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Welsh ballads website

The website contains articles by Dr James on various aspects of the ballad in Wales, an extensive bibliography and links to a wide range of electronic materials, together with digital images of a representative cross-section of 50 ballads from the Salisbury Library collection.

This website is an invaluable resource for research into all aspects of Welsh life and culture during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Explore the Welsh ballads web pages.


The heyday of broadside ballad printing in Wales was the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The eighteenth-century broadsides were in the main eight-page pamphlets, whereas the nineteenth-century broadsides were usually four-page leaflets. Almost 1,000 broadsides from the eighteenth century have survived in repositories, and over 8,000 from the nineteenth century.

North-east Wales and the Welsh Marches were the centre of the market in Welsh broadsides in the eighteenth century. The nineteenth century saw the centre of activity change to the industrial south-east of the country, although broadsides flowed from printing presses throughout the length and breadth of Wales during this period. The broadside ballad in Wales was predominantly a Welsh-language phenomenon, although English and bilingual broadsides became more frequent as the nineteenth century progressed.

The broadsides contained popular poetry on a wide variety of subjects. They are a treasure trove of primary source materials for anyone interested in the language, literature, history, religion and music of the Welsh. They also provide an extremely valuable insight into the customs, interests and world-view of the common people of Wales.

The Salisbury Library – Cardiff University’s renowned Welsh and Celtic library – holds one of the most important collections of Welsh broadside ballads. In 2006, Cardiff University Library created the ‘Welsh Ballads Website’ under the editorship of Dr E. Wyn James of the School of Welsh, Cardiff University, who is recognised as a leading authority on Welsh ballads and folk-songs.

The project team

Principal investigator

E. Wyn James

Professor E. James

Emeritus Professor