Ceri Shaw



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Category: Folklore


Jason.nlw , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

We were all amazed and/or amused to hear that 'bigfoot tracks', together with a crude shelter have been discovered in a wood outside Caerphilly in south Wales. To read more about this story and the humorous expanation which followed read the article linked here: Welsh Bigfoot revealed as Monster hunter lifts lid on tracks from 6ft7 'Sasquatch'.

But tales of hairy monsters in the mist are not new in Welsh mythology. Indeed Welsh folklore is rich with tales of mystical beings and otherworldly entities, and among them stands the enigmatic figure known as Brenin Llwyd, the Grey King. Nestled in the mist-shrouded mountains of Snowdonia, Brenin Llwyd's presence looms large, captivating the imagination of locals and inspiring both awe and fear. This mythical character, often associated with nature's capriciousness, has left an indelible mark on Welsh storytelling, and echoes of the Grey King's reign continue to resonate through both ancient legends and modern literature.

The Mystique of the Grey King: A Presence in the Mist

Described as the Monarch of the Mists, Brenin Llwyd is a solitary figure, haunting the mountainous regions, particularly in Snowdonia. The name itself, Brenin Llwyd, translates to Grey King in Welsh, reflecting the figure's association with the color grey, often veiled in clouds and mist. While some accounts merely describe the Brenin Llwyd as a presence, others paint a more vivid picture, portraying it as a large, hairy, man-like creature.

Local tales depict the Brenin Llwyd as a brooding and silent figure, lying in wait for unsuspecting travelers who dare to venture into its domain. The disposition attributed to this Grey King is decidedly gruesome; those who disappeared in the mountains were said to have fallen victim to the Brenin Llwyd's clutches. In this narrative, the figure embodies the capricious nature of nature itself, a force to be respected and feared.

Mountainous Haunts and Regional Variations

The Brenin Llwyd is intimately connected to specific mountain ranges, with Snowdonia being the primary locale. The misty peaks of Cader Idris and Plinlimmon are frequently cited as the Grey King's favored haunts. In the North, the Brenin Llwyd is described as mighty and powerful, sitting among the mountains, robed in grey clouds and mist. Conversely, in the South, the figure is portrayed as hungering for victims, and children are warned not to ascend too high into the mountains, lest they fall prey to the Brenin Llwyd.

The regional variations in these stories add depth to the mythology, providing different perspectives on the nature and motivations of the Grey King. As with many folklore tales, these variations contribute to the cultural tapestry of Wales, where each locality weaves its unique narrative around the Brenin Llwyd.

Connections to Welsh Mythology and Otherworldly Realms

While the Brenin Llwyd is a singular entity in Welsh folklore, its tales draw connections to broader Welsh mythology. Marie Trevelyan, a folklorist from the early 20th century, notes associations between the Brenin Llwyd and the Welsh version of the Celtic Otherworld, Annwn. The figure's link to the Cŵn Annwn, or hunting hounds, suggests a deeper connection to the supernatural realms.

In certain accounts, the Brenin Llwyd is likened to Gwyn ap Nudd, the king of the Tylwyth Teg, another supernatural being associated with haunting mountain tops. The overlap with the Wild Hunt, a pan-European motif, draws parallels between the Grey King's pursuit of lost hikers and similar spectral hunts found in folklo re across different cultures.

Literary Echoes: Brenin Llwyd in Modern Fiction

61ugO6ZdPRL._SY466_.jpg The influence of Brenin Llwyd extends beyond oral traditions into modern literature. Susan Cooper's fantasy series, The Dark is Rising , features the Brenin Llwyd prominently in the fourth book titled The Grey King . Cooper's rendition of the Grey King as a lord of the Dark, an oppressive force around Cadair Idris, showcases the adap tability of folklore in contemporary storytelling. The novel, winning the prestigious Newbery Medal in 1976, cements the Brenin Llwyd's place in the realm of children's literature.

The novel weaves the Grey King into a dark and moody narrative, capturing the essence of the Brenin Llwyd's mysterious and foreboding nature. The spectral foxes, known as "milgwn," serve as agents of the Grey King, adding an otherworldly and supernatural layer to the story. Through this adaptation, the Brenin Llwyd continues to captivate audiences, proving the enduring power of folklore to inspire and shape imaginative worlds.

Comparisons with Global Folklore: The Big Grey Man and Beyond

The Brenin Llwyd's tales find intriguing parallels with other folklore figures worldwide. In Scotland, the Big Grey Man, or Am Fear Liath Mòr, shares similarities with the Welsh Grey King. Both are associated with misty mountainous regions, and legends attribute their presence to both corporeal and incorporeal interpretations. The melding of natural landscapes with supernatural entities is a common motif, demonstrating the universal human tendency to personify and mythologize the unknown.

Conclusion: Brenin Llwyd, A Timeless Enigma

Brenin Llwyd, the Grey King of Welsh folklore, stands as a timeless enigma, a figure whose presence echoes through misty mountain ranges and weaves its way into the fabric of Welsh storytelling. Whether a brooding earth spirit, a leader of the Wild Hunt, or a lord of the Dark, the Brenin Llwyd's adaptability across regional variations and literary adaptations showcases its enduring appeal. As long as the mists enshroud the peaks of Snowdonia, the tales of the Brenin Llwyd will continue to capture the imagination and curiosity of those drawn to the mystique of Welsh folklore.

Posted in: Folklore | 0 comments


"I am an artist and film-maker based in Carmarthenshire. I am currently a co-curator for the Attic International Film Festival which operates out of Newcastle Emlyn.

Attic Theatre Company leases an 80 seat auditorium in the middle of the town which serves theatrical productions and film to the whole of South-West Wales. It has digital projection and a large screen.

We are presenting a festival of short film/video [running time up to approx. 20 minutes] from around the world across the long weekend of 13-15th October 2023. This event will be free admission to the public, so we can guarantee actual audiences for our presentations. Full details can be found at;


We are looking for good quality work. This can be back-catalogue, having been shown elsewhere previously; we don't require video for 'premiere viewing'. Any theme, any style -we are a completely genre-neutral event! Files should be sent as MP4 when requested after submission.

I look forward to seeing work by any members/friends and followers of Americymru. Do please pass on this opportunity to any film-makers/videographers you may know.

All the best,

Glenn [co-curator: ATIFF]"

Mysterious Circumstance: The Death Of Meriwether Lewis

Of Welsh descent, Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) was an American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark. Their mission was to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase, establish trade with, and sovereignty over the natives near the Missouri River, and claim the Pacific Northwest and Oregon Country for the United States before European nations. They also collected scientific data and information on indigenous nations.

Lewis was born in Virginia and had no formal education until he was 13 years old, but during his time in Georgia, he enhanced his skills as a hunter and an outdoorsman. He joined the Virginia militia, and in 1794 he was sent as part of a detachment that was involved in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion. In 1795, Lewis joined the United States Army and rose to the rank of captain.

Lewis was appointed as Secretary to the President by President Thomas Jefferson in 1801, and when Jefferson began to plan for an expedition across the continent, he chose Lewis to lead the expedition. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the two-year exploration by Lewis and Clark was the first transcontinental expedition to the Pacific Coast by the United States.

After returning from the expedition, Lewis received a reward of 1,600 acres of land. He also initially made arrangements to publish the Corps of Discovery journals, but had difficulty completing his writing. In 1807, Jefferson appointed him governor of the Louisiana Territory, where he published the first laws and established roads. However, his record as an administrator was mixed, and he died in 1809 from gunshot wounds in what was either a murder or suicide.

An Interview With Proprietors Jamie and Sheena Corry

the forge tent interior.jpg

AmeriCymru:  Hi Jamie and Sheena and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. How would you describe The Forge in a few words?

The Forge is an off-grid glamping retreat venue based just outside Corwen, in Denbighshire, North Wales. 

AmeriCymru:  When did you begin working on The Forge project and what inspired you?

AmeriCymru:  Our idea for The Forge was hatched over 15 years ago when Jamie and I first got together and had this dream to find somewhere where we could raise our children, grow all our own food and run courses in sustainable living. It took us a long time of working hard, saving all our money and searching for just the right place. In the summer of 2014 we eventually found it when I was heavily pregnant with my second child. It took us another couple of years to get everything in place and we eventually launched The Forge in the spring of 2018.

AmeriCymru:  What accommodation does the venue offer and how would one go about booking?

We have five large luxury bell tents which can sleep up to 20 people, plus a vintage gypsy caravan which can sleep a further two adults. We can also put up extra tents and guests are welcome to bring their own tents and campervans if they are booking out the whole site. When we first started out we mainly focused on individual bookings for as little as one night at a time. As time has gone on however, we discovered that people have a much richer and more immersive experience when they come to stay on one of our retreats, or when they hire out the whole place with other families or groups of friends and get involved in some of the activities we have on offer here on site. These include fire lighting, axe throwing, bread making and wild food foraging. We take most of our bookings online, although we do have a very high number of repeat customers. It seems that once people have been to The Forge once, they can’t wait to come back and stay again!

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AmeriCymru:  You also feature a vintage gypsy caravan amongst your accommodation options. Care to tell us more?

We bought our much loved bow top caravan from a very good friend of ours who is a member of the travelling community here in North Wales. The caravan has been lived in by a traveller family and has even been to Appleby, the UK’s most well-known annual gypsy gathering. There is very ornate painting and inscriptions on the side, which features a ‘WB’, as we are told that our caravan was originally built for William Boswell, a very prominent member of the Gypsy community. You can find out more about the secret history of our gypsy caravan here: Gypsy Caravan

the forge gypsy caravan.jpg

AmeriCymru:  You are both passionate about rewilding. Care to describe your efforts in that direction? How many trees have been planted?  

After studying Biology at university, Jamie started out his career working for the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park in Scotland and from there with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust in the south of England. Through his conservation work he became fascinated by the positive impact on wildlife and biodiversity of restoring habitats to their original state. Having grown up on a small holding in North Wales, Sheena too always had a very strong connection to the land, which has deepened as she has become a passionate trail runner and wild swimmer in remote parts of the country. When we bought our piece of land one of the first things we did was seek a grant for us to plant 3000 trees. These trees were only knee high when we planted them in 2017 and are now towering above us. We’ll be planting another 600 this week as we continue to increase the amount of woodland we have here. It has been incredibly rewarding to see the different species coming back to our land. We have a family of barn owls who have successfully raised two broods of chicks and happily live alongside us. Our wildflower meadow is becoming more abundant each year and we’ve seen lots of rare butterflies and birds since we arrived, including spotted fly catchers, reed buntings and goldcrests.

AmeriCymru:  What activities can guests at The Forge expect to enjoy?

We have so much to offer here at The Forge, whether you are keen to try wild swimming retreat, would like to make your own bow and arrows, or would simply like to relax in a hammock by the campfire. We have some great walking directly from our door, and lots of fantastic partner organisations nearby who can offer everything from white water rafting to husky dog sledding. We run lots of different retreats throughout the year, both ourselves and through other companies who hire our place. We work with lots of yoga and Pilates businesses who combine core strength with meditation and mindfulness, and this year we are thrilled to be welcoming two experienced leaders from the Jivaka Wellness Center in Elkins, West Virginia to The Forge to run a Sensory Retreat. This won’t be the first time we have welcomed experts from the US to The Forge. In April 2019 we were lucky enough to have Sara Bir from Marietta, Ohio run a foraging course for us as part of her UK book launch tour.


AmeriCymru:  What catering arrangements do you offer?

All our tents come with a very well equipped camp kitchen so guests can create their own outdoor feasts, either over a gas hob, or ideally over the campfire if they are feeling adventurous. Our large cabin has a big catering kitchen which we use for our retreats, plus we have a Big Green Egg barbecue which is ideal when we rent out the whole site to large groups of friends and families. We can also provide catering if people are not that up for cooking themselves: we have two woodfired pizza ovens, we can provide barbecues, and we can also spit roast venison, pork or lamb. On occasion we have also cooked for groups using an underground pit oven, or ‘hangi’.

AmeriCymru:  You also publish a lively blog about the venue. Care to tell us some of the highlights?

Before we set up The Forge I started writing a blog called Cockerels and Dreams (a riff on Cocktails and Dreams for any of you old enough to remember the 1988  Tom Cruise film!)  Cockerels and Dreams . This was really a way of staying sane while I negotiated the delights of two children under three, a field full of farm animals and trying to launch a new business. Once The Forge was up and running I started a new blog which was more around helping people to understand the difference between camping and glamping and to highlight the activities we have on offer here. There is probably a disproportionate focus on wild swimming and wild food – my two big passions!

AmeriCymru:  What's next for The Forge? Any new developments in the works?

We are just about to launch our newly designed website which will focus much more on running retreats ourselves and with partner businesses. I’ve got lots of ideas about doing more work with people suffering from burnout as I believe this is the true epidemic of our age and not enough is being done about it. Having had a corporate career in the City for 20 years, I can empathise with what a lot of people are going through, stuck in demanding, all-consuming jobs, whilst also trying to balance family and caring commitments and increasing financial pressures. What we have to offer here at The Forge can provide the perfect antidote to this pressure and give people the time out they need to address the symptoms and causes of their burnout to try and break the overwhelming patterns of behaviour. I’m also really excited about expanding our wild swimming courses so that we can start to offer qualifications as part of certified programmes, plus we’ve got plans to potentially open up our site to small, rural weddings. Lots of ideas and never enough time!

AmeriCymru:  Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

If any of you are ever in the North Wales area, please do pop in and say hi! We love welcoming people from all over the world and I have a particularly soft spot for the US, having worked in Chicago and Houston on and off for over 12 years. My dad’s best friend was also a well-known Welsh character who ran a sheep farm in Burlington, Vermont and hosted his own radio station (which specialised in Scottish reel music!) there for many years in the late 1970s and early 80s. If anyone knows of Tony Turner then please get in touch! 

Sheena Corry

Website:       https://theforgecorwen.co.uk/

Facebook:    @theforgecorwen

Twitter:        @ForgeCorwen

Instagram:    @theforgecorwen

Which Lions tourist sprang a convict from captivity on a particularly wild night out?

What happened when the World Cup-winner played on after tearing his scrotum?

Why did the 6’7” lock receive praise in the House of Commons from the Prime Minister?

What gave one World Cup winger the nickname ‘the Chiropractor’?

Who had his career ended after assaulting a fan in the stands during a game?

hard men of rugby, front cover Answers to these questions and much more is to be found in the profiles of the 20 players featured in  Hard Men of Rugby  (Y Lolfa). These tough and uncompromising sportsmen span the globe and the period from pre-WWI to the present day. They were totally committed to victory, and irrespective of size, situation or opposition, never took a backwards step. Most of the them operating before citing commissioners, slow-motion replays and trial by social media, some of their actions are almost hard to believe. And largely free from the confines of the commitments the modern professional game demands, many were as lively off the pitch as they were fiery on it! 

Featuring exclusive interviews with some of the players themselves, insights from former teammates and a foreword from refereeing legend Nigel Owens – who has himself had to deal with the actions of several who have made the list – this lively, engaging and highly readable book brings some of rugby’s craziest moments, biggest characters and most remarkable stories to life. 

One of the selection who contributed to the book was World Cup-winner and rugby legend Bakkies Botha, who said, “It’s a real privilege to be included in Hard Men of Rugby. I’ve battled against some of those included and heard some amazing stories about many of the others, so I am honoured to be part of this book.” 

Born and bred in South Wales, Luke Upton’s first job was selling match-day lottery tickets for Swansea RFC in those last few glorious years before regional rugby arrived. He now lives in London, where after working in the sports industry for five years he works as a business journalist and editor. He is the author of satirical rugby novel  Absolutely Huge  (“hilarious” –  The Guardian ),   also from Y Lolfa, and co-runs @NotGavHenson, the rugby humour Twitter account with over 42,000 followers, including a host of professional rugby players – some tough, others not so much! 

“Selecting the players for this book was a real challenge and I’m sure not everyone will agree with who’s included, but that’s all part of the fun! The criteria was that, yes, they had to be tough – and this could include aspects on and off the pitch – but also they had to be very good players. This rules our mindless thugs, cheats or cowards, and those super-tough guys who just weren’t quite up to scratch at the top level of the game. So, look at the list, think of your country of club in the era in which those individuals played and consider if you would have had them in your team. I think the answer would be overwhelmingly ‘yes’,” said Luke. 

So pull on your boots, apply your strapping and come face to face with the Phantom Major, the Iron Duke, Car Crash, the Blackpool Tower, the Caveman and the rest  of them…

Posted in: Rugby | 0 comments

Vote For Welsh Artist Nichola Hope!

By Ceri Shaw, 2020-05-23


98380482_275547447155522_1847212270904410112_n 1.jpg A bit about me..

I am an artist of Welsh and Irish Nationality, born in Cardiff and living and working in South Wales and London. In 2006, I became a visiting artist for Welsh National Opera where I developed an interest in using drawing and paint as a medium to depict movement and theatricality. In 2019, I was given access to draw natural history specimens at Museum Wales. My work is inspired by figuration, our relationships with the animal world and human condition. I am a published illustrator and have exhibited widely across the UK and abroad.

I'm delighted that my Tansy Beetle, watercolour has been shortlisted for Wildlife Artist of the Year. My work is one of 159 artworks selected from an incredible 1,200 entries from across the world. All the work is for sale and 50% of the proceeds are donated to help protect precious wildlife. The ‘Facing Extinction’ category celebrates vulnerable species at risk of extinction, capturing their behaviour and importance in striking imagery. They may be gone tomorrow if we do not act today.

My artwork, people can vote for this for the People’s choice award here: https://davidshepherd.org/wildlife-art/artwork/tansy-beetle/

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The exhibition usually runs in Mall Galleries, London but has launched online today due to the pandemic.

My website and social media http://nicholahope.com Instagram @thedrawingeye Twitter @thedrawingeye Facebook @thedrawingeye

Posted in: Arts | 0 comments

"Maid of Sker is a first-person survival horror, set in a remote hotel with a gory and macabre history from British folklore. Coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in June 2020. Coming to Switch in Q3 2020."

If the quality of the trailer is anything to go by this could be a great game.

While you  await release why not catch up with the ghastly history of Sker House here:

Sker House – Where Fact & Fiction Collide by C.M. Saunders

From the article: "The history of Sker House dates back almost a thousand years to when it was first built as a monastic grange to support nearby Margam Abbey by monks of the Cistercian order. After the dissolution of the monasteries, ownership of the estate changed hands several times in quick succession whilst it remained a refuge for renegade monks. In 1597, then-owner Jenkin Turberville, a staunch Roman Catholic, was allegedly tortured to death after being accused of promoting the 'Old Religion' and in 1679, the missionary Saint Philip Evans was hung, drawn and quartered in Cardiff after being arrested at Sker House the previous year. Many other dignitaries and prominent historical figures have spent time there, and visitors once travelled from far and wide to marvel at its spectral beauty. Over the years, Sker House became a hive of paranormal activity. People have reported seeing ghost ships just off the coast and disembodied lights flickering along the beach, as well as hearing mysterious banshee-like wailing sounds in the grounds. Visitors often experience a crushing sense of doom when entering the premises, and there are also accounts of poltergeist activity and shadow people." 

Read More Here

Inspired by Harri Webb

By Ceri Shaw, 2020-03-26

This film shows the inspiration of Harri Webb’s life and poetry on the people of Merthyr. Those who knew him,read his verse and admired his politics. Children from three schools wrote poems in workshops inspired by his work for a competition. Locals at a monthly Open Mic at the Imperial Hotel read his poetry, sing songs and read their own poems based on Webb’s verse. Featuring ‘Colli Iaith’ music track with the vocals of Erin Lancaster and produced by Gwyncy Jones . Harri Webb lives on through all of them...

Mae'r ffilm hon yn dangos ysbrydoliaeth bywyd a farddoniaeth Harri Webb ar bobl Merthyr : y rhai oedd yn ei adnabod, yn darllen ei bennill ac yn edmygu ei wleidyddiaeth. Ysgrifennodd plant o dair ysgol gerddi a ysbrydolwyd gan ei waith ar gyfer cystadleuaeth. Pobl leol mewn Meic Agored misol yn darllen ei gerddi, yn canu chaneuon ac yn perfformio cerddi a ysbrydolwyd ganddo. Yn cynnwys y dôn thema 'Colli Iaith' chanu gan Erin Lancaster a'i chynhyrchu gan Gwyncy Jones. Mae Harri Webb yn byw trwy bob un ohonyn nhw...


Looking Up England's Arsehole - Harri Webb

Many of Harri's titles are still available though some have become collectors items and this fact is sadly reflected in the prices.    Harri Webb on Amazon  

For first time readers, looking to acquaint themselves with Harri's patriotic and boozy ballads, we recommend the excellent Y Lolfa reprint of his collection - Looking Up England's Arsehole

Harri Webb on Wikipedia:- Harri Webb

Posted in: Harri Webb | 1 comments


File 23032016 12 41 19 1.jpeg AmeriCymru:  Hi Annie and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. What was the inspiration for Black Dragon Crafts? When did you found the company?

Annie:   It’s a pleasure to be talking to you and thanks for being interested.
Black Dragon began back in the early 70’s, when the world was a significantly different place. My husband and I had sold most of our possessions to go on an adventure to the USA – when we got home, we didn’t really have anywhere to live and a friend volunteered us their barn in Wales. We set up a workshop and I began using the leatherworking skills I had learned in San Fransisco while he made candles.

We were invited to exhibit our wares at a show and needed a name for our enterprise: Black (because we were trying to buy a house called Llyn Ddu), Dragon (because we were in Wales) and Crafts (because that was what we were doing).

This was in 1974 and our work started to sell quite well, mostly in local gift shops and at Craft Markets. But we didn’t buy Llyn Ddu because a better place came along, then two children arrived, business expanded into shops and markets in England and we were living the dream. My leatherwork was Celtic, the kids were happy and the sun was always shining. Then in 1989 he left us. There were clouds covering the sun for a while but the world didn’t end and I had created my first Celtic bead within a couple of years. I never looked back. 

AmeriCymru:  Care to describe your workshop for our readers?

Annie:  My current workshop is the best ever. Everything started in a barn adjoining the cottage, then the weather changed and it all migrated to the kitchen table. It soon outgrew the table and I bought a big wooden shed to plant at the top of the garden. It lasted for over 10 years but the roof started leaking and everything went mouldy so I bit the bullet and built a proper building. Insulation galore, double glazed windows (with a fabulous view out of every one), green cladding, a pot bellied stove and proper workbenches. I started taking it all a lot more seriously and began winning prizes with my beads. 

My workshop is a building of two halves – I make the beads in the dirty half (lovingly called The Beadoir) and the jewelery in the clean half. 15 years on and it has settled into the landscape, green was a good choice. Visitors think it is all very well organised but it’s a busy space, there has to be some order and a plan. Having said that, I currently only have one helper and she has been with me for over 30 years, seen it all. There are changes afoot – I ought to be contemplating my retirement but I seem to be enjoying a growth spurt instead. Do I need more staff?

view from the workshop.jpeg

AmeriCymru:  What was the significance of beads to the ancient Celts? How are yours produced?

Annie:  Beads have always been used for adornment and trade, by every tribe and everywhere. Mine are unashamedly decorative and I cast them in lead free pewter.  I heat the pewter to around 350 degrees C, then  pour it into rubber moulds in a centrifugal casting machine. I fettle and file them by hand, then tumble them in a big tumbly machine to burnish and polish them.  It’s a hot, dirty, noisy, dangerous and dusty process, which involves many hours on my feet and zero romance. But I love it. To start with a 1kg stick of raw pewter and end with a batch of beads is wonderful and never ceases to amaze me. 

AmeriCymru:  What can you tell us about the range of Jewellery available from Black Dragon? How is the jewellery produced?

Annie:  In case you haven’t noticed already, I love my beads and I thread them in as many different ways as I can. I also love my gemstones, so we have developed different jewellery ranges which showcase the various styles of beads and stones. And each stone has its power or story, all carefully researched and printed on the packaging. There are massive 12mm gembeads in the Big Beady jewellery interspersed with our Globe and Bauble beads. Boxed Beady jewellery is made in many different bead configurations but mostly uses 6mm gembeads. Cwtch heart jewellery and Seren star jewellery both use mainly 6mm gemstones and you’ll find little hearts or stars dangling throughout. The agate jewellery is full of beautiful 8mm agate stones, in all of the colours you can think of. They are challenging to pair on earrings because they are all so very different but stringing the bracelets is quite therapeutic! And on it goes – with the Beady , Cyfrin , carded Beady and Dragon jewelley . Then there are little TWT bracelets    for the wee ones and even a Boy-o range   for the boys (large and small!)  As you can imagine – there are lots of components for each range, so we use our tried and trusted “templates” to make sure that the bracelets turn out the right length and the necklaces are symmetrical! 

AmeriCymru:  You also offer 'Crystalight' and 'Celtic Chakra' products for sale on your site. What can you tell us about these? 

Annie:   We’ve been making Crystalights for many years – we stopped (for a decade!) when I realized that there was a spelling mistake on the packaging!  Repackaged now, they make a perfect gift. “A cut crystal glass drop, genuine gemstones and a pewter Celtic bead...hanging at your window it will capture the sunlight and scatter glorious rainbows” What’s not to like?!

And what can I say about my Celtic Chakra jewelery?   People are searching endlessly for “wellness” and everybody loves a rainbow. Just in case you don’t know about the Chakra – the human body has seven Chakras or energy wheels and each of the genuine gemstones used in this jewelery relates to one of those power centres. Combined with the magic of the ancient Celts and threaded with hematite to give you courage, this jewelery should help to keep you balanced and energized. Try it?

AmeriCymru:  I'm sure that our readers would love to know more about the 'ORIGIN' shop in Carmarthen. Care to share?

Annie:   The Origin shop in Carmarthen is a wonderful place to go for treats and treasures, all hand made in either Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire – the old county of Dyfed. The shop is on King Street, which is in the old part of the town and far away from all of the multiple stores that you can find anywhere in anytown. On our street, most of the shops are independent and interesting – there’s an antique centre, three other galleries, a couple of nice eateries, a delicatessen, a couple of lovely gift shops, craft supplies, a smattering of charity shops plus vintage, interiors and clothing. Origin was the first Community Crafts Co-operative in Wales and was established back in in 1990, at a massive public meeting. It exists to promote local arts and crafts, to raise the standards of craftsmanship and to increase sales opportunities for local artists and makers. For my sins, I am a founder member and have been an active Director since the beginning. We all take it in turns to steward in the shop and we “muck in” to redecorate and move the displays around. We have three shop windows, changed every month, to give all co-op members their chance to shine. We have ceramics, fine art, glass, jewellery, metal, photography, sculpture, textiles, wood, slate and marbling – on two floors and all gorgeous. 

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AmeriCymru:  What's next for Annie Wealleans? Any new products or product ranges in the works?

Annie:   I’m 68 now and I ought to be thinking about retiring...but I’m not sure that I ever will. I love my work and I am very proud of my beads. I’m just an ordinary person but I have created something extraordinary – put ‘celticbeads’ into Google and there I am, top of the page. I had my first webpage in 1996 and have recently had a whole new website. You can register as a trade customer and buy for your shop, or you can buy for yourself. You can pick your preferred currency and have your own account, there’s plenty to look at and you can always ask if you can’t quite find what you want.  And my beads are gorgeous – each one with its own peculiarities and flaws but that’s what makes them special. I’m always dreaming up new shapes and designs but each one takes an age and costs a fortune, so I can’t be constantly launching new ones.  I’m currently wondering about more little pendants and maybe even some torc bracelets but that’s a whole new departure. The casting equipment in my Beadoir is all getting rather old and tired (most of it came over from Poland before the war, literally! It was used in London to create buttons and trims before I had it...but that’s a story for another day). I’m currently thinking about replacing it with something a bit more 21st century and taking on an apprentice. It would be a giant leap but this black dragon has still got plenty of fire left to breathe... and I may (brain permitting) start to learn Welsh soon. It’s kind of late, now that I’ve been living here for nearly 45 years ... but better late than never!

AmeriCymru:  Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?

Annie:   Hey, it has been lovely talking to you! It has been a bit one-sided but still lovely. Wales joins us all and as you know, I am not born welsh but I’m certainly “honorary welsh”. It’s in my heart and I couldn’t live anywhere else now. If you haven’t been here yet then you really need to come.  My parents had their honeymoon in Tenby, just a few miles from my workshop, back in 1947, They bought my sister and I back here for many family holidays – usually camping in a leaking tent but always happy. I wish they were all still here to see the way it all turned out - me happy with my beads and still loving life on the side of this Welsh hill with my dragons.  I am,very lucky. 

Lawrence Davies is a Welsh boxing historian, the author of Mountain Fighters: Lost Tales of Welsh Boxing and Jack Scarrott's Prize Fighters. His groundbreaking work has served as the basis of a TV documentary and numerous newspaper articles. His meticulous original research has uncovered many Welsh prize fighters previously unrecorded in any publication. AmeriCymru spoke to Lawrence about his new book:- The Story of Welsh Boxing - Prize Fighters of Wales

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AmeriCymru: Hi Lawrence and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to introduce your new book The Story of Welsh Boxing for our readers?

Lawrence: Hi, well my new book, 'The Story of Welsh Boxing, Prize Fighters of Wales' will be available to purchase at the start of June, 2019, and is published as a hardback by Pitch Publishing. This is the first book I have written on Welsh boxing to attempt to trace the origins of the sport of boxing in Wales, and to outline the careers of the most prominent Welsh fighters (or pugilists) recorded in the earliest days of British Boxing History.

The book introduces a number of forgotten early boxing 'champions' to have come from Wales, and features full accounts of some of the most prominent of the Welsh bare-knuckle fighters to have earned some measure of fame in the days before the advent of boxing gloves. There are some real surprises in the book and I hope that Welsh boxing fans enjoy reading about the forgotten fighters to have come from Wales.

It also introduces a full account of the career of Ned Turner, whose name might be familiar to some readers, as he is occasionally name-checked, although I don't think a full account of his career has been printed previously. Ned was a national hero in Wales in the 1820's and was thought to be the second greatest lightweight in Britain after a fighter named Jack Randall. His tale really is very engaging, Ned was a very likable and honorable man, and was greatly admired in his day. To the people of Wales it is no exaggeration to say he was a national hero. I hope that I have done him justice, and that readers enjoy his story.

AmeriCymru: What period of Welsh boxing history does the book cover? How difficult is it to research the earlier periods in the development of the sport given the dearth of written records?

Lawrence: The book covers what I would consider to be the first 'period' of Welsh boxing history, starting from the early 1700's with the most prominent Welsh fighters to have earned some measure of fame outside Wales, mostly within the 'London Prize Ring'. At this time, boxing or 'pugilism' had not yet broken away from the 'prize fighters' of the time, who were engaging in armed battles with the sword and staff, and the first chapter of the book gives background details on the types of contests that were fought with weapons, prior to fist fighting splitting away and being viewed as a separate art. It also contains details on some Welsh fighters who took part in these gladiatorial contests.

It also features those bare-knuckle fighters who were battling on native soil within Wales, right through to the fighting career of a boxer named William Charles from Newport who was deemed to be the 'Champion of Wales' by 1828, although he was not the first. The book covers a timescale of roughly 130 years, and charts the development of boxing within Wales, and the most prominent Welsh fighters that were recorded in the sporting journals and newspapers of the time.

Researching the book proved to be very difficult, in part because the first Welsh newspapers were founded at the start of the nineteenth century, and were very reluctant to print any information on boxing, or 'prize fighting' as it was known, mainly due to the influence of religious leaders and the chapel within Wales, who saw boxing as a demoralizing and brutal activity, although it was very popular, and often drew crowds of thousands to contests between prominent local 'Champions'.

Prior to the founding of the Welsh papers, what information can be found on the Welsh fighters of the eighteenth century is very hard to find, and piecing together the fragments of their fighting careers is a long and time consuming process, even after you have uncovered names of boxers who have long been forgotten. After fight accounts have been uncovered, you have to be able to review the materials critically and cross reference against other sources, which are often contradictory, in order to establish the accuracy of the material. The early history of prize fighting and boxing hasn't been explored in as great a detail as you might imagine. Most of the early works on boxing focus on the heavyweights, and the most prominent of the national champions.

AmeriCymru: What are the major differences between the bare knuckle fights of old and modern day boxing contests? Were fighters tougher back in the day?

Lawrence: One of the main differences in the bare-knuckle fights that took place in the days of prize fighting is that the contests were open ended, so there was no limit to the number of rounds. A man was expected to come up to the 'scratch' - a line in the center of the ring to fight - until such time as he was physically incapable of continuing. A round only ended when a man was sent down, rather than lasting a set time of three minutes. A fight could conceivably last hours, and often resulted in terrible injuries, particularly as a fighters supporters might well keep sending him out despite his injuries as they were naturally reluctant to lose the money they had wagered on their man.

Prize fighting was also an 'underground' activity. While there were many prominent members of the aristocracy who privately admired prize fighters, contests were always at risk of being broken up and the fighters and their supporters taken into custody and forced to defend themselves in court. Fights were therefore scheduled to take place at spots outside police jurisdiction, often on county boundaries, so the fighters and supporters could hop across the boundary in the event that they were being pursued by the constabulary of one county, and find another spot outside their reach to pitch another ring in a neighbouring one. As these contests took place outside, a portable 'ring' consisting of ropes and stakes were pitched once a suitable piece of flat turf was found, so it was a sport that took place 'on the fly'.

It seems to be one of those questions that creates a great deal of debate in boxing circles - were the old timers tougher than the fighters of today? I guess it depends on your point of view. Nowadays we have the benefit of science when it comes to physical training. Modern professional boxers are superbly conditioned athletes, but the toughness of some of the old fighters is quite phenomenal when you consider that they fought for hour after hour. They often sustained terrible injuries, with little medical assistance, without the benefits of modern methods of pain relief, and often for figures that would be unthinkably small for the professional boxers of today. Prize fighting was an incredibly dangerous sport. The book contains details of one fighter, recorded as a 'Welchman' who fought 276 rounds and was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records!

AmeriCymru: I think it's fair to say that bare knuckle fights were frowned upon by the authorities. Care to share some examples of the subterfuges fight organizers adopted to safeguard their events from interference by the local constabulary? Didn't the police face significant danger trying to break up these events?

Lawrence: The location where an important prize fight was to take place was often kept a secret until the day of the battle, usually when contests were to take place they were specified within a certain number of miles of London - which was the hub of prize fighting. This information was then circulated to fight fans of all walks of life, known as 'The Fancy' who would congregate at sporting houses, or pubs, where tips as to where the fight might come off might be heard.

At a later time, a 'special' train might even be booked to take the fighters and spectators to the scene of a battle, with the train pulling up at some quiet point on the line for the party to jump off, pitch a portable ring on a suitable spot of turf and bring off the fight before the authorities could locate the battleground.

Some prize fights drew crowds of thousands, and it might well be imagined in such circumstances it proved all but impossible for the police to exert their authority over such a vast number of people. There are accounts of people turning on the police when they attempted to break up a fight, and occasions where a posse of policemen scouring for the location of a fight were so out-manned that they had to merely watch from a distance with no ability to stop a contest.

AmeriCymru: From the book listing we learn that your "meticulous original research has uncovered many Welsh prize fighters previously unrecorded in any publication." Do you have any personal favorites? Are there any you would like to give a special mention to here?

Lawrence: Very few of the fighters within the book have been recorded at all in modern books of boxing history. As mentioned previously, Ned Turner was a symbol of bravery and honour in his day, but there are a few other fighters that appear within the book that are worth remembering. One is a particularly fierce Welsh butcher who plied his trade in Whitechapel Market, who was appropriately named 'Jack Rasher'. His fights were incredibly hard long and brutal, but he would laugh while his head was beaten 'like a rainbow, all manner of colours', and he would still spit on his fists and come out to fight. They called him 'Ironface'.

Another fighter within the book was known as the 'Wrexham Champion', he had a big reputation for thrashing everyone for miles around but died at the age of 38 after being attacked by a mob of 61 people. One of my favourites, because he sounds like a bit of a loon, is someone I know far too little about, a fighter named 'Taffy' Pritchard who challenged another fighter to eat 6lb of liver in less time than Taffy could eat 7lb of liver fried in candle wax! There are also some interesting details on the fighters that came after Ned Turner's time who claimed to be the 'Welsh Champion', whether merited or not.

Perhaps one of the most interesting accounts for Welsh boxing fans is the story of William Charles of Newport, who was genuinely held to be the 'Champion of Wales' by the general public - and was even compared to Owain Glyndwr the heroic rebel Prince of Wales. He has never been recorded in any book of Welsh boxing history before now. Charles was a smashing and powerful fighter and incredibly popular. For one of his fights in Monmouth, approximately 4,000 people traveled by horse, carriage and on foot from far and wide to a field to watch him take on one of his rivals, which seems astonishing to me, most of them trudging mile after mile for hour after hour to see their champion fight. I have tried to present as complete an account of his career as possible within the book.

AmeriCymru: Care to tell our readers a little about your earlier titles:- Mountain Fighters: Lost Tales of Welsh Boxing and Jack Scarrott's Prize Fighters.

Lawrence: The Mountain Fighters book was the first book I wrote on Welsh bare-knuckle boxing history, and it was published back in 2011. Prior to boxers wearing gloves, at the end of the nineteenth century, the bare-knuckle fighters of Wales were known as 'Mountain Fighters' because they fought on the mountains above the towns to avoid the interference of the police. I had come across references to them, but no details, who they were, who they fought, or any aspects of their lives and decided to research them. The book presented accounts of aspects of the lives of a number of the most prominent mountain fighters for the first time, including William Samuels, Robert Dunbar, Pete Burns (Dublin Tom), Sam Thomas (Sam Butcher), Dai St John, Patsy Perkins and others. Looking back it was a mammoth of a book, probably a bit too big. I wrote it in a very general style in an attempt to make it more readable to people who weren't necessarily only interested in boxing, but also in Welsh history, about a period that hadn't been previously explored.

The Jack Scarrott book finally came out in 2016 after many years of research. The name is probably most familiar to fight fans because Jack discovered the legendary Flyweight Champion of the World, Jimmy Wilde. Scarrott was a fairground boxing 'booth' owner. A boxing booth proprietor had a string of fighters who he employed to stand on the front of the booth, and he would invite members of the audience to challenge them over a few rounds. If they lasted the distance they won a cash prize. The spectators would pay an entrance fee to go into the booth, a large heavily decorated tent, to witness the contest. Virtually all the early Welsh gloved boxing champions started in the booths, and Jack handled most of them at one stage or another, the great 'Peerless' Jim Driscoll, Wilde, Tom Thomas the middleweight champion of Britain, Percy Jones, World Flyweight champion, and so many others all started out with Jack. Scarrott toured South Wales, packing up his booth and putting on contests around Wales for decades. He was a showman, a promoter, and one of the most important figures in Welsh boxing, although he had become something of a footnote in history, more of a myth than a man. His life and times were incredibly colourful, and the book shows how he took boxing from a small tent he knocked up himself in the town of Pontypridd, featuring ex-mountain fighters on his booth front, to venues where thousands watched the 96lb future wonder of the world Jimmy Wilde destroy all comers. It is an amazing story. As I learned more about Jack I admired him more and more. I hope one day that a revised edition will be published.

My new book, 'The Story of Welsh Boxing' is a bit different. It tries to present a full period of boxing history in as much detail as possible. I hope it is something that readers enjoy whether a wholehearted boxing fan, or whether they are just interested in the history of Wales generally. This is the first book that I have written that contains full footnotes, appendices, and a lot of wonderful portraiture and illustrations, and I really hope that people enjoy it. Sometimes it was hard trying to push on with writing it, and pull the various pieces together but I have tried to do credit to the courage and bravery of some of the great forgotten Welsh fighters of the past that should be remembered.

AmeriCymru: When will the book be available and where can readers buy it online

Lawrence: The book will be on general release at the start of June, 2019. I believe that Amazon are taking pre-orders. On the high street it should be available at Waterstones and WH Smiths and other bookshops.




AmeriCymru: What's next for Lawrence Davies? Do you have any other projects ongoing at the moment?

Really hard to say right now, I have a few other things sitting on the shelf, mostly Welsh boxing related. I am also trying to fit in research time when I can, and would like to continue charting the 'Story of Welsh Boxing' when I get time to sit down and write. Hopefully people will like the new book enough that I will be spurred on to write some more, all I ever really wanted to do when I was a kid was to write something worth reading. I used to bash away with two fingers on a dusty old Remington typewriter that my dad had, the hope is that each time I try, I get better at doing it. He used to say, keep trying, keep fighting, keep going. I think thats probably the best advice I ever had.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?

Lawrence: I really hope that if you read the new book, 'The Story of Welsh Boxing' that you enjoy it. If you do I would be really grateful if you might be so kind as to post a review on amazon, or share your thoughts on it with others on facebook, twitter, etc. Its always wonderful to read that someone has enjoyed something that you have written, or tried to write to the best of your ability.

If you are on twitter you can tweet about the book to Pitch Publishing @pitchpublishing using #TheStoryofWelshBoxing. If you follow Pitch on Twitter you can leave book reviews, get exclusive news and enter competitions and prize giveaways.

Alternatively, you can also find out more about the book on facebook, or give your thoughts on it by visiting :


I am really thankful for all the people who have supported my previous books, or have been so kind as to review them, or write forum posts on them, etc. it really helps you keep trying and keep writing when you are struggling to find the momentum to keep working on a something that you know is going to take you a very long time to put together. Some people have been incredibly generous with their support, so thank you for your kindness to date. Also want to especially thank AmeriCymru for having alerted readers to my previous books when they came out, sometimes its the interest and enthusiasm of others that keeps you going when you are flagging.

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