The Wales that never was

It is a Welsh nationalist’s fantasy – an independent country boasting two ancient universities to rival Oxford and Cambridge, a free church and a Parliament dating back to the fourteenth century. The Welsh language is the universal mother tongue and the nation stands as an equal to its larger neighbour, England. These were the plans of Owain Glyndŵr, the last native Welshman to hold the title of Prince of Wales. 

Wales has long lived under the shadow of England. The small principality has suffered the indignity of the English language dominating public and private life, of being conjoined as a single jurisdiction (unlike the Scots and Irish, Wales has not had its own legal code since the 16th century) and is not even represented in the flag of the United Kingdom.

Seal of Owain Glyndwr By de:Benutzer:Rdb [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How different would it have been if the last great Welsh ruler of Wales had been successful in his revolt against English domination at the beginning of the 15th century? Owain Glyndŵr was proclaimed Prince of Wales on 16 September 1400, triggering the last great rebellion in Wales.

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The Hindwell Enclosure – Stonehenge on steroids?

Covering an area of 55 football pitches and demarcated by 1,400 mature oak trees, the Hindwell Enclosure would have been an imposing monument and represented a powerful statement. Is this Welsh wonder one of Britain’s forgotten historic achievements? Is the Hindwell Enclosure Stonehenge on steroids?

Despite a childhood filled with family holidays on Wales’s north coast and recent cycling trips to Pembrokeshire, I don’t know a huge amount about the country or its history. The Principality seems to get lost in the broader picture of English and then British history. I’m hoping this ignorance is somewhat dispelled after watching BBC2’s landmark series The Story of Wales.

I’ve only seen episode one, but already this is revealing some fascinating aspects of Welsh history that deserve a wider audience. The Hindwell Enclosure was particularly well documented in the programme – what is now unassuming acres of fields and winding country roads was transformed by CGI into the megalithic wonder it once was.

And what a wonder it would have been. Over 34 hectares were enclosed by a series of 1,400 mature oak tree trunks rising six metres into the air and stretching along a circumference 2.35km long. The shape of today’s fields and roads is based on the dimensions of the enclosure, but nothing is left of the wooden palisade except a series of holes in the ground.

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