I am delighted to announce that the first post-launch talk that I will be doing on my new novel Song Castle will be at Cardigan Castle, the setting for the entire second half of the book. For me, there could not be a more appropriate place to do a speaking event, and here’s why:
The Eisteddfod, Wales’ biggest cultural event, is also Europe’s largest competitive festival of poetry and music, and its checkered and bizarre history dates back over eight centuries. Back to 1176, in fact, and back to Song Castle, which deals with the very first Eisteddfod. And as that famous account of Welsh history, Brut y Tywysogion, details, the very first Eisteddfod took place in Cardigan Castle that year.
The castle would have been, at that time, as much a source of pride for the Welsh as it was a thorn in the side of the Normans. Welsh prince Rhys ap Gruffyd had recently taken Cardigan back from Norman control. The castle had been recently rebuilt in stone: not even that many Norman fortresses could claim that. The town was flourishing: prospering more than it ever had. And now as an added sting to Norman advances in Wales, Rhys ap Gruffyd was holding a festival to showcase and celebrate Welsh culture; a festival impressive by any standard, Norman included.
And that was not even the half of it. Western Wales was making a name for itself culturally for a number of reasons in the 12th century. Bloodthirstily brutal the country still undoubtedly was. But behind the bloodshed a new side to Wales was emerging: its reputation for music, and poetry, and literature, which would extend far beyond the country into England, France and further a-field too.
It is in this background that Song Castle unfolds. And this is what I will be speaking about at Cardigan Castle on April 26th: on the cultural place of Ceredigion and Wales in a century more famous for being cutthroat than civilized.
Thank you to the folks at Cardigan Castle for helping to make this event possible and, if you live in the area or happen to be passing through, and have any sort of fascination with Welsh culture, please come along! More than anything, history at this time is great fun: bizarre and depraved by turns. Details below…
Venue: The Tower Room, Cardigan Castle, Cardigan, SA431JA
Date: Thursday, April 26th
Ticket Price: £1 (including coffee/tea)
Purchase tickets from Cardigan Castle direct (at their shop, by phoning 01239-615131 or by emailing email@example.com)