We Are Bearers of Our Own Heritage

From Planet 253

by Cara Cullen

Cara Cullen draws on conversations as a gofalwraig at St. Fagans during the Brexit vote to argue how rather than being a bygone, folk culture can unite across difference in a way that aligns more profoundly with the decolonisation movement than top-down historical interpretation.

In the quiet of a Celtic roundhouse, I am alone with a fire that hisses and clicks and breathes softly, licking the edges of a honeycomb stack of kindling waiting to dry. Through the low doorway I can see a log covered in glistening frost where I sat in the spring and was hit, unexpectedly on the head by two battling hornets. I can hear the sound of thawing ice dripping from the liverwort and moss on the side of the thatch. In the stillness, a wren flits down from her nest in the roof, outstretches her wings and wriggles beautiful patterns in the dust of the floor to clean her feathers like a flying mouse. She is used to me by now and comes very close to my foot. I think about how easy it would be to catch her, if Wales still practiced the ancient Christmas tradition of hunting the wren. I wonder how many children from the Iron Age onwards shared this intimate experience with the house-bird.

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About the author

Cara Cullen has spent over a decade researching Welsh folklore and history. Alongside her studies she is a fell runner, folk singer and fiddle player with an obsession for hedgerows.