Monday, July 26, 2010

Bilingual Sign?

We all know that bilingual signs enrage the Colonel Blimp types but isn't this a bit much? First off it isn't a bilingual sign at all - as far as I know the place has never had an English moniker - what it shows are two alternative spellings of the same Welsh name.

Anyone looking at old records knows that until recently placenames and even surnames had no established forms, with folk spelling as the mood took them. I can understand that where a non-standard Welsh spelling has gained wide usage, Rhayader for example, then there's a case for its continued use. Here the sensible thing would have been to stick with the modern standard spelling and ditch the lower one, rather than pretend it's English.

A Radnorshire Romance

Seen by the roadside between Llanfaredd and Aberedw.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Elenydd < Elenid

I guess this is another book I'll have to think about buying - a photographic essay about the so-called "green desert" that covers the mountainous borderland between Ceredigion and Radnorshire.

Llandrindod blogger in exile Gwenddolen has a post on the book launch in Aberystwyth and raises the interesting question as to whether Elenydd should really be called Elenid. It seems the 13C bards Phylip Brydydd and Iorwerth Fychan plumped for Elenid, which is the clincher as far as I can see - oh and Elenid also won the google fight.

No doubt that fight was swayed by the forename Elenid and Elenydd certainly seems to have gained a wide acceptance in recent years - in any case it's a great improvement on Cambrian Mountains or Mynyddoedd y Cambrian.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Slavery in Radnorshire?

When did slavery end in Radnorshire? Well I guess you could argue that it was in 1948 with the closure of the prisoner of war camps in Newbridge-on-Wye and Presteigne. When my father was demobbed in 1946 one of his first jobs was delivering lorry loads of POWS from the Pendre camp to their various workplaces around the district - didn't some work on the construction of the Claerwen reservoir?

Were these POWs really slaves? Technically they were not, although it must have felt like it. Hostilities had certainly long ceased and they were still being held against their will and used as forced labour in a foreign country. The position of the Italian POWs was particularly interesting as, since 1943, Italy had actually been an ally of the UK.

Perhaps many of these POWs, despite the rationing and harsh winter of 1947, have fond memories of their time in Radnorshire. A number married local girls and others returned to the area on holiday, although some had to wait until the fall of the Berlin Wall in order to do so.

If anyone has any information on these forgotten Radnorshire camps please leave a comment.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Elystan Glodrydd

Now here's a new website the idea of which will gladden the heart of any Radnorian with historical interests. Why it has even made the pages of this week's County Times. The proposed gathering of Elystan's descendants in Llanbister this coming October could be a sizable affair though, as it's doubtful if anyone with the slightest hint of a Radnorian ancestry isn't related many times over to those princes of East Central Wales who claimed descent from old EG.

Of course a lot of folk have no time for heraldry and genealogy, no doubt because of the way it has been hijacked by the likes of the Countess of Wessex. The truth is that they do provide invaluable insights into history. Elystan, his name is actually a Cymicised version of Athelstan, was the patriarch of leaders who led the Welsh resistance, often successfully, for half a millennium, in the lands between the Severn and the Wye.

As that great patriotic bard of the 15C Lewis Glyn Cothi declaimed:

Tarian Elystan fal iĆ¢,
Iddo hon a ddihuna,
Ac ynddi'n meistriol'r drin
Ben baedd yn erbyn byddin.

(The shield of Elystan like ice, is awakening unto itself, and within it mastering the threat, the head of a boar against an army)

That's the ticket.