From The Library at Hurtfew
Jump to: navigation, search
Wales.jpgWhen the Ancient Britons found they could not resist the onslaught of the invading Anglo-Saxons they withdrew to the mountain fastnesses of Wales', where to this day they keep alive their language and many of their customs. (The words 'Welsh' and 'Wales' are of English origin and merely mean something like 'the strangers, the foreigners': the Welsh call themselves Brythons or Cymry - 'our people- and their land Cymru. The northern English county of Cumbria, one of the Raven King's great strongholds, takes its name from the same root, since in times remote it too was part of 'Cymru').

Wales is allowed by all to be a very lovely place, with more variety of scenery - especially scenery that is noble and wild in its character - than may generally be found in England. Sadly the difficulties of farming among hills and mountains have led to its being poorer, and in some ways more backward, than its neighbour; though the Welsh would say that the character of its peasantry has at least been spared that degradation which has too often attended the greater wealth and sophistication of England.

Shropshire, the natal county of Jonathan and Arabella Strange, lies alongside the hills and valleys of Wales, divided only by Offa's Dyke. One may soon know however when one is passing from Shropshire into Wales: the directions on the signposts give way from workaday names such as 'Hopton Heath' to the likes of Rhos-y-Meirch, Bleddfa and Llanfihangel Rhydithon.