This map plots the settings and references in The Mabinogion

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Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike  Welsh valley - Credit: Shaun Dunmall


Snowdonia, Wales
Creative Commons AttributionSnowdonia, Wales - Credit: dringer, Flickr

The stories of The Mabinogion are set in a number of different locations in Wales (Cymru), part of the United Kingdom. In particular, there are numerous references to places in the former  kingdom of Gwynedd in northwest Wales, and to the former kingdom of Dyfed in southwest Wales. The majority of the territory of Gwynedd later became the counties of Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, Merionethshire and Denbighshire. The name Gwynedd was re-instated as a county name in 1974. The territory of the kingdom of Dyfed later became primarily the counties of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. The name Dyfed was also resurrected in 1974, but then withdrawn in 1996.



Memorial Stone to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd at Cilmeri in Powys
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMemorial Stone to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd at Cilmeri in Powys - Credit: Philip Haling

In the post-Roman period, Wales consisted of a number of different kingdoms whose rulers were engaged in a perpetual struggle to maintain and extend the boundaries of their territories. During the 12th and 13th centuries two princes of Gwynedd, Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn Fawr or Llywelyn the Great) and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf or Llywelyn the Last), came close to gaining overall control of Wales and unifying it under one leader. However, when Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and his forces were defeated by the English in 1282, Wales became essentially a colony of England. Its freedoms were further eroded during the reign of Henry VIII with the passing of the Laws in Wales Acts, generally known in Wales as the Acts of Union. These laws ensured that Wales was governed entirely according to English legal and administrative structures. They had a highly detrimental effect on the Welsh language as they contained a clause which forbade the use of Welsh by anyone in public office.

Today, Wales is a nation of 3 million people. Just over 20% of the population are able to speak Welsh, and there is a lively and productive Welsh-language literary and musical culture. Welsh can now be used in the law courts and legal system, and the provision of Welsh-medium education has substantially improved. In 1997, a measure of autonomy was achieved when the Welsh people voted in favour of the establishment of a Welsh Assembly (y Cynulliad). The Assembly meets in Cardiff in a purpose-built building known as the Senedd (Parliament).

Click here for the website of the Welsh Government/Llywodraeth Cymru.




North Wales
Creative Commons Attribution North Wales coastline - Credit: net_efekt, Flickr