Extracted by Gareth Hicks (August 2004)
This is a lengthy piece , for the reader's convenience as a navigational aid, I have inserted the following general subject headings at appropriate stages (which don't appear in the original).
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"GLAMORGANSHIRE, a maritime county of SOUTH WALES, bounded on the north by Brecknockshire, on the east by the English county of Monmouth, on the south by the Bristol channel, and on the west and north-west by the bay and county of Carmarthen. It extends from 51° 23' to 51° 48' (N. Lat.), and from 3° 7 to 4° 17' (W. Lon) ; and comprises an area, as estimated by Mr. Cary, in his Communications to the Board of Agriculture, of six hundred and sixty square miles, or four hundred and twenty-two thousand four hundred acres. The population, in 1831, was 126,612.
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The territory now constituting Glamorganshire, during the remotest periods of its known history, formed an important part of the province first called Gwent, and then Essyllwg (the latter name having been subsequently, by the Romans, softened into Siluria), which, in the opinion of most antiquaries, also comprehended the whole of, Monmouthshire, and parts of the counties of Gloucester, Hereford, and Brecknock: the names Gwent and Essyllwg, which are nearly synonymous, and signify a beautiful and agreeable region, seem, indeed, to have been both in use at the period of the Roman invasion and conquest.
The ancient British rulers of this district were held in high respect by their cotemporaries, and were repeatedly called to the command of the confederated armies of the island, when it became necessary, for mutual defence, to unite against foreign invaders. But their history is involved in great obscurity until the invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar, when the reigning prince of this territory appears to have been Llyr Llediaith, who was succeeded by his son Bran ab Llyr, whose principal residence was at Dindryvan, now Dunraven, on the coast of this county. Publius Ostorius Scapula, who succeeded, to the command of the Roman forces in Britain in the year 50, having secured all the country to the east of the Severn, directed his operations against the Silures (for so these invaders called the inhabitants of Essyllwg), --- who for nine years successfully opposed the Roman power, under the command of the son of Bran, the celebrated Caradawg, Caradoc, or Caractacus.
This intrepid leader, whose astonishing bravery and military skill stemmed for a while, amid numerous difficulties, the advancing tide of Roman conquest, having removed the seat of war to the country of the Ordovices, which included nearly the whole of North Wales, and the western portions of Shropshire, was defeated by Ostorius in a decisive battle, in which his wife and daughter were taken prisoners, and in consequence of which his brothers shortly after surrendered themselves to the Roman commander, overawed by whose power, Caractacus himself was shortly delivered up by the queen of the Brigantes, to whose court he had fled for refuge. According to a manuscript preserved in the Harleian Collection at the British Museum, Bran ab Llyr also shared the captivity of his family, and was conveyed with them to Rome, where he was detained as a hostage for the peaceable conduct of the valiant Caractacus, who is said to have been permitted, with his wife and daughter, to return immediately to Britain. After remaining at Rome for seven years, Bran at length received permission to return to his native country ; and having, during his stay in Italy, been converted to Christianity, he was the means of introducing that religion into Britain, and on that account was called Vendigeid, or "the Blessed : " he died about the year 80.
On the fall of Caractacus, the Silures were subjected, with little further opposition, by Julius Frontinus, who employed himself in constructing military posts in every part of their country, and connecting them by roads, the principal of which was that crossing the county from east to west, and called, after his name, the Julia Strata, or Via Julia, to which latter appellation is sometimes added the adjunct Maritima, to distinguish it from a more northern branch of the same great line of communication, called, from the more elevated regions which it traverses, the Via Julia Montana. The chief Roman stations contained within the limits of Glamorganshire were, Tibia Amnis, supposed by some to have been situated on the bank of the Taf, at or near Cardiff, but by others at the village of Caerau, three miles westward from that town ; Bovium, supposed to have been at or near the present village of Boverton, to the south of Cowbridge ; Nidus, at Neath ; and Leucarum, at Loughor : Caerphilly has been erroneously conjectured to be the site, of the Bullaeum Silurum of Ptolemy.
Almost the only record concerning this part of Britain, under the Roman dominion, that has been transmitted to us, is a confused list of the names of the native princes, or reguli, whom the conquerors allowed to hold an authority little more than nominal, but to whom reverted the entire dominion on the final withdrawal of their forces from the island. Of these, Tewdric flourished towards the middle of the fifth century, and is said to have erected the first church at Llandaf : in his efforts to maintain the independence of his territory, he defeated, on several occasions, parties of invading Saxons, in a conflict with whom, near Tintern, he was at length mortally wounded, and, expiring near the field of battle, was interred on the spot, on which a church was afterwards built, according to his previously expressed desire; and the place was called, after his name, Merthyr Tewdric, since corrupted into Mathern. His son and successor, Meurig ab Tewdric, a man of great valour and wisdom, was the father of that Arthur who is now regarded by the Welsh writers as the hero whose exploits form so distinguished a feature in the British annals, and who succeeded Meurig in his dominion.
About the year 517, Arthur was elected by the states of Britain to exercise sovereign authority over them, as other princes had been in times of danger; and by his superior abilities and bravery he continued successfully to oppose the encroaching power of the Saxons, until discord arose between him and his nephew Mordred, and, in the civil war which ensued, both these chieftains were slain in the battle of Camlan, in the year 542. Arthur was succeeded in the government of Siluria, or Gwent, by his son Morgan, a wise, generous, and humane prince, who at first held his court at Caerlleon, the ancient capital of his little dominions, situated in the modern county of Monmouth; but the Saxons, after Arthur's death, making frequent irruptions into this country, Morgan, for the sake of greater security, removed the seat of government westward, residing sometimes in the vicinity of Cardiff, and sometimes at Margam, in this county. In consequence of this, the western part of the ancient Siluria, which was still governed by Morgan in person, received the appellation of Morganwg, signifying "the country of Morgan ; " and the ancient designation of Gwent became restricted in its application to the eastern portion of this little principality, over which Morgan placed one of his sons, as lieutenant, or viceroy.
Morganwg also was, and still is very often, by its native inhabitants, designated by the synonymous appellation of Gwlad-Vorgan, or Gwlad-Morgan, of which the present name of Glamorgan is a corruption. The ancient Gwlad-Vorgan was bounded on the east by the river Usk, and on the west by the Nedd, or Neath; and although the present limits of Glamorganshire were fixed by the act of union passed in the 27th, of Henry VIII., yet that part of Monmouthshire lying westward of the Usk is even still popularly understood to form part of Glamorgan, while, in like manner, the western part of the present Glamorganshire (the ancient Gwyr, or Gower) is regarded as being included in Sir Gaer, the modern Carmarthenshire.
Rhys, son of Arthvael, one of the princes who succeeded Morgan in the sovereignty of Morganwg (according to an ancient manuscript formerly in the possession of Mr. Thomas Truman, of Pantlliwydd, near Cowbridge, a transcript of which is inserted in the Appendix to Williams' History of Monmouthshire), built many castles and ships, and obliged every one that had land in the Vale of Glamorgan to sow corn on one half of it, and every one that had land on the mountains, to sow corn on a quarter of the same ; while all the land that neither grew corn nor, was grazed by cattle was to be forfeited to the king, unless it was wood or forest : this law caused Glamorgan to become distinguished above all districts for its fruitfulness.
Notwithstanding the advantages arising from this circumstance, the territory became subject, with the rest of South Wales, to the authority of Rhodri Mawr, or Roderic the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, by the marriage of this sovereign with Angharad, the daughter and heiress of Gwgan, King of Caredigion, or Cardigan, to which territory was attached the supreme authority over the other principalities of South Wales. On the death of Roderic, it became for a time part of the kingdom of Caredigion, or South Wales, under the sway of his son Cadell, and subsequently of the son of Cadell, Hywel Dda, who united all the three great sovereignties of Wales under his own dominion. The reigns of none of the petty princes of Glamorgan, after this period, exhibit in the Welsh annals any feature of historical interest, until that of Morgan ab Owain, known also by the names of Morgan Hen, Morgan Mawr, and Morgan Mwynvawr, who lived about the middle of the tenth century. The country was at that time greatly infested by marauding parties of Saxons and Danes, who plundered the inhabitants, and demolished the churches and other religious edifices; and these enemies Morgan repeatedly vanquished.
The other military operations of this chieftain were, for , the most part, directed against the princes of the house of Dynevor, who had invaded the district of Ewyas, in the Vale of Usk, and that of Ystrad Yw: this affair, according to the Welsh Chronicle, was referred to Edgar, the Saxon monarch of England, who decided in favour of the Prince of Glamorgan, and forbade the further progress of the invaders. Eineon, son of Owain, Prince of South Wales, or Dynevor, taking advantage of the distractions which then prevailed throughout Wales, soon after invaded Gower, which, under pretence of opposing the Irish and Danes, he twice devastated. It was during the reign of Morgan Hen that a question arose, whether the tribute of the petty princes of South Wales should be paid to the king of North Wales, or to the king of England, as lord paramount, which was finally determined, in 962, by the appearance of Edgar, with an armed force, at Caerlleon, who bound the princes to the payment of it to the English crown.
In 987, the Danes landed on the coast of this county, in which they committed great ravages, burning the churches of Llanilltyd and Llandaf, with other religious edifices. As Morgan Hen advanced in years, he resigned the government to his sons, of whom Owain and Ithel are expressly mentioned in the Welsh annals, as reguli, of the country during the lifetime of their father, Ithel, surnamed Ddu, or " the Black," from the colour of his hair, lived occasionally at Ystrad Owain, and had a summer residence at a place called Ton Ithel Ddu, a few miles, to the north of Bridgend : he survived Owain, and, about the year 990, his territories were attacked and ravaged without mercy by Edwin, son of Eineon, who, in alliance with Meredydd, sovereign of all Wales, and aided by parties of Saxons and Danes, entered them from Carmarthenshire through Gower ; but Hywel, the younger brother of Ithel, exasperated to heroic exertion by the depredations which these invaders every where committed, suddenly raised the country in their rear, and, having assembled an immense multitude, armed with the first weapons they could obtain, fell upon them on their return, at a place called Cors Eineon, in the parish of Llangyvelach, routed their forces with great slaughter, and recovered the plunder which they were carrying away.
Ithel died in 994, and was succeeded in the government of Glamorgan by his son Gwrgan, who is described as an enlightened and peaceable prince, and who gave to his subjects a large common in the northern part of the county, for the depasturing of cattle and sheep, and the cultivation of grain, which has ever since been called Hirwaun Wrgan, or "Gwrgan's Long Meadow:" he died in 1030,. Prior to which, according to Caradoc of Llancarvan, he had associated with him in the government his uncle Hywel, the third son of Morgan Mawr, to whom he left his entire dominion, in preference to his own son Iestyn, whose profligacy had rendered him universally abhorred. Iestyn, however, succeeded to the government at Hywel's death, in 1043; and having espoused Denis, daughter of Bleddyn ab Cynvyn, Prince of Powys, he built a castle a few miles to the west of Cardiff, which he called, after her name, Denis Powys, and this designation is still preserved, under the modern name of Dinas-Powis, as that of one of the civil divisions of the shire.
Iestyn's son Rhydderch usurped the sovereignty of South Wales, on the death of its prince Llewelyn ; and his sons Rhydderch and Rhys also laid claim to it, a few years after the death of their father, and, raising a powerful army in Glamorgan, in support of their pretensions, they encountered Grufydd, who had subjected all the rest of Wales to his sway, in a sanguinary but indecisive battle. Soon after this event, some of the partisans of Caradoc, son of Rhydderch ab Iestyn, passed from Gwent and Glamorgan into the present county of Carmarthen ; and having there formed an alliance with some of Grufydd's discontented subjects, attacked the possessions of his friends, and put some of them to death ; but Grufydd soon punished his rebellious vassals, by laying waste their estates in Dyved, Ystrad Tywi, and Gower.
In 1056, Rhys, brother of Grufydd, led an army into Glamorgan and Gwent, and committed great devastations ; but the inhabitants, rising in their own defence, drove him towards the marches, and, having taken him prisoner, cut off his head, and sent it to the English monarch, Edward the Confessor, who was then at Gloucester. Shortly after, Caradoc, son of Rhydderch ab Iestyn, having raised a large army in Gwent and Glamorgan, prevailed on the Saxon chieftain, Harold, afterwards king of England, to join him with a powerful force, and their united army defeated Grufydd in a great battle, in which that chieftain was slain. Caradoc, in calling the English to his assistance, had calculated on obtaining for himself the principality of South Wales ; but Harold, after the death of Grufydd, banished him from the country, and gave the sovereignty to Meredydd ab Owain. Caradoc, however, in 1069, profiting by the important change which had taken place by the death of Harold, and the elevation of William of Normandy to the throne of England, engaged in his cause a considerable body of Norman soldiers, with whom he marched into South Wales, and defeated and slew Meredydd near the confines of this county; but dying the year following, in consequence of a wound received in battle, he was succeeded in his government of South Wales by his son Rhydderch, who was afterwards treacherously slain by a kinsman.
Rhys ab Tewdwr, Prince of Dynevor, in the year 1080, invaded the territories of Iestyn ab Gwrgan of Glamorgan, and sacked his castles of Dinas-Powis, Llanilltyd, and Dindryvan ; but he had no sooner withdrawn his troops than Iestyn retaliated by ravaging Carmarthenshire and Brecknockshire, where he obtained valuable booty. Eineon ab Collwyn, one of the leaders of an unsuccessful rebellion against Rhys, fled for refuge to the court of Iestyn, who entered into a negociation with him, according to which Eineon was to receive the hand of Iestyn's daughter, and the lordship of Meisgwn, now called Miskin, if he could succeed in engaging for the service of the latter some of the Norman knights with whom he had formerly served abroad under William of Normandy. Eineon departed for London, and easily prevailed on Robert Fitz-Hamon, a near relative of the Conqueror, to come to Glamorgan, with such other knights as he should choose to engage under his command : on the arrival of these auxiliaries, consisting, besides Fitz-Hamon himself, of eleven knights and three thousand men at arms, Iestyn took the field, and commenced active hostilities against Rhys, whom he defeated, with the loss of nearly all his troops, on Hirwaun Wrgan, the extensive common before-mentioned, at the foot of a high mountain about two miles north of the present village of Aberdare, in this county, near the border of Brecknockshire.
The Welsh Chronicle, contrary to the opinion of Mr. Theophilus Jones and some other writers, states that Rhys fled from the field of battle to Glyn Rhonddu, a sequestered valley some miles to the south, where he was taken by Iestyn and beheaded, from which circumstance the spot is said to have been since called Penrhys : his son Goronwy fell in the slaughter, and Conan, son of Goronwy, escaping with a few troops, was drowned, in his flight towards Carmarthen, in the lake of Cremlyn, now an extensive marsh, situated between Briton Ferry and Swansea. Iestyn rewarded his Norman auxiliaries conformably to his engagements, paying them in gold, on a common three miles west of Cardiff, which has ever since been called "the Golden Mile;" and they marched towards the coast, with the view of embarking for England : but refusing to fulfil his promises to Eineon, the latter hastened in quest of the Norman commander, and, after stating the treacherous conduct of Iestyn, represented to him how easy it would be to obtain possession of the country for himself and his followers. Fitz-Hamon, with his knights, immediately retraced his steps, and was shortly joined by some of the native chieftains, who were exasperated at the tyrannical and unprincipled conduct of Iestyn, who was wholly unprepared to oppose so formidable a confederacy : he hastily collected what forces he could, and awaited the adverse troops on a common in the neighbourhood of Cardiff, where, after a short engagement, his army was totally defeated, and himself obliged to seek safety in flight. Thus was annihilated the British kingdom of Glamorgan ; and the overthrow of Iestyn having left Fitz-Hamon entire master of the country, that leader proceeded to apportion it among his followers and some of the principal Welsh chieftains, reserving for himself the towns of Cardiff, Kenvig, and Cowbridge, with the surrounding domains.
The lordship of Glamorgan, thus established by Fitz-Hamon, was a lordship marcher, or royal lordship, the possessors of which owed obedience only to the king of England, and exercised within its limits jura regalia, that is, the trial of all actions, both real and personal, with pleas of the crown, and authority to pardon for all offences except treason. Besides the body of the lordship, which formed a county of itself, containing eighteen castles and thirty-six knights' fees and a half, and a great number of freeholders, and in which the lord had his chancery and exchequer at the castle of Cardiff, there were eleven lordships, members of the same, in each of which jura regalia were exercised ; except that, in case of wrong judgment being given in any of the courts of the said members, it should be reversed by a writ of false judgment in the superior county court of Glamorgan, holden at the castle of Cardiff; also that all matters of conscience, happening in debate in any of the said members, should be heard and determined. in the chancery of Glamorgan, before the chancellor thereof.
Fitz-Hamon, who was afterwards created Earl of Gloucester, and raised to the office of lord of the privy chamber to William II., after he had allotted their several portions to his knights, proceeded to abrogate the ancient laws and customs of the country, and to introduce in their stead the feudal system which had been already established in England. But the native landholders, many of whom still retained their estates, could ill brook the servitude by which the feudal tenures bound them to the lord, and embraced the first opportunity of emancipating themselves from so galling a yoke. In 1094, while the Norman settlers were invading Gower, and pushing their conquests on the west, the people united in great force, and, headed by Payne Turberville of Coyty, near Bridgend, one of Fitz-Hamon's retainers, who had married a native heiress, the grand-daughter of Iestyn, took several of their castles, and put the garrisons to the sword. Turberville then led the insurgents to Cardiff, where he besieged Fitz-Hamon in his castle ; and the latter, being unprepared to resist so powerful a force, thought it prudent to enter into terms, by which he restored to the people their ancient rights and customs. The success of this insurrection encouraged the Welsh, a few years after, to attempt the expulsion of their invaders, who, being defeated by them in a pitched battle, were under the necessity of sending for reinforcements from England. Being joined by the Earl of Arundel and other Norman leaders, Fitz-Hamon and his knights, in their turn, assumed the offensive : the Welsh retreated into the interior, where the hilly nature of the country gave them the advantage over the heavy-armed troops of their enemies, upon whom they suddenly turned round, and defeated them with prodigious slaughter near Gellygaer, compelling the few that escaped to seek refuge in their castles.
This desultory warfare, though it procured for the native population some immunities, which the Norman settlers for their own safety deemed it politic to concede, obtained for them few permanent advantages of any importance ; and the succours which Fitz-Hamon and his successors were able to procure from England, on every emergency, gave them at length the entire mastery of the country, and enabled them to reduce it to complete subjection. The district of Gower was wrested from the sons of Caradoc ab Iestyn, about the end of the eleventh century, by Henry Beaumont, Earl of Warwick, who established in it a colony of English settlers from Somersetshire, whose descendants yet remain there, distinguished by their language and manners from the more ancient native population. FitzHamon was a firm supporter of Henry I., in opposition to the claims of that monarch's elder brother, Robert Duke of Normandy, who was committed to his custody at Cardiff, by Henry, after he had become his prisoner.
On the death of this nobleman, in 1107, he was succeeded in his estates and honours by Robert, the natural son of Henry I., by Nest, daughter of Rhys ab Tewdwr, to whom that monarch gave in marriage Fitz-Hamon's daughter Mabel, or Mabli. After attaining possession of the lordship of Glamorgan, Robert attempted to enforce the feudal laws which his predecessor had failed to impose on the native landholders : this again roused the spirit of the Welsh; and Ivor ab Cadivor, also called Ivor Bath, or Ivor the Little, who was lord of Senghenydd, and resided at Morlais castle, on the confines of the present county, led the insurgents against the castle of Cardiff, which they took by storm, making prisoners of the Earl of Gloucester and his lady. Negotiations for their release were entered into with the English monarch ; and they were at last liberated by Ivor, after the king had guaranteed to the Welsh of Glamorgan, by oath, the unmolested enjoyment of their ancient usages. A few years subsequently, Grufydd, son of Rhys ab Tewdwr, late Prince of South Wales, entered Gower with a large body of native troops ; but failing in an attack on the castle of Abertawe, or Swansea, he set fire to the suburbs of that place, ravaged the adjacent country, and returned into Carmarthenshire loaded with booty : in the following year he again entered Gower in like manner.
A Welsh prince, named Cadell, towards the middle of the twelfth century, made repeated incursions from the castle of Carmarthen into the territories of the Norman settlers in the neighborhood, more particularly into Gower, in which district, in 1150, his brothers Rhys and Meredydd took the castle of Aberllychwr. Soon after, Madoc ab Meredydd, Prince of Powys, led a powerful force into Glamorganshire, where he devastated the lands of Morgan ab Caradoc ab Iestyn, and took and destroyed his castle of Aberavon : Morgan and his followers took sanctuary in the churches and monasteries, and placed themselves under the protection of William Earl of Gloucester and lord of Glamorgan, who had succeeded to the titles and possessions of his father Robert, in 1147, and who, after the demise of his only son, constituted Prince John, a younger son of Henry II., his heir. This prince, having married Isabel, the youngest daughter of Earl William, enjoyed these possessions until his divorce from that lady, after his accession to the throne of England, when they were given as her dower to the Earl of Essex, whom she next married, and afterwards to Hubert de Burgh. On the death of Isabel, the family title and possessions fell to Almaric the son of her eldest sister Mabel, who died young and without issue; and the whole of them passed to Richard Earl of Clare, who had married the only surviving daughter of Earl William, and in whose family they remained until the early part of the fourteenth century
Early in the thirteenth century, Glamorgan was invaded from the west by the Welsh chieftain Rhys ab Grufydd, who succeeded in taking all the castles of Gower, besides several other very strong ones, including that of Senghenydd, afterwards called Caerphilly. After the death of Gilbert de Clare, in 1230, Richard, his eldest son; being then in his minority, the Earl of Pembroke, his maternal uncle, obtained the custody of the Honour of Glamorgan, by paying five hundred marks to the crown of England : in 1244, this Richard was engaged in hostilities against the Welsh, who had attacked his possessions in Glamorgan; and in 1257, when king Henry III meditated an attack on North Wales, he was invested with the command of all the forces in Glamorgan and other parts of South Wales. By the death of his descendant, another Gilbert de Clare, who was slain in the battle of Bannockburn, in 1314, and left no issue, the family honours and estates devolved on Eleanor, eldest sister of the latter, who transferred them by marriage to the younger Hugh le Despencer, the favourite of Edward II. In 1315, a formidable rebellion was excited in Glamorgan, by Llewelyn Bren, who, with ten thousand men, assaulted and took the castle of Caerphilly; but it was soon suppressed by John Gifford, lord of Bronllys, who had been appointed custos of the lands of Gilbert, the late Earl of Clare, in Glamorgan, and Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, general of the forces in this expedition; and the Welsh chieftain and his two sons were taken prisoners, and sent to the Tower of London. In consequence of this, however, the Welsh inhabitants of Glamorgan obtained a considerable alleviation of some of the most oppressive of the old feudal services.
At this period the violent proceedings of the younger Spencer, with a view to the extension of his possessions in Glamorgan, threw the whole country into a state of the greatest disorder. The circumstances, according to Carte, were as follows : William de Breos, lord of Gower, had two daughters, the elder of whom, Aliva, was married to John de Mowbray; the younger, to James de Bohun, of Medherst : William, therefore, by a special deed, granted to John de Mowbray and his wife, and their heirs, the honour and lands of Gower ; and to Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, he gave the rest of his estates. By virtue of this grant, Mowbray entered upon the lands without any license from the king, of whom it was held in capite, and this served Spencer as a pretext for prosecuting him, in order to procure a sentence of forfeiture: but Mowbray and the Earl of Hereford both alleged that the entry was made according to the customs of the Marches, and insisted upon their rights ; and, as these were questions affecting the tenure of all similar domains, the lords marcher were unanimous in resisting an enquiry, at the same time exclaiming loudly against the rapacity of Spencer.
Seeing that they had no remedy but force, they demanded of King Edward, in open arms, that that favourite should either be banished the realm, or imprisoned and brought to trial; and, finding these efforts unavailing; they committed terrible ravages upon Spencer's lands in Glamorgan; as also in the western parts of Wales, slaying and imprisoning his servants, and pillaging, burning, and destroying his castles: the insurgents, then entered into a strict league with the Earl of Lancaster, and thus became sufficiently powerful to enforce that sentence of banishment against the obnoxious favourite which was soon afterwards rendered null by Lancaster's defeat and death. Queen Eleanor and the young Prince Edward having seized Bristol, and hung its governor, the elder Spencer, before the castle of that city, within sight of his son and the king, the latter made their escape in a small vessel, purposing to retire to the little island of Lundy, in the Bristol channel ; but, after combating with adverse winds in that arm of the sea for eleven days, they, were at last constrained to land on the Glamorganshire coast, and take refuge in Caerphilly castle. From that place the king issued divers commissions to his military tenants in the county palatine of Pembroke, and other parts of South Wales, and to the vassals of the lordship of Glamorgan, enjoining them to take arms in his defence; but being disappointed in his expectations of military aid, he sought an asylum in the abbey of Neath, leaving Spencer in Caerphilly castle, where he was soon besieged by the queen's forces, who compelled the garrison to surrender; but Spencer made his escape and rejoined the king, with whom he was shortly after taken prisoner at Llantrissent, in this county, and conveyed to Hereford, where he was tried and executed by the queen's party, and his estates escheated to the crown. Hugh, his eldest son, was, however, received into favour by Edward III., and restored to all, or most, of the manors and castles which had belonged to his father in this county ; and in the seventeenth of that reign, we find him styled Lord of Glamorgan.
On his death he was succeeded by his brother Edward, whose grandson, Thomas Le Despencer, succeeded in obtaining the restoration to his family of the title of Earl of Gloucester, and of the remainder of the forfeited estates of his great grandfather. This nobleman, on the accession of Henry IV. to the crown of England, was deprived of all his honours and estates, and, after he had been put to death by the common people of Bristol, was declared a traitor, and his estates confiscated; but those in Glamorgan were afterwards granted to his widow, and passed by descent to his daughter Isabel, who first married Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Abergavenny, afterwards created Earl of Worcester, and, on his death, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, whose son Henry, by this his second wife, succeeded to the family estates of the Spencers, which, after his death and that of his daughter, were transferred to his sister Anne, then wife of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, who was shortly after created Earl of Warwick, and who so highly distinguished himself in the wars of the Roses.
After the death of this nobleman, at the battle of Barnet, in 1471, his countess was deprived of all her estates, which were conferred on her two daughters, one of whom had been married to George Duke of Clarence, and the other to Richard Duke of Gloucester, to the latter of whom descended the Welsh possessions. The daughters of the Earl of Warwick being dead, Henry VII., in the third year of his reign, restored to the countess, by act of parliament, the estates which had belonged to her husband, the whole of which, in the same year, probably in consequence of a previous understanding, she made over to that monarch, and the lordship of Glamorgan is enumerated among the possessions thus conveyed to the crown. In the succeeding reign, when the independent authority of the lords marcher was abolished, the territory of Glamorgan was erected into a separate shire, with its present limits, and subjected to the laws and judicature of England. Henry VIII. gave the lordship to Jasper Duke of Bedford ; but, as this nobleman died without issue, it again reverted to the crown. In the reign of Elizabeth, the greater part of the manors and subordinate lordships was sold to individuals ; and the remainder, in subsequent reigns, changed owners in like manner, the paramount lordship itself being converted into a lord-lieutenancy, similar in all respects to those of the English counties.
About the end of September, 1642, the Marquis of Hertford, with a party of royalists, escaping at Minehead, in Somersetshire, onboard of some coal vessels, from the pursuit of the Earl of Bedford, passed over to the Welsh coast, and secured possession of Cardiff castle. The marquis having announced his intention of seizing all, property belonging to the Earl of Pembroke, who had espoused the cause of the parliament, the inhabitants of this county assembled, attacked him at Cardiff, and killed about fifty of the royalists. In June 1647, this, fortress being then in the hands of the parliament, the, gentry and people of the county, to the number of a thousand, or upwards, took up arms and assembled at Llandaf, to resist the proceedings of the parliamentary committee at Cardiff. They sent to the governor of the latter place a declaration that they had risen not to oppose the parliament, but for self-defence. The Monmouthshire committee threatened them with military execution ; but the matter seems to have been settled by negotiation, and a declaration was published in the following July, entitled " The Heads of the present Grievances of the county of Glamorgan, declaring the cause of their late rising; and taking up of arms, published for the satisfaction of all other counties of England and Wales who groan under the same, or the like, burdens of oppression and tyranny, &c."
After the termination of the first civil war, an order had been issued by the parliament for disbanding the different bodies of militia, in the principality ; but some of the commanders, among whom was Major-General Stradling, of St. Donatt's, in this county, who had now deserted from the republican army, contrived, under various pretences, to retain a considerable number of troops under arms, which, as circumstances permitted, they increased, by the addition of recruits favourable to the royal cause. These forces assuming a rather formidable appearance, Colonel Horton was sent into this part of Wales with a small army, which Cromwell himself was following with reinforcements, to intimidate the leaders of this movement, and to enforce the order for disbanding the original levies. Colonel Horton, having stationed his forces at St. Fagan's, near Llandaf, was there attacked, on the 8th of May, 1648, by the Welshmen, amounting to nearly eight thousand, whom,, after an obstinate conflict of about two hours, he totally routed with great slaughter, though his troops were scarcely more than a third of the enemy's number : this victory was deemed by the parliament of such importance, that a day of public thanksgiving was appointed, and so great was the destruction of the royalists, that, during the next harvest, labourers were so scarce in this county, that the produce of the soil was, in a great measure, gathered in by the women.
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The greater part of Glamorganshire is in the diocese of Llandaf, the rest in that of St. David's, and the whole is in the province of Canterbury : the portion in the first-mentioned diocese is comprised in the deaneries of Llandaf and Groneath, and in the archdeaconry of Llandaf; and that in the latter, in the deanery of Gower, and archdeaconry of Carmarthen : the total number of parishes is one hundred and twenty-one, of which fifty-two are rectories, forty-seven vicarages (four of which are endowed with the great tithes), one a donative, and the rest perpetual curacies : the archdeacon of Llandaf has no visitorial powers, the chancellor making an annual visitation through the diocese ; the visitation for this county is held in Whitsun-week, at Cowbridge and Llandaf. For purposes of civil government it is divided into the ten hundreds of Caerphilly, Cowbridge, Dinas-Powis, Kibbor, Llangyvelach, Miskin, Neath, Newcastle, Ogmore, and Swansea. It contains the small and unimportant city of Llandaf; the borough, market, and sea-port towns of Cardiff, Neath, and Swansea; the borough and market towns of Cowbridge, Llantrissent, and Merthyr-Tydvil ; the small boroughs and seaports of Aberavon and Loughor; the boroughs of Aberdare and Kenvig, and the market towns of Bridgend and Caerphilly. One knight was formerly returned to parliament for the shire, and one representative for Cardiff and the rest of the boroughs collectively, with the exception of Merthyr-Tydvil and Aberdare, which are newly-created boroughs.
By the late act for amending the representation of the people the different boroughs within the county have been divided into electoral districts, each sending one member to parliament; namely, Cardiff, Cowbridge, and Llantrissent, the member for which is elected at Cardiff; Swansea, Loughor, Neath, Aberavon, and Kenvig, the member for which is elected at Swansea ; and the newly-created district of Merthyr-Tydvil and Aberdare, the member for which is elected at Merthyr-Tydvil. Under the same act the county now sends two representatives to parliament : the county member was formerly elected at Bridgend, but that distinction has been transferred to Cardiff, the principal town : the polling-places in elections for the county are, Cardiff, Bridgend, Merthyr-Tydvil, Neath, and Swansea. Glamorganshire is included in the South Wales circuit the assizes and Epiphany quarter sessions are held at Cardiff, the Easter quarter sessions at Cowbridge, the Midsummer sessions at Neath, and the Michaelmas sessions at Swansea: the county gaol is at Cardiff, and the county house of correction at Swansea : to the new gaol at Cardiff will also be attached a house of correction for the eastern part of the county : there are seventy-seven acting magistrates. The parochial rates raised in the county, for the year ending March 25th, 1830, amounted to £42,301, and the expenditure to £43,124, of which, £36,154 was applied to the relief of the poor.
The entire surface of the county is diversified by hills, or rising grounds, excepting only the neighbourhood of Cardiff, which is composed. of a fertile, level tract of considerable extent. All the northern portions of it are occupied by barren mountains, some of which are isolated, but most of them extend in chains from north to south, separated by deep, broken, and romantic valleys, through which the principal rivers pursue their turbulent course to the Bristol channel. The loftiest summits are Mynydd-Llangeinwyr; Pen-craig-llyn-vawr, in the parish of Glyn-Corwg; that of the mountain which rises above Ystraddyvodog, directly north of Bridgend ; and that of Mynydd y Gwair, about twelve miles north of Swansea. These hilly regions are naturally separated from the rest of the county by a chain of elevations which runs from east to west through its centre, from Ruperrah, on the confines of Monmouthshire, by Lantwit-Garth, Llantrissent, Mynydd-Gaer, Mynydd-Brombill, the Gnoll, &c. From the foot of these mountains to the sea extends the rich and fertile vale, or rather plain, of Glamorgan, popularly denominated "The Garden of South Wales," which, although its elevation is small, compared with the mountains, and its surface generally of an undulating character, is yet marked by numerous sudden declivities, succeeded by equally sudden and remarkable ascents.
On the west it is separated by Swansea bay from the similar tract called Gower, forming the south-western extremity of the county. Bro Miskin, or the Vale of Ely, bordering on the river Elai, or Ely, from the vicinity of Hensol eastward to Penarth harbour, is more particularly distinguished, in the great Vale of Glamorgan, for its luxuriant fertility. The limestone cliffs which overhang the entire coast, excepting only the inner recesses of Swansea bay, rise in most places to the height of one hundred feet. In the Bristol channel, off the coast of Glamorganshire, and to the south-west of Penarth harbour, are situated the islets of Barry and Sully. The lakes are small and few in number : the principal one is Kenvig Pool (situated near the ancient borough of Kenvig, between Margam Park and the sea-coast), which is of small extent, and lies near the shore, in the midst of sands : besides this, there are several among the mountains, the most remarkable of which is Llyn-Vawr, situated immediately below the high peak of Pen-craig. Few tracts in Britain present so great a variety of scenery as Glamorganshire : although its mountains do not attain an elevation equal to those of the more northern counties, their extreme abruptness, increasing their apparent height, forms a bold and romantic back-ground to the scene of gentle richness presented by the Vale ; while, on the other hand, the fine sweeps of the coast, more particularly round the bay of Swansea and the peninsula of Gower, afford many pleasing and varied marine prospects. The level portions of the county contain little wood; but this picturesque ornament abounds on the banks of the Taf, the two Rhonddas, and the Cynon; and the "woody hilles" of Glamorgan, mentioned by Spenser, are still to be found in the wilds of Aberdare and Ystraddyvodog, and in the magnificently clothed, as well as more plentifully wooded, heights of Margam, Baglan, Briton-Ferry, and the Vale of Neath. The more level tracts, near the sea, are also diversified by several narrow, woody, and sequestered dells, the sides of which decline very abruptly from the ordinary level.
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The climate of the Vale of Glamorgan and, of the peninsula of Gower (those tracts lying open to the Bristol channel on the south, and being sheltered on the north by the mountains) is remarkably mild and salubrious, and the inhabitants are distinguished for their longevity: it is nevertheless extremely changeable, the temperature being known to vary twenty degrees in the space of twenty-four hours. It is also very moist, owing to these districts being exposed to vapours wafted by westerly or south-westerly winds from the great Atlantic, and attracted by its high hills, these winds prevailing at least one-half of the year. This humidity is a source of great perplexity to the farmer, during the hay and corn harvests, and also, causes considerable damage to various agricultural crops, by the abundant natural grasses which in consequence spring up, and which, on the deep gravelly soils, it is found almost impossible to eradicate from the arable lands; for even when the ground is well fallowed and apparently cleared, small portions of roots of various kinds of grasses, chiefly of the couch species, are still left undestroyed, and, penetrating into the deep gravelly subsoils beyond the reach of the plough, soon also recover possession of the surface.
On the other hand, these frequent rains are highly favourable to the production of all green crops, and, when properly managed, the crops of turnips are little inferior to those of the best-cultivated English counties. Although the climate of the Vale is so mild that the myrtle, arbutus, and other tender exotics, which in most parts of Britain require to be kept under cover in the winter, do not here suffer from exposure to the air during the whole of that season; and snow seldom lies long on the ground, generally disappearing from the vicinity of the coast in forty-eight hours after it has fallen; yet the atmosphere of the mountains is cold and tempestuous, the winters being severe and frequently of long duration: fogs hanging upon their summits are deemed by the inhabitants of the Vale a certain presage of rain.
The hay harvest commences in the Vale about the middle of June : artificial grasses are frequently cut in the first week of this month, but the natural meadows are not generally mown until the latter part of it, or the beginning of July. The wheat harvest commences about the first week in August, and in some situations in the Vale this grain ripens almost as early as in any part of the kingdom ; but it is a general practice to allow it to stand longer before it is cut than in the English counties. In Gower, owing to the prevalence of cool sea breezes, it is later than in the Vale of Glamorgan : in the hilly district it seldom commences before September, and often continues to a very late period in the autumn.
The soils of this county are of various qualities : the surface of a large portion of the mountainous districts, especially in the hollows, consists of black peat, varied in dryer situations by a brown gravelly earth; but, from the prevalence of clayey substrata, cold and springy soils are by far the most abundant : these, in their natural state, consist generally of a mixture of sand with a black peaty earth, from four to eight inches thick, resting upon a yellowish, blueish, or light brown clay, from one to four, or even more feet in depth : owing to this substratum containing siliceous particles, these soils are, capable of great amelioration by judicious systems of agriculture. In the mountain valleys is found a brown fertile loam, suited to all the purposes of agriculture, and yielding abundant crops of corn and grass. In the Vale of Glamorgan, and in Gower, the soil is excellently adapted for both pasture and tillage: in the former state it naturally produces grasses of the sweetest kind, and in great abundance; but its quality varying in every parish, and almost on every farm, it is best calculated for a mixed system of husbandry, combining both tillage and pasture. In some places it is light, and even sandy; but towards the coast it becomes stronger and richer. Along the sea-shore from Penarth to Lantwit and Newton, and inland to the vicinity of the main road from Cardiff to Swansea, it is for the most part clayey, though consisting in some places of a brownish fertile loam of good staple and moderate tenacity, in others of a marly loam, while in another it is composed of rather shallow and springy clays, which are seldom to be got in good tilth, being either too wet or too dry. The soils best adapted in all seasons for the alternate culture of turnips, barley, clover, wheat, &c., lie in the several parishes of Aberavon, St. Bride's, Caerau, Cardiff, St. Fagan's, Llandaf, Llansannor, Margam, Michaelston, Peterston, Rhath or Roath, Radyr, and Whitchurch, and in the Vale of Neath ; in all which places there is a proportion of good gravelly soils, having an occasional admixture of strong loam, or good marl, and in some cases of a sandy soil, on which turnips and barley are cultivated with success, but the wheat is not of so fine a quality as that produced on the clayey lands. The substratum of the whole of these fertile tracts is limestone.
Though a large portion of the county is arable, yet its produce of grain, owing to the number of persons employed in its iron-manufactures and various commercial pursuits, is insufficient for the supply of its own population. The common corn and pulse crops are wheat, barley, oats, beans, and peas. The introduction of Scotch farm bailiffs by some gentlemen in the Vale, and by the iron-masters among the hills, and also of some English farmers, has greatly assimilated the systems of husbandry pursued on the principal farms to the most approved English and Scotch methods. On these, the principal part of the gravelly land is farmed in a four or five years' course of turnips, barley, clover, and either grass or wheat; but the ordinary diversity of soil on the same farm prohibits the use of any one peculiar system : moreover, such is the disposition of these soils to produce grasses, that a summer fallow is found to be absolutely necessary after two courses to clear them of weeds, and give them a dressing of lime ; and on all the tenacious soils, summer fallows limed form part of the ordinary system of tillage, being succeeded first by barley, next by clover, then probably by wheat, and lastly by a summer fallow again : oats, beans, and turnips are occasionally grown on the latter, but after no regular system. The wheat grown in the Vale is chiefly of the white Lammas species ; but on the gravelly soils, in Gower, and among the hills, the red Lammas is also sown ; and other varieties, such as the Winslow, the Talavera, the cone or bearded wheat, and the Cape spring wheat, are occasionally cultivated, though not on near so large a scale as the two first-mentioned varieties: thirty bushels per acre is considered an ample produce, though thirty-five and forty have been reaped in some instances ; but the average, even on the best farms, is seldom twenty-five bushels per acre.
Notwithstanding that the humidity of the climate is unfavourable to the perfection of the wheat ear, the soils of the Vale produce wheat of the best quality : the crops are chiefly cut by strangers from the English side of the Severn, by Irish reapers, and by Cardigan men, engaged only for this purpose ; the natives of the country, although good workmen in other respects, being from habit slovenly reapers, and consequently seldom employed for this purpose by the principal farmers : the Cardigan men cut it down, or bogg it, with a large heavy hook, which they use like the Hainault scythe, except that they have no crook in the left hand. Barley after turnips sometimes produces from forty to fifty bushels per acre, though the average is much below that amount ; and when it succeeds wheat, which is commonly the case, the average does not exceed thirty bushels per acre : this grain is mown like hay, and seldom bound into sheaves. Oats are chiefly cultivated in the poorer soils, on the clays, in Gower, and in the hilly districts ; while on the more valuable lands, scarcely sufficient for the consumption of the respective farms is grown : on the best soils the white potatoe oat is the most productive; but on all others, the black, or Polish oat is grown: after being mown, this species of grain is bound into sheaves, like wheat : the produce varies from twenty-five to fifty-five bushels per acre. Beans, although the climate is unfavourable to their production, are partially grown on the strong soils of the Vale ; but the cultivation of peas, owing to the adverse influence of superabundant moisture, has been almost entirely abandoned.
Potatoes have of late years been grown to a very considerable extent, a ready market being found for them in the coal and iron works in the hilly district : the produce varies under field culture, from five to eight tons per acre. Turnips are generally cultivated, except on the most tenacious clays ; and being sown on the Northumberland system, when the land is properly prepared, the crop seldom fails. Mangel-wurzel is a common agricultural crop, and is grown under the same management as turnips, except that the land is better prepared, and the seed sown earlier : some crops of this root, grown near Cardiff, have weighed fifty tons per acre of bulb : it is chiefly given to milch cows, in lieu of turnips, to which it is preferable for this purpose, as it does not impart to their milk any disagreeable flavour. Vetches, the culture of which is much favoured both by soil and climate, are occasionally grown as a substitute for clover. The principal artificial grasses are, white and red clover, trefoil, rye-grass, and sainfoin, with some lucern. The land bordering on the coast, in the neighbourhoods of Fonmon, Newton-Nottage, &c., some of which is composed of a shallow soil on an immediate substratum of limestone, produces excellent crops of sainfoin, the cultivation of which has greatly enhanced its value, as that plant flourishes best in dry soils of this nature : even some of the driest gravels produce tolerable crops of it, but it soon becomes choked with natural grasses.
The grass lands are of about equal extent to those under tillage : the south-eastern extremity of the county, from the Romney river on the east to the border of the Vale of Miskin, including the fertile banks of the Taf and the Elai, is more particularly distinguished for the richness of its pastures ; as also is the tract from Lantwit-Major, by Boverton, Gileston, and Fonmon castle, to the mouth of the Elai near Pennarth harbour. Here the natural pastures produce grasses of the sweetest kind, and are well adapted to the rearing of stock. Although good in quality, their produce, however, is seldom large in quantity, owing to the soil not being of sufficient depth to retain moisture in dry summers, and the limestone substrata being of so porous a nature as soon to absorb the latest rains, in consequence of which the ground cracks and opens in wide fissures. But around Cardiff, along the banks of the Elai and Daw rivers, and in some other valleys, where the soil is deeper, the quantity is much more abundant, though often coarse, for want of proper drainage, and liable to damage from mud and gravel deposited in times of flood by the neighbouring streams. In a considerable portion of the rest of the Vale of Glamorgan, and of Gower, the sward is every where fine and close, but not so rich, owing to the extremely dry and porous nature of the limestone substrata. All the pastures, both rich and poor, are much overrun with the pretty but useless plant called crow's foot.
So many of the streams are employed in giving motion to the machinery of the iron and other works, that irrigation is little practised : it is most common in Gower and the Vale, though not universally adopted even in situations where easily practicable.
The dairies are not so large as they formerly were; but their produce in cheese and butter is of good quality, and finds a ready market among the manufacturing population : much of the cheese is made with an admixture of sheep's milk, which gives it a shortness and tartness of taste not always agreeable to strangers, but it is of a rich quality, and much esteemed by the natives : the best cows' milk cheese is mild, and equal to what is made in any part of England : in the Vale is occasionally made a peculiarly rich cheese, which, after being kept a sufficient length of time, assumes a blue colour, and in this state is highly esteemed. Butter-milk cheese, provincially called caws sur, is sometimes made, to be eaten fresh with bread and butter, most of the natives esteeming it a great delicacy.
The principal manure employed in this county, and not commonly used in every other part of Britain, is lime, which, owing to the abundance of limestone and of coal for burning it, is here applied in greater quantities probably than in any other part of the kingdom, two hundred bushels per acre being the general proportion, and this application being repeated, in many instances every four years, without much attention to the different properties of the various species here obtained. The old custom of burning lime in sod kilns on the fields to be manured with it has given way to the more approved practice of burning it in kilns of solid masonry. Judging from the large and ancient marl-pits still remaining in various parts of the county, especially in the gravelly districts, it is presumed that this substance must, at some remote period, have been very generally used as a manure, probably before lime was applied, or its good qualities known. Braes, or ashes and coal dust, the refuse of the coking hearths, where coal is charred for the use of the blast furnaces, and ashes of all kinds, are also used in situations where they can be conveniently procured. Paring and burning is not generally practised in the Vale, but is constantly resorted to in the hilly districts and in Gower, as a preparation for wheat.
Water-ponds of stone and mortar, on a basis of puddled earth, gravel, and sand, are found necessary for supplying the cattle with water, in the dry limestone tracts of Gower and the Vale, where the brooks are few, and frequently disappear in the above-mentioned swallows, or fissures, in the substrata.
The old long wooden ploughs, formerly in common use, are now only occasionally seen on small farms among the hills, having been superseded by ploughs made of iron, on the Scotch plan, which are now in more common use than any other sort, being well made by the smiths of the county. Drags, scufflers, and horse-hoes of the most approved construction are used on the principal farms, and various kinds of drills are also common. Thrashing machines were in more general use some years ago than at present, the superabundance of labourers and the low rate of wages having rendered it advisable rather to employ the poor than to maintain them in idleness ; but some powerful machines of this kind, to be worked by wind, have lately been erected, The teams for the plough consist generally of two horses, or six oxen; and for the road, of waggons with three horses each, and carts with two. The shovels and rakes used are of very peculiar construction : each of the former consists of an oval iron plate, sharp at the point and steeled, and having a long curved handle : the rakes present an awkward appearance to an Englishman, on account of their handles not being joined to the heads at right angles, but obliquely. The ancient British customs of husbandry, so long preserved in this county, are now nearly obsolete : the principal remains of them are in the practice of milking ewes for the purpose of making cheese of their milk, which is done by women, who receive one-seventh of the milk for their trouble, and that of shearing lambs in the first summer.
The native breed of cattle is naturally large, fine, and delicate ; but they were greatly neglected during the late war, when, owing to the high price of corn, tillage made rapid progress over the best pastures ; and the attention of the stock farmer being for the most part confined to the improvement of his breed of sheep, the cattle were driven to the poor wet soils, where they soon degenerated : another cause of their being thus neglected was the great demand for hay in the iron and coal works, which still continues to draw from the Vale all of the best quality. Formerly they were in great request among the English graziers, but they have long ago neglected them, in favour of the Hereford and short-horned breeds, as they are now very slow feeders, and do not arrive to proper maturity under the age of about six years. In the fertile parishes of St. Athan, Gileston, and Lantwit, these cattle were formerly remarkable for their large size, some of them weighing, when fat, no less than four hundred lb. per quarter ; and, in all parts of the county, the cows are still highly esteemed for the dairy, and the oxen for working, and, when fat, their beef is of superior quality. They have lately been crossed with the Hereford and short-horned breeds, by which means they have been greatly improved in form and aptitude to fatten, but deteriorated for the purposes of the dairy ; and with various kinds of Scotch cattle; especially with the Ayrshire breed, which renders them more hardy, and more profitable for the dairy, both objects of great importance. In the hilly districts, and in Gower, the native cattle are more hardy and compact than elsewhere within the limits of the county: the Highland and Kyloe breeds, and various crosses with the native stock, also thrive in these more exposed regions.
The Vale was formerly distinguished for a native breed of large sheep, having long legs, flat sides, and wool of a good combing quality; with good and fine-grained flesh; but these are now nearly extinct, though a few still remain in the vicinity of Lantwit-Major. The native sheep of the hilly districts are small, hardy, lively, and active, with short wool, having an admixture of hairs, termed by the natives syth-vlew, and which greatly lessens its value to the cloth manufacturers. In the Vale the prevailing kinds of sheep now are the Cotswold and Leicester, of which excellent flocks are, found in all the lower parts of the county, great attention being paid to their improvement. Newton Down, the Golden Mile, St. Mary Hill, and other dry and open commons, were formerly stocked with a beautiful and excellent small breed of sheep, having wool of a fine clothing quality; but of late years this breed has been greatly neglected, owing to the price of the wool only equalling that of the long coarse wool of the larger breed, which has almost entirely superseded it, as the fleeces of the latter are nearly double the weight of those of the former, In all parts of the county it is customary to milk the ewes throughout the summer, from about the middle of May to the middle of September, their milk being made into cheese, for which purpose it is most commonly mixed with nearly an equal quantity of skimmed cows' milk. Shearing twice a year is sometimes practised, first about the end of May, and the last early in October.
The native breed of hogs is white, of large size, having flat sides and long legs : the animals are slow feeders, and when fat weigh from twenty-five to thirty score lb., the bacon being of excellent quality: a good sort is obtained by an intermixture of these and the Berkshire and Chinese breeds.
The horses are, of various kinds : the old breed of the county is extinct in the Vale, and those by which it has been superseded are chiefly distinct breeds of the cart and saddle kind: the former are generally black, and, though not heavy, are strong and active; the latter are crosses from blood horses brought into the county, and generally small, but active. Many horses bred in this county are sold, when about three years old, to be taken to the English markets. In the hilly districts there is a good breed of ponies, very hardy, and capable of sustaining the greatest fatigue.
In the valleys of this county, the climate. being mild and genial, vegetables, fruit, and flowers, are produced as early and in as great perfection as in any part of England, and the gardens are neat and well cultivated: the cottage gardens have a. pleasing mixture of the various ordinary productions of the garden and orchard, and scarcely one of them is without a proportionably large bed of leeks. The market gardens in the neighbourhood of Llandaf and Cardiff are extensive and productive, and supply the manufacturing districts with vegetables. Formerly, the orchards were much more extensive than at present, and numerous remains of them, in various places, testify that the soil is well adapted for the growth of the apple, and that this branch of rural economy has been greatly neglected of late years, compared with its former flourishing state : almost every large farm had formerly a cyder mill, but at present there is scarcely one in the county. A Horticultural Society has lately been established at Cardiff under favourable auspices, which may perhaps restore the culture of the apple.
Several, parts of Glamorganshire are well wooded, the growth of all kinds of timber being here as flourishing as in any part of Britain ; but the extent of many of these woodlands has been greatly diminished, to supply the demand for their produce at the iron-works. The natural woods of the high northern part of the county, which are more particularly extensive in Glyn Ogwr, and the parishes of Ystraddyvodog, Llanwonno, Llangonoyd, and others situated at a distance from the iron-works, consist chiefly of oak, ash, and alder, interspersed in smaller proportions with birch, mountain ash, wild cherry, &c., in the uplands, and with wych elm, aspen, sycamore, maple, linden, crab, &c.,in more sheltered situations. The dry sandy soils of the same part also produce beech wood, which, where preserved on the lowland gravelly soils, in Kibwr, Miskin Vale, Llandaf, &c., grows to a very great size. Some of the largest timber trees are produced on the northern border of the Vale of Glamorgan, and of Gower, the limestone soils of which tracts themselves, though little favourable to the spontaneous growth of wood, have various plantations of fine timber trees, which adorn the estates of some of the more extensive proprietors ; and the elm, which here sometimes attains an extraordinary size and is very common, is frequently made into various implements of husbandry, or supplies the use of oak in building, and for the bottoms of ships. Some of the most extensive plantations are those of Clasemont and Margam: there are many others of smaller extent, and a great proportion of all of them consists of firs of various kinds.
The waste lands amount to about one hundred thousand acres, and may be divided into two classes; first, --- the wastes, commons, or downs, of the southern limestone tracts of the Vale of Glamorgan and of Gower; which, together with some warrens and sand banks, on the sea-coast, comprise about fourteen thousand acres: many of these wastes, and more especially those of St. Mary Hill, in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Cevn y Bryn hill in Gower, are clothed with the sweetest herbage, and are chiefly depastured by sheep : their surface is generally level, and their size from twenty to several hundred acres : secondly,--- the remaining eighty-six thousand acres on the hills and mountains of the northern parts of the county, of which some large parishes contain not less than eight or ten thousand acres each: these are for the most part appropriated to the pasturage of sheep and cattle, the tenants of the neighbouring farms mostly possessing an unlimited right of common upon them. The common fuel throughout the county is coal, with which it is abundantly supplied from its; own mines. In 1770, the Glamorgan Agricultural Society, one of the most respectable institutions of the kind, was established : at present it has a stock of £ 1000 in the funds, and offers premiums to the amount of about £200 per annum, it holds its general meetings at Cowbridge.
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The mineral productions. of this county are various and of great importance, consisting chiefly of coal, iron; lead, and stones of various kinds ; and its geology is of the most interesting character. It comprises by far the greater portion of the rich mineral basin of South Wales, which includes all the northern part of it, from a line drawn from the vicinity of Risca, on the river Romney, by Castell Coch, Llantrissent, and Newton Down, to the sea-shore below Margam; whence, crossing Swansea bay to the Mumbles, it continues across Gower to Carmarthen bay, near the mouth of the Burry river. This great field belongs to the independent coal formation, and is entirely contained in strata of limestone, which, cropping out to the south of the coal, occupies the rest of the county from the line before mentioned, southward, and contains valuable ores of lead. The deepest part of this basin extends from its centre, in the vicinity of Neath, in this county, to Llanelly in Carmarthenshire, where the lowest strata of coal are nearly seven hundred fathoms below the outcrop of some of the superior strata in the mountains occupying the northern parts of the county. The bed of coal lying nearest the surface, in the vicinity of Neath, is, at its greatest depth, sixty fathoms below it, and rises to it in every direction, extending in breadth, from north to south, about a mile, and several miles in length, from east to west. In a similar manner do the inferior beds rise to the surface all round the outcrop of the superior stratum, and between it and the limestone which borders it, on every side : thus, from a line drawn from east to west, through the centre of the field, all the beds of coal on the north crop out on the northern side, at distances, proportioned to their depth beneath the surface; and all those on the south, in like manner, appear southward.
Twelve of the beds of coal are from three to nine feet thick, and eleven others from eighteen inches to three feet, making together ninety-five feet of coal capable of being worked, besides numerous other beds of from six to eighteen inches in thickness. The coal obtained from the southern side of the mineral basin, and also from the northern measures east of the Neath river, is principally of a bituminous or binding quality, and for the most part adapted for conversion into coke for the use of the blast furnaces; but the north - western part of the county is wholly occupied by the " stone coal," which is entirely devoid of bitumen, and burns without smoking, flaming, or caking : in Welsh this is commonly called glo caled, "hard coal:" the large is much used in drying malt and hops, and the small in burning lime. The quantity of sulphur contained in these coals is in none of the species very great : less, however, appears in the stone than in the binding sort, and the less the latter contains, the better it is adapted for use in the iron-manufacture. In many instances the strata are dislocated by "dykes," or "faults," which take great ranges through the interior of the basin, chiefly in a direction from north to south, and often elevate or depress the whole of the strata, from forty to a hundred feet, for hundreds of acres together : these dislocations are not generally discernible by any appearance on the surface. From the Neath river westward to Carmarthen bay, the strata of the southern series are more regular than those opposite to them on the north; but eastward of that line the case is reversed.
The lower beds of the coal deposite enclose parallel strata of iron-ore, of which there are, in some places, as many as sixteen, accompanied with irregular balls or lumps of iron-ore, called "balls of mine." The strata of the iron-stone commonly vary from one to five inches in thickness; and the balls are of various sizes, from two to sixteen and twenty lb., or upwards, even to three hundred-weight : both kinds are poorer in metal than the iron-ore of the North of England, but their contiguity to such an extent of coal, and their abundance, make ample amends for this poverty. This ore is of the kind denominated by Kirwan " common upland argillaceous iron-stone," and is chiefly found contiguous to strata of aluminous schist, called "cleft, clunch," &c., and to coal, freestone, or fire-clay. The mountains, being intersected by deep valleys, offer great facilities for working the coal and iron together, by means of levels. The iron-ore occurs in the largest quantity, and of the best quality, on the northern side of the county, from the neighbourhood of Merthyr-Tydvil westward towards the upper part of the Vale of Tawe, where it yields about thirty per cent, of metal.
The strata of the limestone of the Vale of Glamorgan and of Gower for the most part undulate with the surface of the country, and are of several varieties. The white limestone, which occupies the whole of Gower and much of the Vale adjoining the coal tract, is so denominated, not from the colour of the stone in its natural state, which is for the most part a dark grey; but because it burns to a perfectly white lime, of the very best quality as a manure. On some of the rising grounds of this limestone tract are deposites of fine white sandstone, as on St. Mary hill, near Cowbridge; Cevn y Bryn, in Gower ; Cevn y Vai, near Bridgend ; and on the northern part of Newton Down; and it has besides several beds of tufa freestone, which resembles the Purbeck stone, and of calcareous freestone, especially of the latter, in the parish of St. Fagan's, where it resembles the Portland stone. The white limestone is extremely cavernous, and some of its cavities contain considerable quantities of lead-ore, some calamine and manganese, and strings of copper.
Lead-ore has been obtained in the islets of Barry and Sully, and at Llantrythid, Coychurch, Merthyr-Maur, Newton, Coed Lai, Maen Llwyd, about three miles east of Caerphilly ; All Slade mine, in the parish of Bishopston, in Gower ; Tewgoed mine, in the parish of Llangan, near Cowbridge; and Park mine, about a mile to the south of Llantrissent; but at none of these places is this metal now worked. Calamine is found in the greatest quantity at Maenllwyd; manganese in Gower, and at Newton, Twynau Gwynion, and other places. Lias limestone is in this county commonly called "Aberthaw limestone," from the name of a village on the coast in the neighbourhood of which it more particularly abounds, and from which great quantities of it are shipped coastwise. The blue, or flag, lias limestone, which is used for flooring, tombstones, &c., occupies the eastern end of the Vale of Glamorgan, and is washed by the sea from Sully Island to the mouth of the river Ely, a distance of about four miles : another tract appears a little further westward, extending from the sea-shore, between Barry and Porthkerry, to the Cowbridge road. From Porthkerry the grey, or rag, lias occupies the sea-coast westward to beyond Dunraven castle, a distance of about fourteen miles, and extends inland about six miles several detached deposites of this kind of stone are also found in conjunction with the white limestone, in different places. The lime of the lias stone is of a buff colour, and not only makes the very best. mortar for the purposes of ordinary building, but also forms a valuable cement for works under water : for agricultural purposes, however, it is of inferior quality. A kind of bastard lias, in substance. between the true lias and the white limestone, is found in a tract about four miles long and one broad, between Cowbridge and St. Mary Church, and again in, the parish of Tythegston, to the west of Ogmore. To the north of the white limestone, and on the verge of the coal tract, is an imperfectly stratified bed of a calcareous pudding-stone, which takes its course from Ruddry, on the Romney, about seven miles north of Cardiff, to Caerphilly Down, and through St. Fagan's, Llanhary, Coyty, &c., to Cevn Cribwr : its lime, of a dusky brown colour, is bad for mortar, but excellent for manure : this, in some places; rests upon the southern edge of the coal strata.
Of these various kinds of stone, the principal used in building are, the calcareous freestone of the white limestone tract; siliceous freestone, obtained from quarries in the grey lias, more particularly from those bordering on the coal district; the freestone of the coal measures; the white and lias limestones ; and firestone for ovens, which is found in a limestone tract several miles square, at Sully, Cadoxton, Barry, Maes y Velin, Pencarreg, &c. The limestone tracts of the southern side of the county afford excellent specimens of marble, some of which are beautifully variegated with yellow and light liver colours, others with four colours, resembling the brocatello of the lapidaries, while others again are of a liver-colour, slightly variegated.
In Gower is obtained a marble, variegated with white, yellow, and liver-colours, besides some of a dark colour beautifully streaked with white, which is sawed and polished in the vicinity of Swansea. Near Merthyr-Tydvil, and at Bwa Maen, near Pont Neath Vaughan, is found a marble of a darker colour, in conjunction with mountain limestone. Gypseous alabaster, the "compact gypsum" of Kirwan, is discovered in large quantities, and of the best quality, at Penarth, Leckwith, Lavernock, and other places, chiefly in a hard clay, or marl, under the blue lias limestone; and is exported to Bristol, and other places in the West of England, to be worked into vases and other ornamental articles, and, when burned, into plaster of Paris, to be formed into cornice mouldings, &c.
In the parish of Llansannor is found a thin stratum of a flinty stone, used by the country people to strike fire from steel ; as also are others of the same kind at Newcastle, near Bridgend : and at Merthyr-Maur millstone burrs, freestone, and micaceous schist, here called pennant, occur on the line of separation between the southern coal strata and the limestone of the Vale of Glamorgan. Grindstones and scythe hones are made at Llangonoyd, Coyty, Pyle, Caer Bal, Llan-Dav, St. Hilary, &c. ; and millstones at Merthyr, Twynau Gwynion, Rhosilly, Pen y Vai, Caerphilly, Cevn y Bryn, Newton Down, and a few other places.
The "fire clay," which, in beds of various thicknesses, pervades the greater part of the coal tract, is manufactured into fire-bricks for the use of the iron works, for lime-kilns, &c.: in their composition the clay is mixed with quartz and other stones, pieces of old bricks, &c., ground down between iron cylinders. The limestone strata contain numerous impressions of various marine exuviae, petrified shell-fish, vertebrae, &c. &c. The beds of ironstone and clunch, lying contiguous to the coal strata, mostly exhibit vegetable impressions.
The manufactures and commerce, owing to the abundance of mineral treasures in the county, and its maritime situation, far exceed in extent and importance those of any other county in the principality. The chief branch of manufacture is that of iron, which is principally carried on at Merthyr-Tydvil, where there are numerous blast furnaces for smelting the ore ; and also at Pentyrch, in the Vale of Taf, at Landore, near Swansea, at Neath Abbey, at Dyfrynllynvi, a few miles north of Bridgend, at Cwm Bychan, and at Pontrhydyven, on the river Avon. The last are only just completed, and consist of two blast furnaces, capable of yielding one hundred and fifty tons of metal per week the blast is communicated by a water-wheel, forty-six feet in diameter, and of ninety horse power, to which the water is brought from the opposite side of the river Avon; by a magnificent stone aqueduct (at first designed for a railway for conveying coal to the work), which is four hundred and fifty-six feet in length, eighty in height, and comprises four elliptical arches, each seventy feet in the span. At each of the above-named establishments, excepting only those at Dyfrynllynvi and Pontrhydyven, are foundries, forges, and rolling-mills, for manufacturing the rough metal into bar and rod iron, and for moulding it into all kinds of articles in cast iron. There are also extensive works at Newbridge, in the Vale of Taf, for the manufacture of chain cables, and the iron work of suspension bridges, chain piers, &c. ; and others just erected at the same place, for the manufacture of "patent wrought-iron railway slates." At Neath Abbey are made all kinds of steam-engines ; and the establishment at this place has furnished most of the South American mining companies with their powerful engines. Some of the principal articles of this manufacture, besides those above-mentioned, are, tram-rails, tram-waggons, mould-boards for ploughs, bolts, sheets for the tinners, roofs for buildings, bridges, canal boats, hand-barrows, gates, hurdles, &c. Of the tin-works, the principal are at Melin Grufydd, near Llandaf; at Aberavon; at Ynys pen llwch, about eight miles from Swansea; and in Cwm Bychan; the first-mentioned are said to be on the largest scale of any in the kingdom.
The next most important manufacture is that of copper, the ore of which is brough to this county, for the convenience of coal, from Cornwall, Ireland, and North Wales ; and is smelted at extensive works at Tai bach, Neath, Morriston, and Swansea : those near the latter place are very numerous on both sides of the river Tawe. Formerly there were tinworks at Ynys y Gerwn, a few miles above Neath, and at Penclawdd ; but at these places the only business now done is in extracting the metal remaining in the slag or refuse.
At Swansea is an extensive manufacture of fine earthenware, much of the produce of which is shipped to various parts of England: a similar manufacture was established, soon after the commencement of the present century, at Nantgarw, in the parish of Eglwysilian, among the mountains to the north of Cardiff. There is also an extensive and very ancient manufacture of brown ware at Ewenny, near Bridgend; the clay used in these latter works is found on the spot, and much of that used in the Swansea pottery at Cevn Cribwr, near Pyle.
At Bridgend was formerly a woollen manufacture, chiefly of scarlet shawls, in imitation of the provincial garment called the "Gower whittle ; " and although it has been abandoned for some years, others of the same kind are still carried on in different parts of the county, particularly at Caerphilly, where also both narrow and broad cloths are made. A considerable quantity of flannel, which forms the chief clothing of the peasantry, is made in many parts of Glamorganshire ; and coarse cloth is manufactured in small quantities, by individuals who carry it for sale to the fairs and markets.
Numerous hides and skins are dressed for sale at Brecknock, and at the Bristol and other English markets : those of the Glamorgan Vale cattle are the thinnest hides known, and are excellently adapted for coach and cart harness.
The principal fisheries are those of salmon and sewin,which latter fish is found only in those rivers of the county flowing from the north or east to the south or west; and among these the Ogmore is the most celebrated for the abundance and fine flavour of its fish of both these species. The limestone coast of Gower abounds with oysters, and Port-Eynon employs about twenty boats in the fishery during the season, which begins on the 4th of August, the eve of the festival of St. James (O.S.), which is kept by the fishermen as a holiday : on their return from dredging, the oysters are deposited within low water mark, and, when a sufficient quantity has been caught, are shipped for Bristol, Bath, and the English counties bordering on the Severn. Other fish, of the most valuable kinds, abound on the coast of Gower, the lobsters on which are uncommonly large and fine.
Among the produce of the coast must also be enumerated samphire, called in Welsh corn carw'r mor, or "sea buck-horn," which grows on rocks and cliffs not overflowed by the tide, is gathered when out of blossom, boiled, and preserved, and is much esteemed as a pickle ; and laver, or sea liver-wort, which vegetates on rocks and stones in the creeks overflowed by the tides, and, when gathered and boiled, is put into jars, with the addition only of a little salt, and occasionally sent as a rarity to distant places : thus prepared, it is called in Glamorgan bara lawr, and by the English, black-butter."
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The chief exports of this county are, vast quantities of coal and culm, from Cardiff, Swansea, Neath, and the Burry river, to the western and south-western coasts of England, the western coasts of Wales, and to Ireland ; iron and copper, from the same ports ; tin plates, from Cardiff, Aberavon, and Neath ; firebricks, chiefly from Neath, to the coasts of Devon and Cornwall ; earthenware and marble, from Swansea ; much lime and limestone of the lias kind, from Aberthaw; on the sea-coast to the south of Cowbridge ; and great quantities of limestone, from the shores of Gower, to Devonshire, Carmarthenshire, &c. Part of the above mentioned produce of the coast, viz., samphire, laver, oysters, turbot, &c., and some of the river fish, are sent to Bristol and the interior of England.
The chief extraordinary imports are copper-ore and tin ; potters' clay, flint, and chert, for the pottery at Swansea; iron-ore from Lancashire, to be blended with that of the county; and bricks. Glamorganshire is said not to produce sufficient grain to supply the consumption of its own inhabitants, whose number has so greatly increased in the manufacturing districts by emigration from the neighbouring counties, more especially those of Carmarthen and Cardigan ; yet a considerable portion of the corn grown in the lower part of the Vale for want of a direct line of communication with the populous but barren hilly district, is exported to Bristol from which city it is often returned, in flour or malt, to Cardiff, to be forwarded to Merthyr by the Glamorganshire canal.
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The principal rivers are the Taf, the Tawe or Tawy, the Nedd or Neath, the Llychwyr or Loughor, and the Rhymni or Romney : the banks of these, and of the numerous smaller streams of the mountains, are in most places distinguished for the picturesque grandeur or rich beauty of their scenery.
The romantic Taf formed by the junction, on the northern border of the county, near Coedycummer, of two streams, called respectively the Taf Vawr and the Taf Vechan, the Greater and Lesser Taf, which descend from the highest mountains of South Wales, the Beacons of Brecknockshire ; and thence, taking a south-south-easterly direction, the river flows, two miles lower, through the town of Merthyr-Tydvil, and at Quaker's-yard, which is about twelve miles below Merthyr, is joined from the east by the mountain stream called the Bargoed Taf ; still lower, it is joined from the west by the Cynon, which descends from the parish of Penderin, in Brecknockshire and a few miles further the Taf is augmented, from the same side, by the united waters of the two Rhonddas, hence, flowing nearly southward, it passes by Llandaf and Cardiff, and falls into the Bristol channel, through the inlet of Penarth, after a course of about thirty-three miles. This river is navigable for vessels of small burden to Cardiff, which is as far as the tide flows. Its stream, in dry weather, is very scanty ; but, in case of sudden rains and thaws, the waters of this, as of the other mountain rivers, roll over their rocky bed in an impetuous and destructive torrent.
The Tawy enters from Brecknockshire, a little below Ystradgynlais, and taking first a south-westerly and then a southerly course, is joined from the west by the small but romantic streams of the Upper and the Lower Clydach and empties itself into the bay of Swansea, at the town of that name, after a course of about twenty-five miles this river is navigable for ships of considerable burden to a distance of two miles from its mouth, and for small sloops one mile further to Morriston, where the flow of the tide is checked by a weir.
The Neath also descends from the mountains of Brecknockshire, and flows south-westward through one of the most picturesque and interesting valleys of South Wales : the principal of its tributary streams, some of which form beautiful cascades, is the Dulas, which joins it about three miles above the town of Neath ; and from this junction, flowing nearly southward by that town, the Neath pursues its course to Swansea bay, into which it falls about four miles eastward of Swansea, after a course of nearly twenty-two miles : this river is navigable for vessels of about two hundred tons' burden as high as Neath bridge; but the chief resort of shipping upon it is Briton-Ferry, a little lower down.
The Loughour which has its source in the parish of Llandilo-Vawr, Carmarthenshire, bounds this county for a considerable distance on the west, and falls into the creek of Loughor, near the ancient borough of that name : this inlet spreading into a broad aestuary, soon, however, loses its name of Loughor, on being joined by a petty stream from Gower, called the Burry, from which it is designated the Burry river ; and, sweeping round to the west, joins the bay of Carmarthen opposite to the projecting north-western extremity of Gower : this fine creek is navigable for small vessels up to the town of Loughor : the small stream of the Burry is noted for its trout.
The Romney rises near the north-eastern extremity of the county, and, giving motion to the machinery of different coal and iron works, forms throughout its course the boundary between Glamorganshire and the English county of Monmouth : it flows in an irregular southerly direction, and falls into the Bristol channel through a small estuary, a little north-eastward of Penarth harbour.
The other principal streams are, the Elai, or Ely, which descends from the barren hills of the coal tract to the north of Llantrissent, afterwards flows south-eastward through the rich vale of Ely, or Dyfryn Miscin, and, after a course of about twenty-one miles, contributes, with the Taf, to form the safe and spacious harbour of Penarth ; the Daw, or Dawon, celebrated for its trout, which flows, in a short course of nine miles, through Cowbridge to the sea at Aberthaw, and forms the small harbour of that place ; the Ewenny, which has a similar course, from the coal tract north of Llanilid, through the flat vale of Coychurch, to the mouth of the Ogmore, near the ruins of Aber-Ogwr, or Ogmore Castle; the Ogmore, a large stream of remarkably soft water, which, rising among the mountains, flows southward through the town of Bridgend, and, after a course of about fifteen miles, being joined by the Ewenny, falls into the Bristol channel through a broad aestuary ; and the Avan, or Avon, which descends from near the source of the Ogmore, and, after a course of about fifteen miles, falls into the channel at Aberavon: it is navigable for a short distance for vessels of small burden, trading to and from the Tai bach, and other neighbouring metal works. Almost the only stream in Gower, besides the Burry, is the Penarth Pill, which falls into Oxwich bay.
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The conveyance of the mineral productions of Glamorganshire to its different sea-ports is greatly facilitated by the canals and tram-roads by which various portions of it are traversed. Of the former, the oldest and the most important is the Glamorganshire canal, sometimes called the Cardiff canal, which was originally commenced, under the authority of an act of parliament, in 1791, and was opened in 1794, its formation having cost upwards of £ 100,000: it was subsequently extended under the provisions of a second act of parliament, and was completed in 1798. It extends a distance of twentysix miles, through a mountainous and romantic country, and has a fall of no less than five hundred and seventysix feet, by fifty locks, eighteen of which occur about the middle of its course, within the space of a mile. Here also it crosses the river Taf by a handsome stone aqueduct, and is received into a spacious basin, surrounded by commodious wharfs, where the canal company's business is transacted, and their principal agent resides. On reaching Cardiff, it passes under the turnpike road to Newport through a tunnel of considerable length, emerging from which, at the distance of half a mile from its egress, it falls into a basin which communicates with the sea at Penarth Roads, by means of a tide lock, and admits vessels of two hundred and forty tons burden, which ascend as high as the town of Cardiff, above which the canal is navigable only for barges of twenty-five tons' burden. At the basin, near the aqueduct above-mentioned, it is joined by a branch canal from Aberdare, completed in 1811, and seven miles long, with only two locks, which runs parallel with the river Cynon, and is joined at the Aberdare works at its head, by a tram-road, six miles long, from the Hirwaun works, on Hirwaun common, within the confines of Brecknockshire : at this basin also terminates a tram-road from Dowlais and Merthyr, running parallel with the higher parts of the Glamorganshire canal, ant constructed to obviate the delays which would otherwise be experienced in dry summers, owing to the want of a sufficient supply of water to maintain the navigation in these elevated regions.
The Neath canal extends from the navigable channel of the river Neath at Briton-Ferry, north-eastward, up the valley of that river, to Aber Gwrelych, near Pont Nedd Vechan, on the confines of Brecknockshire, a distance of about thirteen miles, in which it has sixteen locks. It is connected by a rail-road with the Aberdare branch canal, and was originally constructed under an act of parliament obtained in 1791, and extended under another act passed in 1798: connected with it also are various railways of smaller extent than that above mentioned.
The Swansea canal extends from the harbour of that town, up the valley of the Tawy, in a direction nearly north-by east, to Pen Tawe, whence the communication is continued to Hen Neuadd, within the limits of Brecknockshire, by a short railway : the total length of this canal is about seventeen miles, in which it has a fall of three hundred and seventy-three feet, by means of thirty-six locks : it was completed and opened in 1798, and is navigable for barges of twenty-five tons' burden : the produce of the neighbouring mines is conveyed to it banks by means of numerous tram-roads, two of which are each about two miles in length : one of these branches from near Ynys Tawy to coal mines, and the other to coal mines and lime-works near Bryn Morgan. A portion about a mile and a half in length, of that part of the canal nearest to Swansea is of older construction than the rest, having been cut by the Duke of Beaufort, who still receives the tolls of it.
The small cut called the Penclawdd canal, in the northern part of Gower, constructed about the year 1812, was formerly the means of conveying excellent bituminous coal to vessels lying in the Burry river, but is now disused. The two following canals are private property, viz., the "First Neath Canal," " Briton Canal," or " Cremlyn Canal," now called, the " Neath and Swansea Junction Canal," which was constructed about the year 1789, and forms an inland medium of communication between Briton-Ferry and Swansea, branching from the Neath canal at Aberdulas, crossing the river Neath by a handsome aqueduct of eleven arches, and extending a distant of nine miles without a single lock, except that by which it communicates with the eastern side of Swanse harbour, at a place called Port Tennant, from the name of the spirited individual by whom the whole was constructed, it being now the property of George Tennant Esq. ; and the "First Swansea Canal," or "Llansamlet Canal," which extends from the village of Foxhole above Swansea, on the eastern side of the river Tawy to the collieries of Gwernllwynwydd, near Llansamlet
Besides the tram-roads, already noticed as connected with the canals, and the various branches diverging from them, the property of private individuals, there is one, five miles in length, which was formed at the commencement of the present century, connecting the limestone and marble quarries at the Mumbles with the port of Swansea. But that of the greatest, public importance is the Dyfrynllynvi railway, which commences at Blaenllynvi, two miles above the Dyfrynllynvi, ironworks, and terminates at the little harbour of Porthcawl, having a branch of five miles and a half from near Cevn Cribwr, about six miles from its termination, to the flourishing little market town of Bridgend : its total length, exclusively of the branch to Bridgend, is seventeen miles : it was constructed under the sanction of an act of parliament, and is the property of the Dyfrynllynvi Railway Company. Glamorganshire is also intersected by a great number of good common roads, which afford easy and convenient communication between the different towns and villages, but are of little comparative importance in a commercial point of view. The agriculturists of the lower part of the Vale are subject to considerable inconvenience from the want of good inland communication, in conveying to market the produce of this fertile tract ; in consequence of which, the best markets of the county are chiefly supplied with Irish and other foreign grain, as farmers residing near an Irish outport can actually send their corn to the manufacturing district of which Merthyr is the centre more easily and at less expense than those about Aberthaw, St. Athan, Bonvilston, St. Donatt's, Gileston, Lantwit, Monknash, Penmark, &c. Although great improvements have been made in the roads, at very considerable expense, yet not one of the improved lines, with the exception of the New Mill road, are calculated to benefit the resident agriculturist, as they all extend in a direction from east to west, so that they afford no direct communication between the barren manufacturing district of the northern and the fertile agricultural tracts of the southern side of the county.
The bridges presented no remarkable feature until about the middle of the last century, when the celebrated bridge over the Taf, consisting of one arch of one hundred and forty feet in the span, called New Bridge, or Pont y Prydd, was at length completed, after two failures, by the self-taught architect, William Edwards, who, in conjunction with his son, afterwards built several others over the principal rivers of the county, all of which are distinguished for their beauty and excellence. The bridges are more numerous in this than in most other counties, chiefly on account of its greater commercial importance, and the abundance and excellence of materials for their construction. The road, from London to Cardiff, which continues through Carmarthen to Haverfordwest, &c., enters from Monmouthshire at Romney bridge, and, running the entire length of the county from east to west, passes through Cardiff, Cowbridge, Aberavon, Neath, and Swansea, and quits it for Carmarthenshire at Pont ar Ddulas, on the river Loughor.
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The remains of antiquity are very numerous and of great diversity of character. On a mountain towards the north-western extremity of the county is a circle of rude flat stones, in the centre of which is a kistvaen, or rude stone chest, about five feet long: this monument is called Carn Ilechart. About two miles eastward from it, on a mountain called Mynydd y Gwyryd, is another of the same class, consisting of three concentric circles of flat stones, the outermost of which is about twenty yards in diameter : in the centre of this also is a kistvaen, vulgarly called" the altar." On Drummau mountain; in the vicinity of Neath, are other Druidical remains, consisting of the relics of a large kistvaen, and a large stone fixed upright in the ground, which, being placed on the highest ridge of the hill, forms a conspicuous object from many parts of the surrounding country. Near Dyfryn House, about a mile south of the village of St. Nicholas, between Cardiff and Cowbridge, is one of the largest cromlechs in the kingdom, forming a rectangular oblong apartment, about seventeen feet in length and thirteen in width, the sides and ends of which consist of large flat stones placed upright in the ground, while the roof is formed by one large stone, twenty-four feet long, and varying in breadth from ten to seventeen feet : near the same place is a similar erection of much smaller dimensions, called Llech y vilast, a name common to these monuments in various parts of Wales, but of unknown origin. Near St. Donatt's is one, called by the people of the neighbourhood "the Old Church;" on Rhosilly Down, near the village of Tythegston, is one, called "Arthur's Stone;" and on Cevn Bryn, a mountain in Gower, one, the supporting stones of which are six in number, but of small dimensions, while the inclining stone, though not equal in superficial dimensions to that of the large cromlech near Dyfryn, is much thicker and heavier, and, notwithstanding that large portions have at different times been broken off, is still, probably, of about twenty tons' weight. On a hill above New House, to the north of Bridgend, is one of the largest and most ancient British encampments in South Wales.
The chief Roman road which crossed this county, namely the Via Julia, or Julia Strata, is supposed to have entered it on the east, near the present bridge over the Romney, to the east of Cardiff, and to have passed through the vicinity of that town, and nearly in the line of the present western road to Ewenny, whence it ascended almost in a direct line to the Newton Downs, where some vestiges of it are still to be seen, and from which it proceeded, by Kenvig and Neath, across the western boundary of the county, near the station Leucarum, at Loughor. From this road branched several vicinal ways : the first of these, now called the Sarn hir, from Cardiff, passed northward by Caerphilly, to which place its course has not yet been traced, but beyond which it may be seen running towards Pont yr Ystrad, on the river Romney, which it crosses into Monmouthshire in its further progress towards the great station of Caer Bannau, in Brecknockshire : the next, called the Sarn Helen, branched from the Via Julia at Neath, and, taking a north-easterly direction, may be traced from the border of the marshes above that town until it enters Brecknockshire, in its course to the great station in that county before mentioned : large portions of the latter remain entire.
Besides these, an ancient road of unknown date, but in a state of excellent preservation, commencing at a large and strong encampment on the most elevated summit of the mountain of Mynydd y Gwair, called Pen Cae Clawdd, about twelve miles to the north of Swansea, passes first southward, and afterwards inclines a little westward until it joins the road from Swansea to Llandilo-Vawr in Carmarthenshire, which proceeds along it in a straight line for about two miles, beyond which, in the county of Carmarthen, it may again be traced singly. In the vicinity of this road, and on an eminence. overlooking the western boundary of the county, called Pen Trev Castell, is situated a very strong fort of earth and stones, of an oval shape, and the longest diameter of which is about one hundred yards.
The principal Roman encampments are, a very strong one at the village of Caerau, about three miles west of Cardiff, which occupies the entire summit of a gentle eminence, and comprises about twelve acres ; a smaller one, about three miles westward of this, near the village of St. Nicholas, called Caer Gaer ; another small one, about two miles from Cowbridge, close to the common called the Golden Mile, near which is a tumulus, and besides which there are vestiges of another on the other side of the Golden Mile ; another on the sea-coast, at a place called the Castle Ditches, about two miles east from Bonvilston; at the same distance from this again, another in a similar situation ; and two small encampments, situated on a common about two miles eastward from Loughor.
There are several tumuli, or barrows, in different parts of the county, of which those situated near the line of the Julia Strata, near Bonvilston, are more particularly worthy of mention. Roman coins have been found in different places, more especially at Pengwern, in the parish of Ilston, in Gower ; at Cowbridge ; in the vicinity of Bonvilston; near St. Athan; a few miles eastward from that village ; and in the vicinity of Loughor ; and various other minor relics of that people have been discovered at other places. On the surface of the mineral district are frequently found heaps of scoria, termed by the English "Roman cinders."
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A Benedictine priory, a house of Grey friars, and another monastery at Cardiff, a monastery at Llancarvan, one at Lantwit-Major, and one at Llangennith, were destroyed long before the Reformation. At that period there were, at Margam, a Cistercian abbey ; at Neath, a Cistercian abbey; and at Ewenny, a Benedictine cell. There are yet remains of the monasteries of Ewenny, Margam, and Neath, and of other monastic buildings at Lantwit - Major and near Llantrissent. Some of the more remarkable specimens of ancient ecclesiastical architecture are seen in the ruined cathedral of Llandaf, and in the churches of Ewenny ; Llanblethian, near Cowbridge; Lantwit-Major, which, with its churchyard, contains numerous ancient monuments and tombstones ; and Margam. The church of Aberdare is remarkable for the rustic simplicity of its architecture, and may be regarded as a characteristic specimen of the edifices of this class in the mountainous parts of the county.
But this part of the principality is more particularly distinguished for its remains of the numerous fortresses, in some places very extensive, which its border situation rendered necessary for the protection of the Norman usurpers of the soil from the frequent incursions and revolts of the native population, during the early periods of the establishment of their dominion. Those of which the ruins are yet in existence are, Caerphilly castle ; Castell Coch, or the Red castle, to the north of Llandaf ; Cardiff castle ; Coyty castle, about a mile to the north-east of Bridgend;. Dinas Powis, or Dennis Powis castle, about two miles south of Michaelston-le-Pit; Kenvig castle; Llanblethian castle, near Cowbridge ; Llandough castle, on the western bank of the small river Daw; Llantrissent castle; Loughor castle ; Marcross castle, near St. Donatt's ; Morlais castle, near Merthyr ; Neath castle ; Newcastle, at Bridgend; Ogmore castle, at the junction of the small rivers Ogmore and Ewenny ; Oystermouth castle, in Swansea bay; Oxwich castle, in Oxwich bay; Penllyne castle, near Cowbridge ; Penmark castle, near the village of Penmark; Penarth castle, near that of Oystermouth; Penrice castle, in Gower ; St. Donatt's castle, on the seacoast ; Swansea castle ; Talavan, or Tal y van castle, a few miles north of Cowbridge; Weobley castle, in Gower; and Wrinchstone castle, near the village of Wenvoe. There are also small remains of ancient fortresses at Peterston super Ely, and St. George's, both near the banks of the river Ely, and near the village of St. Athan. The ruins of the castles of Caerphilly and Coyty, more particularly the former, are among the most extensive and magnificent in the island.
The ancient mansion-houses are very numerous, but most of them have been either deserted or converted into farmhouses : among those still inhabited are, Aberpergwm, the seat of William Williams, Esq. ; Cevnmabley, that of C. K. K.Tynte, Esq.; Dyfryn, that of the Hon. Booth Grey ; Dyfryn Clydach, that of Mrs. Williams ; Vonmon castle, that of Robert Jones, Esq. ; the Gnoll, that of Henry Grant, Esq. ; Hensol, that of Richard Crawshay, Esq. ; and Lland-Dav, or Llandough, Castle, that of Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan : there are also remains of the ancient castellated mansion of the bishops at Llandaf, and of a castellated mansion at St. Fagan's, near that place. Among the antiquities of this county may likewise be enumerated a considerable number of very old and spacious barns, many of which are of peculiar construction.
The principal modern seats of the nobility and gentry are, Briton Ferry, that of the Earl of Jersey; Coedriglan, that of the Rev. John M. Traherne; Cowityrala, that of T. B. Rous, Esq.; Coytrehene, that of Morgan Popkin Traherne, Esq. ; Cyvarthva Castle, that of Richard Crawshay, Esq. ; Dunraven Castle, that of the Earl of Dunraven and Mountearl ; Ewenny Abbey, that of Richard Turberville Turberville, Esq. ; Green Meadow, that of Wyndham Lewis, Esq. ; Llanharen, that of Richard. Hoare Jenkins, Esq. ; the magnificent mansion of C. R. M. Talbot, Esq., now in progress of erection in Margam Park; Penllergare, the seat of L. W. Dilwyn; Esq. ; Penrice, that of C. R. Mansel Talbot, Esq. ; Rheola, the elegant seat of John Edwards Vaughan, Esq. ; Singleton, the residence of J. H. Vivian, Esq. ; Sketty Park, that of Sir John Morris, Bart.; Stout Hall, that of John Lucas, Esq.; and Wenvoe Castle, that of R. F. Jenner, Esq.
The farm-houses and offices throughout the county are in general good and commodious, and substantially built of stone, and roofed sometimes with thatch, and sometimes with the stone tiles of the country ; but the out-buildings are smaller and fewer than in most other districts. The cottages are also built in the same substantial style, and are remarkable for their commodiousness and comfort; they are almost universally thatched with wheat straw, with uncommon neatness, and many exhibit features of great antiquity. In situations where they can be conveniently procured, fern, rushes, sea-reeds, and broom are occasionally used for thatching them ; but their most striking peculiarity is their being universally white-washed, externally and internally, as are also the walls of gardens, &c.: this custom of white-washing has distinguished the people of Glamorgan from all antiquity, being often adverted to by the ancient Welsh bards, and the light and pleasing appearance of these habitations is still further increased by their generally having the appendage of a garden, and by their walls being also frequently shaded by fruit-trees, sweet-briar, privet, or jessamine: when situated on the side of a hill, they frequently have a remarkably picturesque appearance. Some of the meanest cottages are found among the mountains. Stiles of stone and mortar are very common in the Vale and in Gower.
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The common bread of many of the inhabitants consists of the white wheat of the Vale, ground and kneaded, without the bran being separated from the flour. The household fare of the agricultural labourers is generally very good ; and, in the lower part of the Vale, the men employed to cut the corn have the privilege of renting out the gleaning, or leasing, on the wheat stubbles, for which they get more per acre than they are paid for reaping.
Ancient Welsh names, though common throughout the principality, appear to be more prevalent in this than in any other county. Among those of early British note still used promiscuously as christian names, or as surnames, are those of Owain, Madoc, Caradoc, Hywel, Rees or Rhys, Llewelyn, Arthur, Cadwgan, Grufydd, Morgan, Llywarch, Ivor, Tudor, Taliessin, Merlin, Meredydd, Traherne, Cadwaladr, &c. The ancient Welsh custom for the son to take for his surname the christian name of his father is much more commonly retained in the mountains of Glamorganshire, and of the adjoining counties of Brecknock and Monmouth, than in any other part of Wales.
The only mineral spring of any celebrity, or at all resorted to, is that called Fynnon Taf, situated on the river Taf, a few miles above Cardiff, on the road from that town to Merthyr-Tydvil, the water of which is tepid, and is successfully applied in relieving rheumatic complaints : there are, however, chalybeate or sulphureous springs at Swansea, Llandyvodog, Llantrissent, and other places in the coal district.
In the calcareous rocks along the coast the waves have worn many large and magnificent caverns, ornamented with stalactites and crystallized spars of great beauty, in which rise several intermitting springs.
In the Vale of Neath are two beautiful waterfalls, one at the village of Aberdulas, near Cadoxton, and the other some miles higher, at Melin Court. "
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[Last Updated : 8 August 2004 - Gareth Hicks]
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