Huw Llywelyn Rees


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23rd September

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By: Huw Llywelyn Rees
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AugustusPrimaporta       448px-Roman.Wales.Forts.Fortlets.Roads

Augustus - the founder of the Roman Empire and its first Emperor was born on this day 63 BC.

Roman interaction with Celtic Wales, during the life and reign of Augustus;

Roman interest in Celtic Britain during the lifetime of Augustus  (23 September 63 BC – 19 August 14 AD), culminated in Claudius's successful invasion of  43 AD and the subsequent occupation of Wales.  Prior to Roman interest in conquering Britain, Wales, had, at least five tribal groupings: the Deceangli in the North East; the Ordovices in the North West; the Demetians in the South West; the Silurians in the South East; and the Cornovii in the central borderlands. Its people, like those of most of Britain, spoke Brythonic, the language which would eventually evolve into Welsh.   They were  highly skilled in many crafts and traded across Northern Europe.

58 BC -   General Julius Caesar, who was fighting to secure Gaul for Rome calculated that conquering Britain and Gaul would be a tremendous boost to his career.  Hearing of Caesars' planned invasion from traders in the northern Gallic ports, resulted in some of the British tribes sending embassies to Caesar, offering friendship and hostages as surety. This shows that the Britons, could not simply have been introspective farming communities as they were capable of gathering intelligence from foreign shores and then undertaking a proper diplomatic mission in response.

55 BC - The first invasion of Britain under Julius Caesar was probably an investigative probe in preparation for the much larger invasion of the following year.  Although he gained a beachhead on the coast, he could not advance further, and returned to Gaul for the winter.

56 BC - Julius Caeser returned, better prepared and with a larger force, and advanced inland, and established a few alliances. However, poor harvests in Gaul led to widespread revolt, which forced Caesar to leave Britain.  From his reports, there is little evidence to suggest that the tribes of Wales were affected at all. 

 27 BC - The reign of Augustus begins.  It was an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana, however, Augustus did dramatically enlarge the Empire and had also prepared invasions of Britain in 34 BC, 27 BC and 25 BC, which were called off due to incursions elsewhere or peace settlements. 

14 AD - Augustus died

40 AD - King Cunobelinus of the Catevellauni, who enjoyed friendly relations with the Roman Empire, died with his sons Caratacus and Togodumnus taking over control.  His third son Arminius aggrieved at being passed over for power,  appealed to Rome for assistance and persuaded Caligula to invade, however, its execution was bizarre:  he reached Boulogne and drew up his troops in battle formation facing the English Channel and ordered them to attack the standing water. Afterwards, he had them gather seashells, to return to Rome with, as plunder.

43 AD -  Emperor Claudius, sent 40,000 troops, under the command of Aulus Plautius to invade Britain. British resistance was led by Togodumnus and Caratacus but they were defeated on the rivers Medway and Thames. Togodumnus died shortly after the battle and Caratacus retreated west to the tribes of the Ordovices and the Silures, where he led the resistance to Rome.  

Autumn-Magic     585px-Wheel_of_the_Year.svg

The Celtic festival of Mabon - The autumnal equinox

The autumnal equinox is the time when the day and night are of equal length. This solar event was of great importance to the Celts who used the sky as both clock and calendar and as such, was seen as a turning point when it was time to give thanks for the fruits of the earth and get prepared for the colder months to follow.

 The "Harvest Moon"  and  "Hunter's Moon are also associated with the autumnal equinox.   The "Harvest Moon" is the full moon closest to the  equinox  and the "Hunter's Moon" is the one following it. 

The Celts do not seem to have had a specific name for this time of year, but it has become widely known recently as Mabon, named after the character from the mabinogian, Mabon ap Modron.

Mabon Ap Modron was stolen from his mother when he was only 3 days old and kept hidden for many years.  His rescue becomes the task for  King Arthur’s adopted brother, Cei and Gwrhyr, a translator of animal languages. They seek out a Blackbird, a Stag, an Owl and an Eagle, each older and wiser than the previous until they encounter the enormous salmon of Llyn Llyw, who carries them to Mabon's prison in Gloucester.  King Arthur then mounts an attack, allowing Cei to enter the rear of the prison and rescue Mabon.


John Paul Jones - "The father of the US Navy"

A battle between  "Bon Homme Richard" of the Continental Navy of the American Revolution and the British "HMS Serapis",  was fought on September 23rd, 1779.  It was a bitter engagement of The American Revolutionary War, which cost the lives of nearly half the American and British crews.

The captain of the "Bon Homme Richard" was  John Paul Jones, a Scotsman of Welsh descent and when the Bonhomme Richard began taking on water and fires broke out on board,  British victory  seemed inevitable.  However when asked by the British commander if he wanted to surrender,  Jones gave his now famous reply, "I have not yet begun to fight!"  True to his word, Jones went on to win the day and is remembered for his refusal to surrender even when faced with what appeared to be an impossible situation.

John Paul Jones was born in a humble gardener's cottage in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland and went to sea as a youth. He settled in Virginia and volunteered to fight for the navy of his adopted country in the War of Independence.  He is regarded by many as "The father of the US Navy" as it was he who raised the Continental ensign on board the flagship of the Navy's first fleet. 

He later took the war to Britain, where he was considered a pirate, with daring raids along the British coast.  He was active in the waters around Tenby, where one of his officers by the name of Leekie Porridge came from.  There is a beach named Jones on Caldey Island and his ghost is said to haunt the island.


"Turner and the Masters" an exhibition of  "Landscapes of Wales" by J.M.W. Turner, one of England's greatest artists and the paintings that inspired him, went on show together for the first time  at Tate Britain, London, from 23 September 2009.

J.M.W.Turner was "particularly devoted to the Welsh landscape because of its dramatic mountains and the stunning scenery and made five visits to Wales during 1790s.  He also very much admired the Welsh painter Richard Wilson and on one of his Welsh visits made a pilgrimage to Wilson's Monmouthshire birthplace and made Wilson-like art copies.  


Born on this day 1951 in Pontywaun, Cross Keys,

Jeff Squire - former Wales rugby captain and Lions international  


On this day in 1749, Howell Harris found "Madam Griffith" awaiting him at Treveca, his home near Talgarth, with the news that her husband had beaten her and thrown her out of the house for refusing to give him any more money. This was to be the beginning of a relationship that would cause considerable controversy.  

Harris who is regarded as the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Wales (also known as the Calvinistic Methodist Church) was born at Talgarth in 1714.  He underwent a religious conversion while listening to the Rev. Pryce Davies in the local church in 1735.  He immediately began to evangelise and hold meetings, encouraging others to seek the same assurance that he had of Christ's forgiveness.  He was refused ordination in the Church of England because of his "Methodist" views, so became a preacher travelling throughout Wales, even though his preaching often put him in great personal danger. 

In 1750, following the public scandal of his relationship with "Madam Griffith", he retreated from public life and founded a religious community called  Teulu Trefeca.  However, Harris returned to preaching in 1763 and died in 1773.  He is buried at Talgarth and it is said that twenty thousand people attended his funeral.  

Lynne Burt-Jenkins
09/24/13 10:16:17PM @lynne-burt-jenkins:

Swansea Jack: Well, obviously, cariad! I just want people to stop referring to Britain as "England" when it was not yet called that. It's difficult enough to convince people that Britain was Britain, and that "England" wasn't created until millennia later.

Huw Llywelyn Rees
09/24/13 08:13:41PM @huw-llywelyn-rees:

Agreed, I could have put, "the area later called England".

Lynne Burt-Jenkins
09/24/13 12:35:45AM @lynne-burt-jenkins:

56 BC: "...the southeast of England..." There WAS no "England" in 56 BC!

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