Nigel Williams
Writing as:
N. Williams
N.C. Williams
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Behind the Eden Relics

The story behind the story...

Having been born and bred in the Swansea Valley, I have always had a fascination with Craig-Y-Nos. Not only is it the location of one of Europe's biggest cave systems, it's also the place where the world famous opera diva Adelina Patti set up home.

Here you'll find some of the backstories that inspired the EDEN RELICS...

During school holidays, I worked as a tour guide at the Dan-yr-ogof showcaves in the Swansea Valley. During that time I had the opportunity to explore the caves on both sides of the valley, and even endured the dreaded "Long Crawl" (take a look at the crawl on this Youtube video by Keith Edwards). Having "done it" I wouldn't want to do it again (not that I'd fit through there anymore anyway). At least I had enough experience over those years to be able to capture some incredible memories.

Whilst at the caves I began to wonder about a link between the showcave and the twenty-or-so miles on the other side of the valley. It seemd like an obvious connection, but one nobody had ever been able to make. At least I did it in the story.

Craig-Y-Nos is also famous for the castle in which Adelina Patti lived for many years at the end of the nineteenth century and first couple of decades of the twentieth. She was a fabulously wealthy woman, earning over $5000 for a performance. When you consider that she only paid £3,500 for the castle you begin to get a picture of just how wealthy she was.

Eden Relics was actually inspired by a man who lived far away from Wales. Sir Henry Seton-Karr was the member of parliament for Leeds and was one of the people associated with the populating of British Columbia. He had a brother, who was an adventurer, and who claimed to have found relics from the garden of eden. The claim was dismissed by academics in a newspaper article from the New York Times. I happened to come across this article and wondered what would have happened if his claim turned out to be true. This was the link I needed to bring the caves and Adelina together, and to rather naughtily suggest that the great woman was perhaps more than just an opera singer - was she a spy? (All untrue as far as I am aware).

Craig-Y-Nos castle is now owned by Martin Gover who has converted the wonderful building into a hotel. His committment to the place is to be admired. It must have cost him a fortune to get the castle looking like it does today. There are still many areas on the upper floors that are out of bounds to the public at the moment, but I'm sure Martin will one day restore the place to its full glory - good on you Martin!

The  small railway station mentioned in the book is also a real building. It WAS built by Patti to afford Edward VII and other notable figures easy access to her home. There is also a large hole in the ground that has been covered by large concrete blocks (as described in the book). I'm sure there is a simple explanation for this but it was perfect thing for someone like me looking for a secret entrance to the castle.

The foul-mouth parrot was also real. I have no idea if it still lives but if it does it will probably have a better four-letter vocabulary than the first fifteen of Abercrave rugby club.

I've included some links to the faces and places mentioned above. If you're ever in the area, why not call in to the Craig-Y-Nos castle or Dan-yr-ogof caves? - and tell them I sent you (won't get you a discount but it might get me a free pint of two).

Best wishes,

Dan-yr-ogof caves with Iolo Williams

The Ghost Walkers of Craig-Y-Nos Castle (by Michael Ludwig)

Penwyllt - the site of Adelina's station (by wealdonpete)

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