Year of LegendsVideo Inside
2017 has been hailed as the Year of Legends in Wales and the great and magnificent tales and legends of Wales will be celebrated and remembered across the land. For the folklore and tales of Pembrokeshire, local author, Dr Brian John, will be sharing his collection of Pembrokeshire Tales for us to enjoy on PembrokeshireLifeOnline.
Story telling is and has always been such an important part of the human condition. Most of us spend our lives trying hard to live our best story and, with the stories we tell ourselves and those we choose to share we endeavour to influence our worlds. In what we say, with words and deeds; art, music, dance, fashion and lifestyle, choices we make to be present or absent, the extent to which we give or take. Our stories abound.
It is widely acknowledged that local economies often receive a boost when their communities embrace the folktales and legends of their districts and infuse life and location with a unique identity that captivates all who come into contact; Indeed, drawing attention from afar.
Pembrokeshire is a natural attraction for tourism and and source of inspiration for the many artists and writers who call it home. As one of our county’s best known storytellers, Brian John, generously shares his vision of how literary tourism can add to our landscapes and enrich our visitors’ experience in 2017 and beyond.
After two or three years of collecting and collating the old legends, fairy stories and folktales, Brian published them in a series of four books – sadly now out of print but still available in the People’s Collection Wales (and, we’re excited to announce, many will soon be available as mapped audiobooks to listen to in our mobile app – and downloadable as a collection of location based storytelling anthologies – as a folklore companion to your travels around Pembrokeshire).
About the author
Born in Carmarthen and educated at Haverfordwest Grammar School before Jesus College, Oxford, Brian enjoyed an illustrious career in field science and as a lecturer at Durham before returning to Pembrokeshire in 1977. His published works around the history of the Stonehenge bluestones and their links to the Preselis are an authority on the subject.
He is also well-known for his Angel Mountain Saga; this story, based in West Wales, documents the imagined life of Martha Morgan, which will also feature this year and, if negotiations with a production company are successful, we should see a television series!
More recently, Brian has turned to writing fiction including a conspiracy thriller set in Greenland, called ‘Acts of God’.
‘Many parts of Britain have benefited from the interest generated by novels which have a
very strong “sense of place.” In some novels — or series of novels — there is such a strong regional identity that the books are actually referred to as “regional novels.” That does not mean that the novels are parochial or of limited interest or ambition — on the contrary, a powerful portrayal of landscape can deepen and strengthen a work of fiction, and create a tight bond between a reader who knows a place well and an author who might know it even better.
The novels of the Angel Mountain Saga are works of historical fiction, set in the regency and Early Victorian periods. But they are solidly rooted in the regional landscape of NE Pembrokeshire, and in particular the rough and beautiful landscape around Carningli and Newport. The novels could not be transposed to any other part of the world, since both the landscape and its traditions are quite unique.
Through the lives of Martha Morgan and the other protagonists in the stories, I have tried to portray the peculiarly Welsh feeling called “hiraeth” — a word difficult to translate, but meaning both longing and belonging. Martha feels very strongly, almost from the moment she arrives at Plas Ingli, that the mountain of Carningli is a part of her, and that she in turn is a part of it.’ – Brian John
Brian has become a leading figure in Pembrokeshire as a writer, publisher, community activist and for his commitment to environmental protection.
In this video he tells us the strange story of how the Martha Morgan stories came about…
The Martha Morgan stories
Acknowledgement to photographer, Steve Mallett, who has captured such beautiful photographs of Rhiannon James, as Martha Morgan – and the evocative landscapes from around N. E. Pembrokeshire, depicted as Martha Morgan Country.
as Martha Morgan
‘Heartlands’ composed by Stephen Rees
Is the perfect music to accompany the legends and folklore of Pembrokeshire…