Sacred Places of Wales

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Caernarfon (Kire Narvon)

Caernarfon Castle
It is not the castle, however impressive as it may be, that makes this spot sacred to the Welsh people. In the town that grew up around it, in an area still predominantly Welsh speaking in the 1990's, there is a high school named after Sir Hugh Owen, a 19th-century pioneer in the education in Wales. Owen's open letter to the Welsh people in 1843 urged them to accept the schools of the British and Foreign Schools Society, and his untiring efforts to secure a university for Wales led to a commission to promote the idea in 1854. The university itself was established through voluntary contributions.

Owen's pleas to the government for financial help were typically unheeded, and it was public subscription that brought to fruition the centuries-old dream of Owain Glyndwr. In 1872, Aberystwyth University opened its doors, followed by the University College of North Wales in 1894 at Bangor. Like that of Aberystwyth, the much-loved Bangor college provided the foundation in so many different areas that led to the national revival of Wales, not only in the late 1890's, but which is taking a leading part in the current revival of the Welsh language that began in the 1960's. It is therefore, that connection with Sir Hugh Owen that Caernarfon is included in the Sacred Places of Wales.

Caernarfon contains the remains of a Roman fortress, Segontium, located one half mile southeast of Castle Square at the side of the A4085 to Beddgelert. It was founded by Agricola in 78 AD, remaining occupied until 380 AD. The site is well served by its small museum. Close to the Roman Mithraeum is Llanbelig Church, dedicated to Peblig (Publicus) the son of Magnus Maximus who claimed the title of Roman Emperor (known to the Welsh as Macsen Wledig: a national hero).

In the nearby village of Waunfawr (Wine Vowr) there is an impressive monument to explorer John Evans. He was a local man who searched for the descendants of Prince Madog among the Mandan Indians in North America in the early part of the l8th century. His maps of the Missouri River Basin were used by Lewis and Clark on their own expedition to the West Coast.

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