Wales Uncovered: 14 Tidbits About the Land of Ancient Castles

Elan Valley, Wales
Photo by Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash

About Wales

Explore Wales, a land of myths and majestic landscapes. From the towering peaks of Snowdonia to the quaint villages, Wales offers a tapestry of natural beauty and rich heritage.

One of Wales’ gems is its folklore and legends. Tales of dragons and brave knights are woven into the fabric of this land, adding a touch of magic to its history.

And then there are the Welsh castles—imposing structures that transport you back in time. Each stone has a story, echoing the past of this ancient country.

Don’t miss out on the Welsh language, one of the oldest in Europe. It’s a testament to Wales’ enduring traditions and unique identity.
So, grab a slice of bara brith, embrace the outdoors, and immerse yourself in the wonder and mystique of Wales!

Capital City

Cardiff

Head of State

First Minister Mark Drakeford (December 2018 to present)
King Charles III

Government

constitutional monarchy

Official Language(s)

Welsh and English

Life Expectancy

80.2 years (2020)  Male 78.29, female 82.09

Religion

Christian

Currency

Pound Sterling (GBP) £

Population

3,107,494 (2021 est.)

National Holiday

1 March (12th Century) “St David’s Day”

Area

total: 21,218 sq km; 2,700 km coastline

Time Zone(s)

One time zone – BST (British Summer Time) and GMT (Greenwich Mean Time + 1 hour

Location

Wales, a picturesque country located to the west of England, is part of the United Kingdom. Bounded by the Irish Sea to the north and west, and sharing borders with England to the east, this land of rugged coastlines and lush green valleys boasts a diverse geography. Its striking landscapes encompass mountains, such as Snowdonia’s peaks, ancient castles that tell tales of history, and quaint villages that exude charm. The Welsh culture, deeply rooted in Celtic heritage, embraces its distinct language, traditions, and festivals. Wales is an adventure seeker’s paradise, promising a harmonious blend of natural beauty and centuries-old history.

History

Ancient and Medieval Wales:

  • Early Inhabitants: Wales was inhabited by various Celtic tribes, with the Celts being the dominant group.
  • Roman Era (1st–5th centuries): Wales was part of Roman Britain, heavily influenced by Roman culture and governance.
  • Sub-Roman Period (5th–7th centuries): After the Roman withdrawal, Wales experienced a period of regional fragmentation and the emergence of early Welsh kingdoms.

Medieval and Early Modern Periods:

  • Kingdom of Gwynedd and Princes of Wales (9th–13th centuries): Gwynedd emerged as a prominent Welsh kingdom, and several Welsh rulers were recognized as Princes of Wales.
  • Edward I and Conquest (13th century): Edward I of England invaded and conquered Wales, annexing it to the Kingdom of England in the late 13th century.

Early Modern and Modern Wales:

  • Industrial Revolution (18th–19th centuries): Wales experienced significant industrial growth, particularly in coal mining, ironworks, and steel production.
  • Cultural Revival (late 19th century): A resurgence of Welsh culture and identity, marked by a revival of the Welsh language and a focus on preserving traditions.
  • Devolution (1999): Wales gained its own national assembly with varying degrees of legislative power, leading to further recognition of its distinct identity.

Wales has a rich history shaped by Celtic heritage, Roman influence, Norman conquests, and a modern struggle for cultural preservation and political recognition. Today, it stands as a country proud of its unique traditions and vibrant identity.

Welsh Flag

Scottish Flag
The Welsh flag, known as the “Red Dragon” or “Y Ddraig Goch” in Welsh, features a striking red dragon prominently positioned on a field of vibrant green and white. The red dragon, a symbol of courage, strength, and passion, is passant (with one foot raised), adding a dynamic and fierce element to the flag.
The green and white background symbolizes the lush Welsh landscape and purity. The dragon design is a proud emblem of Welsh identity and is said to have ancient origins, embodying the spirit and history of Wales.

Iconic Dishes

Welsh Rarebit
A savory dish made with a creamy mixture of melted cheese, usually cheddar, mixed with mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and sometimes ale. It’s typically served hot over toasted bread.

Cawl
A traditional Welsh soup or broth made with lamb or beef, root vegetables like carrots, leeks, and potatoes. It’s a hearty, one-pot meal, especially popular in colder months.

Bara Brith
A traditional Welsh fruitcake made with dried mixed fruits, often soaked in tea and brown sugar. It’s a moist and flavorful cake enjoyed with butter.

Laverbread
A traditional Welsh dish made from edible seaweed (laver), usually cooked with bacon and oats. It’s often served as a breakfast item.

Faggots
A dish made from minced pork offal, seasoned with herbs and spices, and typically served with mashed potatoes and peas.

Anglesey Eggs (Ŵyau Ynys Môn)
Hard-boiled eggs covered in a creamy leek sauce and often served with Welsh bacon. It’s a satisfying and wholesome dish.

Welsh Cakes
Sweet, flat cakes made with flour, currants or raisins, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. They are griddled and often dusted with sugar, perfect for teatime.

Welsh Honey Ice Cream (Caws Pobi a Mel)
A creamy ice cream made with local honey, reflecting Wales’ love for dairy and honey products.

Taffy
Traditional Welsh toffee made from brown sugar, butter, and sometimes flavored with treacle. It’s often chewy and sweet, enjoyed as a treat.

These dishes and desserts showcase the unique flavors and culinary traditions of Wales, providing a taste of its rich and diverse food culture.

Let this be your passport to Wales – a realm of ancient castles that stand as timeless sentinels to its rich past. As we draw the curtain on this journey, the echoes of history and the whispers of the rugged landscapes linger. Wales beckons the curious and the adventurous, inviting you to explore its heritage and wander through its castle-studded domains. Unveil the secrets of this enchanting land, for there’s always more to discover amidst the stones and stories of Wales.

Postcards from the Road