Information on the places in this video
Hopefully you have enjoyed the content of this video, but I can understand if you are curious to know more about where it was filmed and the places mentioned.
Carnac appears several times in this video. The opening beach sequences were filmed on La Grande Plage De Carnac but I also feature shots of the Kerlescan Standing Stones and Dolmen. The stones at Carnac have made the area a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is a bigger concentration of neolithic monuments in the area than anywhere else in Europe. If you visit, you will need to go the the visitor centre called ‘Maison de Megalithes’ where guided tours around the different sites can be organised. These days all the sites are fenced off so wandering about isn’t an option.
In the item about standing stones I also featured standing stones in Trellech in Monmouthshire and at Pentre Ifan. Click on the hyperlinks to see more information on those places.
Vannes (or Gwened in Breton) is a beautiful, fortified medieval town and port in southern Brittany.
It was named after the Venetti tribe who the Romans described as being the inhabitants of the area before the Roman invasion.
From a vistors perspective the town is very picturesque with loads of nice bars and restaurants. The old town walls are something special. For more information visit the toursim website by clicking here.
Places associated with Welsh Saints
Iles de St Cado is near the town of Belz in southern Brittany. It is where St Cadoc is remembered for his part in establishing the church in Brittany. You can get more information by clicking here.
I also featured the story of St Teilo and of St Gildas and included footage of the churches which now stand on the site of the medieval monastery at Llantwit Major and the Abbey and Llancarfan. Click on the links in blue in this paragraph for more information on each.
Between 1830 and 1844 unrest amongst the industrial workers and farmers in Wales tipped over into riot and uprising. Nineteenth Century South Wales was a tinderbox of revolt. Industrialists were making fortunes in coal and steel but their workers were treated terribly. Living conditions were inhospitable and a breeding ground for cholera and other killer diseases.
High rents and low pay (not in cash but issued in tokens which could only be spent in the shops owned by their employers) made these people little more than slaves. And the introduction of credit and debt bound the working people still further to their employers and land owners.
Outside the industrialised areas things were no better. Welsh farmers and people living in rural areas were being bled by taxes and tythes and on the back of several poor harvests they found themselves on the brink of starvation. Something had to give. And the birth of new political ideas fuelled a number of uprisings.
The Merthyr Rising in 1831, the Rebecca Riots and the Newport Chartist Rising both starting in 1839. But what caused the rebellions? How did they start? Who was behind them? How did the establishment react? What has been their legacy?
In conversation, Graham Loveluck-Edwards and Mark Lawson-Jones pull back the layers of these events and their consequences. And as ever, especially for viewers in the Vale of Glamorgan, there is a tenuous local link. Watch below to find out what it is.
Did you know that it is likely that Christianity in Wales started in Llantwit Major? That monks from institutions in the Vale of Glamorgan between the fifth and sixth centuries established ministries throughout Britain, Ireland and Northern France?
In this video I discuss this fascinating history with author and historian Philip Morris. We look at the ancient monasteries of the county from the fifth century in Llantwit Major, Llancarfan and Llandough and at pioneers such as St Illtyd, St Cadoc and St Doggo and their influence across Europe.
We look at how different the culture and reach of the Celtic Church was from what came after it. How huge institutions were established, how ideas were spread throughout Europe, how inclusive these communities were and the key role of women as well as men at their healm.
We also look at the impact of the arrival of the Normans, the medieval period and in particular Ewenny Priory.
We discuss the legacy these great institutions left. Everything from the establishment of Cowbridge Grammar School to architectural clues at buildings we can visit today. As well as gems like the story of the miracle of Ewenny, how Corntown got its name, why so many towns in Brittany have Welsh sounding names, why the latin inscribed on the Celtic stones in Llantwit Major is inaccurate and many many more fascinating snippets which anyone with an interest in the local history of South Wales will find truly fascinating.
This video is an episode of ‘History on your doorstep’, first broadcast on Bro Radio on Monday 22 August 2022. Presented by author and historian Graham Loveluck-Edwards cataloguing the history of the Vale of Glamorgan. I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and share them on social media.