Explore the final resting places of a saint, a pitchfork heroine, a protestor in disguise and a Welsh pirate king...
St David’s Shrine, St David’s Cathedral, St Davids SA62 6RD. Map...
St David, patron saint of Wales, was a Welsh bishop of Mynyw (now St Davids) during the 6th century. According to legend, he restored the sight of St Paulinus and during a battle against the Saxons, advised his soldiers to wear leeks in their hats so they could be distinguished from their enemies. He ate only bread, herbs and vegetables, drank only water, and was laid to rest in St David’s Cathedral. The 12th century Pope Calixtus II declared that three pilgrimages to his shrine were as good as one to Jerusalem. The relics of St David and St Justinian were kept in a portable casket on the stone base of the shrine but were removed by a staunch protestant Bishop in the 16th Century. Adjacent to St David’s shrine is the tomb of Edmund Tudor, father of Henry VII, first of the Tudor kings.
St Mary’s Church, Fishguard SA65 9AU. Map...
It was 1797 when 1,200 French Republican La Legion Noire troops landed at Carregwastad Point a few miles west of Fishguard Bay, during what was to become known as the Last Invasion of Britain. Local militia and yeomanry were hastily gathered to repel the Fishguard invasion, helped by loyal civilians. Among them was the formidable 47-year-old Jemima Nicholas, who, armed with only a pitchfork, singlehandedly captured 12 French soldiers. Jemima’s gravestone can be seen close to St Mary’s Church in the centre of the town. A fascinating Last Invasion 30-metre tapestry, created to mark the event’s 1997 bicentenary, is on display in Fishguard Town Hall.
Bethel Chapel, Mynachlog Ddu, Clynderwen SA66 7RX. Map...
Red-haired and large-framed Thomas Rees, aka Twm Carnabwth, was 33 when, dressed as women, he led an attack at the new toll-gate at Efailwen in 1839. This was the first act in the Rebecca Riots, a series of protests by Welsh farmers and agricultural workers against being charged tolls to use the roads. His disguise seemed to work, as he was never charged, and lived until he was 70. You can see his grave at his beloved Bethel Chapel, a Grade II-listed building in Mynachlog Ddu. His tombstone is inscribed in Welsh: 'Nid oes neb ond Duw yn gwybod / Beth a ddigwydd mewn diwrnod. Wrth gyrchu bresych at fy nginio, / Daeth angau i fy ngardd i'm taro.' It means: 'No one but God knows what may happen in one day. While fetching a cabbage for my dinner, death came into my garden and struck me.'
Who was the world’s most successful pirate? It was Bartholomew Roberts, aka Black Bart or Barti Ddu, a Welsh pirate who raided ships off the Americas and West Africa between 1719 and 1722, taking more than 470 in his career. He’s even mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Son of a farmer from Little Newcastle, near Fishguard, he was renowned for his dark looks and sartorial elegance, with 'rich crimson damask waistcoat and breeches, a red feather in his hat, a gold chain round his neck, with a diamond cross hanging to it, a sword in his hand, and two pairs of pistols slung over his shoulders,' according to A General History of the Pyrates (1724). Apparently, he drank tea instead of rum, held church services on the deck of his ship and never attacked other ships on Sunday. He was known by the French as 'Le Joli Rouge' or Jolly Roger and was the first known pirate to use the skull and crossbones flag. Barti Ddu was killed on February 10, 1722 as his ship, Royal Fortune battled with the Royal Navy’s HMS Swallow. Barti Ddu is remembered in Little Newcastle, thanks to a stone memorial on the village green.
Bedd Arthur, Carn Bica, Preseli Hills Postcode SA66 7RY (1.5 MILES AWAY) GRID REF: SN13053252. Map...
Bedd Arthur, or The Grave of Arthur, comprising 13 small standing stones along with two or three fallen ones, is an intriguing site on top of the Preseli ridge overlooking the rocky outcrop of Carn Menyn - possibly a source for some of the bluestones used at Stonehenge. Claimed by local folklore to be the final resting place of the legendary British king of Camelot, Bedd Arthur may be a henge (prehistoric monument), too, as it lies adjacent to the ancient trackway known as the Golden Road, which follows the ridge of the Preselis and links a number of ancient sites. The site has not been excavated but there is some evidence that there may once have been a burial chamber in the centre of the circle. Could this be the final resting place of the Once and Future King?