Christmas 1176. Hordes of people descend on Cardigan - but for culture not for war. The great Lord Rhys ap Gruffydd, prince of Deheubarth, is celebrating the completion of his magnificent seven-tower castle on the banks of the river Teifi. Bards and musicians descend on the town from all corners of Great Britain and Europe - Cardigan basks in its status as a beacon of culture and civilization.
'Song Castle' by Luke Waterson is a fictionalised account of what happened in Cardigan Castle in 1176. The event - immortalised by Brut y Twysogion as "a court in splendour" - has had a lasting effect on Welsh culture.
Author Luke Waterson has intensively researched the period and drawn on his love and admiration of Lord Rhys, Wales and Welsh culture to pen a rollicking tale of what might have happened during that 12th century Christmas feast which has been hailed as the first ever eisteddfod.
Here's a taste:
"They are practitioners of song and they are converging from Gwynedd in the north, from Powys Maelor in the north east, from the Marcher lordships immediately south and east and from who knows where beyond that. They are come to the centre of Pura Wallia, to a town taken back from the Normans and thriving like it never thrived before. They are come to a castle recently raised in sheer walls of stone just like the Norman fortresses only superior, in some respects, because here the greatest river in Wales meets the sea and Flemish traders ship the famous fleeces of Deheubarth across to the Low Countries and make this the great wool port of Wales, the capital of the commodity of the moment. And whether the Welsh like it or not, whether they resent this town's success because it emphasises the prince's success at their expense to some extent, or not -, whether the Normans like it or not, whether they feel threatened by the rise in power of the prince in the west who is a friend of the King and a better friend than many of them - or not, staging a festival in a town like this sends out a message. The Welsh, the message intimates, can accede to great things without raiding, without skirmishing, without thieving, without usurping, without violence, without war and without any help from England."
'Song Castle' is on sale (£8.99) in the castle shop or via our online store www.cardigancastle.com/shop/