JRR Tolkien (1892 - 1973) loved our language, describing Welsh as ‘…the senior language of the men of Britain.’ He gave Welsh-inspired names to many characters and places in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. To relive the magic of his books, visit these 10 places with a connection to Tolkien’s work.

Welsh language road sign in foreground with cottages behind.

Welsh language road sign, Aberdaron, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales

Llanbedrog, Llŷn Peninsula

As a boy Tolkien lived near a railway station in Birmingham, where Welsh words appeared magically into his life. He later said, ‘I heard it coming out of the west, it struck me in the names on coal trucks and drawing nearer it flickered past on station-signs, a flash of strange spelling and a hint of a language old and yet alive. It pierced my linguistic heart.’ His fascination with Welsh continued on a family holiday to Llanbedrog on the Llŷn Peninsula in 1920. He later used Welsh in his novels as the foundation of one of the Elvish languages, Sindarin.

the Iron Man sculpture and sea beyond
vast sandy beach with coast and hills in distance.

The Iron Man statue and Llanbedrog, Gwynedd

Brecon Beacons National Park

It’s thought (but not proved) 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 nearby Crickhowell.

Llyn y Fan Fach im Brecon Beacons Nationalpark.

Llyn y Fan Fach, Brecon Beacons National Park

Hobbit houses, Pembrokeshire

Four grass-roofed Hobbit houses are among the glamping options at Florence Springs, a quietly beautiful settlement in the heart of Pembrokeshire. They’ve all got private wood-burner hot tubs, and they’re close to the beautiful beaches of Tenby.

exterior of hobbit house and benches.
interior of hobbit home, with seating and table.
exterior of grass roofed building and surrounding plants.

 Florence Springs Hobbit Houses, Pembrokeshire

Lammas Ecovillage, Pembrokeshire

There’s a Hobbit-house atmosphere to the homes at Lammas, an 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 90-minute guided tours of the village at 11am every Saturday from May to September, and courses in traditional crafts are held on a regular basis.

people laying a strawbale roof on a building.

Lammas Ecovillage, Pembrokeshire

Nant Gwrtheyrn, Llŷn Peninsula

Tolkien felt the study of Welsh was crucial to his understanding of the history of the British Isles, saying, ‘Welsh is of this soil, this island, the senior language of the men of Britain; Welsh is beautiful.’ 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.

Stone built cottages at Nant Gwrtheyrn looking over the grass square.

Nant Gwrtheyrn, Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales

Gladstone's Library, Hawarden

An academic by profession, Tolkien would have felt thoroughly at home in this sumptuous residential library. Gladstone's Library holds 32,000 books from Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone’s private collection, many of them hand-annotated, just as Tolkien annotated his own volumes. ‘Learn Welsh in a Week’ is among the many language and literary courses held here.

interior view of library with high ceiling and wooden shelves and people sat at desks on the ground floor
Wooden shelves and ceiling with books (library)

Gladstone's Library, Hawarden

Narberth Museum, Narberth

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. In fact, he claimed that The Lord of the Rings was his own translation of the mythical ‘Red Book of Westmarch’ – based on the real-life Red Book of Hergest, one of the oldest and most important Welsh manuscripts. 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.

throne, trees and red and white toadstool.
Blick auf die National Library von Aberystwyth.

Narberth Museum's Mabinogion Woodland Glade and the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Mid 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 another important source of Mabinogion stories, the White Book of Rhydderch, which dates back to the mid-14th century. It’s one of the most notable manuscripts in Wales.

Dolaucothi Gold Mines, 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 to the National Trust mine, treat yourself to a pint of Evan Evans, a local Carmarthenshire brew, in the nearby Dolaucothi Arms.

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