Kingdom of Gwent


Kingdom of Gwent

Gwent was one of the kingdoms or principalities of mediæval Wales, in the Welsh Marches.

Emergence

The area has been occupied since the Paleolithic, with Mesolithic finds at Goldcliff and growing activity during the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman period.

The Dark Age Welsh kingdom of Gwent was traditionally the area between the rivers Usk, Wye and the Severn Estuary. It came into being after the Romans had left Britain and Roman Wales, and was a successor state drawing on the culture of the pre-Roman Silures tribe and ultimately their Iron Age territories. It took its name from the "civitas" capital of Venta Silurum, meaning "Market of the Silures". In the post Roman period, the territory around Venta became the small successor kingdom of Guenta, later Gwent, deriving its name directly from the town through the normal sound change in the Brythonic languages from "v" to "gu". The town itself became Caerwent, "Venta fort". [http://www.cpat.org.uk/research/seemed.htm South East Wales in the Early Medieval Period] ]

Early history

According to one Old Welsh genealogy, the semi-legendary founder of the kingdom was Caradoc Vreichfras. A later monarch was King Tewdrig who was mortally wounded repelling a Saxon invasion. Some believe his grandson, Athrwys ap Meurig, may be the origin for King Arthur.

The centre of the kingdom may have been at Caerwent or Caerleon. The latter had formerly served as a major Roman military base. Welsh saints like Dubricius, Tatheus and Cadoc Christianized the area.

Norman partition

The Normans partitioned the area into the Lordships of Abergavenny, Monmouth, Striguil (Chepstow) and Usk, where they built and fortified large permanent stone castles from a network of early motte and bailey castles. The density of castles of this type and age is amongst the highest in Britain and certainly the rest of the Welsh Marches with at least 25 castle sites remaining in Monmouthshire alone today.

The castles protected new settlements and enabled older settlements to prosper under Norman rule despite the subjugation, taxation, conflicts and rebellions that affected this part of south east Wales over the centuries.

The Lordships, overseen by powerful Marcher Lords, were the basic units of administration for the next 450 or so years, until Henry VIII passed the Laws in Wales Act 1535. This Act abolished the Marcher Lordships and established the County of Monmouthshire out of them — combining the Lordships of Newport, (Gwynllwg) or Wentloog and Caerleon [http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Wood-NuttallEncyclopaedia/c/caerleon.html] east of the River Usk and Abergavenny, Monmouth, Usk and Chepstow to the west of it.

Recent times

In the 19th and 20th centuries, writers began using the name 'Gwent' in a romantic literary way to describe Monmouthshire, and in the local government re-organisations of 1974/5, many new administrative areas in Britain were named after medieval kingdoms — such as Cumbria, Strathclyde and within Wales: 'Gwent', Dyfed, and Gwynedd.

References

External links

* [http://www.castlewales.com/gwent.html Early Gwent history and rulers from Castlewales.com]


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