History has so many secrets that it has yet to reveal. Researchers have tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together until they get a clearer picture. Unfortunately, time washes away some of the evidence until they are forever gone from our sight.
Then, there are secrets that reveal themselves in the most surprising fashion. A Welsh tradition talks about a mythical kingdom that has been lost in time. People always assumed that it was nothing more than a story, until recent discoveries were made.
A mythical kingdom that was lost to the sea plays a big part in the Welsh tradition. This has gone way back, dating to the Medieval period. While many have assumed that this was just a Myth, recent findings and evidence show that the kingdom may have actually existed. This was when researchers looked into the evolution of the Welsh coastline.
The research began when they got their hands on the earliest surviving map of Great Britain. This depicted two islands found on Cardigan Bay in West Wales. Unfortunately, these have already ceased to exist.
The legend also is told in different versions. In fact, an article from the BBC last 2012 explained that the oldest one is located in the Welsh fable-history called the Black Book of Carmarthen. There, it said that in the land of Cantre’r Gwaelod, there was a country named Maes Gwyddno. This was where the kingdom of Meirionnydd was found and it was ruled by a man born 520CE and was named Gwyddno Garanhir (Longshanks).
The land in the story was extremely fertile there that one acre was believed to be able to produce as much as four when compared to the mainland. The sea surrounded the land and a dyke was built to protect Meirionnydd from floods. The sluice gates were once again opened during low in order to drain the land of excess water. Once this was successfully done, it was kept closed once more before high tide came.
There were several versions out there and many talked about the watchman of the sluice gates. He once became so distracted one night when a storm happened. In his haste, he left the gates of the kingdom open. In another version was a drunken watchman named Seithennin. He enjoyed himself immensely at a party and forgot his job. Yet in another version, he pursued a watchwoman maid Mererid because she was so beautiful and fair. This was when they both forgot to close the sluice gates.
Whatever version it may have been, it all ended in the same fashion: the land drowned because of the rising tides of the sea. This forced the residents of the kingdom to flee their fair land and leave everything behind.
“We know that the west Wales coast has changed significantly over time,” stated Professor Simon Haslett of Swansea University Department of Geography. “Evidence from the Roman cartographer Ptolemy suggests the coastline 2000 years ago may have been some 13 km further out to sea than it is today,” he added.
The Gough Map had its origins in the thirteenth century. This was housed at Oxford University’s Bodlein Library. So far, the map had shown to be extremely and surprisingly accurate when used in previous cases. Here, both islands had been marked very clearly. One island was between Aberystwyth and Aberdovey and the other was between there and Barmouth found on the north.
Haslett and his team suggested that the islands may have been the remnants of a low-lying landscape underlain by soft glacial deposits that were laid down during the last ice age. In the years that passed, erosion had proven its power and worn away the land. What was once a large parcel of land was reduced to mere islands that, too, were worn away until it completely disappeared to nothing by the sixteenth century.
Proof that this happened are accumulations of gravel and boulders. These are known by locals as sarns and these are found off the west coast of Wales. In highly historically-glaciated terrain, one can expect to see moraine material and boulders even further into low-lying areas.
“This lost land is said to have suffered a catastrophic inundation and is referred to in poetry in the Black Book of Carmarthen and in later folklore,” said David Willis. He is a Celtic expert at Oxford University. “Our evidence may provide an explanation of how the story of Cantre’r Gwaelod may have arisen.”
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