Romani Cymru
Romany Wales Project

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Gradually, foki moved on to Greece and then Spain, and it is the latter from whom the Kaule derived. The Rom arrived in Spain in the early half of the 15th century and were first recorded in 1425. In 1492 a law was imposed by the King of Spain against the nomadic travellers, and the Gitano, as the Spaniards called them, were heavily persecuted, some even taken as slaves and flogged to death in the galleys of the galleons. It wasn’t until 1749 that a great cleansing was ordered to eradicate the Roms from the Spanish tem (country).

Today it is estimated there are around 90,000 Roms in the UK. How they actually arrived here nobody will probably ever fully prove. A strong and plausible theory is that only two or three Rom tribes managed the initial journey to these shores, crossing the English Channel from the French coast, sailing and landing on the south coast of England, perhaps at Plymouth, Southampton or Dover. Plymouth was a heavily used deep sea port - importing much wine and pepper from Spain and France; either way, a trade route for Gypsies to journey under disguise could well have existed. From the jetty, they may well have taken refuge amongst the nearest English forests and woodlands, which would have provided a safety screen.   

One likely magnet would have been the Nevo Vesh (New Forest) of Hampshire, which was a renowned Romany sanctuary for a good few centuries, and this ancient woodland held many Kaule.

Who these first early tribes were and what their true names were nobody is quite sure. It is said these were probably the original foki

Welsh Romani in a bender tent                                                              © TJ Lewis
Brush waggon                                                                                                 © unKn
Welsh bender tent                                                                        © TJ Lewis