Wales History Map: Artistic responses to the landscape

For centuries, artists of all kinds have shared their visions of Wales through paintings, poems, stories and songs. These artworks have played a vital role in creating a sense of Welsh identity, and in portraying the land and its people to the world.

Recognisable themes have emerged in literature and the visual arts over the years, ranging from Wales as a beautiful but otherworldly land and the impressive rise and fall of industry.

A tour of inspiring Welsh locations immortalised in art could last a lifetime, so, to get you started, this theme contains just a small selection of sites that have played muse to Wales’s (and Britain's) best-known artists…

Cae’r Gors

Cae'r Gors | Cae'r Gors

What? The childhood home of Welsh literary great, Kate Roberts
Where? Snowdonia

This Grade II listed quarryman’s cottage may not be the grandest site in Wales, but its status as the childhood home of Welsh-language author Kate Roberts draws visitors from near and far.

Readers of Roberts’s works  will recognise the house as part of the world that she conjures so vividly in novels such as Traed mewn cyffion (Feet in Chains) and the short-story collection Te yn y grug (Tea in the heather).

Did you know..? In 1965, Kate Roberts bought Cae’r Gors and presented it to the Welsh nation, but it wasn’t until 2005 that sufficient funds were accumulated to restore the tyddyn (smallholding) to the way it would have been during her childhood.

Cae Gors, 
Rhosgadfan, 
Caernarfon, 
Gwynedd 
LL54 7ET

Admission charged.

Tintern Abbey

Abaty Tyndyrn | Tintern Abbey

What? 12th century Cistercian abbey
Where? Monmouthshire

The young J M W Turner travelled extensively in Wales from 1792 to 1799, and the legacy of these sketching and painting tours is a series of breath-taking landscapes, many of which feature Welsh castles and abbeys.

Turner’s sketches and paintings of Tintern Abbey from the 1790s capture both the detail and the drama of structure, whilst reflecting its ruinous state and the extent to which, at that time, nature had started to reclaim the site.

Did you know..? Founded in 1131, Tintern Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery to be established in Wales. 

Tintern Abbey
Tintern, 
Gwent 
NP16 6SE

Admission charged.

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery

Castell Cyfarthfa | Cyfarthfa Castle

What? Museum and art gallery
Where? Merthyr Tydfil

Housed in the magnificent home of the Crawshay iron-making dynasty, this unique site holds a collection of artefacts that spans 2,000 years of local history. 

The castle is also noteworthy for its gallery, containing some wonderful paintings from the industrial revolution as well as a striking selection of modern art. 

Did you know..? The museum houses the first steam whistle, the first voting ballot box and dresses by Merthyr-born designers, Laura Ashley and Julien McDonald.  

Cyfarthfa Park, 
Brecon Rd, 
Merthyr Tydfil, 
Mid Glamorgan 
CF47 8RE

Admission charged.

Laugharne Castle and Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse

Castell Talacharn | Laugharne Castle

What? 13th century site built by the de Brian family
Where? Carmarthenshire

Laugharne’s association with Dylan Thomas is well known, but you’ll still feel a thrill sitting in the castle’s summerhouse – the very place where the poet and author pieced together Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. 

Laugharne’s literary link doesn’t begin and end with Dylan Thomas however, as the English author Richard Hughes also wrote his novel In Hazard at the castle. Visitors to the site can see evidence of the friendship between the two authors, including a copy of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, signed by Thomas and dedicated to Hughes. 

Did you know…? The castle features in a wonderfully atmospheric painting by JMW Turner, now reproduced on one of the site’s panels. Look out for it when you visit.

King Street,
Carmarthen
Dyfed
SA33 4FA

Admission charged

You can also visit the Boathouse where Dylan lived for the last four years of his life. Close by is his writing shed, where he wrote many of his later works.