Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour (1760-1820)

“I beg to be considered not as a Topographer but as a curious traveller willing to collect all that a traveller may be supposed to do in his voyage; I am the first that attempted travels at home, therefore earnestly wish for accuracy.”

Thomas Pennant, May 1773.

This AHRC-funded research project, launched in September 2014 and jointly run by the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (CAWCS) and the University of Glasgow, offers a portal into Romantic-period accounts of journeys into Wales and Scotland. Our focus is on the writings of the Flintshire naturalist and antiquarian Thomas Pennant (1726-1798), whose published Tours of both countries did so much to awaken public interest in the ‘peripheries’ of Britain. The site presents new, searchable digital editions of Pennant’s correspondence and of previously unpublished tours by other travellers to Wales and Scotland. We hope in the future to continue the work of the project with digital editions of Pennant’s published Welsh and Scottish Tours. To learn more about our aims and our outputs to date go to About the Project.

Drawing of an owl.

Our website offers a window onto the vivid and often entertaining accounts of scores of ‘curious travellers’ who headed for the edges of the British Isles in search of the primitive, the picturesque and the sublime–and often found the foreign, and the unsettling, surprisingly close to home. It links to a wide range of texts, databases, bibliographies, and other resources. Fully illustrated catalogues and blogs from our two exhibitions can also be accessed here. We continue to share our work through public talks and events, from international academic conferences to local events in museums, libraries and village halls. We are also asking people to get involved in Pennant Walks, following sections of the Welsh and Scottish itineraries and to contribute to our blogs. For information on past and upcoming activities see our Events section.

Cader Idris.Romantic-period tours are a wonderfully rich resource, opening out into many different topics, from art and archaeology to natural history, politics, literature language and geology. We are keen to hear from any groups or individuals with an interest in Thomas Pennant or travel writing in this period: please contact us.