We finally decided on Anglesey – I’ve been wanting for a long time to wander around the island to the various antiquities, the burial mounds, the stone circles. I’ve sorted a list for myself from the BU Library catalogue of Wales & Anglesey histories, mythologies, and folklore. Monday I’ll head to the library to actually check them out.
I very much want to set this novel here in North Wales, maybe even on Anglesey in particular. My short stories lately (“Wish on One Hand” and “A Queen for a King) have been set on Anglesey. There’s just such a beauty about the place, so compact, wild, cultured, ancient…I can’t help but want to set something magical there.
We made it around to a couple of burial mounds (Bryn Celli Ddu and Barclodiad y Gawres), then checked out St. Gwenfaen’s Holy Well on Holyhead (and only after looking it up at home have I discovered we never actually found the well). Picture album is here.
The burial mounds struck me less, moved me less, than did the landscape itself. Harsh, rough, murderous coasts…and then you turn around and find lush rolling green hills, fluffy white sheep snoozing like animated puffs of cotton. The people can be rough, but we asked directions from two different old men out walking with their border collies, and both were so friendly and helpful.
I don’t know yet what shape the story will take, whether it will touch on Grail myth, Celtic myth, whether it will be inspired by the story of a Welsh peasant boy or driven by the tale of a king. I just know that I’m drawn to Anglesey over and over, the same way I’m drawn to Chaco Canyon back home. Maybe it’s the mystery there, maybe just the beauty of standing in the only remnant of a long-gone civilization, one unshaped by kings’ edicts.