Sunday, June 23, 2013

You're Welsh and you know you are....

..... it's a football chant that is sometimes used to wind-up the fans of Hereford United, and like all good insults it works because it has an element of truth.

Now why Herefordians, especially those from the south and west of the county, should be at all ashamed of  their Welsh roots is a puzzle.  After all native speakers of a Celtic language lived-on in Herefordshire for a hundred years after Cornish had died out.  Yet while the Cornish are rightly proud of their heritage, Herefordshire, even her local historians, seems to be in denial.

The author of this little book* - it was written in 2003, published in 2006 but I've only just got around to obtaining a copy - hopes that it will go some way to rectifying a situation where "the great majority" of those in Welsh Herefordshire are unaware of their history.

Does it succeed?  I think not. The book concentrates far too much on earlier times rather than the more recent past; and too much on general Welsh history rather than particular Herefordshire concerns.

The first 143 pages take us up to Owain Glyndwr, whereas the next 600 years merit just 28 pages.  You'll look in vain for the clash between the Welsh party and their English rivals in 15C Hereford.  There's no mention of Hergest and it's importance to Welsh literature nor of the Herefordshire patrons of the Welsh bardic tradition in the 15C and 16C.  Although the survival of the Welsh language into the 19C is mentioned there's no real detail; you'd be better off reading this blog: here for example. or here, or to save too much searching, here.

An annoying aspect of the book is the way in which the origins of some local placenames are guessed at because of their similarity to modern Welsh words. An old fault of the amateur historian which really shouldn't have a place in a 21C work.
* Herefordshire, the Welsh Connection, Carreg Gwalch, £6.90


Jac o' the North, said...

In other areas one often finds border areas to be 'fluid' in terms of identification, which is why the rejection of Welsh identity or heritage is so odd among those of Welsh descent in the English border areas. This may be due to the scarcely muted contempt in which we are held by many English.

Whether that is true or not, of greater importance today is what happens on the Welsh side side of the border . . . a border that seems to be moving steadily westward and will soon link up with rapidly anglicising coastal areas.

kevinsheedy said...

I seem to recall Accrington Stanley (who are they?) fans unfurling a huge "You're Welsh and you know you are" banner at Edgar Street one season. It made me laugh.

Fferllys said...

Travel deep inside Shropshire and you will find many parts full of people with Welsh surnames. The Corvedale is one example, way beyond the boundary of the A49, the west of which is very Welsh. The interesting thing is that there are families who never shifted from the border areas, whose ranks have been augmented over long time by migration from Wales into effect a re-population of ancient homelands.

Patdok said...

I spoke to a woman in a supermarket in Hereford who was dismayed that they were selling Welsh milk who I heard saying "I'm not buying that, the Welsh ransacked our town years ago"