THE MISTERY OF WALESTo the west of England, lies a small, almost secret country called Wales. It is a land of green and grey: green fields, valleys and hills; grey mountains and sky, and grey stone castle.
The story of the Welsh people is one of determined resistance to invaders – the Romans, the Saxons, the Vikings, the Normans and finally the English. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 410 AD, barbarian Angles and Saxons invaded Britain. Legendary kings and princes, like Kink Arthur, won important victories against the Saxons but gradually these original ‘Britons’ were pushed west into the hills and mountains of Wales. Welsh princes fought hard against the English but Wales was finally conquered. In 1301 Edward I gave his son the title of Prince of Wales and in 1536 Wales was united with England.
Despite the conquest, this small nation of three million people has maintained its unique culture and strong national identity, particularly through its language.
Welsh, a Celtic language very different from English, is one of the oldest languages in Europe. However, in the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century, the Welsh language declined. The British government made English the official language and English was the only language allowed in schools. The number of Welsh speakers went down from 80% to under 20% of the population. Since the 1960s, though, there has been a revival. Welsh, along with English, is an official language and is spoken by half a million people. It is a taught in schools, it is spoken in the Welsh Assembly, Wales own regional parliament and there is a Welsh TV channel.