I wrote recently about how moved I was by an article in the Guardian, in which journalist Kiran Sidhu wrote about Welsh farmer, Wilf Davies.
History is a jigsaw puzzle. To gain a view of the past, we need to put together pieces gleaned from archaeology and from surviving records. Increasingly, it seems clear that we can also learn from myths, passed down through generations via the oral tradition to the point when they were recorded in writing.
There has been a flurry of articles recently about a paper published by Professor Mike Parker Pearson and his colleagues from a number of British Universities: The original Stonehenge? A dismantled stone circle in the Preseli Hills of west Wales:
In the First Branch of the Mabinogi, Pwyll, king of Dyfed, puts himself into a debt of honour to Arawn, one of the two kings of the Otherworld, by rudely (and against the rules of royal etiquette) driving Arawn’s hounds – the hounds of another king, equal in honour – away from a cornered deer, and setting his own hounds upon it instead.
To erase the insult and gain Arawn’s friendship, Pwyll must take on Arawn’s appearance, and rule his kingdom in Annwn for a year and a day. At the end of this time, he must – in his guise of Arawn – fight and defeat the other king of Annwn: Hafgan.