The Unusual History of Welsh Love Spoons
Always looking to share the fascinating culture and history of our beautiful locations, we were delighted to recently collaborate with Writer Ali Noone; looking into some of the interesting historical attractions on the Llŷn Peninsula which provide perfect opportunities for family days out.
Historical Attractions on the Llŷn Peninsula
Every year more than 3 million people visit Caernarfonshire in North Wales. It is a land of myths, legends and storytelling. On the coast, just south of the island of Anglesey is the historical Llŷn Peninsula. It has been awarded as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,” for the incredible scenery and beaches. When you are visiting the area, take the opportunity to see some of the incredible historic landmarks and soak in the Celtic atmosphere. They are places that you can take the whole family, and learn about the Kings, Queens and Saints of the Llŷn Peninsula.
Just under two miles off the coast of the Llŷn Peninsula is the incredible Bardsey Island. It is an island of many names, including the “Island of 20,000 saints,” and the “Island of Bards.” The Welsh translation however means the “Island in the Currents.” In 516 AD, Saint Cadfan built a monastery on the island, which became a very popular religious pilgrimage site. Even though the monastery was demolished in 1537 at the orders of Henry VIII, the island is still visited by Catholic pilgrims even today. The ruins still stand and are striking against the backdrop of the deep, blue sea. Bardsey Island also claims to be the final burial place of King Arthur. This is why the island has attracted so many artists, poets and musicians, inspired by this mythical Celtic legend!
If you would like a very civilised historical day out, then Glynllifon is perfect. It is a neo-classical three story mansion that has undergone many transformations over the years. The original building goes back to the 1600s, but the house was rebuilt in 1751, and again in 1889, after a fire. The grounds and country park of Glynllifon are open every day. You can have lunch in the Black Cat Cafe and check out the Adra Shop and Gallery, where they sell traditional Welsh gifts and souvenirs. One of the most popular gifts, particularly to give a loved one, is a Welsh lovespoon. Traditionally, love spoons were given by a man to the girl that he wanted to be with. They have intricately carved handles, featuring different shapes that are symbolic, such as a heart for love and a lock to represent security. The oldest known Welsh lovespoon dates back to the 1600s.
Criccieth Castle has a view over Tremadog Bay. It is situated between the two sandy beaches at Criccieth and is steeped in a rich history. The castle was constructed by Llewellyn the Great (1173-1240), who was the King of Gwynedd at the time. He went on to become the ruler of Wales. The castle was captured at the end of the 13th century by Edward I’s English army, who heavily modified it, adding more towers and gateways. During the 15th Century, Criccieth Castle was used as a prison during the brave rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr. He was the very last Welshman that held the title “Prince of Wales.” Today, what is left of the castle is run by Cadw. You can go and see exhibitions there all about the different Welsh castles in the area.
The Llŷn Peninsula has a rich history and there are some incredible places that you can take your family. It is entirely possible that Merlin left a little bit of his magic behind here in North Wales!