Explore the region where a Scandinavian warlord, a hero dog, a saint rescued by seagulls and an Arctic explorer are all laid to rest...
King Arthur was out riding in Carmarthenshire when he found a pebble in his shoe, which he flung across the estuary. As it whizzed through the air, the stone grew and grew, until it landed, lodging itself on top of Cefn Bryn. This is one of many legends attached to Arthur's Stone, or Maen Ceti, a Neolithic burial tomb dating back to 2500 BC, and one of the first sites to be protected under the Ancient Monuments Act back in 1882. There are many other mysterious stories: the sheared portion of the capstone is said to have been done by King Arthur’s sword Excalibur, or by St David, who reputedly disliked its pagan links. And intriguingly, when there is a full moon, a knight in armour emerges from beneath the stone, heading across Cefn Bryn towards Llanrhidian village - the extraordinary apparition is said to be King Arthur himself. A footpath leading to the Neolithic monument runs can be accessed from the main route across Cefn Bryn.
St Cenydd’s Church, Llangennith, Gower SA3 1HU.
Legend has it that St Cenydd, aka St Kenneth, a boy from Gower, was born in the sixth century with a withered leg, cast adrift in a basket on the Loughor estuary, rescued by gulls - and reared by angels. He grew up to found St Cenydd’s priory, the site of which now houses St Cenydd’s Church, in the centre of the small village of Llangennith. Here, you can see the wall-mounted, carved slab reputed to have marked the grave of the saint. It is also home to the Dolly Mare, an intriguing stone effigy of a knight in armour, said to be one of the de la Mere family, who held lands nearby.
(c1000s) OS grid reference SS 4209 8982 (OS Explorer 164 Gower) Map...
Sweyne’s Howes, Rhossili Sweyne Forkbeard was the name of a Viking warlord and former king of Denmark and England who lived and died in the area around Rhossili in the early 11th century - he’s the source of Swansea’s name, too, as in Sweyne’s Ey, or Sweyne’s Land. Sweynes Howes, two ancient burial chambers, or dolmens, on Rhossili Down, certainly seem to be named after him, though the megalithic monuments actually pre-date him by thousands of years and it’s not known if he was laid to rest there. Though now in ruins, the northern chamber is the best preserved, and the Howes offer a haunting reminder of how our ancient ancestors left their mark on our landscape. The site can be reached via footpaths heading north from Rhossili, close to the spectacular Gower coastline.
St Mary’s Church, Rhossili SA3 1PL. Map...
Born in Ship Cottage in Rhossili, a small village on the south-western tip of the Gower Peninsula, Petty Officer Edgar Evans was a member of Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole in 1911-1912. The group of five men chosen to go for the Pole achieved their goal on January 17, 1912, but sadly, all perished as they tried to return to their base camp. Evans’ widow, Lois had a plaque placed in his memory in St Mary’s Church, Rhossili. The Edgar Evans Memorial, a small white marble tablet, bears the inscription: ‘To seek, to strive, to find and not to yield.’ Rhossili is on the wild western coast of Gower, which was the first in the UK to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Swansea Jack Memorial Plaque, Mumbles Road, Brynmill SA2 0AY (Postcode of nearby 360 Café)
A black retriever called Swansea Jack, who lived in the North Dock / River Tawe area of Swansea with his master, William Thomas, loved to dive into the water to rescue anyone in trouble. Over his lifetime, he saved 27 people, earning himself many rewards, including a silver collar and two bronze medals from the National Canine Defence League, now known as the Dogs Trust. In 2000, he was named Dog of the Century by Newfound Friends of Bristol, who train domestic dogs in aquatic rescue techniques. Swansea Jack went to the great dog basket in the sky, aged seven, in October 1937. His final resting place is St Helen's Rugby Grounds, Swansea, and his burial monument, paid for by public subscription, is nearby on the Promenade.