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Caerleon Festival 2015


Following involvement at the Caerleon Festival in 2015, APECS is now planning to support this well-established event in July 2016, at the 14th Festival. APECS will also be involved in similar events at the Twrch Trwyth Festival, Ammanford in September 2016 and the Chepstow Festival later in 2016. Part of the APECS Stand at the Caerleon Festival, shown below, included a full range of our books together with copies of the Twrch Trwyth Trail.


The Amman Valley, Carmarthenshire was the scene of many of the battles between Arthur and his knights and the magical Wild Boar known as the Twrch Trwyth. Several places there bear the names of the furious activity of the chase across south Wales. During Margaret’s research into the development of the trail of the chase, she was a Writer in Residence for a term at Ysgol y Bedol, Cwmaman, working with children aged 7 to 11. Her book, Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth was published in 2012, together with the launch of the Cwmaman section of the Twrch Trwyth Trail running alongside the River Aman.
One result of this literary and cultural development was the launch in 2014 by Ammanford Council of the Twrch Trwyth Festival that included a series of fun and business activities in and around the town. The success of this innovation was an enlarged Festival on the 19/20 September 2015 attended by many townspeople and visitors from the wider locality. Plans have now been made for the Third Festival in September 2016 with the strong support of the Carmarthenshire County Council, who sees the cultural and economic benefits to this area of west Wales.
The picture shows Margaret at an early stage of her research, pointing to a part of the River Aman near its source in the Carmarthenshire Black Mountain. Taken during warm and dry weather in Summer 2010, the river levels were very low generally.

Where the Wye meets the Severn

About half a mile on from the Old Ferrybridge Inn at Beachley near Chepstow, can be seen the confluence of two major rivers, the River Wye and the River Severn estuary. Very rarely is such a panoramic view readily seen with the first Severn Bridge in the background and the second Severn Bridge in the distance to the south
On a gloriously sunny late August, we visited this viewing point and reflected on the story of Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth (Margaret Isaac, 2012). Upstream a few miles from this point is where the tidal Lake, Llyn Lliwan comes to life when filled by the Severn Bore, a regularly occurring phenomenon where the river narrows near Lydney.
Based on the Story of Culhwch and Olwen, possibly the best story from the Mabinogion, Arthur and his Warriors, forced the great boar, the Twrch Trwyth into the tidal waters near Llyn Lliwan. Closely pursued by Mabon and Arthur, who were intent on obtaining the razor and the scissors from the Twrch’s head, the boar managed to escape with the comb still in its possession. Obtaining all three items was one of the many impossible tasks required by Olwen’s father, Ysbyddaden the Giant, before Culhwch could marry Olwen. The comb was finally recovered by Culhwch which allowed him to marry the beautiful Olwen, but you will need to read the story to see why all this took place!
After our walk, we took refreshment in the very hospitable Old Ferrybridge Inn with its splendid views to the north, south and east across the Severn.

The picture shows Margaret at the start of our visit, standing underneath the first Severn Bridge and looking eastwards across the Severn Estuary.

The book, Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth, can be obtained from the Post Office, Caerleon, or direct from ourselves at APECS Press Caerleon.

Newport Golfers visit Dolaucothi Gold Mines

A group of twelve active men and women golfers from Newport Golf Club, Gwent recently visited the National Trust's Dolaucothi Gold Mines at Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire. In glorious sunshine, they were guided by Susan Scott around one of the mostly surface part of the mines on the Roman Tour. After a one hour break for lunch at the tearoom, the party then visited the underground section on the Victorian Tour with guide Sandra Parry. The Group were led by Dr Alun Isaac, formerly Manager of the mine during its rehabilitation by the staff and students of the Mineral Exploitation Department of Cardiff University. The aims of the early work and how they were achieved are described in the book, Dolaucothi Gold - A Vision Realised, and the geology and periods of mining are described in the companion publication, Dolaucothi Gold Mines - Geology and Mining History.

Twm Siộn Cati Award at Tregaron

Tregaron Primary School presents an annual award to a pupil of the school who has shown the most kindness and care to her community in that year. The 2015 winner is proudly holding her prize, the book Thomas Jones of Tregaron alias Twm Siộn Cati.

Margaret at Apecs Press wishes to congratulate her and hopes she will enjoy the story and keep it as a fond memory of her time in the school.

Review of Margaret Isaac’s latest book by the Welsh Books Council

The Welsh Books Council has selected Margaret Isaac’s latest book for review, we are pleased to share this with our readers

“In another of her books of Welsh folktales, Margaret Isaac has produced for both children and adults a version of one of the Arthurian stories from the Mabinogion based firmly in south Wales. Complete with a foreword by Professor Sioned Davies of Cardiff University placing the quest of Culhwch for Ysbaddaden Chief Giant’s daughter Olwen in its classical story tradition, a useful map, a scholarly bibliography plus previously published illustrations by Margaret Jones, this is a comprehensive treatment and ideal for individuals, families or school settings.

In order to satisfy his possible father-in-law – the terrifying Ysbaddaden – and gain the hand of beautiful Olwen, hero Culhwch, supported by his cousin Arthur, needs to present the giant with a number of items. Knowing that he will die horribly at the hands of Arthur’s men should they succeed Ysbaddaden sets a number of challenging if not impossible tasks which depend on skill, intelligence and strength as well as team work. One of these is to hunt and catch the extraordinary otherworld Twrch Trwyth, a cursed king in the form of a great boar, and take from between its ears the comb, razor and scissors which will be used on the night before the wedding.

The writer truly captures the different moods of the story, from the background to Culhwch’s birth and fate, Arthur’s court, the audience with the giant and the various tasks. Closely working with the original text, this is a storyteller who brings it all to life – the courtliness, the romance, the violence and the exciting adventure, wondrous folk characters with amazing skills and animals transformed from human shape. The hunt itself is exhilarating as the Twrch rampages across the countryside with Arthur and his cohort in hot pursuit – in your mind’s eye it is as vivid as any 3D film or electronic game. And the bonus is that you could actually visit the geographical locations!

Margaret Jones’s detailed graphics are a delight in themselves and sit happily in this new Maginogi version, meshing with the text and bringing as they do an authentic Celtic feel. Readers may feel the need to have a look at the larger original versions to appreciate their full impact but the fascination of her character depictions, action scenes and Celtic symbolism in pictorial form is a treat beyond comparison.

If you are a youngster or grown up who wants to read a good story well told, learn about the earliest recorded tale of King Arthur or journey and explore places linked to an all action Celtic saga, Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth should be your choice.”

This review appears on the website www.gwales.com with the permission of the Welsh Books Council

Alumni Article - Margaret Isaac

Alumni article... Margaret Isaac, lecturer in English and Drama at Gwent College of Higher Education, Caerleon from 1961 to 1996.

Margaret remembers her time at Newport fondly. She has always loved the Welsh folklore stories and the College published her first book, ‘Tales of Gold’ in 1991. It was later published by the National Trust.
Most recently Margaret has written a beautiful book about the story of Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth, one of eleven medieval Welsh tales known as the Mabinogion. The story was first recorded in the Red Book of Hergest, 1382, and is the first known written record of King Arthur. Margaret sets her version of the hunt in the context of Culhwch and Olwen another traditional Welsh tale and her fluid style captures all the energy and humour of the original tale. She also spends her time visiting Primary schools in Wales bringing all these old Welsh stories to life through art and drama.
You can see more of Margaret’s work at www.welshstories.com