Monday 16 August 2010


Hafal's chair Elin Jones points out John Cabot's Welsh connection Richard ap Meurig who bankrolled the Matthew's voyage to America (see last post) and, according to one tradition, gave his name to the continent (ap Meurig was anglicised to "Amerike"). Of course ap Meurig was only making doubly sure of Wales' claim to America since his fellow-countryman Prince Madog had founded a colony there in 1170 as evidenced by Welsh-speaking Indians in the Mid West whom 18th century European explorers stumbled across (did they offer their visitors tea and Welsh cakes?).

I have been to Fort Mountain, Georgia, where a plaque attributes curious stone fortifications to mediaeval Welsh castle-builders. Incidentally I also encountered a vast bear.

Conventional historians have poured scorn on the story of Madog but I have discovered unassailable proof: French explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes observed of the Indian tribe supposed to be descended from Madog's colony that their womenfolk were of "magnificent beauty". I defy anybody to gainsay this clear evidence and advise them to stay away from Wales if they do.

There is a Bristol connection to Madog too. Bristolian Robert Southey (another rare example of an English admirer of Welsh culture) wrote a lumbering Homeric poem about the Prince entitled Madoc in furtherance of his plan to establish an ideal, democratic society which he called a Pantisocracy (no, seriously, even if it sounds like your smalls drawer). Southey and his chum Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who probably had bipolar disorder - so there's the mental health excuse for this post) couldn't decide whether to set up this Utopia in America or Wales (not a bad shortlist, mind you) so it came to nothing. Southey also wrote the original Goldilocks story - more bears.