Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The legend - and reality - of Cantre’r Gwaelod

The legend of Cantre’r Gwaelod, the Lost Hundred, of Wales May not be that well known outside the Principality. The story is of a once fertile area submerged by the waters of Cardigan Bay in the sixth century - a prime time for the emergence of Welsh legends - but recorded in folk memory.

As an online article in the MailOnline the other day shows the story is not without foundation, or rather, roots. Recent storms have uncovered even more of the tree stumps that are to be found along parts of the southerly coast of the Bay, and which can now he seem to extend much further than hitherto thought. Their origin is much older than the legend would suggest, and they are thought to date back 4,500 years rather than a mere 1,500. 

That said it is I suppose just - just - possible that a folk memory could last that long, but it may be that past generations, seeing such exposed tree stumps, realised what had happened and assigned it to that era of myth and calamities for the region in the time of Maelgwyn Gwynedd and indeed King Arthur. It seems to mix stories of a pagan priestess, who turned out to be a negligent keeper of a sacred well and the standard story for areas affected by inundation and erosion of hearing the submerged church bells ringing.

The article, with photographs and an account of the legend can be seen at Storm Francis uncovers more of the mythical 'Sunken Kingdom' of Wales