Real Preseli by John Osmond


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‘John Osmond takes time out from shaping the destiny of the nation to reshape our understanding of one corner of that nation.’ – Grahame Davies

John Osmond calls Preseli – west and north Pembrokeshire – magical country. It is a landscape of bare hills, big skies and a dramatic coastline of bays and headlands. Real Preseli invites the reader to journey with Osmond as he walks the area and its iconic frontier the Landsker, which marks the northernmost extent of the Norman and other settlement. It begins in Solva on the western coast and, skirting the Preseli hills, moves eastwards in an irregular line, its path dotted with frontier castles at towns and villages like Roch, Rudbaxton, Rath, Wiston, and Llawhaden.

Preseli’s rural landscape is a magnet for artists, tourists, environmentalists and nature lovers, and retirees from across Britain. It is a place of Welsh-speaking locals, thickly laden with myth and history in equal measure, a place of traditions and a sense of itself. It is also a place of leisure and tourism, of thousands of visitors and holiday makers who allow it to thrive. John Osmond’s mix of history, memoir and personal knowledge divines a certain way of living, shared by newcomers and natives alike. This is life at the end of the line, in a far-flung territory where the everyday necessities of modern life stand alongside a specialness of place. Its inhabitants feel different, and special, in ways that the visitor can only partly discern. Real Preseli speaks to natives, incomers and tourists, equally thanks to the author’s own special relationship with the place.

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