The west coast of the Isle of Britain between the Rivers Mersey and Severn. The Welsh (or Cymri, to give their own name for themselves) are the descendents of the Romano-Britons who were gradually pushed westward by the Anglo-Saxons at the close of the Classical era. Independent until the end of the 13th century, they have retained their national identity, and continue to exert a substantial influence on the British character.

Contains: Anglesey, Buellt, Brycheiniog, Caer Gawch, Carmarthen, Ceredigion, Cydweli, Deheubarth, Demetia, Dogfeiling, Dunoding, DyfedDyffryn Clwyd, Elfael, Emlyn, Ergyng, Ewyas, Glamorgan, Glywysing, Gower, Gwent, Gwerthrynion, Gwynedd, Malienydd, March, Meirionydd, Morgannwg, North Powys, Pembroke, Penychen, Powys, Rheinwg, Rhos, Rhufoniog, St. Davids, Seisyllwg, the Silures, South Powys, Venedotia, Wales (general survey), and Ysfeilion.


(general survey)
A constituent country of the United Kingdom, located in the western mountains of Britain, facing the Irish Sea.


ANGLESEY (Ynys Mons) An island off the coast of northwestern Wales, called Ynys Mons or Mona by the ancient Britons. Anglesey is said to have been the last refuge of the druids from the Romans in Britain. Penmynydd, at the center of the island, was the home of Owen Tudor, founder of the house of Tudor.

BRYCHEINIOG A minor state in southern Wales, the highlands around modern Brecon.

BUELLT (Builth)
A district in what is now northern Brecknockshire, south-central Wales near the confluence of the Rivers Wye and Irfon.

CAER GAWCH A petty kingdom in Dyfed, vassal to Demetia.

CARMARTHEN (Caerfyrddin)
A small port town in southwestern Wales, 23 miles (37 km.) northwest of Swansea. Under the name Moridunum, it was the capital of the Demetae tribe in Roman times. In the Middle Ages it was the center of an important Marcher Lordship.

mod. Kidwelly) A district in Carmarthenshire, centered on the little port town of Kidwelly, about 8 miles (13 km.) south of Carmarthen, on the southwest coast of Wales. In the Middle Ages it was a lordship within the Welsh Marches.

DEHEUBARTH Southern Wales, involving at one time or another the Pembroke Peninsula, the Cardigan coast, and the southern highlands.

DOGFEILING A district on the eastern frontier of  Gwynedd. It seems to have been the inheritence of one of Cunedda's sons; it isn't clear whether it was an actual sub-kingdom, or just a local patrimony.

DUNODING A minor client state of Gwynedd, located on the western seaboard just below the Lleyn Peninsula.

DYFED The Pembroke Peninsula in southwestern Wales.

mod. Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd) Now a village in northern Wales about 1¾ miles (3 km.) south of Ruthin, the capital of Denbighshire, in the Middle Ages a Border Cantref - together with Rhos, Rhufoniog, and Tegeingl, Dyffryn Clwyd was grouped together into the region of Y Berfeddwlad, a border district between Gwynedd to the west, Powys to the south, and Mercia to the east and southeast.

A district comprising most of southern Radnorshire, in central Wales - in the Middle Ages, it lay south of  Malienydd, north of Brycheiniog, and east of  Buellt.

A cantref in southwestern Wales, in modern Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

ERGYNG A little chip of territory located in what would now be the area south of Hereford, west of the Wye River, and north of Monmouth.

A minor district in far northern Monmouthshire, 6 miles (9½ km.) north of Abergavenny.

GLYWYSING In southeastern Wales, just west of Gwent, and often associated with it. It includes within it the city of Cardiff, the modern capital of Wales.

GOWER (Gwyr)
A district located on and around the Gower peninsula in southwest Wales, at the eastern end of Carmarthen Bay - Swansea is it's chief city.

GWENT In extreme southeastern Wales; the north shore of the Severn Estuary between Newport and the Wye River, together with the interior districts north of that coast.

GWERTHRYNION The south-central highlands of eastern Wales, roughly equivalent to northwestern Radnorshire - Malienydd is to the east, Buellt to the southwest, and Elfael to the southeast.

GWYNEDD The northernmost of the Welsh Principalities, and certainly the most powerful and influential. The origins of this state were in the breakup of Brittannia at the end of the Classic Age. At that time, the region around Deganwy, in the center of what in pre-Roman times was the Ordovician tribal territory, emerged as a stronghold, attracting settlers and refugees from many parts of Britain. Called at first VENEDOTIA, the name gradually shifted to Gwynedd.

MAELIENYDD A minor kingdom founded by one of the sons of Vortigern, in northern Radnorshire, south-central Wales east of Gwerthrynion and north of Elfael - South Powys is to the immediate north.

  The Welsh are a turbulent people, with a long history of raiding in England - attempts to keep them confined to their mountain homes are of old date. In the eighth century, the Mercian king and Saxon Bretwalda Offa the Mighty had a long dike constructed along the Mercia/Wales frontier. In subsequrnt centuries, both England and Wales became more concerned with defending themselves against Viking incursions than battling each other, but the Scandinavian threat had abated by the 11th century, and following the Norman conquest of 1066, a renewed effort to deal with the Welsh once and for all was thought advisable. The solution put into practice was the establishment of a broad belt of autonomous lordships stretching from the River Mersey to the Severn Estuary, each lord granted plenary authority within his demesne to administer justice, collect revenues, and defend the district from invasion. Some of these establishments were earldoms, but the rest, occuring very early within the Anglo-Norman peerage, were baronies. There was never a central command structure or regional administrative locus as such, but the pattern of Marcher Lordships was a recognizable entity, and treated as such by London, until 1535 when all the old establishments were fully assimilated into English administration. The most powerful of the Welsh Marcher Lords were the Earls of Chester, Gloucester, Hereford, March (immediately below), Pembroke and Shrewsbury, and the baronies of  Brecon, Buellt, Carmarthen, Dyffryn Clwyd, Elfael, Ewyas, Glamorgan, Gower, Kidwelly, Merioneth, Montgomery, Powis, and other locations.

Earls of March Despite the name, these nobles were not senior to all the rest as such - nevertheless, holders of this title have had a very powerful and enduring impact on, not only Welsh, but British history as a whole.

MEIRIONYDD A lesser state on the western seaboard; the name survives today as Merionethshire.

MORGANNWG Southern Wales; the north coast of the Severn Estuary from Swansea to Newport. The name evolved into "Glamorganshire". This state came into being as a result of the merger of Glywysing with Gwent.

NORTH POWYS The interior of northeastern Wales.

PENYCHEN A British sub-kingdom (vassal of Gwent) located in mid-south Wales.

POWYS East-central Wales; southern Denbigh and northern Montgomery, roughly.

RHOS A petty Kingdom located in western Gwynedd.

RHUFONIOG A district within eastern Gwynedd ruled by one of Cunedda's sons. It is likely that this was more of a local patrimony than an organized sub-kingdom.

ST. DAVIDS An important bishopric in southwestern Wales, located on the Pembroke Peninsula. During the Middle Ages the Bishops were powerful feudal magnates who held much of Pembrokeshire as a secular lordship in a manner not at all dissimilar to that of the Prince-bishoprics within the Holy Roman Empire.

SOUTH POWYS The mountainous interior of central Wales.