Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thought for the Day

Following on from my Raglan Castle post, I see that Clive Betts - the doyen of Welsh political journalism - has also been exercised by the Anglocentric viewpoints of the Assembly's historical monuments branch. I certainly agree with Betts' comment that "much of Wales's history has been characterised by militant – even military – opposition to England. It’s about time someone reminded Cadw of this."

In the same way Radnorians cannot escape the fact that our area's history is part and parcel of this opposition. It should be a matter of pride that at a time when Norman rule stretched from Limerick to Jerusalem, it failed to progress much beyond Knighton. The princes of what later became Radnorshire stood shoulder to shoulder with Llywelyn and his brother Dafydd until the bitter end, and Glyndwr owed his greatest victory to the actions of the archers of Maelienydd at Bryn Glas. Likewise two of the great works of world literature - the Book of Taliesin, and the Red Book of Hergest - were preserved here and the many scores of surviving bardic poems from the area are testament to its nourishment of traditional culture. Llandrindod's Victorian festival may well ignore the reality of 19C Radnorshire but the issues that dominated the politics of the county - militant opposition to the imposition of fishery laws, the enclosure acts, the disestablishment of the Anglican church and, yes, Home Rule were particularist and Welsh.

Cadw's anglocentricity reflects a larger problem within the Assembly, where paid officials often seem more loyal to the London based civil service, of which they remain a part, rather than to the democratically elected institution which employs them. A good start in combating this colonial mentality would be to end the linkage between Welsh civil servants and London.

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