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CARMARTHEN—CARMARTHENSHIRE


of Marseilles in 1798. It consisted of a short skirted coat with rows of metal buttons, a tricoloured waistcoat and red cap, and became the popular dress of the Jacobins. The name was then given to the famous revolutionary song, composed in 1792, the tune of which, and the wild dance which accompanied it, may have also been brought into France by the Piedmontese. The original first verse began:—

“Monsieur Veto (i.e. Louis XVI.) avait promis
 D’être fidèle à sa patrie.”

and each verse ends with the refrain:—

“Vive le son, vive le son,
Dansons la Carmagnole,
Vive le son
Du Canon.”

The words were constantly altered and added to during the Terror and later; thus the well-known lines,

“Madame Veto avait promis
De faire égorger tout Paris
  .  .  .  .  .
On lui coupa la tête,” &c.,

were added after the execution of Marie Antoinette. Played in double time the tune was a favourite march in the Revolutionary armies, until it was forbidden by Napoleon, on becoming First Consul.


CARMARTHEN (Caerfyrddin), a municipal borough, contributory parliamentary borough (united with Llanelly since 1832), and county town of Carmarthenshire, and a county of itself, finely situated on the right bank of the Towy, which is here tidal and navigable for small craft. Pop. (1901) 10,025. It is the terminal station of a branch of the London & North-Western railway coming southward from Shrewsbury, and is a station on the main line of the Great Western running to Fishguard; it is also the terminus of a branch-line of the Great Western running to Newcastle-Emlyn. The station buildings lie on the left bank of the river, which is here spanned by a fine old stone bridge. There are works for the manufacture of woollens and ropes, also tanneries, but it is as the central market of a large and fertile district that Carmarthen is most important. The weekly Saturday market is well attended, and affords interesting scenes of modern Welsh agricultural life. From the convenient and accessible position of the town, the gaol and lunatic asylum serving for the three south-western counties of Wales—Cardigan, Pembroke and Carmarthen—have been fixed here. Although historically one of the most important towns in South Wales, Carmarthen can boast of very few ancient buildings, and the general aspect of the town is modern. A well-preserved gateway of red sandstone and portions of two towers of the castle are included in the buildings of the present gaol, and the old parish church of St Peter contains some interesting monuments, amongst them being the altar tomb (of the 16th century) of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, K.G., and his wife, which was removed hither for safety at the Reformation from the desecrated church of the neighbouring Priory of St John. Some vestiges of this celebrated monastic house, which formerly owned the famous Welsh MS. known as the “Black Book of Carmarthen,” are visible between the present Priory Street and the river. Of the more recent erections in the town, mention may be made of the granite obelisk in memory of General Sir Thomas Picton (1758–1815) and the bronze statue of General Sir William Nott (1784–1846).

Carmarthen is commonly reputed to occupy the site of the Roman station of Maridunum, and its present name is popularly associated with the wizard-statesman Merlin, or Merddyn, whose memory and prophecies are well remembered in these parts of Wales and whose home is popularly believed to have been the conspicuous hill above Abergwili, known as Merlin’s Hill. Another derivation of the name is to be found in Caer-môr-din, signifying “a fortified place near the sea.” In any case, the antiquity of the town is undisputed, and it served as the seat of government for Ystrad Tywi until the year 877, when Prince Cadell of South Wales abandoned Carmarthen for Dinefawr, near Llandilo, probably on account of the maritime raids of the Danes and Saxons. Towards the close of the 11th century a castle was built here by the Normans, and for the next two hundred years town and castle were frequently taken and retaken by Welsh or English. On the annexation of Wales, Edward I. established here his courts of chancery and exchequer and the great sessions for South Wales. Edward III., by the Statute Staple of 1353, declared Carmarthen the sole staple for Wales, ordering that every bale of Welsh wool should be sealed or “cocketed” here before it left the Principality. The earliest charter recorded was granted in 1201 under King John; a charter of James I. in 1604 constituted Carmarthen a county of itself; and under a charter by George III. in 1764, which had been specially petitioned for by the citizens, the two separate jurisdictions of Old and New Carmarthen were fused and henceforth “called by the name of Our Borough of Carmarthen.” In 1555 Bishop Farrar of St David’s was publicly burned for heresy under Queen Mary at the Market Cross, which was ruthlessly destroyed in 1846 to provide a site for General Nott’s statue. In 1646 General Laugharne took and demolished the castle in the name of the parliament, and in 1649 Oliver Cromwell resided at Carmarthen on his way to Ireland. In 1684 the duke of Beaufort with a numerous train made his state entry into Carmarthen as lord-president of Wales and the Marches. With the rise of Llanelly the industrial importance of Carmarthen has tended to decline; but owing to its central position, its close connexion with the bishops of St David’s and its historic past the town is still the chief focus of all social, political and ecclesiastical movements in the three counties of Cardigan, Pembroke and Carmarthen. Carmarthen was created a parliamentary borough in 1536.


CARMARTHENSHIRE. (Sîr Gaerfyrddin, colloquially known as Sîr Gâr), a county of South Wales bounded N. by Cardigan, E. by Brecon and Glamorgan, W. by Pembroke and S. by Carmarthen Bay of the Bristol Channel. The modern county has an area of 918 sq. m., and is therefore the largest in size of the South Welsh counties. Almost the whole of its surface is hilly and irregular, though the coast-line is fringed with extensive stretches of marsh or sandy burrows. Much of the scenery in the county, particularly in the upper valley of the Towy, is exceedingly beautiful and varied. On its eastern borders adjoining Breconshire rises the imposing range of the Black Mountains (Mynydd Dû), sometimes called the Carmarthenshire Beacons, where the Carmarthen Van attains an elevation of 2632 ft. Mynydd Mallaen in the wild districts of the north-east corner of the county is 1430 ft. in height, but otherwise few of the numberless rounded hills with which Carmarthenshire is thickly studded exceed 1000 ft. The principal river is the Towy (Tywi), which, with its chief tributaries, the Gwili, the Cothi and the Sawdde, drains the central part of the county and enters the Bay at Llanstephan, 9 m. below Carmarthen. Coracles are frequently to be observed on this river, as well as on the Teifi, which separates Carmarthenshire from Cardiganshire on the north. Other streams are the Tâf, which flows through the south-western portion of the county and reaches the sea at Laugharne; the Gwendraeth, with its mouth at Kidwelly; and the Loughor, or Llwchwr, which rises in the Black Mountains and forms for several miles the boundary between the counties of Carmarthen and Glamorgan until it falls into Carmarthen Bay at Loughor. All these rivers contain salmon, sewin (gleisiad) and trout in fair numbers, and are consequently frequented by anglers. With the exception of the Van Pool in the Black Mountains the lakes of the county are inconsiderable in size.

Geology.—The oldest rocks in Carmarthenshire come to the surface in the Vale of Towy at Llanarthney and near Carmarthen; they consist of black shales of Tremadoc (Cambrian) age, and are succeeded by conglomerates, sandstones and shales, with beds of volcanic ash and lava, of Arenig (Ordovician) age, which have been brought up along a belt of intense folding and faulting which follows the Towy from Llangadock to Carmarthen and extends westwards to the edge of the county at Whitland. The Llandeilo shales, flags and limestones and occasional volcanic ashes, which follow, are well developed at Llangadock and Llandeilo and near Carmarthen, and are famed for their trilobites, Asaphus tyrannus and Ogygia Buchi. Shales and mudstones and impersistent limestones of Bala age come next in order, and, bounding the Vale of Towy on the north, extend as a