Eighteen miles northeast of Aberystwyth is MACHYNLLETH (pronounced “ma-hun-cthleth”), a bustling little place with a great vibe, as well being the undisputed centre of all things “New Age”, thanks in large part to the nearby Centre for Alternative Technology. The wide main street, Heol Maengwyn, is busiest on Wednesdays, when a lively market springs up; Heol Penrallt intersects this at the fussy clocktower.
Centre for Alternative Technology
After the oil crisis of 1974, seven acres of a once-derelict slate quarry were turned into the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), an almost entirely sustainable community. At one stage, eighty percent of the power was generated from wind, sun and water, but this is no back-to-the-land hippy commune. Much of the on-site technology was developed and built here, but with the rise of eco-consciousness the emphasis has shifted more towards promoting its application in urban situations. CAT’s water-balanced cliff railway whisks visitors 200ft up from the car park to the beautiful main site, sensitively landscaped using local slate and wood, and you can easily spend half a day sauntering around. There’s plenty for kids, a good wholefood restaurant and an excellent shop. Check the website for summer residential volunteer programmes.
Owain Glyndŵr, Welsh hero
Owain Glyndŵr, Welsh hero
Owain Glyndŵr has remained a potent figurehead of Welsh nationalism since he rose up against the occupying English in the early fifteenth century. He was born into an aristocratic family, and studied English in London, where he became a distinguished soldier of the English king. When he returned to Wales to take up his claim as Prince of Wales, he became the focus of a rebellion born of discontent with the English rulers.
Glyndŵr garnered four thousand supporters and attacked Ruthin, Denbigh, Rhuddlan, Flint and Oswestry, before finally encountering English resistance at Welshpool. In a vain attempt to break the spirit of the rebellion, England’s Henry IV drew up severely punitive laws, even outlawing Welsh-language bards and singers. Even so, by the end of 1403, Glyndŵr controlled most of Wales. In 1404, he was crowned king of a free Wales and assembled a parliament at Machynlleth, where he drew up mutual recognition treaties with France and Spain. Glyndŵr made plans to carve up England and Wales into three as part of an alliance against the English king, but started to lose ground before eventually being forced into hiding (where he died). The anti-Welsh laws remained in place until the coronation of Henry VII, who had Welsh origins, in 1485, and Wales was subsequently subsumed into English custom and law.