"The Nineteenth century saw a great Springtime of Nations as the revolutions of 1848 saw new countries created the length and breadth of Europe. In our world today we are now seeing our own Spring Awakening with people and cultures that have long been dormant and subdued asserting their right to exist, their right to dream." Adam Price MP
IN just a couple of days’ time, the Western Mail will launch the New History of Wales – a series that will challenge some of the most commonly accepted assumptions about our nation.
A panel of leading academics have joined forces with the Western Mail to compile a 25-part series of articles which will run daily, beginning on September 18 with a special edition of our weekend magazine.
The series examines whether, for example, we Welsh really are descended from the Celts, or whether anti-social behaviour is a truly modern invention, and explores the surprising role Wales played in the Cold War.
Other subjects tackled range from whether the Industrial Revolution was largely focused on South Wales to whether Hollywood icon Richard Burton really deserved his reputation as a hellraising womaniser.
Our academics turn much of the received wisdom about Wales on its head.
Professor Huw Bowen, of Swansea University, is co-ordinating the project for the Western Mail on behalf of History Research Wales.
He said: “Historians don’t often get the chance to publish their work in a newspaper, so this groundbreaking series presents us with a great opportunity to reach out to a large public audience.
“The people of Wales have always had a keen interest in the nation’s history.
“We hope that readers are excited by the new thinking and research findings that are evident in these articles written by leading specialists.
“Above all, we hope that they are inspired to find out more about their past, from the Iron Age to the Iron Lady.
“The new history of Wales re-examines Welsh history in a fresh and thought-provoking way.
“This is no simple beginning-to-end history of Wales, but instead the series offers a challenge to many of the widely-held myths and misunderstandings that exist about Welsh history.”
Western Mail editor Alan Edmunds said: “We’re incredibly excited to be presenting The New History of Wales in the Western Mail.
“We’ve joined forces with some of the leading academics in the country to provide a challenging and thought-provoking account of the history of our country. We feel that our series is a major contribution to the existing body of research about how 21st-century Wales came to take its modern form.”
The articles are the foundation for what will be a month-long celebration of Welsh history in the Western Mail and also online at www.walesonline.co.uk
As part of the series, we’ll also be offering schools across Wales the chance to submit their own ideas for bringing history to life.
We’ll be inviting them to send us their ideas for a video and we’ll send our team of professional videographers to make the best entry a reality.
We have a raft of additional information tied into the features that we can provide via e-mail and through a dedicated area of our website.
Resources will include Friday afternoon webchats where the experts will answer your questions about their revised view of Welsh history; an online quiz; and iconic Western Mail front pages to analyse, plus reproductions of newspaper stories of old.
Glenn Aubrey, a history teacher at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, Barry, said he was looking forward to the start of the series.
He said: “As a teacher, I think it’s important our students are aware of Wales’ background and history. It can give students a sense of their roots. Here in Barry, we try to teach an understanding of the area’s history.
“Some students don’t always realise the importance Wales played in the world in terms of things like the Industrial Revolution, for example.
“If you can make the history interesting, then the students are very keen to learn.
“The Western Mail project will make the history accessible and interesting and I hope to take advantage of what they are doing.”
For more details e-mail welshhistorymonth@ mediawales.co.uk
It is vitally important that the history of Wales taught in the schools of Wales (and for that matter the schools of England and Scotland) is the true history of Wales, including the battle-grounds and princedoms, and not only the history of the kings and queens of England and the development of the English parliamentary system.