Here are the sites that we may see. What we hit will depend on our pace. We intend to be leisurely and are going for quality over quantity.
Puzzlewood – this 14 acre ancient wood is said to have been the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth. It’s a great way to start the tour and open up your child wonder and imagination.
Tintern Abbey – was the first Cistercian foundation in Wales and remains the best preserved medieval abbey in Wales. The present day ruins cover a building period between 1131 and 1536 when Henry VIII dissolved the monastic way of life. Located in the beautiful Wye Valley, this huge abbey continues to be a vision of loveliness and great energy.
Harold’s Stones (Trellech)– three Bronze Age stones that may have been part of a stone circle
Virtuous Well (Trellech) – this healing well is known for its powers to heal women’s complaints, eye troubles, and skin afflictions. Faeries are said to visit here.
Fagans National History Museum – This living history museum shows a timeline of every day Welsh life from a Neanderthal boy from 230,000 years ago to the present day. We’ll see historic buildings as well as people making traditional crafts.
Tinkinswood – This 6000 year old burial chamber once held the remains of 50 people. The best known of these legends is that anyone who spends a night at this site on the evenings preceding May Day, St John’s Day (23rd June), or Midwinter Day would die, go raving mad, or become a poet.
Brecon Beacons National Park (caving, gorge walking, hiking) Today we get to experience the underground wonder of Wales in the Dan Yr Ogof showcaves. If there is time, we will also explore above ground in this area of natural beauty.
Dinas Emrys – here we have the remains of a fortress, but most importantly, this is the site of one of the most famous and oldest Welsh legends.
According to legend King Vortigern wanted to build a castle on top of Dinas Emrys, but every night his castle walls would fall down. Merlin (the wizard) claimed there were two dragons fighting beneath the hill that caused the walls to fall. The white dragon represented the Saxons. The red represented the Welsh people. Merlin predicted that the red dragon would prevail. Therefore Vortigern and his men dug into the mountain and released two dragons.
The red and white dragon fought, eventually the white dragon fled and the red dragon returned to his lair. Vortigern’s castle was built and named Dinas Emrys in honour of Myrddin Emrys (Merlin), and the red dragon has been celebrated ever since.
As for the dragons and how they became confined? The story of Lludd Lleflys in the Mabinogion explains how Lludd captured the dragons in a cauldron filled with beer when they had transformed themselves – as apparently they did – into pigs. The dragons were buried at the place that later became known as Dinas Emrys since it was regarded as the safest place to put them.
A further legend tells of Myrddin hiding treasure in a cave at Dinas Emrys. The legend says that the discoverer of the treasure will be ‘golden-haired and blue-eyed’ and that a bell will ring to invite him or her into the cave.
Mt Snowdon – The culture and identity of the Snowdonia region has been significantly influenced by the myths, legends, folklore, giants, monsters and magic that are associated with almost every lake, hill, mountain and village. King Arthur and the Druids are everywhere. To read more about them, click here. I have the story of Y Mabinogi and we can listen to it to inspire us and give it context, if you like.
Lakes Llydaw, Dinas and Ogwen – these beautiful lakes located in the heart of Snowdonia National Park all claim to be the final resting place for King Arthur’s Excalibur.
Tyfos stone circle– may be a ring cairn rather than a stone circle.
Moel Ty Uchaf – nearby Tyfos stone circle, so they may be related. This beautifully preserved circle sits at the top of a steep hill, and is well worth the climb.
Bedd Gelert stone – This is the resting place of Welsh Prince Llewelyn’s faithful dog. Legend says that master and hound were very close, but one the prince wanted to go hunting and the dog didn’t come. Upon returning from the hunt, his blood soaked dog ran to greet him. Fearing the worse, Llewelyn searched for his son and found torn, bloody bedding in his crib instead. Thinking the dog had killed his son, he ran the dog threw with his sword only to discover the blood came from a wolf the dog killed while saving his son.
Fairy glen gorge (Ffos Noddun) – this picturesque, secluded gorge is the home of otters, rare ferns, and lichens. You may even see a faery here.
Bardsey Island – this is the fabled land of Avalon and resting place of King Arthur. Merlin is said to rest in his cave guarding the 13 treasures of England. While only a mile long and less than a mile wide, this has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. People said that making three pilgrimages to Bardsey Island was equivalent to making one to Rome. Consequently many royalty and saints were buried here. Bardsey Island has the feel of a thin place where it’s possible to feel the Otherworld reaching through.
Bryn Celli Ddu– Angelsey has over 120 ancient monuments. This is one of the highlights. It’s considered the best passage grave in Wales.
The Bryn Gwyn Stones – Two of the tallest standing stones in Wales. The marks on the tallest one are said to have astrological alignments.
Castell Bryngwyn– the name mean “White Hill Castle.” It may have been a religious sanctuary from 4,500 years ago.
Caer Leb – a 2,000 year old earthworks that was occupied by the Romans
Ty Mawr 2 – scenic countryside with earthworks and ancient stones
Llanfechell Stones – Bronze age stones said to have been used for ritual, but often visited now days for the view. One stone has cup and ring marks on it.
Lligwy Chamber – this area has ruins from the Neolithic, Roman and medieval periods. This Bronze Age tomb had the remains of 15-30 people in it.
Llanddfynan– this single standing stone lies close to two Bronze age barrows. It was brought here from a distance as the stone isn’t found locally.
Ty-Gwyn- The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of prehistoric ritual and ceremonial practices. The monument is well preserved and is an important relic of a prehistoric funerary and ritual landscape.
Ty Newydd-a Bronze age dolmen where pottery fragments were found indicating use by the Beaker culture.
The Soar Stone – a Bronze Age standing stone in Anglesey
Bodowyr– a Neolithic burial chamber in Anglesey
Presadfedd – Neolithic burial chamber
Llanddeiniolen Yews– Yews are sacred trees that are used medicinally and can have the most amazing energy (think, the Chalice Well). These were already old 200 years ago! (The oldest yews in Wales are said to be 3-5,000 years old). Yews are known for longevity and for their powers of death and regeneration. These trees are sacred to Druids.
Barclodiad-y-Gawres – this place is the beautifully adorned with artwork inside! It was used for primarily for ritual and some burials.
Caerleon– This is a well preserved Roman fortress and bath with the best preserved barracks in all of Europe. More importantly, this is the legendary Camelot. The stories goes that there is an underground chamber in the woods where Arthur and 1,000 soldier lay sleeping until the time that they are needed again.