Friday, March 13, 2015

Beneath the Sea... The Kingdom of Cantre'r Gwaelod...

Llys Helig isn’t the only kingdom to have disappeared beneath the sea in Wales. We also have Cantre'r Gwaelod (or the Lowland Hundred as translated into English), sometimes called the Welsh Atlantis. This fertile tract of land once existed between Bardsay and Ramsay Islands. However, if you want to visit it now, you might have to get yourself a wet suit and scuba gear, and then dive to the bottom of what is now Cardigan Bay, West Wales.

Sunset Over Cardigan Bay by Peter Broster

As with other lost kingdoms, a legend or two is also associated with Cantre'r Gwaelod. If we go way back in history and take a look at the Black Book of Carmarthen, we find mentioned therein, the land of Maes Gwyddno or the plain of Gwyddno. According to this book, the sea swallowed Cantre'r Gwaelod when a maiden named Mererid ignored her duties and in consequence of the neglect, the well overflowed. (Doesn’t make any real sense to me either…)

Or…the version far more accepted today appears to have its origins in the 17th century. In this myth, Cantre'r Gwaelod is described as a lowland in which the citizens erected a dyke to protect the land from the sea. This dyke was known as Sarn Badrig and it had a series of sluice gates that were opened during low tide to drain away the excess water. Caer Wyddno served as the capital of Cantre'r Gwaelod and two princes of the kingdom were given the duty to oversee the dyke. According to legend, one of these princes, (the one named Seithenyn), preferred drinking and carousing with women to overseeing this very important duty. As a direct result, the dyke overflowed and carried Cantre'r Gwaelod along with all of its inhabitants to the bottom of the sea.

Physical evidence?

Well, men of science will tell you they can’t find any evidence at all that supports the remains of a kingdom as large as Cantre'r Gwaelod is reported to have been. However, William Owen Pughe, an 18th century Welsh antiquarian scholar didn’t have any problem telling the world that he did in fact see evidence of a sunken human settlement about four miles off the coast of Ceredigion. Then, Samuel Lewis, in the 1846 edition of The Topographical Dictionary of Wales, described a series of causeways and stones walls beneath the waters of Cardigan Bay. Oh, and one more thing, during low tide, Roman coins bearing the image of several emperors, various stones with Latin inscriptions, and prostrate trees have all been found... 

So what do you think? If Cantre'r Gwaelod once existed, did it sink because of the neglect of either Mererid or Seithenyn or did mother nature have a her hand in it?


So why the posts of mythical underwater kingdoms in Wales? Because Court of the Hawk, takes place in a fictional lost kingdom of Wales, which also happens to exist beneath the ocean... AND, it is now available FREE in Audio for a short time only. Get your copy here before the promo codes are all gone! 


  1. Always the cliff hangers..I want more.....Can hardly wait for your new release. ..And keep them coming. ..As fast as you can.

  2. Always the cliff hangers..I want more.....Can hardly wait for your new release. ..And keep them coming. ..As fast as you can.

    1. You're just the cutest thing Tammy! And I'll type just as fast as I can...just for you!

  3. The blurb sounds wonderful, intriguing! I'm looking forward to gobbling up COURT OF THE HAWK. And as for the kingdom of Cantre'r Gwaelod I'd like to think nature was at fault rather than the foolishness of one or two people, dooming a whole civilization *shiver* Of course, that's what makes a good legend! :)

    1. Thanks Mae! Isn't it interesting how a society will seek a reason (and/or blame) for a calamity? I'm with you. I think that Cantre'r Gwaelod was probably swallowed up by a tsunami or something...and that's one good reason to avoid beach front property no matter how inviting!