A tragic tale of two lovers
The season of love is upon us. Everyone knows Valentine’s Day but here in Wales, couples will be celebrating St Dwynwen’s Day on January 25. Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, the most beautiful daughter of a Welsh king called Brychan Brycheiniog.
Just like Valentine’s Day, it’s a time to celebrate with flowers, chocolates, dinners by candlelight and heart-shaped gifts galore. The most famous love story of all is perhaps Shakespeare’s tale of Romeo and Juliet, set in fair Verona. But did you know we have our very own Romeo and Juliet tale, right here in Pembrokeshire?
First of all, let us set the scene. We’re in the Gwaun Valley in North Pembrokeshire, a magical part of Wales and a land that feels like time forgot. At it’s heart is the iconic Bessie’s pub and behind it is an impossibly steep road snaking its way up to the Preselis.
The road eventually levels off and the fields give way to common and an arresting view back of the mystical Preseli mountains, the place where the bluestones were taken to create Stonehenge. Looking towards the horizon, you can see Dinas Island poking out into the sea with Cwm yr Eglwys cove below. Then the coast begins to stretch out before you, first the little wooded bay at Aberfforest then right round to the big smiling sweep of sand at Newport. Right at the top of the climb a standing stone shrouded in myth and legend marks the highest point. Called Bedd Morris - which gives the road its name - it means the grave of Morris.
Legend has it that a young man called Morris lived in the town of Newport. He was madly in love with a fair maiden from Pontfaen, a small settlement nestled in the heart of the beautiful Gwaun Valley. In between these two young people was the wild and craggy upland of Carningli Common.
Sadly, the young maiden’s father did not approve of the love between Morris and his daughter. Morris, he thought, was far beneath what his daughter deserved. So, instead, he arranged what he believed to be a more suitable marriage for her. His daughter, however, was not willing to quietly accept her father’s wish. She begged and begged him to change his mind.
Each time she begged him, he refused and this led to the young people secretly deciding to sort things out for themselves. Morris challenged the other suitor to a duel at the highest point on the rocky road over Carningli Common. There they met and fought to the death.
So that’s how Morris lost his battle, and according to this particular story, the stone, Bedd Morris, marks his battleground. Shortly after his death, the story tells us as well, the fair maiden who loved him also died – of a broken heart.
The standing stone has been shown to date to the Bronze Age (c. 2300 - 800 BC) and stands at the highest point of the ancient route which is now a minor road across Carningli Common. A place where sheep cross absent-mindedly across the road and where time stands still, just for a bit.