Our first Welsh tour tells the unique story of south and west Wales, lands with a long and complex history of invasion, accommodation, resistance and conquest, through all of which distinct local forms of power, culture, religion and dialect persisted. Today, we can take you to a land of overpowering natural beauty with a welcoming character, some of the finest historic sites in the British Isles and truly delicious traditional dishes.
The history of this region is one of an ebb and flow of outside control, the coastlands and rivers aiding invasion, the brawny hills providing a refuge and redoubt to keep incomers penned to the fringes. The pattern is repeated over and over again – Romans, Irish, Vikings, Normans, English all settle, push and fortify, build towns, leaving their imprint – while in the uplands local powers persist, fight, accommodate. It leaves a remarkable historical story, and epic tales of loss and triumph marked across the land by Roman forts, early medieval saints with chapels and cults scattered far and wide, enigmatic Dark Age tombstones of half-known rulers, and Arthurian tales laid on the bones of Roman walls. And then, most visible of all, the enmeshing net of castles, among them the most colossal in Britain, to hold down the land for the mighty Marcher lords, a challenge both to Welsh independence and English kings, and the wonderful churches and abbeys in tranquil locations through which they showed their devotion. So conquest came – but not an End, just a new Act: the dramatic story of the resurgent Welsh taking to larger stages with the emergence of the Tudors, giving us the opulent houses of the new nobility, the stark trial of Civil War, and fairytale palaces built with wealth hewn from the mountains themselves.
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