Today is a really great day, as we are launching a new art and archaeology project at Kidwelly Castle – two new comics, illustrated by the acclaimed artist Pete Fowler, famed for his Super Furry Animals album cover work. I really love Pete’s style of work, and the bold use of colours really brings these old Welsh myths and legends alive for 21st century audiences.
Branwen is a retelling of an ancient Mabinogi myth linked to Harlech Castle. When Branwen is punished for the actions of one of her siblings, her brother Brân — a giant king — goes to war to avenge her. When I was little this tale was one of my favourites, and these images have stayed with me.
The second comic is the story of Gwenllian which took place in south Wales, near Kidwelly Castle, and tells the real-life tale of the warrior princess who led a revolt in the twelfth century. A real female heroine.
As a child I fell in love with the stories: they are extraordinary tales of the medieval Welsh world.
This is a land where white horses appear magically, where a giant King can stride across the sea, there is a woman called Blodeuwedd made entirely of flowers, and goats that mysteriously changed into wild boars, not forgetting that it is within the pages of a Mabinogion tale that King Arthur makes his first appearance.
I remember my Dad reading the stories to me at bedtime, and just really loved the unpredictable and twisting plots, the mythical Welsh language and the larger than life characters.
Let’s not forget how these beautifully told stories have influenced how archaeology is presented today – in works such as JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones! A real Welsh legacy of these works.
You can get free high-quality printed copies of the comics at Kidwelly and Harlech castles, but we also have free PDF versions which you can download here: