The Midnight Heart

Wales and a Colonial Past

caerphilly_castle

Caerphilly Castle

Just recently, I wrote up an article about a TV historian’s comments on Wales, and I mapped out how those comments were so very reminiscent of English colonialism in Wales. You can find it here on Wales Online.

In the late nineties when I started university, there were such changes in Wales regarding devolution and possibilities of self-governance. I couldn’t put my finger on how I felt about it at the time, but now I recognise it. I was happy that Wales was gaining new rights, but it is like coming into the open after a long conflict. I couldn’t quite believe that devolution would stick. I accepted it for what it was though. Now of course, things are changing for the worse, and there is very little evidence that Westminster is going to put in the necessary effort and investment to improve conditions in Wales.

I have been thinking about colonialism in my poetry too. The town where I grew up, Caerphilly, was a strategic settlement. It sits in centre of a circle of valleys, like a hub at the centre of the spokes of a wheel. It may have been inhabited by the Romans, and it was certainly developed by the English, especially Gilbert de Clare who built Caerphilly Castle, the second largest castle in Europe. It was a town built to monitor and control the Welsh, and although Caerphilly does have some community, it feels different to other South Wales Valley towns. It is disturbing to think of the town’s origins.

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