The Story of Wales is a new six part series which delves into the nation’s epic history from its earliest foundations to the modern day.
Huw Edwards brings the thrilling and often surprising story of Wales to life.
Presented by broadcaster Huw Edwards, The Story of Wales begins with a fascinating reconstruction of the earliest known human burial in Western Europe - the “Red Lady” of Paviland almost 30,000 years ago. The series examines how Hywel Dda united Wales under one law and looks at the Welsh at the heart of the Tudor Court. It discovers how the pace of the country changed as coal mines and iron works flourished putting Wales ahead of the world in the Industrial Revolution and culminates with an exploration of modern day devolution.
Episode 1: The Makings of Wales
Thirty thousand years in the making, this story begins with the drama of the earliest-known human burial in Western Europe. Huw delves into the biggest prehistoric copper mine in the world, and visits the mesmerising site of an Iron Age hillfort. He reveals the true scale of the Roman occupation and shows how Welsh saints carried the light of the gospel to the rest of the Celtic world, and left a mark on their homeland that we can all still read today.
Episode 2: Power Struggles
This episode spans seven centuries from the building of a great frontier to Owain Glyndwr’s epic struggle for independence. We meet the medieval kings who shape Wales and watch a nation emerge out of their lust for power and land. Amidst battles with Vikings, Saxons and Normans, Welsh culture flourishes. But the death of the last native prince is followed by a century of plague and famine. Then, the charismatic Glyndwr leads a rebellion against the English crown.
Episode 3: England and Wales
It’s 1485: a young nobleman sails to the land of his fathers from exile in France. His mission - to capture the English crown. For the first time, a self-proclaimed Welshman will be King of England. Under the dynasty he founds, Wales becomes united with England. For every generation of Welsh people to come, the consequences are huge. But exactly what it means - for the next 250 years, at least - depends on whether you’re a landowner or one of the ordinary people.
Episode 4: Furnace of Change
The Industrial Revolution turns Wales into a global player, bringing unimaginable wealth - and desperate poverty. From Parys Mountain on Anglesey to Copperopolis, Swansea, in the south - the copper trade transforms the landscape and economy. Iron does the same for Merthyr Tydfil, making it a world class centre of technology. This brave new Wales fuels massive social turmoil, riots and uprisings - and leads to cries for democracy and workers’ rights.
Episode 5: A New Beginning
It’s boom time as Wales becomes known, the world over, for one particular product - Welsh steam coal, the best you can get. In the space of 50 years, ‘black gold’ builds a new Wales. The coalfield pulls in hundreds of thousands of migrants with a different language and culture, becoming a bustling modern world of its own. Yet no sooner has Wales found itself at the centre of global trade, than the Depression causes an industrial crash with a bitter social fallout.
Episode 6: Wales and Britain
In the last 70 years, Wales changes more rapidly than ever. In this final episode, a Welshman battles to set up Britain’s most cherished institution, the British parliament votes to drown a Welsh valley, a new generation of sporting heroes sets the flags waving and television itself becomes part of the story of Wales. Wales becomes a nation of commuters and consumers, but its sense of history has revived.
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