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The question posed to the author once by a prospective visitor to Wales - "What is there to see?" - is not susceptible of a short, or quick, answer. For the delights of Wales are cumulative and understated: a succession of small country churches rather than great city cathedrals, a labyrinth of byways away from the few highways, details of vernacular architecture rather than grand edifices, the thirteenth-century Edwardian castles being the exception that proves this rule. A cultural tradition rooted in the austerity and erudition of the Celtic saints, a tradition more confirmed than repudiated by the Reformation, is best appreciated by lovers of small things. Wales is a country where small is beautiful. For although the juggernaut of globalisation may be threatening the Welsh way of life with extinction, in the words of a contemporary Welsh folk anthem: "In spite of everything, we're still here." DAVID BARNES is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and teaches at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
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