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Llangadog, Carmarthenshire. The Dyffryn Tywi (Vale of Towy) lies where the Towy river, striking due South from its spring in the high Ellennith, turns away from the feet of the Black Mountain and the Fforest Fawr, and finds a channel to the South West. It is a fertile lowland, a pleasant riverine peninsula cut into the high moorland that is much less travelled today than it was by the Romans and those who went before them. The vale begins with Llanfair-ar-y-bryn (St Mary's Church on the hill), and holds first Llandovery and then Llandeilo before it works its way to Carmarthen. And between Llandovery and Llandeilo is Llangadog. Across the river to the North the road from Llanwrda leads to the parallel valley of the Teifi, to the towns of Lampeter and Tregaron a road that, as far as Dolaucothy, follows the causeway laid by the Romans to connect over the bare hills one civilized clearing and the next, between their station at Llandovery and their other one at Llanddewibrefi, and so to Aberystwyth. It can still be taken, and it still carries the name of Sam Helen, the Causeway of the Helen who was a British lady of rank and became the mother of the first Christian Emperor of Rome, Constantine the Great, who was born at York, launched from Britain his successful campaign to master the world, and played his part in founding the medieval legend of Arthur. Whatever the real origin of the name the road carries, Helen and her memory are now inextricably bound to it.

Llangadog, also spelt Llangadock, keeps alive another memory, that of the Cadoc who was a saint in the Age of Saints following the ebb of Roman power. History has itself ebbed from the town. Once it was important, and it is still at least as large as Llandovery. It had a castle to guard the strategy of control from the South and over the roads to the valley of the Teifi, but all trace of it has vanished. It is not known whether the Romans had an intermediate station there; the Normans do not seem to have chosen it as a site for one of their strongholds. The castle was Welsh-built, and chiefly concerned with internecine Welsh feuds until Edward I, warring with the last Llywelyn, seized the town, burnt out the church, slew the priest, and tethered horses at the altar. It was an act that recognized not only the strength of the national feeling in Wales but the distinctive tradition of religious belief that sustained it.

The most curious incident in the story of Llangadog, however, occurred in the 1770s. Standing apart from the world under the shadow of bleak highlands, a place like Llangadog may well let the less rational instincts of mankind gain the upper hand. At Glanareth, not far from the town, lived William Powell, the son of a well-to-do family. At Llandovery lived a merchant, William Williams. The wife of Powell. it seems, became the mistress of Williams; but this was not the beginning of the relationship between the two men. For Williams had the idea that he was the illegitimate son of Powell's father, an elder offspring, by custom entitled to take the lands and possessions of Powell. Possibly the wife, in Williams's eyes, was no more than a weapon to use against his younger half-brother. Williams took his time. The campaign against Powell, a matter of whispers and calumny, was long and surreptitious. Apparently the whole community was aware of this conspiracy in ale-houses and the like. There was no active feeling against Powell, but a fear of Williams's vindictiveness. On a snowy winter's night, Williams led a band of his cronies, all drunk, to the house of Glanareth, where Powell was stabbed to death in his own living-room. Only one man, his steward, made even a feeble attempt to save him, although the house was filled with Powell's kinsmen, friends, and servants. Some of the murderers were caught and hanged. But Williams escaped over the moors and was never brought to justice. Powell was buried in the chancel of Llangadog church. The site of his house, Glanareth, is in dispute. It was left to fall into ruin and oblivion. But the gang of men who gathered at Cilycwm to murder him set out on their mission over the hills towards Llanwrda, and Glanareth apparently stood somewhere near Llangadog's sister church there. The two saintly places look across the river at one another in mournful recollection of a tragedy that stirred all Wales in its day.

Some 3 miles South of the town is the Garn Goch (Red Cairn), the site of one of the most considerable prehistoric encampments in Wales. It is over 2,000 ft long and about 500 ft wide; its stone ramparts are in places still 20 ft high. The richness of the Vale of Towy made it worth holding against all comers.

Nearby towns: Lampeter, Llandeilo, Llandovery

Nearby villages: Abergorlech, Broad Oak, Brynamman, Carmel, Cilycwm, Cynghordy, Dryslwyn, Ffairfach, Garnant, Glanamman, Halfway, Llanddeusant, Llandybie, Llanfynydd, Llangathen, Llansadwrn, Llansawel, Llanwrda, Myddfai, Penycae, Porthyrhyd, Pumsaint, Rhandirmwyn, Rhydcymerau, Talley, Twyn Llanan

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