Picture of William Camden

William Camden

places mentioned

Hereford, Radnor, Brecon, Monmouth and Glamorgan

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I THINKE it now my best way, before I treat of the other parts of England, to digresse a while and turne a little aside towards Wales, called in Latin Cambria or Wallia , where the ancient Britans have yet their seat and abode: neither shall I in so doing, as I thinke, digresse, but directly follow the order of nature. For it lieth adjacent to the Cornavii and seemeth, as it were, of right and equity to demand that it may be spoken of in due course and place, especially seeing the Britans or Welsh, the inhabitants thereof, enjoy the same lawes and rights that we doe, and have long since beene engraffed and incorporate with us into our Common-wealth.

2. Wales, therefore, which name comprised in times past before the Conquest the whole country beyond Severn, but afterward reached not so farre, was when the Romanes ruled in Britaine inhabited by three sorts of people, the Silures, Dimetae, and Ordovices. For these had not onely the twelve shires, as they call them, of Wales, but those two also beyond Severn, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire, which have beene now long reckoned among the Counties of England. And to beginne first with those that we first come into and which lie next unto us, the Silures, according to Ptolomees description, inhabited those regions which in Welsh are called by one name Deheubarth , that is, the South part , and at this day by new names, Herefordshire, Radnorshire, Brecknockshire, Monmouthshire, and Glamorganshire, wherein are as yet some remaines also of the name Silures. As for the derivation of that name, I have nothing that sorteth with the nature of the nation. But touching the originall of the people, Tacitus ghesseth by their coloured faces, their countenances, their curled haire, and their situation over against Spaine, that they had their originall from the Spaniards. But Florianus del Campo a Spaniard flatly affirmeth it, who troubleth and toileth himselfe exceedingly to find the Silures in Spaine, and thrusts upon us I know not what of Soloria and Siloria in Biscaie. But to speake of the nature of these Silures, they were a nation very great (for, as we may gather out of Plinie and Tacitus, they seeme to have possessed all South-wales), fierce, valiant, given to war, impatient of servitude, forward to adventure with a resolution (the Romanes call it pervicacia ), and who would not be brought in either with faire meanes or foule, in all end every of which qualities their posterity have in no point as yet degenerated from their ancestors. When the Romanes upon an ambitious desire of rule did set upon them, they, trusting to the prowesse and strength of King Caratacus, provoked also and exasperated with a word that Claudius the Emperour let fall, who had said these were so to be destroied, and their name to be extinguished, as the Sugambri had beene rooted out aforetime, annoied the Romanes with so dangerous a warre, by intercepting their bands of auxiliarie forces, by putting to fight that Legion over which Marius Valens was captaine, and by wasting the lands of their Associates, that P. Ostorius, Propraetor of Britaine, being tired with travaile and with the sense of these griefes and troubles, gave up his ghost. Veranius also, governour under Nero, assailed them in vaine. For whereas we read in Tacitus, illum modicis excursionibus sylvas populatum esse , that is, That he made spoile and forraied the woods in small outrodes, read in lieu of sylvas , that is, woods, Siluras , that is, the Silures , as our friend that most learned Lipsius doth, and you shall read aright. Yet was not this warre husht and finished before the time of Vespasian. For then Julius Frontinus subdued them by force, and kept them under with bands of Legionarie souldiours. But whereas a countryman of ours has wrested this verse of Juvenall against Crispine to these Silures,

Who with lowd voice was wont, and knew full well
Of broken waire, his country fish, the Sturgeons for to fell.

as though our Silures, being taken prisoners, were set to sale at Rome, upon my credite he hath not attained to the right and proper sense of the Poet. For by that word siluros he that will read the place and weight it well, shall easily perceive he spake of fishes, and not of men.


THE Country which wee call Herefordshire, and the Britains named Eirenuc , lying in compasse round as it were a Circle, is bounded on the East-side with Worcester and Glocestershires, on the South with Monmouthshire, on the West side with Radnor and Brecknorshires, and on the North with Shropshire. This Country, besides that it is right pleasant, is for yeelding of courne and feeding of cattle in all places most fruitfull, and therewith passing well furnished with all things necessary for mans life. In so much as it would scorne to come behinde any one country throughout all England for fertility of soile, and therefore say that for three WWW, wheat, woll, and water, it yeeldeth to no shire in England. And verily, it hath also divers notable rivers, namely Wye, Lug, and Munow, which after they have watered the most flowring meddowes and fruitfull corne fields, at length meet together and in one chanel passe on to the Severn sea.

2. Munow, springing out of Hatterell hilles, which, resembling a chaire, doe rise aloft and fense this shire on the Southwest, as it descendeth downe first strugleth to passe through the foote of the said hilles to Blestium, a towne which Antonine the Emperour so placeth that for situation and distance it can be no other then that which, standing by the side of this river, is in Brittish called Castle Hean , that is, The Old Castle , and in English The Old Towne. A poore small Village now, but this name is a good proofe for the antiquity thereof: for in both tongues it soundeth as much as an Old Castle or towne. Next unto this Old towne, Alterynnis lieth in maner of a river-Island, insulated within waters, the seat in old time of that ancient family of Stisilis or Cecils, knights, whence my right honorable Patron, accomplished with all the ornaments of vertue, wisdome, and Nobility, Sir William Cecil, Baron of Burghley and Lord high Treasurer of England derived his descent.

3. From hence, Munow, turning Eastward, for a good space separateth this country from Monmouthshire and at Castle Map-harald, or Harold Ewias, is encreased with the river Dor. This Ewias Castle (that I may speake out of King William the First his booke) was repaired by Alured of Marleberg. Afterwards it pertained to Harold, a Gentleman, who in a shield argent bare a Fesse Geules betweene three Estoles Sable for his armes, of whom it beganne to bee called Harold Ewias. But Sibyll his neice in the second degree, and one of the heires, by her marriage transferred it to the Lords of Tregoz, from whom it came at length to the Lords of Grandison descended out of Burgundie. But of them elsewhere.

4. Now the said Dor, which running downe from the North by Snodhill Caste and the Barony sometime of Robert Chandos (where is a quarrie of excellent marble) cutteth through the midest of the Vale, which of the river the Britans call Diffrin Dore , but the Englishmen, that they might seeme to expresse the force of that word, termed it the Gilden Vale , which name it may by good right and justly have, for the golden, wealthy, and pleasant fertility thereof. For the hils that compasse it in on both sides are clad with woods, under the woods lie corne fields on either hand, and under those fields most gay and gallant medows. Then runneth in the midest betweene them a most cleere and crystal river, on which Robert Lord of Ewias placed a faire monastery, wherein most of the nobility and Gentry of these parts were enterred.

5. Part of this shire, which from this Vale declineth and bendeth Eastward, is now called Irchenfeld, in Domesday booke Archenfeld, which, as our Historians write, was laied wast with fire and sword by the Danes in the yeere 715, at which time Camalac also, a Britan Bishop, was caried away prisoner. In this part stood Kilpeck, a Castle of great name and the seat it was of the noble familie of the Kilpecks, who were, as some say, the Champions to the Kings of England in the first age of the Normans. And I my selfe also will easily assent unto them. In the reigne of Edward the First there dwelt heere Sir Robert Wallerond, whose nephew Alane Plugenet lived in the honorable state of a Baron. In this Arcenfeld likewise, as we read in Domesday booke , certaine revenewes by an old custome were assigned to one or two Priests on this condition, that they should goe in Embassages for the Kings of England into Wales, and, to use the words out of the same booke, The men of Arcenfeld, whensoever the army marcheth forward against the enimy by a custome make the Avancgard, and in the returne homward, the Rereward.

6. As Munow runneth along the lower parts of this shire, so Wy with a bending course cutteth over the middest, upon which river in the very West limit Clifford Castle standeth, which William Fitz-Osbern Earle of Hereford built upon his owne Wast (as it is in King William the Conquerors booke), but Raulph de Todenay held it. Afterward it seemeth to have come unto Walter the sonne of Richard Fitz-Punt a Norman. For he was surnamed De Clifford, and from him the right honorable family of the Earles of Cumberland doe truly deduce their descent. But in the daies of King Edward the First John Giffard, who maried the heire of Walter Lord Clifford, had it in his hands. Then Wy with a crooked and winding streame rolleth downe by Whitney, which hath given name to a worshipfull family, and by Bradwardin Castle, which gave both originall and name to that famous Thomas Bradwardin Archbishop of Canterbury, who for his variety of knowledge and profound learning was in that age tearmed The Profound Doctour, and so at length commeth to Hereford the head City of this County.

7. How farre that little region Arcenfeld reached I know not, but the affinity betweene these names Ereinuc, Arcenfeld, the town Ariconium, of which Antonine in the description of this tract maketh mention, and Hareford or Hereford, which is now the chiefe City of the Shire, have by little and little induced me to this opinion, that I thinke every one of these was derived from Ariconium. Yet doe I not thinke that Ariconium and Hereford were both one and the same, but like as Basil in Germany chalenged unto it the name of Augusta Rauracorum, and Baldach in Assyria the name of Babylon, for that as the one had originall from the ruines of Babylon, so the other from the ruines of Augusta, even so this Hariford of ours (for so the Common people call it) derived both name and beginning, in mine opinion, from his neighbour old Ariconium, which hath at this day no shape or shew at all of a towne, as having beene, by report, shaken to peeces with an earth-quake. Onely it reteineth still a shadow of the name, being called Kenchester, and sheweth to the beholders some ruines of walles which they tearme Kenchester walles, about which are often digged up foure square paving stones of Checker-worke, British-brickes, peeces of Romane mony and other such like remaines of Antiquity. But Hereford, her daughter, which more expresly resembleth the name thereof, standeth East-ward scarce three Italian miles from it, seated among most pleasant medowes and as plentifull corne fieldes, compassed almost round about with rivers, on the North wide and the West with one that hath no name, on the South side with Wy, that hastneth hither out of Wales. It is thought to have shewed her head first what time as the Saxons Heptarchy was in the flowre and prime, built, as some write, by King Edward the Elder. Neither is there, as farre as I have read, any memory thereof more ancient. For the Britans, before the name of Hereford was knowne, called themselvesFern-leg of ferns. The greatest encrease, if I be not deceived, that it had came by religion and the Martirdom of Ethelbert King of the East England. Who when he wooed himselfe the daughter of Offa King of the Mercians, was villanously forlaid [ambushed] and murdered by the procurement of Quendred, Offaes wife, respecting more the countries of the East England than the honest and honorable match of her daughter. Which Ethelbert, being registered in the Catalogue of Martires, had a church here built and dedicated unto him by Milfrid a pety King of the Country, wherein when a Bishops See was established, it grew to great welth, first, through the devout liberality of the Mercians, and then of the West Saxons kings. For they at length were possessed of this City, as may bee gathered out of Wiliam of Malmesbury, where he writeth that Athelstan the West Saxon brought the Lords of Wales in this City to so hard passe that by waie of Tribute they were to pay everie yeere (besides hounds and haukes) twenty pounds of gold, and three hundred pounds of silver by weight. This citie, as farre as I can reade, had never any misfortune, unlesse it were in the yeare of our Lord 1055, wherein Gruffith Prince of South Wales and Algar an English man, rebelling against King Edward the Confessour, after they had put to flight Earle Ralph, sacked the citie, destroied the Cathedrall church, and led away captive Leofgar the Bishop. But Harold streight waies after that hee had daunted their audacious courage, fensed it, as Floriacensis saith, with a broade and high rampier. Hence it is that Malmesbury writeth thus in his treatise Of Bishops, Hereford is no great Citie, and yet by the height of those steepe and upright bankes cast up, it sheweth that it hath beene some great thing , and, as wee read in the Domesday booke of King William the Conquerour, there were in all but an hundered and three men within the walles and without. The Normans afterwards neere the East end of the church along the side of Wy built a mighty great and strong castle, the worke, as some report, of Earle Miles, which now yeeldeth to Time and runneth to ruine. After this they walled the citie about. Bishop Reinelm in the reigne of Henry the First founded that beautifull Cathedrall church which now we see there, whose successours enlarged it by adjoining thereto a proper College for priests and faire houses for the Prebendaries. For besides the Bishop, who hath 302 churches in his Dioecese, there are in this church a Deane, two Archdeacons, a Chaunter, a Chauncellour, a Treasurer and eight and twenty Praebendaries. In the church I saw in manner no monuments but the Bishops tombes. And I have heard that Thomas Cantlow the Bishop, a man of noble birth, had here a verie stately and sumptuous sepulcher, who for his holinesse being canonized a Saint, went within a little of surmounting that princely Martir King Ethelbert, such was the opinion of singular piety and devotion. Geographers measure the position or site of this City by the Longitude of twenty degrees and foure and twenty scruples, and by the Latitude of two and fiftie degrees and six scruples.

8. Wy is not gone full three miles from hence, but he intercepteth by the way the river Lug, who, running downe amaine out of Radnor hils, with a still course passeth through the mids of this country, from the North-west to the South-east. At the first entrance it seeth afarre off Brampton Brian Castle, which a famous family named heereof de Brampton, wherein the forname was usually Brian, held by continuall succession unto the time of King Edward the First, but now by the familie heires it is come to Richard Harley. Neerer at hand it beholdeth Wigmore, in the English Saxons tongue Wynginga-mere , repaired in elder times by King Edward the Elder, afterward fortified by William Earle of Hereford with a Castle, in the wast of a ground (for so read wee in Domesday booke ) which was called Marestun, in the tenure of Radulph de Mortimer , from whom those Mortimers that were afterwards Earles of March lineally descended, of whom you may read more in Radnorshire. Three miles off there is another neighbour castle called Richards Castle, the possession first of the Sayes, then of the Mortimers, and afterwards of the Talbots by hereditary succession. At length by the heires of Sir John Talbot the inheritance was divided betweene Sir Guaran Archdeacon and Sir Matthew Gurnay. Beneath this castle, Nature, who no where disporteth her selfe more in shewing wonders then in waters, hath brought fourth a pretie well, which is alwaies full of little fish bones or, as some thinke, of small frog-bones, although they bee from time to time drawne quite out of it, whence it is commonely called Bonewell. And not farre off is placed Croft Castle, the possession of that very ancient family of the Crofts Knights, who have there now a long time flourished in great and good esteeme. Then passeth Wy to Lemster, which also was caled Leonminster and Lions Monastery, of a Lyon that appeered to a religious man in a vision (as some have dreamed). But whereas the Britans call it Lhan Lieni , which signified a Church of Nunnes , and that is certainely knowne, that Merewalc a king of the Mercians built here a church for Nunnes (that afterwards became a Cell belonging to the Monastery of Reading) to seeke any other original of the name, than from those Nunnes, what were it else but hunt after the windes? Yet there want not some who derive it from Line [linen], whereof the best kinde groweth here. The greatest name and fame that it hath at this day is of the wool in the territories round about it (Lemster Ore they cal it), which setting aside that of Apulia and Tarentum, all Europe counteth to bee the verie best. So renowned also it is for wheat and bread of the finest floure that Lemster bread and Weabley Ale (a towne belonging to the noble familie D' Eureux) are growne into a common proverbe. By reason of these commodities the mercates at Lemster were so frequented that they of Hereford and Worcester, complaining that the confluence of people thither impaired their mercates, procured that by roiall authority the mercat day was changed. Now have I nothing more concerning Leinster but that William Breosa Lord of Brecknock, when hee revolted from King John, did set it on fire and defaced it. As for that Webley aforesaid, it is situate more within the country and was the Baronie of the Verdons, the first of which house, named Bertram de Verdon, came into England with the Normans; whose posterity by marriage and inheritrice of Laceies of Trim in Ireland were for a good while hereditary constables of Ireland, and at last the possessions were by the daughters devolved to the Furnivalls, Burgersh, Ferrars of Groby, Crop-hulls, and from the Crophulls by the Ferrars of Chartly unto D' Eureux Earles of Essex. Nere neighbours unto Webley, more Westward are these places: Huntingdon Castle, the possession in times past of the Bohuns Earles of Hereford and of Essex; Kinnersley, belonging to the ancient familie De la Bere; and Erdsley, where the ancient familie of the Baskervills have long inhabited, which bred in old time so many worthy Knights, who deduce their pedigree from a neice of Dame Gunora that most famous Lady in Normandy, and long agoe flourished in this county and Shropshire adjoyning, and held (that I may note so much by the way) the Hamelet of Lanton in chiefe, as of the Honour of Montgomery, by the service of giving to the King a barbd-headed arrow, whensoever he commeth into those parts to hunt in Cornedon Chase.

9. Lugg hasteneth now to Wy, first by Hampton, where that worthy knight Sir Rouland Lenthal, who (beeing maister of the Wardrobe unto King Henry the Fourth had married one of heires of Thomas Earle of Arundel) built a passing faire house, which the Coningesberes (men of good worship and great name in this tract) have now a good long time inhabited; then by Marden and Southton, or Sutton, of which twaine Sutton sheweth some small remaines of King Offaes palace, so infamous for the murdring of Ethelbert, and Marden is counted famous for the tombe of the said Ethelbert, who had lien heere a long time without any glorious memoriall before that hee was translated to Hereford. Neere unto the place where Lug and Wy meet together, Eastward, a hill which they call Marcley hill, in the yere of our redemption 1571 (as though it had wakened upon the sodaine out of a deepe sleepe) roused it selfe up, and for the space of three daies togither mooving and shewing it selfe (as mighty and huge an heape as it was) with roring noise in a fearefull sort, and overturning all things that stood in the way, advanced it selfe forward to the wonderous astonishment of the beholders, by that kinde of earthquake which, as I deeme, naturall philosophers call brasmatias. And not farre from this hill, toward the East also, under Malvern hills (which in this place bound the East part of this shire) standeth Ledbury upon the river Ledden, a towne well knowne, which Edwin the Saxon, a man of great powre, gave unto the church of Hereford, being assuredly perswaded that by Saint Ethelberts intercession he was delivered from the palsey. Touching the militare fort on the next hill I need not speake, seeing that in this tract, which was in the marches and the ordinary fighting ground plot, first betweene the Romans and Britans, afterwards between the Britains and the English, such holds and entrenchments are to be seene in many places. But Wy, now carying a ful streame, after it hath enterteined Lug, runneth downe with more bendings and bowings, first by Holm Lacy, the seat of the ancient and notable familie of Scudamore, unto which accrewed much more worship by marriage with an heire out of the race of Ewias in this shire, and Huntercombe &. elsewhere. From hence passeth Wy downe betweene Rosse, ‡made a free Borrough by Henry the Third, now‡ well knowne by reason of iron Smiths, and Wilton over against it, a most ancient castle of the Greis, whence so many worthy Barons of that name have drawne their originall. This was built, as men say, by Hugh de Long-champ, but upon publick and certaine credit of Records it appeareth that King John gave Wilton with the Castle to Henrie de Longchamp, and that by marriage it fell to William Fitz-Hugh, and likewise not long after to Reinold Grey in the daies of King Edward the First. Now when Wy hath a little beneath saluted Coderick Castle, which King John gave unto William Earle Mareschall, and was afterward for a time the principall seat of the Talbots, hee speedeth himselfe to Monmouthshire, and biddes Herefordshire Fare well.

10. When the state of the English-Saxons was now more than declining to the downe-fall, Ralph, sonne to Walter Medantinus by Goda King Edward the Confessours sister, governed this Countie as an officiall Earle. But hee, ‡infamous for base cowardise,‡ was by William the Conquerour removed, and William Fitz-Osbern of Crepon, ‡a martiall Norman who had subdued the Isle of Wight‡ and was nere allied to the Dukes of Normandy, was substituted in his place. When hee was slaine in assistance of the Earle of Flanders, his sonne Roger surnamed De Britvill succeeded, and soone after ‡for conspiracie against the Conquerour was condemned to perpetuall prison,‡ and therein died leaving no lawfull issue. Then King Stephen granted to Robert Le Bossu Earle of Leicester, who had married Emme ‡or Itta (as some call her)‡ heire of Bretevill (to use the words of the Graunt) the Borrough of Hereford, with the Castle and the whole County of Hereford , but all in vaine. For Maude the Empresse, who contended with King Stephen for the Crowne, advanced Miles the sonne of Walter Constable of Glocester unto this honour, and also granted to him constabulariam curiae suae , i. e. the Constableship of her Court, ‡whereupon his posteritie were Constables of England, as the Marshalship was granted at the first by the name of magistratus marescaliae curiae nostrae. ‡ Howbeit, Stephen afterwards stript him out of these honours which he had received from her. This Miles had five sonnes, Roger, Walter, Henrie, William, and Mahel, men of especiall note, who were cut off every one issuelesse by untimely death after they had, all but William, succeeded one another in their fathers inheritance. Unto Roger King Henry the Second, among other things, gave The Mote of Hereford with the whole Castle and the third penie issuing out of the revenewes of Plees of the whole County of Hereford, whereof hee made him Earle. But after Roger was deceased, the same King, if wee may beleeve Robert Abbot De Monte, kept the Earledome of Hereford to himselfe. The eldest sister of these, named Margaret, was married to Humfrey Bohun the third of that name, and his heires were high Constables of England, namely Humfrey Bohun the Fourth; Henry his sonne, unto whom King John granted twenty pounds yeerely to bee received out of the third penny of the County of Hereford, whereof hee made him Earle. This Henrie married the sister and heire of William Mandevil Earle of Essex, and died in the fourth yeere of Henrie the third his reigne. Humfrey the fifth his sonne, who was also Earle of Essex, whose sonne Humfrey the sixth of that forename died before his father, having first begotten Humfrey the seventh by a daughter and one of the heires of William Breos Lord of Brecknock. His sonne Humfrey the eighth was slaine at Burrowbrig, leaving by Elizabeth his wife, daughter unto King Edward the First and Earle of Hollands widow, among other children, namely John Bohun, Humfrey the ninth, both Earles of Hereford and Essex and dying without issue; and William Earle of Northampton, unto whom Elizabeth, a daughter and one of the heires of Giles Lord Badlesmer, bare Humfrey Bohun the tenth and last of the Bohuns who was Earle of Hereford, Essex, and Northampton, Constable besides of England: who left two daughters, Aeleonor the wife of Thomas of Woodstock Duke of Glocester, and Mary, wedded to Henry of Lancaster Earle of Darby, who was created Duke of Hereford, and afterwards crowned King of England. But after this Edward Stafford last Duke of Buckingham was stiled Earle of Hereford, for that he descended from Thomas of Woodstock his daughter, who was after remarried to Sir William Bourchier called Earle of Ew. And in our memorie King Edward the Sixth honored Walter D' Eureux, the Lord Ferrars of Chartley descended by the Bourghchiers from the Bohuns, with the title of Vicount Hereford, whose grand-sonne Walter Vicount Hereford Queene Elizabeth created afterwards Earle of Essex.

There are contained in this Country Parishes 176.


UPON Herefordshire on the North-West joineth Radnorshire, in the British tongue Sire Maiseveth , in forme three square, and the farther West it goeth, the narrower still it groweth. On the South-side the river Wy seperateth it from Brecknockshire, and on the North part lieth Montgomeryshire. The East and South parts thereof be more fruitful than the rest, which lying uneven and rough with mountaines, is hardly bettered by painfull husbandry, yet it is stored well enough with woods, watered with running rivers, and in some places with standing meres.

2. The East-side hath to beautifie it, besides other castles of the Lords Marchers, now all buried well neere in their owne ruines, Castle Paine, built and so named of Paine a Norman, and Castle Colwen, which, if I be not deceived, was sometime called the Castle of Mawd in Colwent. For a very famous castle that was, and Robert de Todeney, a great nobleman in the reigne of Edward the Second, was Lord of it. It is verily thought that it belonged aforetime to the Breoses, Lords of Brechnoc, and to have taken the name from Maud of Saint Valeric, a very shrewd, stout, and malapert stomackfull woman, wife to William Breos, who discovered a rebellious minde against King John. Which castle being cast downe by the Welsh, King Henrie the Third in the yeere 1231 reedified strongly with stone, ‡and called it in despight of Llewellin Prince of Wales Maugre Lhewellin. ‡ But of especiall name is Radnor the principall towne of the whole Shire, in British Maiseveth , faire built, as the maner of that country is, with thatched houses. In times past it was firmely fensed with a wall and castle, but after that Owen Glendowerdy what notable rebell had burnt it, it beganne by little and little to decrease and grow to decay, tasting of the same fortune that the mother thereof did before, I meane Old Radnor, called in British Maiseveth hean , and for the high situation Pencrag , which in the reigne of King John Rhese Ap Guffin had set on fire. If I should say that this Maiseveth or Radnor was that ancient Citie Magi which Antonine the Emperor seemeth to call Magnos, where, as we finde in the Booke of Notices , the commander of the Pacensian regiment lay in garrison under the Lieutenant or Lieutenant General of Britaine in the reigne of Theodosius the Younger, in mine own opinion surely, and perhaps in other mens conceit also, I should not vary from the Truth. For we read in writers of the midle age of inhabitants of this coast called Magesetae, also of Earles Masegetenses and Magesetenses , and the distance, if it be counted, both from Gobannium or Abergevenny, and also from Brangonium or Worcester, differeth scarce an haire bredth from Antonines computation. Scarce three miles Eastward from hence you see Prestaine, in British Lhan Andre , that is, Saint Andrews Church , which of a very little village within the memorie of our grandfathers is by the meanes of Richard Martin Bishop of Saint Davids growne now to be so great a mercate towne and faire withall, that at this day it dammereth and dimmeth the light in some sort of Radnor. From whence also scarce foure miles off, stands Knighton, a towne able to match with Prestaine, Called in British, as I have heard say, Trebuclo in steed of Trefcyluadh , of a famous ditch lying under it which Offa King of the Mercians with admirable worke and labour caused to be cast from Dee-Mouth unto Wy mouth by this towne, for the space of foureskore and ten miles, to separate the Britans from his Englishmen. Wherupon in British it is calledClaudh Offa , that is, Offaes ditch. Concerning which, John of Salisbury in his Polycraticon writeth thus: Harald ordained a law that what Welshman soever should be found with a weapon on this side the limite which he had set them, that is to say Offaes Dike, he should have his right hand cut off by the Kings officers.

3. When yee are past this place, all the ground that lieth toward the West and South limits, being for the most part baren, leane, and hungry, is of the inhabitants called Melienith , for that mountaines be of a yellowish colour. Yet remaine there many footings as it were of castles to be seene heere and there, but especially Kevenles and Timbod, which standing upon a sharpe pointed hill, Lhwellin Prince of Wales overthrew in the yeere 1260. This Melienith reacheth as farre as to the river Wy, which cutteth overthwart the West corner of this shire, and, being hindered in his streame with stones lying in his way, upon a sudden for want of ground to glide on hath a mighty and violent downfall, hath a mighty and violent downfall, where upon the place is tearmed Raihader Gowy , that is, The fall or Fludgats of Wy. And I cannot tell whether thereupon that British word Raihader the Englishmen forged this name first for the whole shire, and afterwards for the chiefe towne. By this Floudgate or fall of the water there was a Castle which Rhese Prince of Southwales (as we read) repaired under King Richard the First. Hard by there is in some sort a vast and wide wildernesse, hideous after a sort to behold by reason of the turning and crooked by-waies and craggy mountaines, into which as the safest place of refuge Vortigern, that pestilent wretch and bane of his native country, odious both to God and man, (whose memorie the Britans may wish damned) withdrew himselfe, when after he had called the Saxons into this Iland in horrible incest married his owne daughter. And heere he fell at length too too late into serious consideration of the greatnesse of his vile and wicked acts. But by revenging fire from heaven, the flying dart of God above, he was burnt with his Citie Caer Guortigern , which he had heere built for his refuge. And not farre from hence, as if the place had beene fatall, not onely Vortigern the last Monarch of British bloud, but also Lhewellin the last Prince of Wales of the British race, being forelaid [ambushed], was slaine ‡by Adam Francton‡ in the yeere of our redemption 1292. Of the said Vortigern, Ninnius nameth a little country heere Guortiger-maur , neither is that name as yet altogether lost, but of the Citie there remaineth no memorie at all but out of writers. Some are of opinion that Cuthremion Castle arose out of the ruins and rubbish thereof, which in the yeere 1201 the Welsh for malice they bare to Roger Lord Mortimer, and in spight of him, laid even with the ground. Moreover, this part of the country was in old time called Guarthenion , as Ninnius testifieth, who wrote that the said wicked Vortigern, when he was plainly and sharply reproved by that godly Saint German, did not onely not turne from his lewd and licentious life to the worship and service of God, but also let flie slanderous speeches against that most holy man. Wherefore Vortimer the sonne of Vortigern , as Ninnius saith, for the slander which his father had raised of Saint German, decreed that he should have the land as his owne for ever, wherein he had suffered to reprochfull an abuse. Whereupon, and to the the end that Saint German might be had in memorie, it was called Guartenion, which signifieth in English, A slander justly retorted.

4. The Mortimers, descended from the niece of Gonora wife of Richard the first, Duke of Normandie, were the first Normans that, having discomfited the English Saxon Edricke Sylvaticus, that is, The Wild , wonne a great part of this little country to themselves. And after they had a long time bin eminent above all others in these parts, at length King Edward the Third about the yeere of Salvation 1328 created Roger Mortimer Lord of Wigmore Earle of this Welsh limite, or, according to the common speach, Earle of March, who soone after was sentenced to death because he had insulted upon the Common-wealth, favoured the Scots to the prejudice of England, conversed over familiarly with the Kings mother, and contrived the destruction and death of King Edward the Second, the Kings father. He by his wife Jone Jenevell (who brought him rich revenewes, as well in Ireland as in England) had Edmund his sonne, who felt the smart of his fathers wickednesse, and lost both patrimonie and title of Earle. Howbeit, his sonne Roger was fully restored, recovered the title of Earle of March, and was chosen a fellow of the Order of the Garter at the first institution thereof. This Roger begat of Philip Montacute Edmund Earle of March, and he tooke to wife Philip the onely daughter of Leonell Duke of Clarence, the third sonne of King Edward the Third, wherby came unto him the Earldome of Ulster in Ireland and the Lordship of Claire. After he had ended his life in Ireland, where he governed with great commendation, his sonne Roger succeeded, being both Earle of March and Ulster, whom King Richard the Second declared heire apparent and his successour to the Crowne, as being in right of his mother the next and undoubted heire. But he dying before King Richard left issue, Edmund and Anne. Edmund, in regard of his royall bloud and right to the Crowne, stood greatly suspected to Henrie the Fourth, who had usurped the Kingdome, and by him was first exposed unto dangers, in so much as he was taken by Owen Glendour a rebell, ‡and afterwards, whereas the Percies purposed to advance his right, he was conveied into Ireland, kept almost twenty yeres prisoner in the Castle of Trim suffering all miseries incident to Princes of the bloud while they lie open to every suspicion,‡ and there through extreame griefe ended his daies, leaving his sister Anne his heire. She was married to Richard Earle of Cambridge, in whose right his heires and posterity were Earles of March and made claime to the Kingdome, which in the end also they obtained, as we will shew in another place. In which respect King Edward the Fourth created his eldest sonne, being Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall &., Earle of March also, for a further augmentation of his honor. As for the title of Radnor, no man ever bare it to my knowledge.

In this are Parishes 52.


BENEATH Radnorshire Southward lieth Brechnockshire, in the British Brechineauc , so named, as the Welshmen relate, of a Prince named Brechanius, whom hey report to have had a great and an holy ofspring, to wit, twenty foure daughters all Saints. Farre greater this is than Radnorshire, but thicker set with high hils, yet are the valleies fruitfull every where. On the East side it is bounded with Herefordshire. On the South with Monmouth and Glamorgan shires, and on the West with Caermardenshire. But seeing there is nothing memorable or materiall to the description of this small province which is not set downe by the curious diligence of Giraldus Cambrensis, who was an Archdeacon heere of above 400 yeeres since, I thinke I may doe well for my selfe to hold my peace a while, and to admit him with his stile into the fellowship of this labour.

2. Brecknocke , saith he in his booke called Itinerarium Cambriae, is a country having sufficient store of Corne, and if here be any defect thereof, it is plentifully supplied out of the fruitfulnesse of England bordering so neere upon it; a country likewise well stored with pastures and woods, with wild deere and heards of cattaile, having abundance beside of fresh water fish, wherewith Uske on the one side and Wy on the other serveth it. For both these rivers are full of Salmons and Trouts, but Wy of the twaine is the better, affording the best kind of them which they call Umbras. Enclosed it is with high hils on every side, unlesse it be on the North part. In the West it hath the mountaines of Canterbochan, on the Southside likewise the Southern mountaines, the chiefe whereof is called Cadier Arthur, that is, Arthurs Chaire, of the two tops of the same (for it is δικέρατος, that is, shaped with two topes) resembling the forme of a Chaire. And for that the Chaire standeth very high and upon a steepe downfall, by a common tearme it was assigned to Arthur the greatest and mightiest King of the Britans. In the very pitch and top of this hill there walmeth [wells] forth a spring of water. And this fountaine, in maner of a well, is deepe, but foresquare, having no brooke or riveret issuing from it, yet are there trouts found therein. And therefore, having these barres on the Southside, the aire is the colder, defendeth the country from the excessive heat of the Sunne, and by a certaine naturall wholsomnesse of the aire maketh it most temperate. But on the East side the mountaines of Talgar and Ewias doe as it were forefense [protect] it.

3. On the North side, as he said, it is more open and plaine, namely where the river Wy severeth it from Radnorshire, by which stand two townes well knowen for their antiquity, Buelth and Hay. Buelth is pleasantly situate with woods about it, fortified also with a Castle, but of a later building, by the Breoses and Mortimers, whenas Rhese ap Guffin had rased the ancient Castle. Now the market, much resorted unto, maketh it more famous thereabout, but in times past it seemeth to have beene for the owne worth of great name, because Ptolemee observed the position thereof according to the Longitude and Latitude, who called it Bulleum Silurum. Of this towne the country lying about it, being rough and full of hils, is named Buelth, wherein, whenas the Saxons were now spoiling and harrying the whole Iland, and Vortigern had withdrawen himselfe into these parts, Pascentius his sonne ruled all as Lord by the permission of Aurelius Ambrose, as Ninnius writeth, who in his chapter of Marvails reporteth I wot no what wonderous thing heere of a heape of stones wherein, for sooth, was plainly to be seene the footing [vestige] of King Arthurs hound. And as for Hay, which in British is called Trekethle , that is, The towne in a grove of Hasel trees , in the very utmost skirt of this shire next unto Herefordshire, it standeth hard by the river Wye, well known, as it seemeth, to the Romans, whose coines is [sic] is often digged up there, and it sheweth also by the ruins that in old time it was walled. But being now as it were decaied it complaineth of that most lewd rebell Owen Glendoweredwy for his furious outrages, who in wasting and spoiling all those countries most villanously did depopulate it and set it on fire.

4. As this river Wy washeth the North side of this shire, so doth Uske a notable river likewise runne through the middest thereof, which Uske, springing out of the Blacke-Mountain, passeth along with a shallow streame beside Brechnock the shire towne, standing in the very hart in maner of the country, which the Britans call Aber-Hodney because the two rivers Hodney and Uske doe meet in that place. That this town was inhabited in the Romans time appeareth by the coines of Romane Emperours now and then digged up here. Bernard Newmarch, who conquered this little shire, built heere a goodly great Castle which the Breoses and Bohuns repaired, and in our fathers remembrance King Henry the Eight in the friery of the Dominicans appointed a Collegiat Church of fourteene Prebendaries, which he translated hither from Aberguilly in Caer-Mardenshire.

5. Leveney a little river, after it is run into this Poole, keepeth his owne hew and colour still by himselfe, as disdayning to be mingled therewith (which the very colour sheweth), is thought to carry out his owne water, entertained a while there by the way, and no more than he brought in with him. It hath beene a currant speech of long continuance among the neighbours there about, that where now the Meere is there was in times past a City, which being swallowed up in an earth quake, resigned up the place unto the waters. And beside other reasons, they allege this for one, that all the high waies of this shire come directly hither on every side. Which if it be true, what other City should a man thinke stood by the river Leveney than Loventium, which Ptolomee placeth in this tract? And in no place hitherto could I finde it (albeit I searched diligently for it) either by the name, or situation, or ruines remaining. Marianus Scotus (which I had almost forgotten) seemeth to call this Lake Bricenau Meere , who recordeth that Edelfled the Mercian Lady in the yeere 913 entred into the land of the Britans to win by assault a Castle at Bricenau-Meere , and that she tooke there the King of the Britans wife prisoner. Whether this Castle were Brechnock it selfe or Castle Dinas, which standeth over it upon a rockey hill, and which the higher it riseth the slenderer and smaller it becommeth, is not certainly knowen. But that Blean Leveney Castle hard by was the chiefe place of the Barony that Petre Fitz-Herbert the sonne of Herbert Lord of Dean-forest by Lucy the daughter of Miles Earle of Hereford held, appeareth evidently upon Record.

6. In the reigne of King William Rufus, Bernard Newmarch the Norman, a man both hardy and politicke withall, having leavied a great army of Englishmen and Normans together, was the first that entred into this territory by force and armes, won it and wrested it out of the Welshmens hands by bloudy encounters, raised fortresses heere for his fellow souldiers (among which the chiefe were the Aubreis, Gunters, Haverds, Walbeofes, and Prichards), allotted lands and Lordships, and that he might set sure footing and establishing his seat among the Welsh, who repined maliciously at him, he tooke to wife Nesta the daughter of Gruffin, who, being a woman of a shamlesse and revengefull spirit, both bereft her selfe of her owne good name and also defeated her sonne of his inheritance. For when Mahel, the said Bernards onely sonne, did shake up in some hard and sharpe termes a young Gentleman with whom she used more familiarly than was beseeming, she, as the Poet saith, iram atque animos a crimine sumens, growing angry and stomackfull upon this imputation, tooke her corporall oath before King Henry the Second, and protested that her sonne Mahel was begotten in adultery and not by Bernard her husband. Whereupon, Mabel being disinherited, Sibyl his sister entred upon that faire inheritance, and with the same enriched her husband Miles Earle of Hereford. But after that five sons of Miles died without issue, this Brechnockshire in the partition of the inheritance fel to Bertha his daughter, who by Philip de Breos had a sonne William de Breos Lord of Brechnock, upon whom the seditious spirit and shrewd tongue of his wife drew a world of calamities. For when see had with her intemperance and unbridled language contumeliously abused King John, the king thereupon (because her husband William was very deepely indebted unto him) fell to bee quick and rigorous in demanding the debt. But he, not able to make paiment, after hee had shifted it off many times, and by breaking daie still made default, in the end mortgaged unto the King three of his castles, namely Haie, Brecknock, and Radnor, and put them into his hands. But soone after, levying certaine forces such as hee could muster up in hast, upon a sodaine surprised them, slew the garison souldiors, and wrested the said peeces perforce from them, burnt the towne of Lemster, and thus killing, slaying, and driving away booties, hee made foule worke and havock every way with all such outrages as rebells doe commonly commit. But when the King pursued him, hee conveied him selfe and all that he had into Ireland, complotted and combined with the Kings enemies there. Yet under a colour, as if he would make submission, he came unto the King upon protection and assurance given of safety when he was upon his returne into Ireland. And notwithstanding many goodly promises of the contrary, hee raised new stirres and troubles eftsoones in Wales. But forced in the end to leave his native Country, hee died a banished man in France. As for his wife, being taken prisoner and famished in prison (the extremest miserie that can befall unto man or woman), shee paied most deerly for her wicked and malapert tongue. His sonne Giles, Bishop of Hereford, by the favour and consent of King John, having recovered his fathers inheritance, neglecting his nephew the right heire, left it unto his brother Reginald, whose sonne William, Lhelin Prince of Wales, having taken him in bed with his wife, hanged. But by the daughters of that William, the Mortimers, Cantelos, and Bohuns Earles of Hereford entred upon a great and goodly inheritance. And this Brechnock fell in partition unto the Bohuns, and in the end by them unto the Staffords. And when Edward Stafford Duke of Buckingham was attainted, many very goodly revenewes fell unto the King in this shire and else-where.

It reckoneth parishes 61.


BENEATH Brechnock and Herefordshire Southward lieth the County of Monmouth, commonly called in English Monmouthshire, in times past Went-set and Wents-land , in British Guent , on an ancient City so called. It is enclosed on the North-side with the river Munow that separateth it from Herefordshire, on the East side with Wy running betweene it and Glocestershire, on the West with the river Remneie, which severeth it from Glamorganshire, and on the South with the Severn Sea, whereinto the said rivers, togither with Uske that cutteth through the midest of the Country, are discharged. As for commodities necessary to mans life, it hath not only sufficient for it self, but also affordeth them in plentifull manner to the neighbours adjoining. The East part is full of grasse and woods, the West is somewhat hilly and stony, yet not unthankfull to the husbandman. The people, saith Giraldus writing of his owne age, most inured to martial conflicts, is in the feats of strength and valour right commendable, and for skill of archery and shooting farre surpassing any country in Wales.

2. In the utmost angle, called Ewias, to the Northwest, not farre from the river Munow, among the Hatterell hils which, because they rise up in height like a chaire, they call Munith Cader , there stood Lanthony, a little ancient Abbay which Walter Lacy founded, unto whom William Earle of Hereford gave faire lands heere, and from whom are descended those renowned Lacies worthily reputed among the most noble Conquerours of Ireland. The situation of which Abbay Giraldus Cambrensis, who knew it better than I, shall pensile it out unto you for mee. In the most deepe valley of Ewias , saith hee, which is about an arrow-shoote over, standeth a Church of Saint John Baptist, enclosed on everie side in a round compasse with hilles mounting up into the ayre, covered with lead, and built sightly as the Nature of the place would permit, with an arched roofe of stone, in a place where had stood aforetime a poore Chappel of Saint David the Archbishop, adorned onelie with wild mosse and wreathes of clasping Ivie. A fitte place for true religion, and of all the monasteries in the Island of Britaine most convenient for Canonicall discipline, being founded first by two Eremits in the honour of an Eremite, farre remooved from all stirres and noise of people, in a certaine desert and solitarie nouke, seated upon the river Hodney running along the botome of the vale. Whereof and of Hodney together it is called Lanhodeney. For lhan signifieth a Church or ecclesiastical place. But if we will speake more exquisitely, it may be said that the proper name of that place is in the Welsh Nanthodey. For even to this day they that dwell there about call it Lhan Devi Nanthodeny, that is, Davids Church upon the river Hodeney. Now the raine, which mountaines breed, falleth here verie often, the windes blow strong, and all winter time almost it is continuallie cloudy and misty weather. And yet notwithstanding (such is the healthfull temperature of the ayre, which, the grosser it is, the gentler and milder it is), and [it is ] verie seldome there are any diseases heere. The cloisterers fitting heere in their cloistures, when to refresh and breath them selves they chance to looke up, they see on everie side of them over the high roufes and ridges of their houses the tops of the hilles touching as it were the skie, and the verie wilde Deere for the most part, whereof there is heere great store, feeding aloft (as one would say) in the farthest Horizon or kenning of their sight. And it is betweene one and three of the clocke or there about in a faire cleere daie ere they can see here the bodie of the sunne, so much adoe hee hath to get above the hille toppes by that time. And a little after, The fame that went of this place drew Roger Bishoppe of Salisbury hither, beeing then the chiefe governour of the Realme under the King, who when hee had a good while considered with admiration that Nature of the place, the desert solitarinesse, the eremiticall state and condition of the religious men there serving God without complayning, together with their conversation in every respect without murmuring and grudging, returned home to the King, and making report unto him of such things there as were worth relation, when he had spent the most part of the day in commendation of the foresaid place, at length knit up al the praises thereof in this one word: "What should I say more?" quoth he, "All the Treasure both of King and Kingdome will not suffice to build this cloisture." Whenas he had held a good while as wel the King as the whole Court in suspense, wondering as they did at this speech, at length hee expounded the darke riddle of his words by meaning the cloistures of those hills, wherewith it is enclosed on every side. But hereof enough, if not too much.

3. By the river Munow are to be seene Grossemont and Skinffrith Castles, belonging in times past by the grant of King John to the Breoses, afterwards to Hubert de Burgh, Earle of Kent, who, that he might calme the Court-tempests of displeasure and for the renewing of peace and recovering former favour, resigned both these and withall Blanc-Castle and Hafield into the hands of King Henry the Third. In other other corner North-east-ward, Munow and Wy at their confluence doe compasse almost round about the chiefe towne of the shire and give it the name. For in the British tongue it is called Mongwy and in ours Monmouth. On the Northside, where it is not defended with the rivers, it was fortified with a wall and ditch. In the midest of the towne hard by the mercate place standeth a castle, which, as it is thought, John Baron of Monmouth built, from whom it came to the house of Lancaster, after that King Henry the Third had taken from him all his inheritance, for that hee had sided with the Barons and stood rebelliously against him, or rather, as wee read in the Kings praerogative, because his heires had given their faith and allegeance to the Earle of Britaine in France. And ever since that time the towne hath flourished and bin of name in regard of their priviledges and immunities granted unto them by the family of Lancaster. But for no one thing is it so much renowned as for this, that it was the birth place of King Henry the Fifth that triumpher over France, and the second ornament of English Nation. That Henry, I say, who by force of armes and militarie prowesse maugre the French, conquered France and brought Charles the Sixth King of France to that extremity that after a sort her surrendred up his crown unto him. In regard of whose successe and fortunate exploits in warre, John Seward, a Poet in those daies not of the lowest ranke, in a joily lofty verse thus speaketh to the English:

Passe on to Tanas [the Don] faire remote, to frozen Northren cost,
Through Libye drie, beyond the line where Sunnes heat parcheth most.
On forth and finde where all the springs of Nilus hidden lie,
Those pillers fixt by Hercules, and bounds that mount on hie
Surpasse, the Limit-markes also which father Bacchus pight
For why? What all the earth containes is under Englands right.
To English shall the Red-sea yeeld the pretious pearley wilke
Indy yvory, sweet frank-incence Panchaea, Seres
[China] silke,
Whiles Henry liv's, that Champion Achilles like of ours.
For he the praises farre surmounts of his Progenitors.

Monmouth glorieth also that Geffrey Ap Arthur or Arthurius Bishop of Asaph, the compiler of the British history, was borne and bred there; a man, to say a truth, wel skilled in antiquities, but, as it seemeth, not of antique credite, so many toies and tales hee every where enterlaceth out of his owne braine, ‡as hee was charged while hee lived,‡ in so much as now he is ranged among those writers whom the Roman church hath censured to be forbidden.

4. From hence Wy with many windings and turnings runneth downe Southward, yeelding verie great plenty of delicate Salmons from September to April. And is at this day the bound betweene Glocestershire and Monmouthshire, in times past betweene the Welsh and Englishmen, according to this verse of Nechams making:

By Wales on this side runeth Wy,
And of the other England he doth eye.

Who, when he is come almost unto his mouth, runneth by Chepstow, that is, if one interprete it after the Saxons tongue, a Mercat. The Britans call it Castle-went. A famous towne this and of good resort, situate upon the side of an hill, rising from the verie river, fortified round about with a wall of a large circuite, which includes within it both fields and orchyards. It hath a very spatious castle situate over the river, and just against it stood a Priory, the better part whereof beeing pulled downe, the rest is converted into a Parish Church. As for the bridge that standeth over Wy, it is of timber and verie high built, because the river at every tide riseth to a great height. The Lords hereof were the Earles of Pembroch out of the familie of Clare, who of Strighull Castle, their seat a little way off, were commonly called Earles of Strighull and Pembrock. The last of whom named Richard, a man of an invincible courage, and having wonderfull strong armes and long withall, surnamed Strongbow because he shot in a bow of exceeding great bent and nothing but with strong arme, and was the first that by his valour made way for the English into Ireland. By a daughter of his it came to the Bigots &., but now it belongeth to the Earles of Worcester. This towne is not verie ancient to speake of. For may there be that constantly affirme, and not without good reason, that not many ages agoe it had his beginning from Venta, a verie ancient citie that in the daies of Antonine the emperour flourished about foure miles hence Westward and was named Venta Silurum (as one would say, the Principall citie of the Silures ). which name neither hostile fury nor length of time hath as yet discontinued: for it is called even as this day Caer went , that is, The City Wet. But as for the citie it selfe, either time or hostility hath so caried it away that now, were it not only for the ruinate wals, the checker worke pavements, and peeces of Roman money, it would not appeere there was such a city. It tooke up in compasse above a mile. On the South side a great part of the wal standeth, and there remaine little better than the rubbish of three bulwarks. And yet of how great account it was in ancient times, wee may gather if it were but by this, that before the name of Monmouth once heard of, all this whole country was of it called Guent, Went-set , and Wents-land. Moreover, as we read in the life of Tathaius a British Saint, it was an Academie, that is to say, a place dedicated to the studie of good letters, which the said Tathaie whom King Caradock the son of Inirius procured to come thither out of the desert wildernesse governed with great commendation, and there founded a church.

5. Five miles from hence Westward is seated Strighull Castle, at the foote of the mountaines, we cal it at this day Strugle, the Normans named it Estrighill , which as we read in King William the First his Domesday booke , William Fitz Osbern Earle of Hereford built, and afterwards it became the seat of the Earles of Pembrock out of the house of Clare. Whereupon they were usually called Earles of Strighul, as I even now intimated. Beneath these places upon the Severn Sea, nere unto Wy-mouth, standeth Portskeweth, which Marianus nameth Portscith; who hath recorded that Harald in the yeere 1065 erected a fort there against the Welshmen, which they streightwaies under the conduct of Caradock overthrew. ‡And adjoining to it is Sudbrok the church wherof called Trinity Chappell standeth so neere the sea that the vicinity of so tyrannous a neighbour hath spoiled it of halfe the Church-yarde, as it hath done also of an olde fortification lieng thereby, which was compassed with a triple ditch and three rampiers as high as an ordinary house, cast in forme of a bowe, the string whereof is the sea-cliffe. That this was a Romane worke the Britaine brickes and Roman coynes there found are most certaine arguments, among which the Reverend father in God Francis Bishop of Landaff (by whose information I write this) imparted unto mee of his kindnesse one of the greatest peeces that ever I saw, coined of Corinthian copper by the City of Elaia in the lesser Asia to the honour of the Emperour Severus with this Greeke inscription: ΑΥΓ. ΚΑΙ. Λ. ?ΕΠΤΙ. ?ΕΒΗΡΟ? that is, THE EMPEROUR CAESAR, LUCIUS SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS PERTINAX. And in the Reverse, an horseman with a Trophee erected before him, but the letters not legible, save under him ΕΛΑΙΤΩΝ, that is, Of the Elaians , which kinde of great peeces the Italians call Medaglioni , and were extraordinary coines, not for common use but coined by the Emperours either to bee distributed by the waie of Largesse in triumphs, or to be sent for tokens to men well deserving, or else by free cities to the glorie and memory of good Princes. What name this place anciently had is hard to be found, but it seemeth to have beene the port and landing place for Venta Silurum , when as it is but two miles from it.‡ Then Throgoy, a little river neere unto Caldecot, entreth into the Severn Sea, where saw the wall of a castle that belonged to the high Constables of England, and was holden by the service of Constableship of England. Hard by are seene Wondy and Penhow, the seats in times past of the noble family of Saint Maur, now corruptly named Seimor. For William Mareshall Earle of Pembrok about the yeere of our lord 1240 was bound for the winning of Wondy out of the Welshmens hands to aide William Seimor. From him descended Roger de Saint Maur knight, who married one of the heires of John Beauchamp of Hach, a very noble Baron who derived his pedegree from Sibyl heire unto William Mareshall, that most puissant Earle of Pembrock, from William Ferrars Earle of Derby, from Hugh de Viven, and William Mallet, men in times past most highly renowned. The nobilitie of all these and others besides, as may bee evidently shewed, hath met together in that right honorable personage Edward Saint Maur or Seimor, now Earle of Hereford, a singular favorer of vertue and good learning, worthy in that behalfe to be honored and commended to posterity.

6. Beneath this lieth spred for many miles togither a mersh, they call it the Moore, which when I lately revised this worke, suffered a lamentable losse. For when the Severn sea at a spring tide in the change of the Moone, what beeing driven backe for three daies together with a Southwest winde, and what with a verie strong pirrie [squall] from the sea troubling it, swelled and raged so high that with surging billowes it came rolling and in-rushing amaine upon this tract lying so low, as also upon the like states in Somersetshire over against it, that it overflowed all, subverted houses and drowned a number of beasts, and some people withall. Where this mersh coast bearing out by little and little runneth forth into the sea, in the verie point thereof standeth Goldclyffe aloft, that is, as Giraldus saith, A Golden cliffe, so called because the stones there, of a golden colour by reverberation of the Sunne shining full upon them glitter with a wonderfull brightnesse; neither can I bee easilie perswaded (saith hee) that Nature hath given this brightnesse in vaine unto the stones, and that there should bee a flowre heere without fruit, were there any man that would serch into the veines there, and, using the direction of Art, enter in the inmost and secretest bowels of the Earth.

7. Neere to this place there remaine the reliques of a Priorie, that acknowledge those of Chandos for their founders and patron. Passing thence by the merish country, wee came to the mouth of the river Isca, which the Britans name Usk and Wiisk , and some writers terme it Osca. This river as it runneth through the midest, as I said before, of this County, floweth hard by three townes of especiall antiquity. The first, in the limite of the shire North-west, Antonine the Emperour calleth Gorbanium, at the very meeting of Uske and Geveny, whereof it had the name, and even at this day, keeping the ancient name, as it were, safe and sound, is tearmed Aber-Gevenny, and short Abergenny, which signifieth the confluents of Gevenny or Gorbanny. Fortified it is with wals and a Castle, which, as saith Giraldus, of all the Castles in Wales hath beene most defamed and stained with the foule note of treason. First by William Earl Miles his sonne, afterwards by William Breos: for both of them after they had trained thither under a pretense of friendship certain of the Nobles and chiefe gentlemen of Wales with promise of safe conduct, vilanously slew them. But they escaped not the just judgement and vengeance of God. For William Breos, after he had beene stripped of all his goods and lost his wife and some of his children, who were famished to death, died in banishment; the other William, being brained with a stone whiles Breulais Castle was on fire, suffred in the end due punishment for his wicked deserts. The first Lord to my knowledge of Aber Gevenny was one Sir Hameline Balun, who made Brien of Wallingford or Brient De L'isle, called also the Fitz-Count, his heire. He, having built heere a Lazarhouse for his two sonnes that were Lepres, ordained Walter the sonne of Miles Earle of Hereford, heire of the greatest part of his inheritance. After him succeeded his brother Henrie, slaine by the Welshmen, who seized upon his lands, which the Kings Lieutenants and Captaines could not defend without great perill and danger. By a sister of this Henrie it descended to the Breoses, and from them, in right of marriage, by the Cantlowes to the Hastings, ‡which Hastings, being Earles of Penbroke, enjoied it for diverse descents, and John Hastings, having then no child borne, devised both it and the Earldome of Penbroke, as much as in him lay, to his cosin Sir William Beauchamp, conditionally that he should beare his Armes. And when when the last Hastings ended his life issuelesse,‡ Reginald Lord Grey of Ruthin, being found his heire, passed over the Baronie of Abergevenny to the said William Beauchamp, who was summoned afterward to Parliament by the name of William Beauchamp de Abergevenny. He entailed the said Baronie, reserving an estate to himselfe and his wife, and to the lawful issue masle of their bodies, and for default of such issue, to his brother Thomas Beauchampe Earle of Warwicke and his heires masles. This William Beauchampe Lord of Abergevenny had a sonne named Richard, who for his Martiall valour was created Earle of Worcester and slaine in the French warres, leaving one onely daughter, whom Sir Edward Nevill tooke to wife. Since which time the Nevills have enjoied the honorable title of the Barons of Abergevenny (howbeit the Castle was by vertue of the entaile aforesaid detained from them a long time). The fourth Baron of this house, dying in our remembrance, left one onely daughter, Marie, married to Sir Thomas Faine Knight, betwixt whom being the heire generall and Edward Nevil the next heire male (unto whom by a will, and the same ratified by authority of the Parliament, the Castle of Abergevenny and the greatest part of the lands was fallen), there was great competition for the title of Abergevenny argued in the high Court of Parliament in the second yeere of King James, and their severall claimes debated seven severall daies by the learned counsell of both parts before the Lords of the Parliament. Yet whenas the question of precise right in law was not sufficiently cleered, but both of them in regard of the nobility and honour of their family were thought of every one right worthy of honorable title, and whereas it appeared evidently by most certaine proofes that the title as well of the Baronie of Abergevenny as of Le Despenser appertained hereditarily to this family, the Lords humbly and earnestly besought the King that both parties might be enobled by way of restitution, who gratiously assented thereunto. Heereupon the Lord Chancellour proposed unto the Lords first whether the heire male should have the title of Abergevenny or the heire femall, and the most voices carried it that the title of the Baronie of Abergevenny should be restored unto the heire male. And when he propounded secondly whether the title of the Baronie Le Despenser should be restored unto the female, they all with one accord gave their full consent. Which being declared unto the King, he confirmed their determination with his gratious approbation and royall assent. Then was Edward Nevill by the Kings writ called unto the Parliament by the name of Baron Abergevenney, and in his Parliament Robs betweene two Barons, as the maner is, brought into the house and placed in his seat above the Baron Audley. And at the very same time were the letters patentes read, whereby the King restored, erected, preferred &. Mary Fane to the state, degree, title stile, name, honour, and dignity of Baronesse Le-Despenser, to have and to hold the foresaid state, and unto the above named Mary and her heires, and that her heires successively should be Barons Le-Depenser &. And upon a new question moved, unto whether the Baronie of Abergevenny or the Baronie Le-Despenser the priority of place was due, the Lords referred this point to the Commissioners of the Office of the Earle Mareschall of England, who after mature deliberation and weighing of the matter, gave definitive sentence for the Baronie Le Despenser, set downe under their hands and signed with their seales, which was read before the Lords of the Parliament, and by order from then entered into the Journall Booke, out of which I have summarily thus much exemptified [excerpted]. John Hastings (for I have no reason to passe it over in silence) held this Castle by homage, Wardship, and Mariage when it hapned (as we read in the Inquisition), and if there should chance any warre betweene the King of England and the Prince of Wales, he was to keepe the country of Over-went at his owne charges in the best maner he can, for his own commodity, the Kings behoofe, and the realme of Englands defense.

8. The second little Citie, which Antonine named Burrium and setteth downe twelve miles from Gobannium, standeth where the river Birthin and Uske mete in one streame. The Britans at this day, by transposing of the letters, call it Brunebegy for Burenbegie , and Caer Uske. Giraldus tearmeth it Castrum Oscae , that is, The Castle of Uske , and we Englishmen Uske. At this day it can shew nothing but the ruins of a large and strong Castle, situate most pleasantly betweene the river Uske and Oilwy, a riveret, which beneath it runneth from the East by Ragland, a faire house of the Earle of Worcesters, built castle-like.

9. The third Citie, which Antonine nameth Isca and Legio Secunda , is on the other side of Uske twelve Italian miles just distant from Burrium, as he hath put it downe. The Britans call it Caer Leon and Caer Leon ar Uske , that is, The citie of the Legion upon Uske , of the second Legion Augusta, which is also called Britannica Secunda. This Legion, being ordained by the Emperour Augustus and translated by Claudius out of Germanie into Britaine under the conduct of Vespasian, being ready at his commande when hee aspired to be Emperour, and which procured the Legions in Britaine to take his part, was heere at last placed in garrison by Julius Frontinus (as it seemeth) against the Silures. How great this Isca was in those daies listen unto our Girard out of his booke called Itinerarium Cambriae , who thus describeth it out of the ruins: It was an ancient and Authenticke Citie excellently well built in old time by the Romanes with bricke wals. Heere may a man see many footings [vestiges] of the antique nobility and dignity it had, mighty and huge palaces with golden pinacles in times past, resembling the proud statelinesse of the Romans for that it had bin founded first by Roman Princes and beautified with goodly buildings. There may you behold a giantlike towre, notable and brave baines [baths], the remaines of Temples and Theatres, all compassed in with faire wals, which are partly yet standing. There may one find in every place, as well within the circuit of the wall as without, houses under ground, water pipes and Vaults within the earth, and (that which you will count among all the rest worth observation) you may see every where hote houses made wondrous artificially, breathing forth heat very closely at certaine narrow Tunnells in the sides. Heere lie enterred two noble Protomartyrs of greater Britaine, and next after Alban and Amphibalus the very principall heere crowned with Martyrdome, namely Julius and Aaron, and both of them had in this Citie a goodly Church dedicated unto them. For in ancient times there had beene three passing faire Churches in this Citie: one of Julius the Martyr, beautified with a choire of Nunnes devoted to the service of God; a second founded in the name of blessed Aaron his companion, and ennobled with an excellent order of Chanons. Amphibalus also, the Teacher of Saint Alban and a faithfull informer of him unto faith was born heere. The site of the Citie is excellent upon the river Oske, able to beare a prety Vessell at an high water from the Sea, and the Citie is fairely furnished with woods and medows. Heere it was that the Roman Embassadours repaired unto the famous Court of that great King Arthur. Where Dubritius also resigned the Archiepiscopall honor unto David of Menevia, when the Metropolitane See was translated from hence to Menevia. Thus much out of Giraldus.

10. But for the avouching and confirming of the antiquity of this place, I think it not impertinent to adjoin here those antique inscriptions lately digged forth of the ground which the right reverend father in God Francis Godwin Bishop of Landaffe, a passing great lover of venerable Antiquity and of all good Literature, hath of his courtesie imparted unto me. In the yeere 1602 in a medow adjoining there was found by ditchers a certaine image of a personage girt and short trussed, bearing a quiver (but head, hands and feete were broken off) upon a pavement of square tile in checkerworke: also a fragment of an altar which this inscription engraven in great capitall letters three inches long, erected by Haterianus the Leiutenant Generall of Augustus and Propretour of the Province Cilicia:

Fragment of tombstone

The next yeere following, hard by, was this table also gotten out of the ground, which proveth that the foresaid image was the personage of Diana, and that her Temple was repaired by Titus Flavius Posthumius Varus, an old souldier happily of a band of the second Legion:


Also a votive Altar, out of which Geta the name of Caesar may seeme then to have beene rased, what time as he was made away by his brother Antonine Basianus and proclaimed an Enemie, yet so as by the tract of the letters it is in some sort apparent:


This most beautifull Altar also, though maimed and dismembred, was there found, which I thinke is thus to be made up:

Fragment of tombstone

Also these fragments:

Fragment of altar

11. Moreover a little before the comming in of the English Saxons, there was a Schoole heere of 200 Philosophers, who being skilfull in Astronomie and all other arts, diligently observed the course and motion of the starres , as wrote Alexander Elsebiensis, a rare Author and hard to be found, out of whom Thomas James of Oxford, a learned man and a true lover of bookes, who, wholy addicted to learning and now laboriously searching the Libraries of England, to the publicke good purposeth that (God blesse his labour, which will be to the great benefit of all Students), hath copied out very many notes for me. In the reigne of Henrie the Second (what time Girardus wrote), it seemeth that this Citie was of good strength. For Yrwith of Caer Leon, a courageous and hardy Britan, defended it a great while against the English, untill he was vanquished by the King, and so disseized of the possession thereof. But now, that it may serve for an ensample that as well Cities have fatall periods of their flourishing state as men of their lives, it is decaied, and become a very small towne, which in times past was of that greatnesse, and reaching out so farre in length on both sides of the river that Saint Julians, an house of the late Sir William Herbert Knight, was, by report, somewhat within the very Citie, where Saint Julius the Martyrs Church stood, which now is much about a mile out of the towne. Also, out of the ruins thereof a little beneath, at the mouth of Uske, grew up Newport, which Giraldus nameth in Latin Novus Burgus , a towne of later time built, and not unknowne by reason of the Castle and commodiousnesse of the harbour, in which place there was in times past some one of these Roman high waies or streets, whereof Necham hath made mention in these verses:

Uske into Severn headlong runnes, and makes his streame so swell
Witnesse with me is Julia street, that knoweth it full well.

This Iulia strata was no doubt some Port-highway, and (if we may be allowed to make a conjecture) what great absurdity were it to say that it was cast up and made by Julius Frontinus, the vanquisher of the Silures? There creepeth, saith Giraldus, in the bounds of this New-burgh or Newport a little river named Nant Pencarn, which cannot be waded and passed over but at certaine Fourds, not so much for any depth that the water is of, as for the hollownesse of the channell and the oosy mud in the botome, and it had of old a fourd named Rydpencarn , that is, The fourd under the top of a rocke. Which when Henrie the Second King of England chanced at a venture to passe over, even then when it was almost grown out of remembrance, the Welshmen, who were over credulous in beleeving of Prophesies, as if now all had beene sure on the Kings side and themselves hopelesse of all helpe, were quite out of heart and hope of good successe, because Merlin Silvester, the British Apollo, had prophesied that then the Welshmens powre should be ground under when a stout Prince with a freckled face (and such a one was King Henrie the Second) should passe over that foord.

12. Under the Saxons Heptarchie, this region was subject to the mountaine Welshmen (whom the English called Dun-settan ), who notwithstanding, as the ancient lawes doe shew, were under the commaund of the West Saxons. But at the first comming in of the Normans, the Lords Merchers most grievously plagued and annoied them, but especially Hamelin Balun, of whom I spake, Hugh Lacy, Walter and Gilbert, both surnamed of the house of Clare, ‡Miles of Glocester, Robert Chandos, Pain Fitz-John, Richard Fitz-Punt,‡ and Brien of Wallingford, unto whom after that the Kings had once given whatsoever they could get and hold in this tract by subduing the Welsh, some of these before named by little and little reduced under their subjection the upper part of this shire which they called Over-went , others the lower part which they tearmed Nether-went. ‡And this shire is not accounted among the Shires of Wales.‡

This shire containeth Parish Churches 127.


THE last Country of the Silures was that, I thinke, which wee at this day call Glamorganshire, the Britans Morganuc, Glath-Morgan and Glad Vorganuc , that is, The Region of Morganuc , so named, as most suppose of one Morgan a Prince, as others thinke of Morgan an Abbay. But if I derived it from mor , which in the British tongue signifieth The sea , I know not verily whether I should dally with the truth or no. Howbeit, I have observed that a towne in little Britaine standing upon the sea-coast, now called Morlais, was of Ptolomee and the ancient Gaules termed Vorganium or Morganium (for M and V consonant are often changed one for another in this tongue), and whence I pray you but from the sea? And this our Morganoc also lieth upon the sea. For, stretching out more in length than it spreadeth in bredth, on the South-side it is accosted with the Severn sea. But where it looketh toward the Land, it hath on the East-side Monmouth-shire, on the North Brechnochshire, and on the West Caermardenshire bordering upon it. The North part by reason of the mountaines is rough and unpleasant, which as they bend downe southward by little and little become more mild and of better soile, and at the foote of them there stretcheth forth a plaine open to the South-Sunne, in that position of situation which Cato judged to bee the best, and for the which Pliny so highly commendeth Italy. For this part of the County is most pleasant and fruitfull, beautified also on every side with a number of townes.

2. Jestine a great Lord in the reigne of William Rufus, after he had rebelled against Rhese his Prince, and not able to make his part good with him, very rashly and inconsideratly (which hee afterward repented to late) sent Enion, a noble man to whom he had affianced his daughter, to procure Robert Fitz-Haimon, sonne to Haimon Dentatus Lord of Corboil in Normandy, to come out of England and aide him against Rhese. Who forthwith having mustered certaine forces, and taking for to associate him in this journey twelve knights, first gave Rhese Battaile and slew him, and afterwards, being allured with the fertility of the Country, whereof beforehand hee had made full account to be Lord, turning his powre upon Jestine him selfe because hee had not kept touch with Enion nor performed his promise, easily thrust him out of his ancient inheritance and shared the Country among his companions. The hard and baraine hill Country hee granted tot he said Enion, the more fertile parts hee devided betweene him and those twelve knights whom he termed Peres, on this condition, that they should hold them in fee and vasallage of him as their cheife Lord, to maintaine one another in common with their aides and auxiliary forces, to defend every one his owne ward in his Castle of Caerdiff, and to be present and assist him in his courts in the administration of Justice. It shall not bee amisse to put downe their names out of a little pamphlet which Sir Edward Stradling or Sir Edward Maunsel, both knights, men of ancient descent, and most skilful in Antiquity, I wot not whether (for it goeth abroad under both their names) wrote concerning this matter. And these be their names.

William of London or de Londres
Richard Granvil
Pain Turbervill.
Oliver Saint John
Robert de Saint Quintin
Roger Bekeroul
William Easterling, for that he was borne in Germanie, whose
heires are now called Stradlings
Gilbert Humfranvill
Richard Siward
John Fleming
Peer Soore
Reinald Sully

3. The river Rhemnie, falling from the mountaines, is the limite on the Eastside, whereby this Country is divided from Monmouthshire, and rhemni in the British tongue signifieth to Divide. Not farre from it were the river holdeth on his course through places hardly passable, among the hills, in a marish ground are to be seene the tottering wals of Caer-philli Castle, which hath beene of so huge a bignesse, and such a wonderfull peece of worke beside, that all men wel nere say it was a garison-fort of the Romans. Neither will I denie it, although I cannot as yet perceive by what name they called it. And yet it may seeme to have beene re-edified anew, considering it hath a chappell built after the Christians maner (as I was enformed by John Sanford, a man singular well learned and of exact judgment), who diligently tooke view of it. In later ages it was the possession of the Clares Earles of Glocester descended from Haimon aforesaid; neither do any of our Chronicles make mention thereof before King Edward the Seconds time. For then, after that the Spensers by underhand practises had set the King, Queene, and Barons at debate, the Barons besieged a long time Hugh Spenser the younger, whom they called Hugolin, herein, and could not prevaile. By this river also (but the place is not certainely knowne) Faustus, a very good sonne, as Ninnius writeth, of Vortigern so bad a father, built a great place where with other holy men hee praied daily unto God that him selfe, whom his father, committing most abominable incest, had begotten of his own daughter, might not be punished grievously for his fathers faults, also that his father might at length repent heartily, and his native Country be eased from the bloudy wars of the Saxons.

4. A little beneath hath Ptolomee placed the mouth of Ratostabius or Ratostibius, using a maimed word in steed of Traith-Taff , that is, The sandy Trith of the river Taff. For the said river Taff, sliding downe from the hilles, runneth toward the sea by Landaff, that is, the Church by Taff , a small Citie and of small reputation, situate somewhat low, yet a Bishops See, having within the Dioecesse 154 parishes, and adourned with a Cathedral Church consecrated to Saint Telean Bishop of the same. Which Church German and Lupus, French Bishops, then erected, whenas they had suppressed the haeresie of Pelagius that was dangerously spred all Britaine over, and preferred Dubricius a most holy man to be the first Bishop there, unto whom Meuricke a British Lord freely gave all the land that lieth betweene the rivers Taff and Elei. From hence goeth Taff to Caerdiff, called of the Britans Caer-did , a proper fine towne (as townes goe in this country) and a very commodious haven, which the foresaid Fitz-Haimon fortified with a wall and Castle, that it might bee both a seat for warre and a Court of Justice: wherein, beside a band of choise soldiers, those twelve Knights were bound to keepe Castle-gard. Howbeit a few yeers after, Yvor Bach, a British Mountainer, a little man of person but of a great and resolute courage, marching with a band of men by night without any sturre, suddenly surpised, tooke prisoner William Earle of Glocester, Fitz-Haimons daughters sonne, together with his wife and young sonne, and detained them in hold with him untill he had made him full satisfaction for all wrongs and losses. But how Robert Curthose, William the Conquerours eldest sonne, a man overventerous and foole hardy in Warlicke exploits, quite put by his hope of the Crowne of England by his younger brethren and bereft of both his eies, lived untill he was an old man in this Castle, you may see if you please in our Historians, and understand withall that roiall parentage is never assured either of ends or safe securitie.

5. Scarce three miles from the mouth of Taff, in the very bending of the shore, there lie aflote as it were two small but pleasant Ilands, separated one from another and from the maine land with narrow in-lettes of the sea. The hithermore is called Sullie of the towne right over against it, which tooke the name name, as it is thought, of Robert Sully (for it fell to his part in the division), if you would not rather have him to take his name of it. The farthermore is named Barry of Baruch, an holy man buried there, who as hee gave name to the place, so the place gave the surname afterwards to the Lords thereof. For that noble familie of Vicounts Barries in Ireland had their originall from hence. In a rocke, or cliffe hereof by the sea side , saith Giraldus, there appeereth a very litle chinck, into which if you lay your eare you shall hare a noise as it were of Smithes at worke, one while the blowing of bellowes, another while the striking of sledge and hammer, sometime the sound of the grindstone and iron tooles rubbing against it, the hissing sparkes also of steele-gads within holes, as they are beaten, yea and the puffing noise of fire burning in the furnace. Now , I should easilie bee perswaded that such a sound may come of the sea-water closely getting into the rocke, were it not the same continued as well when the sea ebbeth at low water when the shore is bare, as it doth at an high water when it is full sea. Not unlike to this was the place which Clemens Alexandrinus maketh mention of in the seventh booke of his Stromata in these words: They that have written histories doe say that in the Isle of Britaine there is a certaine hole or cave under the botome of an hill, and on the toppe thereof a gaping chaune or chinke. And whensoever the winde is gathered into that hole and tossed too and fro in the wombe or concavity thereof, there is heard above a sound of cymballs. For the winde driven backe gives the stronger sound. Beyond these Islands, the shire runneth directly westward and giveth entrance and passage to one river, upon which more within land standeth Cowbridge (the Britans of the Stone-bridge call it Pont-van ), a mercate towne, and the second of those three which Fitz-Haimon the Conqueror kept for himselfe. Now, whereas Antonine the Emperor in this very coast, at the same distance from Isca, placed Bovium, which also is corruptly read Bomium, my conjecture liked me so well that I have beene of opinion this towne was the said Bovium. But seeing that three miles from hence there standeth Boverton, which fitly accordeth in sound with Bovium, so love me truth, I dare not seeke for Bovium elsewhere. And that it is no strange and new thing that places should be fitted with names from Kine and Oxen, I report mee to Bosporous in Thracia, Bovianum in Samnium, and Baulie in Italie, as it were, Boalia, if wee may beleeve Symmachus But let this one argument serve for all. Fifteene miles from Bovium hath Antonine placed, even with a Latine name, the towne Nidum, which though our Antiquaries have beene this great while a-hunting after in vaine, yet at the very same distance there sheweth it selfe Neath, a towne very well knowne, retaining still the old name, in manner, whole and sound, and here at Lantwit, that is, The Church of Iltut , that joyneth close thereto, are seene the foundations of many houses, for it had divers streetes in old time. A little from hence in the very bout [bend] well nere of the shore standeth Saint Donats Castle, a faire habitation of the ancient and notable familie of the Stradlings, neere unto which were lately digged up antique peeces of Roman money, but those especially of the thirty Tyrants, yea and some of Aemilianus and Marius, which are seldome found. The river Ogmor, somewhat higher, maketh him selfe way into the sea, falling downe from the mountaines by Coitie, which belonged sometimes to the Turbevills, afterwards to the Gamages, and now to Sir Robert Sidney Vicount Lisle in right of his wife: also by Ogmore Castle, which came from the familie of London to the Duchy of Lancaster. Some few miles from hence there is a well at Newton (as Sir John Stradling, a verie learned knight, hath signified unto me), a little towne on the banke of the river Ogmor Westward, an hundred paces well neere from Severn side, in a sandie plaine. The water thereof is none of the cleerest, yet pure enough and good for use. It never springeth and walmeth up to the brinke, but by certaine staires folke goe downe into the well. At any flowing of the sea (in summer time) you shall hardlie gette up a dish full of water, whereas if you come anon when it ebbeth, you may well lade uppe water with a good bigge bucket or paile. The like instability remaineth also in Winter time, saving that it nothing so evident by reason of the veines of water coming in from above by shewres and otherwise. Many of the inhabitants thereabout, men of good credite, constantly avouched thus much into mee. But I, distrusting Fame, that often time doth but prate, went my selfe of late once or twice to the said well. For even then had I great desire to write thus unto you. When I was first come unto the place, and had staied the third part of an houre vewing and considering every thing (while Severn surged and rose high, and nobody came thither to draw) the water was fallen about three ynches. I goe my waies. And not long after when I was returning againe, I finde it to be risen a foote higher. The compasse of this well beneath within the walles is almost six foote. Concerning which my Muse also enditeth this Ditty:

With troublous noise and roaring loud, the Severn Nymph doth cry,
New-towne, on thee, and bearing spite unto the ground thereby,
Casts up and sends with violence maine drifts of hurtful sand.
The neighbour-parts feel equall losse by this her heavy hand,
But on thy little well she laies the weight, which she would woo
And faine embrace, as Virgin she along the shore doth goe.
Call' d though he be, he lurkes in den, and striveth hard againe.
For ebbe and flow continually by tides they keepe, both twaine,
Yet diversly. For as the Nymph doth rise, the spring doth fall.
Go she back, he com' s on, in spite and fight continuall.

6. The like fountaine Polybius reporteth to bee at Cadys, and this reason hee giveth thereof, namely, that the winde or aire, when it is deprived of his wonted issues, returneth within forth, and so by shutting and stopping up the passages and veines of the spring, keepeth in the waters, and contrariwise when the surface thereof is voide and empty of water, the veines of the source or spring are unstopped and set free, and so the water then boileth up in great abundance. From hence coasting along the shore, you come within the site of Kinefeage, the castle in old time of Fitz-Haimon him selfe; also of Margan, hard by the sea side, sometime an Abbay founded by William Earle of Glocester, but now the habitation of the worshipfull family of the Maunsells, knights. Neere unto this Margan, in the very top of an hill called Mynyd Margan there is erected of exceeding hard grit a monument or grave-stone, foure foote long and one foote broad, which an Inscription,which whosoever shall happen to read, the ignorant common people dwelling about give it out upon a credulous error that hee shall be sure to die within a little while after. Let the reader therefore looke to him selfe, if any dare read it, for let him assure himselfe that he shall for certaine die after it.

Inscribed monument

These latter words I read thus: AETERNALI IN DOMO , that is, In an eternall house. For Sepulchres in that age were termed AETERNALES DOMUS, that is, Aeternall habitations. Moreover, betweene Margan and Kinfeage by the high way side there lieth a stone foure foote long with this Inscription:

Inscribed stone

Which the Welsh Britans, by adding and changing letters, thus read and make this interpretation, as the right reverend Bishop of Landaff did write me, who gave order that the draught of this Inscription should bee taken likewise for my sake. PIM BIS AN CAR ANTOPIVS, that is, The five fingers of friends or neighbours killed us. It is verily thought to be the Sepulchre of Prince Morgan, from whom the Country tooke name, who was slaine, as they would have it, eight hundred yeeres before Christs nativity. But Antiquaries know full well that these Characters and formes of letters be of a farre later date.

7. After you are past Margan, the shore shooteth forth into the North-easy by Aber-Avon, a small mercate town upon the river Avons mouth (whereof it tooke the name) to the river Nid or Neath, infamous for a quick-sand, upon which stands an ancient towne of the same name, which Antonine the Emperour in his Itinerary called Nidum. Which when Fitz-Haimon made himself Lord of this Country, fell in the partition to Richard Granvills share, who having founded an Abbay under the very townes side, and consecrated his owne portion to God and to the Monkes, returned againe to his owne ancient and faire inheritance which he had in England.

Beneath this river Neath, whatsoever lieth betweene it and the river Loghor, which boundeth this shire in the West, we call Gower, the Britans and Ninnius Guhir , wherein, as he saith, the sonnes of Keian the Scot planted themselves, and tooke up a large roome , untill that by Cuneda a British Lord they were driven out. In the reigne of Henrie the First, Henrie Earle of Warwick wonne it from the Welsh, but by a conveiance and composition passed betweene William Earle of Warwick and King Henrie the Second, it came to the crowne. Afterward King John have it unto William Breos, ‡who had taken Arthur Earle of Britaine prisoner,‡ to be held by service of one knight for all service , and his heires successively held it, not without troubles, unto King Edward the Seconds daies. For then William Breos, ‡when he had alienated and sold this inheritance to many,‡ and in the end by mocking and disapointing all others, set Hugh Spenser in possession thereof, to curry favour with the King. And this was one cause, among other things, that the Nobles hated the Spensers so deadly, and rashly shooke off their allegiance to the King. ‡Howbeit this Gower came to the Mobraies by an heire of Breos.‡ This is now divided into the East part and the West. In the East part Swinesey is of great account, a towne so called by the Englishmen of Sea-Swine, but the Britans Aber-Taw of the river Taw running by it, which the foresaied Henry Earle of Warwick fortified. But there is a towne farre more ancient than this by the river Loghor, which Antonine the Emperor called Leucarum, and we by the whole name, Loghor. Where, a little after the death of King Henry the First, Howell Ap Meredic, invading the Englishmen on a sodaine with a powre of the mountainers, slew divers men of quality and good account. Beneath this lieth West-Gower, and by reason of two armes of the sea winding in, on other side one, it becommeth a Biland, more memorable for the fruitfulnesse than the townes in it, and in times past of great name in regard of Kined, canonized a Saint, who lived heere a solitarie life, of whom if you desire to know more, read our countryman Capgrave, who hath set out his miracle with great commendation.

8. Since this Country was first conquered by the English, the Lords thereof were those that lineally descended from Fitz-Haemon, as Earles of Glocester, Clares, Spensers, Beauchamps, and one or two Nevills, and by a daughter of Nevill, who came likewise of Spensers bloud, Richard the Third King of England. But when he was slaine, King Henry the Seventh entered upon the inheritance of this Country, and gave it to his unkle Jaspar Duke of Bedford; and when hee died without issue, the King resumed it unto his owne hands and left it to his Sonne King Henrie the Eighth: whose sonne King Edward the Sixth sold the greatest part thereof to Sir William Herbert, whom hee had created Earle of Pembrock and Baron of Cardiff. But of the race of those twelve Knights there remaine onely in this shire the Stradlings, a notable house and of long continuance, the Turbervills, and some of the Flemings, the greatest man of which house dwelling at Flemingston, now corruptly called Flemston, as one would say, Flemingstone , which tooke the name of them. And in England there are remaining yet the Lord Saint John of Bletso, the Granvills in Devonshire, and the Siwards, as I am enformed, of Somersetshire. The issue male of all the rest is long since extinct and worne out, and their lands by daughters passed over to divers houses with sundrie alterations.

Parishes 118.

William Camden, Britain, or, a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland (London: George Bishop and John Norton, 1610) Copyright 2004 by Dana F. Sutton. This text was transcribed by Professor Sutton, of the University of California, Irvine, from Philemon Holland's 1610 translation [British Library Short Title Catalogue 4509, Early English Books reel 911:1]. For a full critical edition presenting Camden's original Latin text in parallel with Holland's translation, visit Professor Sutton's site at:


Placename mark-up by Humphrey Southall.

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