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Carmarthen - Overview

Situated on the river Towy, the town of Carmarthen has its roots in the Roman fort of Moridunum, built in 75CE and excavations have revealed the remains of civic buildings and an amphitheatre.

Welsh tradition refers to an individual named Myrddin, famed for his prophetic poetry, who gave his name to the town, known in Welsh as Caerfyrddin, Myrddin’s Fort. He is probably the inspiration behind the figure of Merlin, famed in Arthurian legend, who Geoffrey of Monmouth writing in his History of the Kings of the Britain in 1138, claimed came from Carmarthen.

The River Towy that flows past the town is famed for its coracle fishermen. The coracle is a small, canvas-covered boat allowing space for one person and must also be light enough to be carried. Descriptions and drawings of these small boats survive as far back as the twelfth century.

In the Romantic period, their continued use by the local fishermen came to be regarded a historical oddity. Tourists such as the German journalist Francis Broemel payed tribute to the great dexterity of the coracle fishers of Carmarthen: steering the small boats, catching fish and returning on land dry looks much easier than it is! There are only a few coracle fishermen still active in Carmarthen today, but after years of hard campaigning, the European Commission officially recognised their craft and coracle-fished sewin (a type of trout) was awarded Protected Food Name status in 2017.

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