- Kingdom of Gwent
Gwent was one of the kingdoms or principalities of
mediæval Wales, in the Welsh Marches.
The area has been occupied since the
Paleolithic, with Mesolithicfinds at Goldcliffand growing activity during the Bronze Age, Iron Ageand Roman period.
Dark AgeWelsh 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 Silurestribe 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 languagesfrom "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] ]
According to one
Old Welshgenealogy, the semi-legendary founder of the kingdom was Caradoc Vreichfras. A later monarch was King Tewdrigwho 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, Tatheusand CadocChristianized the area.
Normanspartitioned 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 baileycastles. The density of castles of this type and age is amongst the highest in Britain and certainly the rest of the Welsh Marcheswith 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 Uskand Abergavenny, Monmouth, Usk and Chepstow to the west of it.
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
medievalkingdoms — such as Cumbria, Strathclydeand within Wales: 'Gwent', Dyfed, and Gwynedd.
* [http://www.castlewales.com/gwent.html Early Gwent history and rulers from Castlewales.com]
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