JRR Tolkien’s Wales Tolkien, who loved our language, gave Welsh-sounding names to many characters and places in The Lord of the Rings. To relive the magic of his books, you can visit places he knew and buildings with a connection to his work. A Brecon Beacons National Park Sugar Loaf Mountain, Brecon Beacons by Paula J James It's thought Tolkien stayed in the appealing village of Talybont-on-Usk in the 1940s, while working on parts of The Lord of The Rings. Writing at a time when industrialisation was transforming the British countryside, his nostalgic depiction of The Shire was inspired by rural Wales. It’s easy to see similarities between the landscapes in his books and the hills and meadows of the Black Mountains. He named the hobbit settlement of Crickhollow after Crickhowell, nine miles from Talybont. B Buckland Hall, near Llangynidr Buckland Hall, Brecon by hans905 In The Lord of the Rings, Buckland was a colony of hobbits between the Old Forest and the Brandywine River. Tolkien is thought to have based this part of Middle-earth on the Buckland Estate, whose ancient, protected woodlands stand beside the River Usk. Buckland Hall, a large mansion surrounded by parkland and specimen trees, is now a venue for conferences, courses and celebrations. C Treberfedd Farm Hobbit Houses Treberfedd Farm Hobbit House, Ceredigion by Treberfedd Farm Here, you can tuck yourself up in a cute little self-catering cottage inspired by The Shire. They’re not replicas of the burrows in the film; instead, the owners have created their own vision of the type of place a well-to-do hobbit might adore, scaled up to human size. Built from Welsh timber, insulated with wool and roofed with turf, they’re cosy and eco-friendly – just the job for a peaceful rural break. Quirky touches include octagonal windows with wonderful views of fields and hills. D Lammas, near Cardigan Lammas Ecovillage, Pembrokeshire by Lammas There’s a hobbit-house atmosphere to several of the homes at this northeast Pembrokeshire ecovillage, created by a group of people committed to low-impact living. Their idea is to pioneer an alternative model for living on the land. Residents offer two-hour guided tours of the village at 11am every Saturday from April to September, and courses in traditional crafts are held on a regular basis. E Nant Gwrtheyrn, Llithfaen Nant Gwrtheyrn, Llŷn Peninsula by PPimages Tolkien felt the study of Welsh was crucial to his understanding of the history of the British Isles. If you are equally fascinated by Celtic culture and the Welsh language, head for Nant Gwrtheyrn, a peaceful language and heritage centre in a former quarrymen’s village on the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsula. You can drop in for the day to enjoy heritage exhibits and a café with sparkling sea views, or join a residential course. F Gladstone's Library, Hawarden Gladstone's Library, Hawarden by Pam Sheldon An academic by profession, Tolkien would have felt thoroughly at home in this sumptuous residential library, built when he was a boy. Its shelves hold 32,000 books from William Ewart Gladstone’s private collection, many of them hand-annotated, just as Tolkien annotated his own volumes. Courses in the Welsh language – the inspiration for Tolkien’s Middle-earth Elvish language, Sindarin – are held here from time to time. G Narberth Museum, Narberth Narberth Museum, Pembrokeshire by Narberth Museum Tolkien studied the Mabinogion, a collection of Celtic myths and Arthurian legends from medieval Welsh manuscripts, and wove some of their themes into his works. You can introduce your kids to the best-known tales at Narberth Museum’s Mabinogion Woodland Glade, a play area with space for story-telling, puzzles and dressing up. H National Library of Wales National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion The mind-bogglingly large collection of books at our National Library, adjacent to Aberystwyth’s prestigious university, includes rare Welsh manuscripts. Among them is the White Book of Rhydderch, which dates back to the mid-14th century and is the earliest known copy of the Mabinogion, the collection of Celtic tales which fired Tolkien’s imagination. It’s one of the most notable manuscripts in Wales. I Dolaucothi Gold Mines Dolaucothi Mines, Carmarthenshire by Discover Carmarthenshire If the scenes of Smaug the dragon with his enormous hoard of gold in The Hobbit made you curious about how Welsh gold was mined, you’ll be gripped by the underground guided tour of Dolaucothi. Gold was extracted here from Roman times until 1938, the year after the book was published. After your visit, treat yourself to a pint of Double Dragon, a Carmarthenshire brew, in the nearby Dolaucothi Arms. Enjoy this? 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