In the hills of mid-Wales lies the village of Llandymna. Admittedly, you’d struggle to find it on most maps because it is a fictional place. Small and remote, it has stood there for hundreds of years on the edge of a vast forest. Today, it consists of a church, a primary school, a pub and a local shop, all surrounded by houses and fields.
The place where I grew up had once been a Welsh farming village, but was engulfed by the expanding city to become another suburb. It still held on to a lot of old community traditions though. The village fete and harvest festival gathered people together. Some of my friends would miss school during the lambing season because they were needed to help out at home. I wanted to capture what I remember and miss of that place when creating Llandymna.
The name Llandymna comes from the word Llan, meaning ‘church’ or ‘parish’, and a corruption of Dymphna, the name of an Irish saint. Legend has it that there used to be a shrine to St Dymphna on the site of the village, but today the community has the easier-to-pronounce St Luke’s Church.
West of Llandymna, Dyrys Wood sprawls. Its name translates as ‘tangled’, and it stretches for miles with little by way of paths to navigate the forest.
Woods have featured in European folklore and stories for a long time. People used to be wary of going into the woods alone, because it was an easy place for an outlaw or a pixie to hide. This wildness is exactly what appeals to Rhiannon Morgan when she runs away from home: she sees a place away from the failings and hypocrisy of others, and the perfect setting for her to dream up better stories for herself.