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 Antiquarian and Out-of-Print Books about Welsh Legends

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Welsh History

The Mabinogion Tetralogy
by Evangeline Walton, Betty Ballentine (Introduction)
  The author of the classic Mabinogian, the great compendium of medieval Welsh mythology, is unknown to us, but generations have thrilled to the magical tales set at a time when men and gods mingled, and the gods had more than met their match, tales of the wizard-prince Gwydion, of Prince Pwyll and Lord Death, and of the beautiful Rhiannon and the steadfast Branwen. In the masterful hands of Evangeline Walton the twelve "branches" of the ancient text were reworked into four compelling narratives
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The World of King Arthur

by Christopher Snyder
  A survey of, and companion to, all things connected with the Arthurian legend. The author has examined archaeological evidence and medieval texts, and provides quotes from contemporary sources, a timeline, numerous sidebars and special features on key figures and events.
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Welsh and Celtic legends, history and archaeology

The Welsh (Cymry) are descended from the Britons who occupied the island of Britain from the channel coast to the South of Scotland before the Roman invasion. They also had close links with the Irish Gaels, some of whom lived in West Wales, and the Bretons who have a similar language. As a result, the legend and traditions of Wales are shared to some extent with other Celtic peoples. The oldest recorded legends are incorporated in the 'Mabinogion', a collection of surreal and magical tales that have their roots in the lands surrounding the Irish Sea several thousand years ago.

Many of the earliest Welsh poems are epics written in the South of Scotland and North of England in the centuries following the collapse of Roman rule. In those days Old Welsh was spoken in Edinburgh and the Lothians, Strathclyde and Cumbria. The most famous is the Gododdin, thought to have been written by Aneirin and telling the story of a disastrous atack on the Angles at Catraeth (Catterick) by a British warband based in Edinburgh.

Tales such as Why the Red Dragon is the Emblem of Wales attempt to explain the events of the post-Roman period.

Later legends show Breton influence and incorporate the elements of courtly love, Arthurian tales and pageantry. Other tales incorporate fairies and the supernatural and relate them to features of the landscape. For example the legend of the 'Meddygon Myddfai' relates that a farmer in the parish of Myddfai, Carmarthenshire, having bought some lambs in a neighbouring fair, led them to graze near Llyn y Fan Fach, on the Black Mountains. Whenever he visited these lambs three beautiful damsels appeared to him from the lake, on whose shores they often made excursions. Sometimes he pursued and tried to catch them, but always failed; the enchanting nymphs ran before him ... read more about the Meddygon Myddfai legend.

The Tale of Elidurus is another typical story of an earthling joining the fairy people dating from the twelfth-century.

Pergrin and the Mermaiden takes contact between man and mermaid as its theme.

Gelert: The Martyred Hound is one of the best-known (and saddest) of Welsh tales.

The Devil's Bridge is another tale connected with a placename.

Gododdin of Aneurin

John T Koch
  A poem called the Gododdin was composed by Aneurin sometime around 600 AD, but the poem of that name preserved in a 13th century manuscript probably had a history of oral and scribal transmission, and will have undergone changes. Here, Koch establishes the historical context, investigates the process of the poem's transmission and restores the text to its original form. This tranlation of the "Book of Aneurin" differs from earlier presentations by providing a reconstructed text recovered through principles of textual criticism and historical linguistics.
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Arthur's Britain (Classic History)

by Leslie Alcock
  We are all familiar with the legendary tales of King Arthur: the sword in the stone, the Holy Grail, the great deeds and high enchantments. But what evidence is there for a real historical figure beneath the myth and romance? This book assembles a wealth of information about the Arthur of history by delving into the shadowy period of the past in which he lived. Drawing on evidence from both written and archaeological sources, Leslie Alcock, who directed the famous excavation at Cadbury Castle in Somerset, sifts history from fiction to take us back to life between the 4th and 7th centuries
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King Arthur and the Goddess of the Land: The Divine Feminine in the Mabinogion

by Caitlin Matthews
  The ancient Celtic stories of the Mabinogion have received universal recognition from scholars as both sources of the Arthurian legend and keys to insights into the ancient magic of the Celtic Otherworld. Now renowned Celtic scholar Caitlín Matthews, drawing on a full range of medieval texts and ancient Welsh writings, provides a fully revised and updated reader's guide to these rich and far-reaching tales.
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Folklore of Wales

by Anne Ross
  Wales is a Celtic country and the Celts have always treasured oral learning and recitation. Indeed they have a passion for committing facts to memory rather than relying on the written word. So it is no surprise, as we can see from Anne Ross’ study, that the Welsh folklore and story-telling is so rich and varied.
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Mythology of the British Isles

by Geoffrey Ashe
  Recounting stories and legends from the dark centuries of British prehistory to the 9th century AD - tales of giants and fairies, druids and saints, King Lear, King Arthur and Old King Cole - Ashe shows how they all interrelate and take on fresh significance from historical and archaeological research.
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Prehistoric Wales

by Frances Lynch, Jeffrey L. Davies, Stephen Aldhouse-Green
  A title which aims to give the reader a modern and authoritative summary of research interpretations on prehistoric monuments, sites and artefacts. This book should be of interest to anyone who has a serious interest in Welsh history and in early settlement and society in the British Isles.
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The Welsh Kings: the Medieval Rulers of Wales

by Kari Maund
  The author produces revealing pictures of the leading Welsh kings and princes of the day and explore their contribution to Welsh history and their impact on the wider world. This work revives the memory of the natice leaders of the country from a time before the title 'Prince of Wales' became an honary trinket in the gift of a foreign ruler. It restores these men to their rightful place among the past rulers of the island of Britain.
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A Pocket Guide: Celtic Wales

by Miranda Aldhouse Green, Ray Howell
  The subject of "Celtic Wales" is the archaeological and historical evidence for human settlement in what is now Wales, from about 700BC - AD1000. This book puts Celtic Wales in its European context, and tackles issues of academic debate concerning "Celticity" and ethnic identity.
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Merlin and Wales: A Magician's Landscape

by Michel Dames
  With illustrations of the art and artifacts pertaining to the Merlin legend as well as the author's own evocative photographs of mythic sites, the book guides us through the many versions of the story of Merlin and his sister/lover - from the mysterious boy on Dinas Emrys who aroused the embattled red and white dragons in their hidden pool, to the metaphor of his retreat to the holy land of Bardsey off the coast of Wales.
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