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Ôl Traed Gerallt Gymro

Ôl Traed Gerallt Gymro

Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, takes on a new role as a television presenter in a major new three part series that looks at the life and times of the remarkable 12th century traveller and clergyman Gerald of Wales.

In Ôl Traed Gerallt Gymro (translation: In the footsteps of Gerald of Wales), Dr Morgan goes in search of a man who wanted his job.

The series discovers why the talented and ambitious Archdeacon of Brecon tried but ultimately failed to become the first Archbishop of Wales and how he became the country's most famous travel writer.

One of the highlights of the series is an interview between Dr Morgan and Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, where they assess Gerallt's achievements and failures.

Following his footsteps

Dr Morgan follows Gerald from West Wales via Llanddew, Brecon, to Rome where he made his case to the Pope for his election as Bishop of St David's and for the cathedral city itself to become the powerhouse of a new post, Archbishop of Wales.

A history graduate, Dr Morgan is intrigued by Gerald, who advocated the role of Archbishop of Wales seven centuries before the post was finally created in 1920.

"Gerald is a highly complex character," says Dr Morgan. "He was his own spin doctor long before the term was invented, always showing himself in the best possible light while rubbishing his enemies. In many ways, he was insufferable. Yet he was one of the greatest churchmen of his age, and left a literary legacy which gives us a unique insight into medieval life."

Gerald was an enthusiastic and energetic traveller, not only around Wales but throughout Europe. At a time when most pilgrims were grateful to have visited Rome once in their lifetime, Gerald made the journey four times in five years. The series reconstructs the pilgrim's journey from the British Isles to Rome.

The story of Gerald's travels sounds like a James Bond novel. He had to leave Britain hidden in a boat as the Archbishop of Canterbury had placed a ban on him leaving the country. He slept under a boat all night to evade the Archbishop's spies on the other side of the English Channel, and was pursued out of Rome by creditors after he had run out of money.

© 2012 S4C
O Gymru / Made in Wales