Life and Traditions in Rural Wales
- J. Geraint Jenkins
15th March 2009
The key to the study of rural Wales is the living past, for many features of the culture and social life of Welsh country people are of great antiquity. The pattern of settlement brought into being by the medieval system of inheritance is still recognizable in the scattered farms typical of many districts today, and its impress on the customs and character of the remoter uplands persists, not least in the hospitality and kindness offered to strangers. The necessarily self-sufficient nature of dispersed hamlets and villages resulted in many variations in the type and design of farm implements, adapted to particular local needs, and especially of vehicles used for transport on the steeply sloping fields and pastures. Sleds, wheeled sleds, long carts and 'gambos', ranging from a few timbers roughly put together by the farmer to the craftsman-made output of wheelwright and blacksmith are here fully described and illustrated. Domestic crafts using local materials and rural industries such as woollen manufacture and leather working dependent on farm produce have many features distinctively Welsh; so too have the cottages and farmhouses and their furnishings, and the way of life reflected in the customs and beliefs that have not entirely vanished from the countryside.