B is for Bryn Celli Ddu. I was lucky enough to be the Madog Fellow a few years back at my university (something I’m angling to repeat) which sends a professor to study Welsh culture. I studied the Neolithic sites while I was there and fell a little bit in love with Wales. I knew I would set something here (probably more than one thing) and I used it in a Christmas related short story The Light of Winter, which was supposed to be holidays traditions as the anthology’s theme.
I promised in my A post that I would be talking about settings of my stories so let me tell you a little bit about Bryn Celli Ddu. Sure you can read about the site Here. Long story short, Bryn Celli Ddu is in Ynys Mon (which I think got autocorrected to something wrong in my story, head desk), otherwise known as the Isle of Anglesey in north Wales. Its name means the mound of the dark grove, how wonderful is that?
It’s a passage grave, probably one of the best in Wales. You can enter inside it, and while there are no grave goods any more, you get a sense of the place. It is a liminal space. It’s almost impossible for us to reconnect with the original builders, some five thousand years ago, but sitting inside this sacred site, you can hear the whispers of them. What’s nice about Bryn is it’s been restored including the stones with their carvings (the originals are in a museum) so unlike the more stark (yet wonderful) sites like Pentre Ifan, you get a sense as to what these sites would have looked like when they were originally made. (Though it would be interesting to imagine what the original wood henge which pre-dates the passage grave would have been like).
I was almost resented it when a busload of middle schoolers showed up and spoiled the air of the ancient (and hopeful that at least one or two of them will appreciate the site as kids that age rarely do). Even standing there, I knew I would use Bryn.
In The Light of Winter, Gareth, a professor and Druid, has been having trouble finding time to be with his significant other, Warun, a medical doctor (and Christian). To help heal their strained relationship, Gareth plans a holiday get away to the north of Wales so they could play in the ruins of castles and what not but also to share his druidic beliefs with Warun. Bryn Celli Ddu is aligned with the winter solstice known as Alban Arthan to the druids and light spills into the grave (not as dramatic as Newgrange in Ireland but still, enough for my story). I had fun with this one, and I was proud to showcase both the Druid faith and Welsh Christian traditions (which I hope I did justice to, being not Welsh. I had to trust my research to carry me there). I wasn’t lucky enough to be in Wales to experience a solstice at any of the sites but maybe one day, I will.
This is a picture from inside the grave looking out.
And of course I couldn’t go to Ynys Mon without stopping here. Pob lwc with pronouncing it. (this is the train station)
If you’d like to see The Light of Winter you can find it here.