Wales is a land of ancient myths and legends, many of them handed down from the pre-Christian oral mythology of the native inhabitants of Great Britain - the Celtic Britons.
Wales boasts one of the longest, unbroken literary traditions, tracing its origins all the way back to the 6th Century. The Black Book of Carmarthen (Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin), written before 1250, is the oldest surviving Welsh manuscript and one of the Four Ancient Books of Wales. Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin contains perhaps the earliest reference (though not our preferred version) to the legend of Cantre’r Gwaelod, the Sunken Hundred. This is the tale we prefer to tell:
During the reign of King Gwyddno Garahir (Longshanks), a beautiful, fertile land (Maes Gwyddno) lay off what is now the coast of West Wales. This lowland was protected from the sea by a series of dykes containing sluice gates that were sealed at high tide. One night around AD 600 during a terrible storm, the watchman in charge of the defences, a certain Seithennin, lived up to his reputation as an inveterate drunkard and carouser. While imbibing heavily in King Gwyddno’s court, drowning his sorrows over his unrequited love for the King’s daughter, he fell asleep and failed to tend the gates. At high tide the sea swept in unhindered, engulfing the land and drowning most of the inhabitants, including Seithennin. Not for nothing is he listed in Welsh legend as one of the Three Immortal Drunkards of the Isle of Britain. To this day, it is said that you can hear the bells of the churches in the drowned land ringing from beneath the waves...
In January 2014, a series of spectacular storms battered the coast of West Wales, scouring away centuries of sand and peat. What was revealed is truly remarkable - the remains of an ancient forest of oak, pine, birch, willow and hazel, dating back 5000 years. Is this striking discovery proof of the legend of the Sunken Hundred?