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Carmarthen

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Wales place

Carmarthen (Welsh Caerfyrddin - caer fort + Myrddin Moridunum, Merlin) is the county town of Carmarthenshire, Wales. It is on the River Tywi and has a population of about 20,000. It is the site of Trinity College Carmarthen.

Contents

History

When Britannia was a Roman province, Carmarthen was the civitas known as Moridunum (meaning sea fort) of the Celtic tribe known as the Demetae. Carmarthen is possibly the oldest town in Wales and was recorded by Ptolemy and in the Antonine Itinerary. The roman fort can be seen still and is believed to date from AD75-77.

The strategic importance of Carmarthen was such that the Norman William fitz Baldwin built a castle probably around 1094. The existing castle site is known to have been used since 1105. The castle was destroyed by Llywelyn the Great in 1215. In 1223 the castle was rebuilt and permission was received to wall the town (a murage). Carmarthen was probably the first mediaeval walled town in Wales. In 1405 the town was taken and the castle was sacked by Owain Glyndwr.

In the 16th and 17th centuries the dominant business of Carmarthen was still agriculture and related trades including woollen manufacture. In the mid 18th century the iron and coal trades became much more important although Carmarthen never developed Ironworks on the scale of Dowlais or Merthyr Tydfil.

The famous Black book of Carmarthen, written around 1250AD, is associated with the town's Priory of St. John the Evangelist and Teulyddog.

Carmarthen hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1867, 1911 and 1974.

Famous Citizens

Arthurian Legend

According to some variants of the Arthurian legend Merlin was born in a cave outside Carmarthen, with many noting that Merlin may be an anglicised form of Myrddin. Historians generally disagree with this interpretation of the name, preferring that Myrddin is a corruption of the Roman name), but the story is popular. Many areas surrounding Carmarthen still allude to this, such as the nearby Bryn Myrddin (Merlin's Hill).

Legend also had it that when a particular tree called 'Merlin's Oak' fell it would be the downfall of the town as well. In order to stop this the tree was dug up when it died and pieces are now in the museum. The occasional flooding of the appropriately-named Water Street has been attributed to ongoing redevelopment of the area.

The Black book of Carmarthen includes poems with references to Myrddin (Ymddiddan Myrddin a Thaliesin) and possibly to Arthur (Pa ŵr yw'r Porthor?). The interpretation of these is difficult because the Arthur legend was already known by this time, and many details of the modern form of the legend had been described by Geoffrey of Monmouth before the book was written. In addition some of the stories appear to have been moved into Wales at some point before their recording in the book.

Picton's monument

This interesting national tribute stands at the west end of the town of Carmarthen, rising ground, and is erected in memory of the gallant Sir Thomas Picton, who died in the battle of Waterloo. The structure stands about 30 feet high, and is, particularly the shaft and architrave, similar to Trajan's pillar in Rome; and being built of a very durable material (black marble) will no doubt stand as many ages as that noble, though now mouldering relic. The pillar stands on a square pedestal, with a small door on the east side, which fronts the town, where the monument is ascended by a flight of steps. Over the door, in large characters, is the hero's name, PICTON; and above this, in basso relievo, is represented part of the field of battle, with the hero falling from his horse, from the mortal wound which he received. Over this, in large letters, is inscribed WATERLOO. On the west end is represented the siege of Badajos, Picton scaling the walls with a few men, and attacked by the besieged. Above this is the word BADAJOS. On the south side of the pedestal is the following inscription:—

Sir THOMAS PICTON,
Knight Grand Cross of the Military Order of the
Bath,
Of the Portuguese Order of the Tower and Sword,
and of other foreign Orders;
Lieutenant-General in the British Army, and
Member of Parliament for the Borough of
Pembroke,
Born at Poyston, in Pembrokeshire, in August,
1758;
Died at Waterloo on the 18th of June, 1815,
Gloriously fighting for his country and the
liberties of Europe.
Having honourably fulfilled, on behalf of the
public, various duties in various climates:
And having achieved the highest military renown
in the Spanish Peninsula,
He thrice received the unanimous thanks of
Parliament,
And a Monument erected by the British nation
in St. Paul's Cathedral
Commemorates his death and services,
His grateful countrymen, to perpetuate past and
incite to future exertions,
Have raised this column, under the auspices of
his Majesty, King George the Fourth,
To the memory of a hero and a Welshman.
The plan and design of this Monument was given
by our countryman, John Nash, Esq. F.R.S.
Architect to the King.
The ornaments were executed by
E.H. Bailey, Esq. R.A.
And the whole was erected by Mr. Daniel
Mainwaring, of the town of Carmarthen,
In the year 1826 and 1827.

On the north side is the translation of the above in Welsh; and on the top of the pedestal, on each side of the square, are trophies. The top of the column is also square, and on each side are imitative cannons. The statue of the hero surmounts the whole. He is wrapped in a cloak, and is supported by a baluster, round which are emblems of spears.

Carmarthen today

Modern day Carmarthen is a midsized town of around 20,000 people. It is served by rail links through Swansea to Cardiff. Carmarthen has a large amount of surviving history including the roman amphitheatre and the castle. The Gwili Railway, a section of the former railway line to Aberystwyth, has been re-opened as a steam powered railway for tourists.

Carmarthen has a large proportion of Welsh speakers, with the county of Carmarthenshire as a whole boasting the largest population of such by number (the largest Welsh-speaking population by proportion is in Gwynedd). Although Carmarthen is on navigable water the harbour sees no commercial use, in part due to the treacherous approaches.

Carmarthen is twinned with Lesneven, France, Santa Marinella, Italy and As Pontes, Spain.


Information and news about Carmarthen can be found on www.carmarthen.biz.


cy:Caerfyrddin

no:Carmarthen sv:Carmarthen

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