Voices: Why are we renaming the Brecon Beacons after a sex-mad Welshman?

The Brecon Beacons are also to drop the old logo of a fiery greenhouse-gas emitting beacon (Getty)
The Brecon Beacons are also to drop the old logo of a fiery greenhouse-gas emitting beacon (Getty)

I suppose that if you’re going to rename a much-loved national park in Wales, you may as well go the whole hog and celebrate the life and times of possibly the most sex-mad Welshman in history.

The good folk who run the Brecon Beacons National Park have decided that that familiar name, one that evokes the fondest of memories in the hearts of those fortunate enough from around the world to have found themselves enchanted by its natural beauty, is to be replaced with something that, outside Wales at least, is difficult to pronounce, let alone fall immediately in love with.

I mean the “Bannau Brycheiniog National Park” isn’t the easiest to curl one’s tongue around is it, albeit less of a challenge than the famous Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. (Which means “railway station”, I believe).

The Brecon Beacons are also to drop the old logo of a fiery greenhouse-gas emitting beacon in favour of one with some generic hills and something that looks like an eagle (but no dragons). This reflects a renewed commitment to combating the climate crisis, which seems quixotic but fair enough. Obviously it’s wound up the climate change deniers, so it’s not all bad, this modernisation.

The Brecon Beacons have been colloquially known as Y Bannau for a long time, and this latest designation, where the peaks are named for King Brychan, in charge of what we now know as a national park before the Norman conquest, has an honourable usage and history.

It means “the peaks of Brychan’s kingdom” and you say it as “ban-aye bruch-ay-nee-og”. This, frankly, is in stark contrast to the habits of the lad himself. After extensive online historical research, I have determined that Brychan was in fact Irish, and when he migrated to Wales he Welshified his name to Brycheiniog.

Rather like an ancient version of Boris Johnson, Brycheiniog married three times and had an unknown number of children, estimated from a Rees-Mogg beating 11 (the Moggster having an understated randy Welsh heritage of his own) to 63, which is probably in excess of Johnson’s total.

For all we know he also required his subjects to pay for the expensive refurbishment of his palace and had a habit of making stuff up. In Welsh, though.

Brycheiniog was born in about AD419, so reliable accounts of his love life are even scarcer than those relating to our former prime minister, but with such a volume of offspring it is entirely plausible that the descendants of the lustful leader live among us.

A chilling thought, I think you’ll agree. Eventually, possibly debilitated by a lifetime of love-making, he abdicated the throne of Brycheniog in order to become a hermit.

Notwithstanding the fact that it definitely used to be his manor, and speaking entirely personally as a non-Welsh onlooker, I’d have preferred if the national park management had decided to name the Beacons after a more contemporary Welsh legend, such as Dylan Thomas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Jones, Huw Edwards or the late darts hero Leighton Rees, who did as much as anyone to make the televised sport a success and was for a time the world No 1.

Maybe Wales will find suitable landscapes to honour its modern warriors as well its mystical early ones.