A flock of sheep grazing in a Welsh field contrasts with the green grass in a beautiful way. The sheep are fluffy and so white they almost seem to glow against the verdant background. It is a peaceful sight, one you can encounter many times as you journey through Wales.

Wales makes for a great environment for sheep to thrive. Its mountainous terrain and wet climate make it difficult to grow crops, but the same conditions are perfect for breeding sheep. The mountain slopes provide plenty of grazing space. The humid climate helps to keep the grass green and lush. Basically, that’s all the sheep need!

Welsh Mountain sheep are a small, hardy breed of sheep known for their ability to thrive in harsh, mountainous conditions. With thick, lustrous wool, Welsh sheep can also have black faces and legs.

Sheep breeding has been a tradition in Wales for centuries. In ancient times, Welsh people bred sheep for their wool, which was used to make clothing and other items. They also used them for meat and their dairy production. Today it is still an important part of Welsh culture and economy. Welsh sheep are prized for their quality wool. They are also renowned for their sweet meat.

Overlooking the fields dotted with white sheep, are castles. Many of them. On cliffs, near the banks of rivers, and almost everywhere you look in Wales there’s a castle. Wales has a rich history, and its castles are a reflection of that. Many of the castles in Wales were built during the medieval period, when Wales was often at war with England. As a result, these castles were built for defensive purposes.

In total, there are more than 600 castles in Wales. That is more than anywhere else in the world, per square mile.

Wales is home to some of the most stunning castles in the world, from the imposing Conwy Castle to the romantic ruins of Harlech Castle. They offer a chance to step back in time and explore a different way of life.

But why did the Welsh build so many castles?

• The country’s turbulent history. Wales has been invaded many times, and as a result, there have been many battles fought on its soil. The Welsh needed castles to protect their borders.

• England. The English built many castles during their conquest of Wales in the 13th century.

• Power and wealth. These castles were usually built on high ground, making them visible for miles. The castles were filled with items, enabling Welch princes to show off their wealth.

Wales Activity 1

Vocabulary: Match the word with the definition that best fits the essay.

_____ verdant  

_____ terrain

_____ lush

_____ hardy

_____ lustrous

_____ renowned

_____ reflection

_____ defensive

_____ imposing

_____ turbulent

      1. A piece of land.
      2. Covered with vegetation; green.
      3. Elegant; impressive because of great size
      4. Famous
      5. Lush vegetation; luxuriant
      6. Protective
      7. Represent; show
      8. Shining
      9. Strong; able to withstand bad weather
      10. Violent

Wales Activity 2

Not counting during, words that end in -ing occur in the essay 10 times, including two that are repeated.

    1. Locate and list the ten.
    2. Decide if each is a noun or a verb.