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Blaidd, Blaiddast,Blaiddiaid


Been reading about wolves in Wales - a tantalising report of a wild wolf in Wales as late as 1785 though it's highly likely they were hunted to extinction here in the Seventeenth Century, if not much earlier. Ynys Mon was possibly the last resting place for the Welsh wolf, yet many areas claim the 'distinction' of killing that last individual. Charles Hanbury Williams wrote an evocative poem of the extermination of the last wolf in Gwent by Thomas Herbert Gloff of what is now Goetre Hall, between Pontypool and Abergavenny. Writing centuries after the extinction of wolves in Wales, Hanbury Williams was able to view and convey the incident with poignancy and pathos. In England, King Edward the First ( 1272-1307) ordered the extermination of all wolves in his kingdom and they were almost certainly extinct there by the reign of Henry Tudor (1485-1509). The hunting season for the animal coincided with their breeding season and cubs were also killed in the den. Significant bounties were paid out for every body, including cubs. Wolves lasted longer in Scotland, however and Mary, Queen of Scots was hunting them in the Forest of Atol in 1563, with five wolves recorded as casualties. It is possible the wolf survived in Scotland into the mid Eighteenth Century and they clung on in Ireland until about 1760.

Eventhough they have been persecuted to extinction in the British Isles, their memory lives on in our colourful legends, idioms and place names. Here in Ceredigion it's even possible to visit the probable site of a wolf pit near Tal y Bont. These varied in design but essentially were baited traps where the animal could enter, but not escape. In some countries the bait was hung up from huge hooks and, as the wolf jumped up to get the meat, it's mouth would become caught and it would hang there until found and finished. Other traps used sharpened stakes to impale the animal as it jumped into the baited pit. The ghosts of wolves linger in places such as 'Gafael y Blaidd', 'Gweirglodd y Blaidd' 'Hafod y Bleiddiau.'

Heard today about Norway. They have an estimated 68 wolves and are planning to kill 15 of them. The wolf in Norway is Critically Endangered and even a population of 68 hardly viable. Reason? To protect live stock, well, to protect profit I suppose, given that lifestock will be slaughtered anyway. Can't help thinking there must be room for 69 wolves in a country as big as Norway...

Source: Varied, but Cledwyn Fychan's book 'Galwad y Blaidd' a real inspiration.


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