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In local tradition, Carmarthen is said to be the birthplace of the mythical magician Merlin, claiming that the origin of the name Carmarthen, or Caerfyrddin comes from Myrddin, the Welsh name for Merlin. Merlin is said to have made a prophecy regarding the old oak tree:
When Merlin's Oak shall tumble down,
Then shall fall Carmarthen Town.
Other versions of the prophecy state that when the tree falls, the town will drown or flood.
In the early 19th century, a local man appears to have poisoned the tree, with the intention to stop people from meeting under it, and the oak is believed to have died in 1856.
In 1951, a branch was broken off from the tree. This fragment can still be seen in Carmarthenshire County Museum.
In 1978, the last fragment of the tree was removed from its original place, and is now in Saint Peter's Civic Hall in Nott Square, Carmarthen.
- "Merlin, The Old Oak, and the Black Book of Carmarthen". www.carmarthen.info. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
- "Carmarthen". www.enchantedtowy.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-28.