An Introduction to Wales

Author Robert W. Penry @2021

Wales is unique.  It has more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe.  Why?  Wales was original a group of Celtic principalities called Wales by Germanic tribes because the Celts or Gauls spoke a foreign tongue.  The German Walhaz for Gaul or foreigner eventually became Wales.  It didn’t signify a country, rather a group of people.  People in Wales call themselves Cymru (Coom-Ree) and the Romans called it Cambria.  The Welsh Princes who controlled the various principalities were very warlike.  Castles are one way to control an area.  Troops can be housed in castles and forts.  The resistance to and open warfare against the English kings caused the kings to build a ring of castles around Wales to keep the population in check.

Hiking and horseback riding are very popular in Wales or exploring small villages and touring the major cities make for great vacations.  

The Welsh language can be very difficult for English speakers.  Its alphabet is different.  This is the Welsh alphabet:

a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff, g, ng, h, i, j, l, ll, m, n, o, p, ph, r, rh, s, t, th, u, w, y. 

Did you notice that there is no k, q, v or z?  In English w and y are consonants,  in Welsh, they are vowels. J has been added to satisfy the English.  The original name in Wales for John was Siôn, pronounced as Shawn or more accurately as Zhawn.  

The names of towns can be difficult for the English tongue, especially the LL.  There is no such sound in English.  To pronounce, if you place the tongue against your palate and make a hissing sound by moving air on each side of your tongue.  There is one town on the Isle of Anglesey that really illustrates this.  The following video teaches you how to say “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”

Pictures of Wales - Click picture to see larger size

Welsh cuisine is a gastronomical experience – Welsh lamb, bara brith, Welsh rarebit, Glamorgan sausage, cawl, Welsh regional cheeses, leeks and crempog are there to tempt your palate.  Wales is also known for its ales and hard cider.  There are 20 varieties of Welsh whiskey and most are single malt.

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