Two Small Nations, with Parallels in History, Proud of Their Heritage; BOOK SPOTLIGHTS SIMILARITIES BETWEEN WALES AND ARMENIA

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON

THE mysterious disappearances of King Arthur and Wales' foremost rebel Owain Glyndwe r have a remarkable similarity with that of one of Armenia's greatest heroes, according to a leading Welsh clergymen.

Canon Patrick Thomas, the Vicar of Christ Church Carmarthen and Chancellor of St David's Cathedral, is the author of a highly praised new book which finds numerous similarities between Wales and Armenia, which until 22 years ago was part of the Soviet Union.

Tonight From Carmarthen to Karabagh will be launched in the Temple of Peace and Health in Cardiff.

In recent years close ties have been established between the two countries, prompting Canon Patrick to visit Armenia for the first time in 2005. He immediately fell in love with the eastern European country and kept going back, becoming increasingly aware of the parallels and contrasts between Armenia and Wales.

His book has a unique structure: each chapter has an introduction, three sections focusing on related themes from Armenia and a final section that points out relevant similarities with Wales.

In a section about Welsh and Armenian heroes, Canon Patrick writes: "Some heroes are meant to vanish leaving no known burial place.

"Moses is an obvious Biblical example. In Welsh tradition two of our greatest warriors similarly disappear: King Arthur and Owain Glyndwe r. "I was once rebuked by a Church of England clergyman for having described King Arthur as Welsh rather than English in one of my books. 'Who do you think he was fighting against, then?' I asked.

"An embarrassed silence ensued."

The burial place of King Arthur is a mystery, as is that of Owain Glyndwe r. "The legend that haunted the popular imagination told of an encounter between Owain and the abbot of Vale Crucis," writes Canon Patrick.

"The latter had gone out in the early morning mist to say his prayers when he met the fugitive hero. Owain rebuked the cleric for getting up too early.

"The abbot replied that Owain himself had risen too early by 100 years. From this grew the feeling that Owain (like Arthur before him) would one day return. He too was said to be sleeping with his warriors in a cave - perhaps one of those in which he had hidden during his years on the run. …