We see signs everywhere–small, tasteful signs. Enormous billboard signs. Signs that direct. Signs that advertise. Signs that inform.
While we may think of signs as a modern invention, they’re definitely not! Way back in 1393, King Richard II, of England, passed a law requiring pubs and taverns to post signs identifying the type of ale they served for the ale tasters’ information. Ale, or beer, was one of the most common drinks in the middle ages in many parts of Europe, where grapes didn’t flourish for wine.
Every city appointed four ale tasters, also known as ale conners or ale founders, whose job it was to check the quality of ale in each pub. Medieval authorities wanted to ensure good taste and adequate alcohol content in this very important beverage!
Medieval shopkeepers, like modern ones, soon discovered the signs had other benefits and started a long tradition of creative signage…
So today we have signs everywhere. One thing I’ve discovered as a traveler is that if we pay attention to signs we get an insider’s view into a culture. Here are some of my favorite signs from Wales.