Todays 12 Days of Christmas fibre is inspired by Dream of Emperor Maxen. If you're reading along in The Mab, it's the story Follow the Dream. The Romans conquered Wales along with England, though many of the Welsh tribes carried on being rather troublesome, hence the large numbers of Roman Forts found over much of Wales. Many of the few straight roads in the hillier areas of the country follow the routes of the roads originally built by the Romans.
The image above is a representation of Segontium Fort, just outside modern Caernarfon (you can still visit the ruins today). It was built nearly 2000 years ago, and was occupied for around 300 years. Built by Agricola in AD77 in order to suppress a Ordovician rebellion, around 1000 infantry men lived here, guarding access to fertile Anglesey and also providing a defence against Irish pirates.
This is the fortress that becomes known as Caer Aber Seint (the fort at the mouth of the Saint river), and appears in the Dream of Macsen Wledig in the Mabinogion. You can read an English version of the story online here.
A note on spelling, in English the Emperor would be Maxen, Cymraeg has no x so instead forms the same letter sound by using cs. Emperor Maxen is a real life figure from history. He was Roman Empower of the Western Roman Empire from 383 to 388, and his rule marks the end of Roman occupation of Britain. This is the story of the Dream of Emperor Maxen, a retelling the transition of power from Roman rule back in to the hands of local nobility. Maxen falls in love with Elen, a Welsh princess, and as part of her dowry hands over control of several Roman fortresses and lands to her father.
In the story Maxen looses his throne due to being absent from Rome for so long, but, with the help of Elen's brother, Maxen marches across Gaul and Italy and recaptures Rome. As a reward Maxen awards Elen's brother Cynan Meriadoc a portion of Gaul that is now modern day Brittany (Breton language is very similar to Welsh).
What about Elen? Abandoned by her husband she was left behind in Wales. She declared "croes awr i mi yw hon" "a cross hour for me is this", and died of grief in a village called Croesor in Eryri (Snowdnia) beneath the mountain Cnicht.
So important is the tale of Macsen, and the way he left Wales that it's stlll being sung about today. If any of you followed the recent World Cup you may have heard Welsh football fans singing Yma O Hyd. This is a contemporary Welsh folk song written by Dafydd Iwan. It was a song designed to raise spirits and to encourage people to keep the Welsh language alive.
There's lots of Macsen available in the shop right now if you either missed out on the 12 Days of Christmas parcels, or if you had one and decide you need more of this beautiful aqua colour.