British through and through
Absoloutely fascinating, wish I had more time to delve into some of the vastly interesting things you have raised. The internet is both a 'time thief' and a vast educator.I 'll leave it for now before I formulate my reply with the respect your post deserves.Speak to you soon Stifyn.PS Just one thing, DNA, through all of them ups n downs, I ve been here 8000 years. Aint that great! Get on Oxford ancestors mate, get it done
I have read with interest the exchanges on this subject as I also have had to learn the history of my country as it was not taught in school. I agree with most of what has been posted here and I hope I do not cause offense by submitting some observations on some of the points.In respect to "We are the only original Britons". I have used this myself many times but can we exclude the Cornish, the people of Southern Scotland, and the Bretons? Historically and linguistically we have strong ties with the Bretons with around 60% of Breton vocabulary being the same as Welsh.In respect to the Britons of England (south of Cumbria), I have always wondered as to what their fate was. True, they were Romanised, and after 400 years of occupation they had lost the skills of warfare and thus relied on the Legions for their defence. When the Legions left, they were easy prey to marauding Scots and other tribes from Ireland . Not only did theyravage the defenceless Britons in England , but also present day Wales and a good example is the abduction from Wales of St. Patrick. Also, the establishment of settlements in Wales including the Kingdom of Brycheiniog, and also of course their much more successful enterprises in Scotland where they gave their name to that country. Vortigen (whoever he was) got a load of bad press by paying for Saxon mercenaries to defend the Britons from the marauding Irish. There are varying accounts of what actually happened but the end result was the establishment of various "English" Kingdoms in present day England. I use the term English and by that I mean the various Germanic groups such as the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Friesans. Vortigen it seems was a title (such as Caesar), as was Vercingeterix. Gaulish being a Brythonic language obviously had a similar word for High Leader or something similar and Vortigen in old Brythonic would probably have been something like Vortigenirix or Vortigeniros.I assumed that the bulk of the Britons in England were assimilated and that they adopted English customs, language, dress etc etc. Recent archeological evidence and with the advance of science gives us another story. Since the use of DNA in archelogical digs, practically no evidence has been found of the Britons in the numerous burials that have been excavated in present day England post 5th century. Also, various DNA testing done in recent times for programmes such as "The Blood of the Vikings" confirms the lack of the Briton "Y" chromosome in present day England. The evidence now therefore does in fact point to the Britons in England being ethnically cleansed by extermination and by being driven Westward. There is evidence of 2 mass migrations of the Britons to Brittany and hence the Breton language. Sources indicate that these Britons came from present day Cornwall and Wales but could have been due to the influx of Britons into those parts from England. There was an item on the "British" news which covers this subject which you can see on Youtube and is worth having a look at. I dont think the English liked this news item??Check it out: Gareth has also made comments indicating that we were pretty much left alone and that we did not break our back to help the Britons in England. I have to disagree on this as history indicates otherwise. There were many attempts at driving the English out of England or at least stemming the tide. Besides the Gododdin (one of the Old Kingdoms of the North), there were other albeit ultimatley unsuccessful attempts from present day Wales. Around 500 was the victory at Mount Badon.Two further important battles fought in England resulted in the Britons in Wales being cut off from the Britons in Cornwall and Devon in 577 and in 615 at the Battle of Chester when we were cut off from the Britons of the North. Cadwaladr of Gwynedd allied with the Mercians marched north and defeated the Northumbrians in 633 only to be defeated the following year and driven back to Gwynedd. Pengwern (Shrewsbury) and much of old Powys was lost to the English in the same era when King Cynddylan and his host were slain defending his Kingdom (see poems Marwnad Cynddylan and Canu Heledd ). Besides these and other battles fought in present day England, there were many incursions into Wales by the English. Examples are the Battle of Pencoed (South Wales) in 721 and in 798 King Cardog of Gwynedd was killed by the Saxons. In 817 the Saxons ravaged the mountains of Eryri and took the Kingdom of Rhufoniog .Had the various British Kingdoms been able to put aside their petty differences and unite in a common cause, then I believe the English could have been defeated and driven from England. The prophecy of the Mab Darogan could have been fulfilled a lot sooner than 1485 which turned out to be a pyrrhic victory for the Welsh. Probably our greatest weakness wasour system of Gavelkind when instead of the eldest son inheriting the throne, the various Kingdoms were dismembered between numerous sons who then went about killing each other in numerous civil wars which the English were able to exploit. It did provide us with some strong leaders (survival of the fittest), like Rhodri the Great, Llywelyn the Great andLlywelyn the Second but ultimatley it was our downfall. When Wales or most of it was united under 1 strong leader such as those above and others such as Owain Gwynedd, then Wales was able to match and beat the English and recover lost lands. In many battles the English had Welsh mercenaries in their ranks to fight against fellow Welshmen. Edward the First had many Welshmen in his ranks in his wars against Llywelyn the Second. In 1295 (13 years after the so called conquest), Edward was beseiged in Conwy castle by a large Welsh force under Madoc ap Llywelyn. Edward and the garrison were close to starvation when Madoc`s army were surrounded and annihalated by an Anglo-Welsh army using tactics of placing Welsh longbowmen between mounted cavalry. Edward was so impressed by the South Wales bowmen that he went on to use them against the Scots and they were of course used in later wars against the French at Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt.So, yes, the Welsh are British and the English are not (using the original meaning of the term British, and not the current political geographic term).As for who were or are the Celts, I believe that has been addressed on another post and I have already been a bit long winded with the above response.
Last year some friends and I were most fortunate to be given a guided tour of Garth Celyn,Aber.You may be aware that this was the Llys of the Royal House Of Gwynedd and the place from where Gwenllian was kidnapped soon after Llywelyn's death.Inspired by her tragic tale my youngest son,Tomos and I went on a pilgrimage to Sempringham Abbey to see the final resting place of the last,true Princess of Wales.It's a sombre place befitting the sad story of a woman who lived the life of a nun for over fifty years without knowing that she was the heir of the true Prince of Wales.
Diolch for the compliment....if I had an ounce of what the Gwenllians of our history have (Llywelyns daughter, and the Lord Rhys mother to name but two) I will be very happy. I will keep on learning and plan to add a visit to the National Library in as soon as I can. The history lessons in this nation are a disgrace.
I think most people who love Welsh history are self taught because what we were taught in school was frankly a disgrace.We must be the only country in the world that allows 1500 years of our history to be passed over so we can be taught someone else's.Sorry end of rant.I find the internet a great tool for seeking out little known facts.By the way love your name Seirian especially Gwenllian who I think is one of the most tragic and little known figures in our history
Gwenlian,Am off on exercise for a week now but will get back to you for a good chat when Im back on the 13th.Thank you for that, basically self educated but I had a good base of learning and family culture, Capel, Ysgol Sul, Mrs Speivy, old head of History at Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni etcGaz
Hi Gareth,Can I ask how you went about educating yourself in the history of Wales and its people. I have a keen interest in everything from before the Roman occupation of the islands, through the true welsh princes, onwards to Glyndwr and then to the more modern men of our times from Dic Penderyn, Cayo, Dennis and John Jenkins etc. I would be fascinated to know more about the methods you use in educating yourself. Was it all books? discussions with like minded people? visits to historical sites etc. Any help and advice you could offer or further links would be much appreciated.Seirian
Gaz You're right to use the term Brythonic rather than the more general celt.Obviously there were people here before our wandering forebears arrived, the Beaker People, I believe ,for one.Therefore those of us who consider ourselves pure celt probably are'nt.I know for instance that my great grandmother was from Dublin so as well as pre celt I've probably got some Viking ancestry as well.As far as I am concerned it's not so much your genetic makeup that makes you Welsh it's whether you' feel' Welsh.Cymru am byth
Just re-reading your post then Neil, ye agreed, nearly all hisorian authorities refute that there was mass migration of 'celt' or Brythonic refugees being pushed West, that would mean that there was assimilation or genocide on a mass dark age scale. Evidence for either is scanty. DNA evidence should therefore point to traces of them in todays South, East and Middle England, but it does not.DNA studies show that there is a clear divide DNA wise each side of Offa's dyke and it is evident today in the blood of people on either side.I cant be prescise but something like 90% of the truly 'English' areas have closer DNA to Danes, North German and Flemish, whereas most of Wales has 90% 'Celtic' or my type which classes as Celtic, so Offas dyke was a bigger barrier to semen and eggs than the North Sea, haha.So what the f'ck happened to the Britons of England's South and East?Places like Cumbria are interesting see as it almost 50/50 Celt Saxon.Norman and Scandinavian DNA very close, but the historians reckon that the East coast gets its Norse tinge from the Vikings and not the Normans post 1066. They tended not to breed 'down' with the conquered Saxon and so Norse DNA in aristocratic families does not hail from Viking but from William's knights.
That was fascinating Neil.I am also vastly interested in when we actually became 'Welsh' and what was I (or my early, pre Celtic surge even, ancestor) See that DNA test I had done threw everything, because my bloodline was here even before the Celtic influx of 4000 years ago from central Europe. What is 'Celtic' anyway? Its not a very specific label by all accounts, derives from Geek 'Keltoi' for outsiders or inlanders. As far as the Greeks were concerned, bands of disparate tribes beyond the Balkans and into the central continent were of the same ilk, but were they really? Its like historians in 4000 years time referring to us here and now as 'the Westerners' say, as a convenient potmanteau that covered ALL white caucasians of the 20th and 21st centuries.And so I dont buy the Celtic bullshit mate.All I know is for certain that I had a male ancestor here 8000 years ago and I bet he wasnt Celtic, God knows what he was. Likelihood is he pushed North one Summer with his pack across the deep valley plain that is now the channel, and in his fifteen years of life he'd heard stories of no one staying that far North for more than a month or two to hunt in the Summer, but this year, milder weather allowed their pack to winter on that wooded wet land. And so I guess he stayed and along with others went back for their women too (or I wouldnt be typing this now I guess!) and maybe twenty years later he died an old man of 35 or so Summers.Generations after him would push further deeper inland into this temperate rainforest island abundant in food.Fascinating innitGlad I can share this with you,Gaz
I agree with your view that there was no vast movement of people westwards.The celts living in what is now England would have stayed and lived under the rule of whoever arrived, be they Roman,Saxon or Norman.I suppose to the ordinary peasant one ruler was as good(or bad) as another.As for Gododdin a few years ago I became interested in Yr Hen Gogledd, the kingdoms of the old north.I discovered names of long lost kingdoms such as Elmet,Rheged and Ystrad Clud(Strathclyde).One theory is the men of Gododdin went south to help their cousins in Elmet but their warband of a few hundred men met an army of several thousand Angles and they were massacred with only Aneurin and one other returning home.More interesting to me in the context of Welsh history is that the warlord Cunedda left Gododdin to rid north Wales of the Irish and carve out a kingdom of his own.He was according to many the founder of the Royal House of Gwynedd
Cheers Neil,Ive done some research on Gododdin by Taliesin and you are right it is a place but the Welsh illyad if you like is called Y Gododdin, which would make Taliesin the Welsh Homer I guess, I cant do the links thingy but google it, Ive even read a contemporary English translation which is as good as it can get in translation.It basically glorifies a band of a few hundred warriors from that neck of the woods who make a stand in Catterick (Catraeth) North Yorkshire in the 6th Century sometime against overwhelming odds of Angles or Jutes or Saxons or whatever. The poem describes their craziness and their drinking and womanising, bravery, loyalty bla bla bla, it kinda seems like Gododdin was the Brythonic Sparta of its day at that particular point in time, ready to rush a band of lunatics South a good hundred odd miles to make a stand for kinfolk of that region. They definately would not have been over Romanised up there, as also were my own people the Ordovicians of North West Wales.It would be nearly two hundred years later when the term 'Welsh' began to came into play. Ironic really that it derives from the old Germanic 'foreigner'. So it took a steady influx and force for a time from the end of Roman Britain to the time of Offa King of Mercia for us to become labelled as 'foreign' in our own island.My main point is that we here in North West Wales were not quite oblivious to this but it probably didnt really affect us that much.There seems to be no record of vast movements of refugees fleeing Westwards,It seems that the Romanised Britons of South, East and Mercia either thinned out or assimilated after an initial violent land struggle. What truly baffles me though is the overwhelming DNA evidence that has recently shown that very little Celtic blood survives in these areas, and if some does who is to say that it did not get there in recent times what with the urbanisation and industrialisation migration of the past 300 years.My own DNA paternal line strongly suggests that my male ancestors were here 8000-9000 years ago, among the first post ice age wave of humans from the continent. Many who share close match DNA on Oxford Ancestors contact group can trace their roots to the North Irish sea rim, Manx, Cumbrian-Lancs coast, Ulster, North Wales , but intriguingly also with the Galicia and North Spanish coast and France's Atlantic seaboard.This has a strange knock on to the Cajun connection because a lot of the Louisianna Cajuns hailed from France's West coast.So I share near DNA matches with a Cajun redneck out in them everglades bud!!!!!Nuts ehGaz
Yes, a immensely interesting campaign, and one which is greatly overlooked by military historians and buffs.The Napoleonic campaign in Europe overshadows it. But reality is that the stirling work of, among other units, was the 41st (Welch) of Foot. If they hadnt kept a lid on it, the Old Iron Duke might have been deployed there for better results thus leaving Waterloo wide open, and it could be argued what difference would that have made to the result at Waterloo! But as any real Waterloo buff will tell you, Wellington's presence there swung it big style.As a naive young soldier and a bit thick I used to wonder why one of the buildings there was called 'Detroit' block. Now we had a leg pulling Colour Sgt called Benny Ball, and he told me that it was so named as the Brigadier was a massive Motown soul fan!!! Im from Aanglesey, and we are not exactly known for our savvy so I swallowed it for a few years untill I began educating myself.
Other curiosities concerning the War of 1812. The British captured Fort Mackinac on the Straits of Mackinac by only firing a warning shot. The American CO surrendered forthwith much to the amazement of the British and to the shame of the U.S. Military. "Remember Fort Mackinac!" just doesn't have the same ring to it as "Remember the Alamo!"The British had occupied the District of Columbia for only 26 hours when the very rare occurrence of a hurricane struck the area spinning off numerous tornadoes one of which passed through Washington D.C. drenching the occupiers and putting out the flames of a burning city. Both sides, somewhat understandably, regarded the freakish weather as an Act of Providence. The British somewhat intimidated by what many considered "Divine Intervention" were forced to march out of Washington to render aid to their heavily damaged fleet which had brought them to the District.The last battle of the War of 1812, the Battle of New Orleans, was fought after the war had officially ended but the news had not yet reached the British or American commanders.As far as using aboriginal tribes in America as an example: The Navajo Tribe still occupies its original homeland and its language still survives and flourishes. During WW-II the Navajo language was used to transmit encoded military communiques which the neither the Germans nor the Japanese were never able to "crack."
Yes, the original White House was burned by British troops who invaded and sacked the town of Washington (which at that time was one of a few towns in the District of Columbia) during the war of 1812. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/washingtonsack.htm If you read the above, you'll see that the invasion came while President James Madison was across the river in Virginia and first lady Dolly Madison was preparing a dinner party. She and her guests fled, the British soldiers came into the house and found this awesome state dinner, sat down and ate it and then sacked the house and set it on fire.If you go to DC, you can hear the story and see some of the artifacts from the house and this battle at the American History Museum (which is very cool). My memory was that it wasn't on the site of the current White House but the stuff I read online doesn't say that so I'm probably wrong about that.
There s an awful lot o tosh written and spoken about Welsh history and it frustrates me that people dont do their research themselves, how can they have an opinion on something without understanding the facts? I mean, come on, only English people are allowed to have opinions without understanding!!! Saxo-Norman trait innit?Now it wont suprise anyone here that Im no Oxford History Don, but I dam well should be. So here are a few FACTS for the benefit of the site.1. We are the only original Britons2. We were never truly defeated by Romans, the Irish, the Norse, the Saxon or the Norman.3. Our kin in middle England and the East and South became Romanised, we remained wild on the fringe.4. Vortigen was a King in those lands, he sold out, thought he was doing it for the best cos his people were weak, he probably never set foot in the lands of his kindered princes to the West.5. Ok. we tried to help out, sent some wild boys over with names like 'Gododdin' but the overwhelming waves across the North sea was too much, and besides, we had the Irish seadogs to ward off our coast6. The people and culture that swallowed up our kin race pretty much left us alone over here, so we got on with it7. There was no mass refugeeing Westwards going on in the 6th century - THAT IS TOSH,,they assimilated and sure there was some movement and lots of friction and bloodshed, but a coupla centuries later, the BRITISH tribes of what is now England ceased to exist. We didnt break our back to help them because over the last 500 years they had become alien to us, Romanised, even the language dialected to a great extent. A vauge common Celtic heritage had worn thin (will someone tell me who were the Celts anyway? Because I think its a 'catch all' portmanteau that is convenient for modern historians to categorise pre Romano British races, which was already multicultural)8. In the middle ages, the concept of England grew, but the common Yorkshire peasant would have viewed the Sussex peasant with the same alienation as he would a Gascon or a Welshman possibly even a Moor, ALMOST!! And that weak thread was what the Norman ruling class exploited, and nurtured to build EMPIRE ENGLAND9. A few Welsh Princes matched this but unfortunately it was not sustained and Glamorgan and Gwynedd did not manage to bond like Sussex and Yorkshire did gradually.10. Englands rulers defeated parochialism within its own realms11. But ultimately failed with the rest of the island but had a bloody good run for its money right up to 195012 Yep, we bought into EMPIRE ENGLAND eventually. Hell, the Tudors of Anglesey got the CEO job and their last one, Elizabeth, began the thinking EMPIRE BRITISH and beyond the shores of the long island off Europe.13. THE BRITISH EMPIRE could not have been built without the Welsh, Scots and Irish buying into it, for economic reasons (are there ever any other reasons in history?)14. So us here Welsh, well we've always been here and we are 'YMA O HYD ER GWAETHAF PAWB A PHOPETH'An analogy for US citizens is that of a Native American tribe that fought back but essentially kept its lands even though occupied, kept its language and even put a few Presidents in the White man's Whitehouse (which by the way is so named because Welsh troops burnt down the red brick one in 1812, and so proves that we bought into the Empire thing!!)
updated by @gareth-williams: 12/04/15 03:57:45PM
updated by @gareth-williams: 12/04/15 03:57:45PM