“Making it More Celtic": Welsh Nation-Building in the Year of Legends

Authors: Mark Rhodes*, Kent State University
Topics: Europe, Cultural Geography, Ethnic Geography
Keywords: Wales, Celtic, Heritage, National Identity, Memory Work, Landscape
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Studio 10, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Welsh Government and their tourism department, Visit Wales, marketed 2017 as the Year of Legends. Operating under the hashtag and slogan FindYourEpic, the Welsh Government sponsored a number of events and installations throughout the country. While already somewhat controversial, the program came under attack once CADW, the Welsh Government’s historic environmental service, announced that a giant iron ring sculpture would be erected at Flint Castle in northeast Wales. The Iron Ring symbolizes the 13th century Norman occupation and chain of castles throughout Wales. While the iron ring initiative was withdrawn, recent investigation revealed that one public official recommended that the iron ring be made “more Celtic” as to appease those who might be offended by the commemoration of the Normans. While this project failed, the Welsh Government organized additional programs under the same agenda. Utilizing methods of landscape analysis, I explore the Welsh Government’s role and the “Celticness” of their summer 2017 programs, such as an exhibition on dinosaur eggs promoted throughout National Museum Wales and a series of landscapes and sessions at the National Eisteddfod. Utilizing archives, interviews, and personal observations to understand these “epic” landscapes, I connect them to ongoing government nation-building initiatives and how historical engagement at these national institutions shape and reveal national identity.

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