A medieval map will attest that the famous region of Wales, Contrere Qualot, swallowed up by the sea, may indeed have existed in remote times.
It is a mythical land known as the Atlantis of Wales. Cantre’r Gwaelod, meaning ‘lower city’, is an aptly named land as it is believed to lie under water after being submerged by an accidental flood.
According to legend, the disaster was caused by the negligence of a local chieftain, Seithen, who got drunk after an evening of debauchery and forgot to close the locks that protected the land from being flooded by waves.
This Welsh legend, like many in the Celtic world, first appears in the Black Book of Carmarthen, or Life to Caerfird, an ancient Welsh work written in 1250 (which can be viewed for free in a digital version. On the National Library of Wales website )
But does this myth actually have a basis? The 13th-century map, contemporary with the Black Book of Carmarthen and housed in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, caught the eye of two eminent British scholars, Simon Haslett, professor of physical geography at Swansea University, and David Willis, who teaches Celtic. At Jesus College, Oxford, BBC reports .
By carefully studying this medieval map, which is difficult for the layman to read, the two noted that two islands, “each about a quarter of the surface of Anglesey”, separated an island land in the north-west of Wales. Little Menai Strait. That is, if the map’s proportions are accurate, an area of just under 200 square kilometers. However, both of these lands are referred to south of Cardigan Bay, not far from the site of Contrere Qualot by tradition.
For Simon Haslett and David Willis, this can’t be a coincidence, especially since this “Gough Map” named after its first modern purchaser in 1774, David Gough, is astonishingly accurate, Simon Haslett assures: “Both islands are clearly marked. Contemporary accounts of a lost land mentioned in the Black Book of Carmarthen can support
According to two academics who rely on studies of the geological history of the region, the two islands may have previously been connected to the mainland, separated from it at the end of the ice age, and ten thousand years later. Recently drowned by rising water.
“In almost a millennium, from the 1st century to the construction of Harlech Castle in the Norman era, the seascape changed completely,” underlines Simon Haslett, who also refers to Ptolemy’s map of the Roman Empire. Hadrian’s rule, “suggests that at that time the coast was eight miles further west than it is today.”
Welsh people living around Cardigan Bay are said to sometimes hear the bells of the sixteen towns of Contrare Quelod. All that remains is to ask.