• Enroute to Wales.
  • Ironbridge.
  • House built of slate.
  • Slate Mine in North Wales.
  • Welsh Mining Town.
  • Kayaking.


This was a return "home" for us as our ancestors on the Blethen side sailed from Ireland and Wales to Maine in the early 1700s; we have been in America ever since. One of those sailors was Captain James H. Blethen, our great-great-grandfather who initiated our family wanderlust. It is to him that my largest site, The Maritime Heritage Project, is dedicated including pages on the History of Wales.

In July 2014, storms unearthed ancient pine, alder, oak and birch from a 5,000-year-old forest as a Welsh beach near Borth was washed away The ancient forest was covered in peat before eventually being swallowed by the sea. Legends say trees and nearby township were flooded after a priestess named Mererid neglected a magical well, which overflowed. Conditions inside the peat, devoid of oxygen and slightly alkaline, have meant the stumps survived and were uncovered by a set of storms which washed away the peat layer. A walkway made of sticks and branches was also discovered. It is 3,000 to 4,000 years old and was built, it is believed, to cope with rising sea levels ages ago. Following dramatic storms around Borth, something ancient is discovered. An ichthyosaur skeleton was discovered on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and East Devon. At Happisburgh, Norfolk, footprints discovered in storm-exposed rocks are believed to be the earliest evidence of humans outside Africa, dating back 850,000 years. 

Our tour crossed the Sevren Bridge into Wales to the port town of Cardiff to lodge in the Cardiff Moat House. The moat house is near the city center and the Museum of Life at St. Fagins, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Castle and the Millennium Stadium.

Thence across the Irish Sea to Holyhead on the Welsh Isle of Anglesey with its tongue-twisting place names. The best of North Wales on a scenic drive through Snowdonia National Park, including spectacular Llanberis Pass and pretty Betwy-y-Coel. Take time to visit Borth, where storms have recently unearthed and ancient a 5,000 year old forest of pine, alder, oak and birch.

One of the many highlights was the small town of Llangollen in North Wales, which like many European towns, is seeped in myth and legend. Today it is best known for hosting the Llangollen International Music Festival in July, which brings in 120,000 visitors and turns the town into a vibrant international stage. As with so many ancient Welsh towns, Llangollen takes its name from its founding Saint. Llangollen was established in the 7th Century when the monk St. Collen was instructed to find a valley by riding a horse for one day and then to stop and mark out a "parish," a place to build his hermitage or cell as the custom of the times, with tiny church, hospice and outhouses all enclosed within a wall.


One of Mid-Wales' prettiest villages, Wrexham is nestled in the stunning Tanat Valley. Within easy reach of the Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfall (one of the "Wonders of Wales"), the craggy mountains and dramatic contrasting landscape of Snowdonia, Lake Vyrnwy, Powis Castle and Gardens in Welshpool, and the historic towns of Chester and Shrewsbury.


July 25, 1884, IRON
London, United Kingdom

NORTH WALES--Notwithstanding the disorganization of the coal trade in the adjoining counties, the North Wales colliers keep steadily at work. Nor is there any movement on the part of either the masters or the men for a reduction or increase of wages. The railway wagon works are well employed, as are also most of the manufacturing trades, and some activity prevails in the building of yachts and steam launches on the Dee at Chester. The various chemical and other works that line the estuary of the Dee from Chester to Mostyn are also fairly well employed. The Van lead mine, which has had a successful career for a quarter of a century, has latterly been carried on only at a loss, and the shareholders have passed a resolution to wind this company up. In slate quarrying the men are respectfully protecting that they ought not to bear reduction in the price of slates. The slate trade, which a few weeks back showed signs of weakness, is recovering. In the iron trade the long hoped for improvement in prices is a long time coming. Orders are rather scarce, and there is a keen competition for them. A good deal is hoped for on the completion of the works for the manufacture of steel now in the course of erection near Wrexham. Some amount of improvement has taken place in the building, paving, and limestone quarries.

August 26, 1876, Sacramento Daily Union
Sacramento, California

America Discovered by the Welsh in 1170 A.D.
By Rev. Benjamin F. Bowen.
Philadelphia: J. B. Lipplncott & Son. San Francisco: A. Roman & Co.

The writer has taken considerable pains and accumulated much interesting information in the preparation of this work. He begins by showing the energetic, expansive character of the Cymric race (the Welsh), forgetting to mention the fact, however, that that is the common characteristic of all the Japhetic tribes, of which the Cymri are but one. He then shows from old Welsh records that Madoc, one of the seventeen sons of Owain Gwinedd, to avoid the disturbances which arose among his brothers alter the death of their father, sailed to the westward, and after having been gone some time, returned and brought word that he had found a fair land, many days' sail distant, had left some of his people there and returned to get more, who should go and settle in this new country.

Enough to fill ten ships were prevailed on to go. They never returned, nor was there any further course between Wales and the new-country. He then takes up, one by one, the letters and accounts of many independent witnesses, who testify severally that Welsh-speaking Indians had been heard of, were reported to exist, had been seen, conversed with, lived with, preached to; the different writers being more or less explicit. They, or traces of them, were found in Western New York and Pennsylvania, in Ohio, Kentucky, and more especially far up the Missouri river. Some of these narratives are definite and and impart conviction; others are vague, but all are singularly harmonious.

The close resemblance of many Indian words to what might be their Welsh equivalents is noted: as Pontigo, Ponty-go, "the Smith's Bridge;" Allegeni, alli-geni, "mighty born;" Nanticok, nanty-cwch, "a curved brook," etc. But it should be remembered that similarity of sound in language does not imply necessary connection in origin, but only strengthens the plea for such connection, when there are other grounds for accepting it.

The mounds that are found in various parts of the country, especially in the Ohio valley, and which all theorists agree in assigning to a higher race of men than the ordinary Indian tribes, are also seized upon by our author. He finds their shape to coincide exactly with that of ancient Welsh fortifications. Be supposes the adventurous companions of Madoc and their descendants to have penetrated from the coast further and further into the interior, driven either by their own spirit of enterprise or by wars with the primitive inhabitants. He notes the fact that the age of the trees growing on the most eastern of these mounds is about 700 years, corresponding nearly to the era of the Madocian immigration, and that the age of such trees diminishes towards the West, indicating the gradual introgression of the Welsh. We confess to a leaning to this theory to account for those curious remains on purely scientific grounds, rather than those which assign to them a pre-Adamic origin and date.

Altogether, the argument of the author is tolerably well built up, and is sustained by an unexpected and not wholly unconvincing amount of evidence. But we think he claims too much. It may be true that the Welsh came to this country in A. D. 1170, or even earlier, but even then they found other people already here. They cannot claim, therefore, to have been the discoverers of America, either in the sense of being the first human beiugs to find it, or in having opened it up to the world, since the world at large was none the wiser or better off for their expedition. In the latter sense Columbus can still hold his claim to the glory of the discovery. In another sense still more truly does this glory belong to him. He was the first who both reasoned out a priori the necessary existence of a Western coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and proved his reasoning by the result of his voyage of investigation. For the persecuted Genoese captain who arrived at the truth by a logical process and forced the benefits of this truth upon a reluctant Old World must still be given the praise of discovering the New World.

The Welsh may have found America, as other savage men did before them; however, Columbus invented America.

Welsh Language

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