A Far Old Line and Cantre’r Gwaelod – The Sunken Hundred

The name of the festival comes from a well-known poem Y Gorwel – the Horizon, by Dewi Emrys of New Quay:

Wele rith fel ymyl rhod - o'n cwmpas

            Campwaith dewin hynod;

            Hen linell bell nad yw'n bod,

            Hen derfyn nad yw'n darfod.

There a shape like a wheel‘s rim – wrapped round us

A great wizard’s work;

A far old line that isn’t there,

An ending that ends ne’er.

That line can be seen from our beaches, villages, hills and fields. It unites us as we stop for a moment to look in wonder.

And somewhere beyond the line, under the sea’s waves, is the fabled city of Cantre’r Gwaelod – The Sunken Hundred.

There are a number of versions of the story which tells about a beautiful, fruitful land which was drowned by the sea. There is an early version of a part of it in the Black Book of Carmarthen – a C13 manuscript now in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. There are similar stories in other countries: Ireland has the story of Tir na n’Og and in Brittany is the story of Gwlad Ys.

Some say that the story of Cantre’r Gwaelod is an imaginary tale, but it is also said that sailors can sail 6 miles out of Aberystwyth to Patches Lightbuoy and sometimes step out of their boats to stand on sand. Sometimes on the beach at Borth, to the north of Aberystwyth, can be seen the remains of a petrified forest which has been submerged and preserved in the sand. And if you walk along our wonderful coastal path northwards from Aberystwyth towards Borth you’ll come to the lonely beach at Wallog; from the beach you can see a long, straight, wide path of rocks, Sarn Cynfelyn, leading to the sea. The sarn leads to Patches which is also known as Caerwyddno – Gwyddno’s Fort: Gwyddno Garanhir was the King of Cantre’r Gwaelod, the drowned land.


We had our own Cantre’r Gwaelod experience a few years ago when parts of Aberystwyth’s promenade wes destroyed by the sea; there was damage in other places too.

Far Old Line Festival will be a celebration of our town, our county, our coast, and of the rich variety of people who live happily alongside each other here.

Stand on the promenade in Aberystwyth on a clear dark evening and you’ll see the light buoy flashing on Patches to warn the sailors – nine flashes and then darkness. And sometimes you might hear the bells of Cantre’r Gwaelod ringing through the waves too.

Jim Finnis' Cantre'r Gwaelod sound project:

Jim Finnis recently took inspiration from the Cantre'r Gwaelod legend for a musical project - using the constantly changing weather and tide conditions around Cardigan Bay to create a piece of music.


"Cantre’r Gwaelod is a constantly changing piece of music, based on the famous story and using elements of the poem Boddi Maes Gwyddno. The music alters according to the weather and tide conditions, reaching a climax at the high tide as the rising sea endangers the land."

FAR OLD LINE FESTIVAL is a community project by Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch

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