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.
No matter how embarrassing your father may have appeared to be when you were growing up, compared to St Cadoc, you had it easy. ‘Who is St Cadoc?’ you may be asking. I am sure you have noticed the many references to ‘Cadoc’ or ’Cadog’ around South Wales. In the names of churches, streets, wells, houses, schools, community centres and hospitals. To say nothing of the village of Cadoxton.
Historically, he was one of the most revered saints in the early Christian church. It gives you an idea how significant a figure he was when you consider that he was born in the latter quarter of the fifth century. Over 1,500 years ago. And we are still naming things after him today.
The life of St Cadoc is recorded in the ancient works of the Cambro British Saints. His story is the first ever to reference the now legendary King Arthur ‘the Great’ of Camelot. Amongst his achievements are the founding of the ‘Clas’ monastery at Llancarfan near Cowbridge as well as many churches throughout Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany. He also managed to fit in time for the odd miracle. Even as a baby it is claimed that he made the water in the font he was baptised in turn into milk.
All these achievements, however, were in spite of a really dysfunctional upbringing. It was so weird, it wouldn’t look out of place in a Channel 5 documentary
First of all, he was not the only saint in the family. Pretty well his whole family were saints. Then you have his father. All I can say is, I think the bar for sainthood must have been set low back then.
He was a brute, a drunkard, and a pirate. And randomly; a king. He was called Gwynllyw although somehow that got Anglicised in later history to Woolos. He is credited with being the founding father of the city of Newport and the cathedral there is dedicated to him to this day. He fell head over heels in love with Gwladys, the daughter of King Brychan (later Anglicised to Brecon). He wanted to marry her, but Brychan refused him. So Gwynllyw took an army of 300 men to knock on his castle gates and kidnapped her.
His passion for her never seemed to faulter, even in old age. There is an account that in later life after being converted to Christianity by his son; Cadoc, he tried to seek a prayerful retreat on a desolate mountain. His endeavours however would perpetually fail as he could not overcome his carnal urges towards her and could not help himself from continually running back down the mountain to her bed.
If you thought he made a rotten husband, he was hardly parent of the month either. There is also a story that one day, he gave his infant son: St Cadoc away to a total stranger in exchange for a cow while out on a drinking spree. We’ve all done it. Oh no. Hold on, we haven’t, have we?
But against all the odds, Cadoc grew up to be a cornerstone of early Christian mission in northern Europe and became famous across the known world for his wisdom. In the modern Catholic church, he is still patron saint of burns and skin complaints, so he is the one to pray to if you are bothered by such things. His father is patron saint of Newport and pirates. No words needed.