Return the Bardsey Crown

The Bardsey Crown to Return to the land of Merlin

The Bardsey Crown to Return to the land of Merlin

No doubt everyone is watching with great interest the attempts by the Bardsey inhabitants (all ten of them) to have the Bardsey island Crown returned to its rightful place in Wales.
The Island is a god forsaken lump of rock off the Llyn Penninsula in the North of Wales once inhabited by Monks in a colony established there in the 6th Century by one Saint Cadfan. – and as an interesting side note is the imputed last resting place of Merlin – further emphasizing that the whole Arthurian legend is based on the Welsh Princes fighting off those pesky Anglo Saxons.

For many years, the Island had formed part of the estates of the Newborough Family of Glynllifon near Caernarfon who cheered up the locals by crowning the oldest male on the island as King – to be called Brenin Enlli (King of Bardsey). The coronation celebrations being the only known official example in the UK where the Queen of Bardsey was also heir presumptive to the Crown and the entire congregation were either cousins, brothers and sisters. The actual Crown is kept at the Maritime Museum in Liverpool who acquired it when the maritime collection of the Newboroughies was flogged off around the 1980’s for four pence halfpenny and a route map out of Wales – and there in lies the conundrum – those nasty English Liverpudlians are hanging on to it and not inclined to repatriate this artefact of past Welsh glory to its homeland.

The symbolism of the crown goes well beyond the tatty tin and brass it is made of and now assumes the role of an icon and memorial to those former Welsh Princes who went down gloriously in defeat at the hands of the invading Angles; from those at the dawn of time, to Lywelyn ap Iorwerth, Dafydd ap Lywelyn, Lywelyn ap Gruffudd (the Last) to Owain Glyndwr – this latter prince was the last real Welsh prince when the principality was lost by conquest at or around 1415.

Since the time of the Welsh Princes we have been fobbed off with a motley collection of loser princes and elder sons of Kings of England from Edward Blackadder of Caernarfon to the latest incarnation Prince Charles ap Windsor the Halfwit. This Prince whose only known attempts at Welsh are ‘ble ydy ‘r doiled’, and ‘ca ‘m oddi hon dduw adawedig chyflea’ – which roughly translated means ‘where are the toilets’ and ‘get me out of this god forsaken place’ which shows his commitment to the job.

I support any initiative that repatriates ethnic aboriginal art and artefacts to their rightful place – and the Bardsey Crown is right up there with the Elgin Marbles and the African Art pillaged from their rightful owners over the centuries. A suitable place for its final resting place must surely on the mantle piece in the gallery shop at the Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw at Llanbedrog near Pwllheli where for a suitable fee visitors will be able to eat their welsh rarebit whilst reliving the days of yore by wearing the crown.

As a point of interest for our American cousins it may not be well known that Prince Madog ab Owain heir of Owain discovered America around the year 1200 and founded a colony near to Alabama. For more information about the welsh in Alabama visit : and if your interested in signing the petition to restore a monument to the great prince go here:

Above is a nice Picture of one of the ‘Brenin Enlli’ His Royal Highness John Williams taken around 1920.



Campaign to get Red Lady of Paviland returned to Wales

The Red Lady of Paviland

As RoyMogg readers will be aware the ‘Red-Lady of Paviland’ currently resides in a box in Oxford and is the subject of action to attempt the repatriate the red-lady (actually red-bloke cos it is man!) to the land of origin Wales. The Red-Lady actually a red-ochre stained body of a man, is one of the earliest known Palaeolithic burials in the UK and quite rightly belongs as part of the heritage of the Welsh being an example of early occupation of this land some 25 to 26 thousand years ago.

The bones were discovered around 1823 by the reverend John Davies on a stroll and have been the subject of many false attributions as to what the remains were – not least that the body was of a woman not a man. One of the most colourful stories was that the ochre-stained skeleton had become a ‘painted lady’ as a consequence of the service she gave to the needs of the local Roman garrison in the camp on the hill just above the cave. It was a good story possibly dented by the fact that the woman turned out to be a man although this would have been no problem for the roman soldiers I am sure – particularly on a cold welsh night in some godforsaken posting in the south of Wales some 2 thousand years ago. This would also have given an alternative explanation to the bones being often referred to as the red queen of Paviland although for political correctness I cannot take this argument too far.

Anyhoo … in the early years of the 20th century this did not stack up as it could be seen that as well as not a female burial the mammoth ivories around the body were Palaeolithic. The red-lady has made a trip back to Wales in the meantime and is the subject of a campaign to get this fantastic artefact returned from the canny English but too no avail – there is even a campaign group dedicated to the cause called the ‘The Dead to Rights group’, set up by those who regard the removal of the skeleton as a “desecration” of a sacred site and mirrors the concerns of other groups dedicated to the return of plunder from the colonial era to their rightful place. I am not sure of their success but applaud their cause.

I have been to the cave myself some years back and it is a place of mystery especially when you are on your own – It does take you back and certainly grounded me as a modern day Welsh guy in the land where I was borne (ehh enough of this sentimental crap! ed.)

The Banking Crisis of 1825

Banking Crisis – Lloyds was a safe bank in 1825

The recent banking crisis and the failure of the Scottish attempts to take over the banking world in the UK two years back has set me thinking about the earlier attempts at setting up regional banks and in particular the setting up of the first real retail type banks in the UK. Many years ago numerous county banks were created in different parts of Britain, including Gods Country Wales. There were a number of so called drovers’ banks set up in mid-Wales at that time. Drovers as in ‘rawhide’, the famous cowboy series took the cattle (and sheep) to market and returned the money from the sale to the farmers – which could mean they had quite a considerable sum of money on their person. They would set off with chuck wagon, outriders etc. and fighting off Indians and Brumies would travel the some 180 miles to market to sell their stock.

This growing trade with London’s Smithfield market demanded a relatively secure way of transmitting bills of exchange – i.e. bank notes. One such example was the ‘Black Ox’ drovers’ Bank set up by David Jones of Llandovery in 1799 in the tap room of the Black Ox Pub where the deposits were kept in the coal scuttle behind the bar. The notes depicted the Welsh Black breed of cattle as the motif (shown below) – definitely a better idea than some second rate prince or monarch we now have to put up with nowadays. This Bank is claimed to be the first (real) bank in Wales founded by the drovers John Jones and David Lloyd although I cannot confirm both these names – The bank originally occupied The Black Ox at Llandovery, and later on had premises at The King’s Head inn from 1799 – 1848. An interesting side note on this bank is it later became the Lloyds Bank we all know and love as a main street player in the UK and taker of vast sums of tax-payers money in bailouts. A little earlier in Aberystwyth in 1762 there was a bank formed in the same year a customs office opened in the town, a bank called Banc y Llong (the Ship Bank), followed by a bank known as the Black Sheep Bank because of the picture of a sheep on its notes being chased by a shepherd with his trousers down. There is an example of a note shown below (no shepherd in this version).

In 1825 a crisis occurred which saw the collapse of many private banks across the country. A major factor was the over-issuing of notes and the allowing of debt to spiral out of control such that the sum total of the issued notes could not be honoured if they all came in for payment together. Other contributory factors included a tighter fiscal policy by the London banks a latter day ‘credit crunch’ and bad speculation in the booming industries in the north of the country coinciding with a slump in agriculture. I think this is surprising for the parallelism with what has gone on recently. The collapse of one or two banks caused a run on the others creating a ‘domino effect’ and general panic set in – there were runs on the banks! There are numerous stories from this period about the ruses used by the banks in an attempt to allay the panic. Staff would haul large sacks of scrap metal across the bank in full view of the customers, the sacks having a handful of gold coins on the top to make it appear that the bank had large funds. Nowadays we do this by pumping huge sums of taxpayers money by the European Central Bank to make out the banks in Spain for example are stable and we have Major Merkosy telling us not to panic as they have everything under control so the similarities could not be more obvious.

This is an Article I found on the Black Ox Bank

The Bank was called Banc yr Eidion Du in Welsh, because the notes issued by it were engraved with the picture of a black ox. This bank was opened in 1799 by David Jones *in rooms at the King’s Head, Llandovery. He was a*local farmer’s son and a former drover whose wife brought with her a fortune of £10,000. The business was very profitable, it was said that its founder “knew of more ways of making money than there are public houses in Llandovery.” There were a few !*When he died David Jones left an estate of £140,000 plus landed property. He was High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1825, during the financial crisis of 1825/6, when 70 private banks in England and Wales failed, the reputation of the Black Ox was so high that customers had more faith in its stability than *in the Bank of England. He was followed in the business by 3 sons who opened branches in Llandeilo and Lampeter. The firm continued under the name of David Jones & Sons until 1909 when it was amalgamated into Lloyds Bank


Nice link to a post on the Welsh Pound

A local provincial banknote from Wales
A local provincial banknote from Wales

This is an example of a Black bull from Wales

Recent Archaeological research shows football invented in Wales

Recent Archaeological research shows football invented in Wales

The first reference to football being played in this country was actually in Wales over a thousand years ago. The beautiful game was watched and played by hooligans as it is nowadays was probably introduced to Great Britain by the Romans in Wales and was played in the great Amphitheatre in Silurum Venta (aka Caerleon) by soldiers of the Second Augustan Legion during breaks from sacking, pillaging and general mayhem. Watched by the local natives one can imagine how it quickly spread to the other main tribes in South Wales the Dementae (the Llanethii) and Ordovices (Pontypoolae) and in a few years a healthy football league was established only broken when the pre-eminent Welsh Saint Cadfael banned football on the Streets of Shrewsbury in the middle of the 12th century allowing cnapan to ascend into prominence.

As a form of replacement the game of cnapan became very popular especially in the Southern counties of Wales where two teams of around 750 per side from competing parishes passed a tallow soaked wooden ball (the cnapan) between team members until the ball was too far from the start point to be returned before dusk or everyone went home for tea or got fed up. Clearly archery, bowls and Quoits also played a major role in Welsh sports as well as the more obvious games of coracle racing or Bando. This latter game, which is a form of Hockey played without a ball, is where the team players (the obligatory 750 per side from competing parishes) beat the crap out of each other until the last man standing is declared the winner then taken to hospital. An honourable mention must also go to Welsh Baseball played for hundreds of year since the reign of Llywelyn ap Cruffydd the Last, which was as we all know taken up by the Americans, and where the modern form of the Welsh game was codified in Llantrisant in 1892 only to die out promptly in 1893.

I mention the illustrious past of Welsh honor on the field of sport as suitable backdrop to our recent successes in the Olympic games where four medals were won by Welsh athletes (one more than the Scots I note) and our aspirations to field our own team at the 2012 Olympics in London. There has been heated discussions across the country (well in Jack Trehern’s bar in Newport) that we could have quite a success as the tradition of sports runs deep in the country as can be seen from the above. The only thing holding us back is that with the exception of the above we are quite hopeless at most sports, and despite representations to the IOC cnapan will not be a demonstration sport at the next Olympics. Which as a South Wales Argus editorial recently noted is yet another sign of cultural imperialism by the English and a shameful indictment of the Gordon Browns mishandling of the economy and comes as a direct consequence of the credit crunch (Eh what! ed.).