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by Edmund Gibson
The Original Text


It seems most adviseable, before we go to the other parts of England, to take a round into Cambria, or Wales, still possesd by the posterity of the old Britains. Tho' I cannot look upon this as a digression, but a pursuing of the natural course of things. For this tract is spread out along by the sides of the Cornavii, and seems to have a right to be consider'd here, as in its proper place. Especially, seeing the British or Welsh, the Inhabitants of these parts, enjoy the same laws and privileges with us, and have been this long time as it were engrafted into our Government.

Wales therefore (which formerly comprehended all that lies beyond the Severn, but has now narrower bounds) was formerly inhabited by three People, the Silures, the Dimetae and the Ordovices. To these did not only belong the twelve Counties of Wales but also the two others lying beyond the Severn, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire, now reckon'd among the Counties of England. To take them then as they lye: the Silures (as we gather from Ptolemy's description of them) inhabited those Countries which the Welsh call by one general name Deheubarth, i.e. the Southern part; at this day brancht into the new names of Herefordshire, Radnorshire, Brecknockshire, Monmouthshire, and Glamorganshire; within which compass there are still some remains of the name Silures. As to the derivation of the word, I can think of none that will answer the nature of the Country; but as to the original of the People, Tacitus imagines them to have come first from Iberia, upon account of their ruddy complexion, their curl'd hair, and their situation over against Spain. But Florianus del Campo, a Spaniard, is very positive in that matter, and takes a great deal of pains to find the Silures in Spain, and to obtrude upon us I know not what stories about Soloria and Silorià among the old Aftures. However, this Country was very large (for it seems probable from Pliny and Tacitus that they were possess'd of all South-Wales,) and the Inhabitants were hardy, stout, warlike, averse to servitude, of great boldness and resolution (term'd by the Romans obstinacy and stubbornness) not to be wrought upon either by threats or kindness: and their posterity have not degenerated in any of these particulars. When the Romans, out of an itching desire of enlarging their Empire, made attempts upon them, they (partly reposing a confidence in the courage and conduct of King Caratacus, and partly incens'd by a saying of Claudius the Emperour, That they were to be as entirely routed as the Sugambri had been) engag'd the Romans in a very troublesome and difficult war. For having intercepted the Auxiliary Troops, cut off the Legion under Marius Valens, and wasted the territories of their Allies, P. Ostorius, Propraetor in Britain, was quite wore out with all these crosses, and dy'd of grief. Veranius too, who govern'd Britain under Nero, was baffled in this enterprize against them. For where Tacitus says, Illum modicis excursibus Sylvas populatum effe, that he destroy'd and wasted the woods with slight excursions; instead of Sylvas, with the Learned Lipfius only read Siluras, and all's right. Nor could an end be made of this war before Vespasian's reign. For then Julius Frontinus subdu'd them, and kept them quiet by garisons of the Legions. A certain Countryman of ours has wrested that verse of Juvenal upon Crifpinus, to these Silures:

- magna qui vocefolebat
Vendere municipes, fracta de merce Siluros.
- Who with hideous cry
Bawl'd out his broken Sturgeon in the streets.

As if some of our Silures bad been taken prisoners, and expos'd to sale at Rome. But take it upon my word, he has mistook the genuine sense of the Poet. For any one that reads that passage with attention, will quickly perceive that by Siluros he designs to express a sort of Fish, and not a People.


The County of Monmouth, call'd formerly Wentset or Wentsland, and by the Britains Gwent (from an ancient City of that name) lies southward of Brecknock and Herefordshire. On the north 'tis divided from Herefordshire by the river Mynwy; on the east from Glocestershire by the river Wye; on the west from Glamorganshire by Rhymni; and on the south 'tis bounded by the Severn sea, into which those rivers, as also Usk (that runs through the midst of this County) are discharged. It affords not only a competent plenty for the use of the inhabitants, but also abundantly supplies the defects of the neighbouring Counties. The east part abounds with pastures and woods; the western is somewhat mountainous and rocky, though not unserviceable to the industrious husbandman. The inhabitants (saith Giraldus, writing of the time when he liv'd) are a valiant and courageous people; much inured to frequent Skirmishes; and the most skilful archers of all the Welsh borderers.

In the utmost corner of the County Southward, call'd Ewias, stands the ancient Abbey of Lantoni, not far from the river Mynwy, amongst Hatterel-hills; which because they bear some resemblance to a chair, are call'd Mynydh Kader [a]. It. was founded by Walter Lacy, to whom William Earl of Hereford gave large possessions here; and from whom those Lacies, so renown'd amongst the first Conquerours of Ireland, were descended. Giraldus Cambrensis (to whom it was well known) can best describe the situation of this small Abbey. In the low vale of Ewias (saith he), which is about an arrow-shot over, and enclos'd on all sides with high mountains, stands the Church of St. John Baptist, cover'd with lead; and considering the solitariness of the place, not unhandsomly built with an arched roof of stone: in the same place where formerly stood a small Chapel of St. David's the Archbishop, recommended with no other Ornaments than green moss and ivy. A place fit for true Religion, and the most conveniently seated for Canonical discipline, of any Monastery in the Island of Britain: built first (to the honour of that solitary life ) by two Hermits, in this Desert, sufficiently remote from all the noise of the world, upon the river Hodeni, which glides through the midst of the vale. Whence 'twas call'd Lhan Hodeni; Lhan signifying a Church or Religious place [b]. But to speak more accurately, the true name of that place in Welsh is Nant Hodeni; for Nant signifies a rivulet:
whence the Inhabitants call it at this day Lhan-Dhewi yn Nant-Hodeni, i.e. St. David's Church on the river Hodeni. The rains which mountainous places always produce, are here very frequent; the winds exceeding fierce, and the Winters almost continually cloudy. Yet notwithstanding that gross air, this place is little obnoxious to diseases. The Monks sitting here in their Cloisters, when they chance to look out for fresh air, have a pleasing prospect on all hands of exceeding high mountains, with plentiful herds of wild Deer, feeding aloft at the farthest limits of their Horizon. The * body of the Sun surmounts not these bills, so as to be visible to them, till it be past one a clock, even when the air is most clear. And a little after - The fame of this place drew hither Roger Bishop of Salisbury, prime Minister of state; who having for some time admired the situation and retired solitariness of it, and also the contented condition of the Monks, serving God with due reverence; and their most agreeable and brotherly conversation; being returned to the King, and having spent the best part of a day in the praises of it, he at last thus concluded his discourse: What shall I say more! all the Treasure of your Majesty and the Kingdom would not suffice to build such a Cloister. Whereupon both the King and Courtiers being astonish'd, he at last explain'd that paradox, by telling them be meant the mountains wherewith 'twas on all hands enclos'd. But of this enough, if not too much.

On the river Mynwy are seen the castles of Grossmont and Skinffritb, which formerly by a Grant of King John belong'd to the Breoses, but afterwards to Hubert de Burgh, who (as we are inform'd by Matthew Paris) that he might calm a court-tempest of Envy, resign'd up these and two other castles, to wit, Blank and Hanfeld, to King Edward (2nd edition changed to Henry) the third.

In another corner North-eastward, the river Mynwy and Wy meeting, do alrnost encompass the chief town of this County, which is thence denominated; for the Britains call it Mynwy, and we Monmouth. On the North-side, where it is not guarded with the rivers, it is fortify'd with a wall and a ditch. In the midst of the town, near the market place, stands the castle, which (as we find in the King's records) flourish'd in the time of William the Conqueror; but is thought to have been re-built by John Baron of Monmouth. From him it devolv'd to the House of Lancaster, when King Henry the third had depriv'd him of his Inheritance, for espousing so violently the Baron's Interest against him: Or rather (as we read in the King's Prerogative) for that his heirs had pass'd their Allegiance to the Earl of Britain in France. Since that time this town has flourish'd considerably, enjoying many privileges granted them by the House of Lancaster. But for no one thing is it so eminent, as the birth of King Henry the fifth, that triumphant Conqueror of France, and second Ornament of the Lancastrian Family: who by direct force of arms subdu'd the Kingdom of France, and reduc'd their King, Charles the sixth, to that extremity, that he did little better than resign his Title. Upon whose prosperous Success, John Seward a Poet in those times and none of the lowest rank, bespeaks the English Nation in this lofty stile:

Ite per extremum Tanain, pigrosque Triones,
Ite per arentem Lybiam, superate calores
Solis, & arcanos Nili deprendite fontes.
Herculeum finem, Bacchi transcurrite metas;
Angli juris erit quicquid complectitur orbis.
Anglis rubra dabunt pretiosas aquora conchas,
Indus ebur, ramos Panchaia, vellera Seres,
Dum viget Henricus, dum noster vivit Achilles
Est etenim laudes longe transgressus avitas.

March on, brave Souls, to Tanais bend your arms,
And rowze the lazy North with just alarms.
Beneath the torrid Zone your enemies spread;
Make trembling Nile disclose it's secret head.
Surprize the World's great limits with your hast,
Where not Alcides nor old Bacchus past.
Let daily triumphs raise you vast renown,
The world and all its treasures are your own.
Yours are the Pearls that grace the Persian Sea, 7
You rich Panchæa, India and Catay
With spicy, ivory barks, and silk supply.
While Henry, great Achilles of our land,
Blest with all joys extends his wide command.
Whose noble deeds and worthy fame surpass
The ancient glories of his heavenly race.

Monmouth also glories in the birth of Galfridus Arthurius, Bishop of St. Asaph, who compiled the British History; an Author well experienced in Antiquities, but as it seems not of antique credit: so many ridiculous Fables of his own invention [c] hath he inserted in that work. In so much that he is now amongst those writers that are censur'd by the Church of Rome.

The river Wy (wherein they take Salmon plentifully from September to April) is continued from hence Southward with many windings and turnings. It's now the limit between Glocestershire and Monmouthshire; but was formerly the boundary betwixt the Welsh and English; according to that verse of Necham:

Inde vagos Vaga Cambrenses, hinc respicit Anglos.
Hence Wye the English views, and thence the Welsh.

Near its fall into the Severn-Sea, it passes by Chepstow, which is a Saxon name, and signifies a market or place of trading. In British 'tis call'd Kaswent or Castelh Gwent. 'Tis a town of good note, built on a hill close by the river; guarded with walls of a considerable circumference, which take in several Fields and Orchards. The castle is very fair, standing on the brink of a river: and on the opposite side there stood a Priory, whereof the better part being demolish'd, the remainder is converted to a Parish church. The bridge here over the Wy is built upon piles, and is exceeding high; which was necessary, because the tide rises here to a great height. The Lords of this place were the Clares Earls of Pembroke; who from a neighbour castle call'd Strighul, where they liv'd, were entitled Earls of Strighul and Pembroke: of whom Richard the last Earl, a man of invincible courage and strength (sirnam'd Strong-bow from his excellency in Archery,) was the first that made way for the English into Ireland. By his daughter it descended to the Bigots, &c. And now it belongs to the Earls of Worcester. This place seems of no great antiquity; for several do affirm, and that not without reason, that it had its rise not many ages past, from the ancient city Venta, which flourish'd about four miles hence in the time of Antoninus, who calls it Venta Silurum, as if it had been their chief city. Which name neither arms nor time have consum'd; for at this day 'tis call'd Kaer-went, or the city Venta. But the city it self is so much destroy'd by the one or the other, that it only appears to have been, from the ruinous walls, the checquer'd pavements, and the Roman coyns [d]. It took up about a mile in circumference: on the South-side is a considerable part of the wall yet remaining, and more than the ruins of three Bastions. What repute it had heretofore, we may from hence gather; that before the name of Monmouth was heard of, this whole Country was call'd from it Went-set or Went's-land [e]. Moreover (as we read in the life of Tathaius a British Saint) it was formerly an Academy, or place dedicated to Literature, which the same Tathaius govern'd with commendation, and also founded a Church there; in the reign of King Kradok ap-Ynyr, who invited him hither from an Hermitage.

Five miles to the West of Kaerwent is seated Strighul-castle at the bottom of the hills; which now we call Strugle, but the Normans Estrig-hill, built (as we find in Domesday-book) by William Fitz-Osbern Earl of Hereford; and afterwards the seat of the Clares, Earls of Pembroke, whence they have been also commonly call'd Earls of Strighull.

Beneath these places upon the Severn-Sea, not far from the mouth of the river Wy, lies Port Skeweth, call'd by Marianus Port-Skith, who informs us that Harald built a Fort there against the Welsh in the year 1065. (changed to 1066 2nd edition) which they immediately, under the-conduct of Karadok, overthrew. And adjoyning to it is Sudbroke, the Church whereof call'd Trinity-Chapel, standeth so near the Sea, that the vicinity of so tyrannous a neighbour, hath spoil'd it of half the Church-yard, as it hath done also of an old Fortification lying thereby, which was compassed with a triple Ditch and three Rampiers, as high as an ordinary house, cast in form of a Bow, the firing whereof is the Sea-cliff. That this was a Roman work the Britain bricks and Roman coyns there found, are most certain arguments; among which the Reverend Father in God, Francis Bishop of Landaffe (by whose information I write this) imparted unto me of his kindness one of the greatest pieces that ever I saw coyn'd of Corinthian copper by the city of Elaia in the lesser Asia, to the honour of the Emperour Severus, with this Greek Inscription, *** *** *** that is, The Emperour Cæsar Lucius Septimius Severus Pertinax. And on the reverse, an Horseman with a Trophee erected before him, but the letters not legible save under him *****. that is, of the Elaians, which kind of great pieces the Italians call Medaglioni, and were extraordinary coyns, not for common use, but coyn'd by the Emperours either to be distributed by the way of largess in Triumphs, or to be sent for Tokens to men well deserving, or else by free Cities to the glory and memory of good Princes. What name this place anciently had, is hard to be found, but seemeth to have been the Port and Landing place for Venta Silurum, when as it is but two miles from it.

Near Caldecot, where the river Throgoy enters the Severn-Sea, I observ'd the wall of a castle which formerly belong'd to the High-Constables of England, and was held by the service of Constableship of England.

Not far from hence are Wondy and Pen-how, the seats formerly of the illustrious family of St. Maur, now corruptly call'd Seimour. For we find that about the year 1240. (in order to wrest Wondy out of the hands of the Welsh) G. Marescal Earl of Pembroke was obliged to assist William of St. Maur. From whom was descended Roger of St. Maur Kt. who married one of the heiresses of the illustrious F. Beau-cbamp, the noble Baron of Hach; who was descended from Sibyl one of the co-heiresses of that most puissant William Marshal E.of Pembroke, and from William Ferrars Earl of Derby, Hugb de Vivon and William Mallet, men of eminent worth in their times. The Nobility of all which, as also of several others, have (as may be made evident) concentred in the Right Honourable Edward de St. Maur or Seimour, now Earl of Hereford , a singular encourager of virtue and learning; for which qualification he's deservedly famous.

The Fenny tract, extended below this for some miles, is call'd the Moor; which at my present reviewing these notes has suffer'd a most lamentable devastation. For the Severn-Sea after a Spring-tide, being driven back by a Southwest-wind (which continued for 3 days without intermission) and then again repuls'd by a very forcible Sea-wind, it raged with such a tide, as to overflow all this lower tract, and also that of Somersetshire over against it; undermining several Houses, and overwhelming a considerable number of cattel and men.

In the borders of this Fenny tract, where the land rises, lies Gold-cliff ; so call'd (saith Giraldus ) because the stones appear, when the Sun shines, of a bright gold colour. Nor can I be easily perswaded (saith he) that nature hath bestow'd this colour on the stones in vain; or that this is merely a flower without fruit; should some skilful Artist search the veins and bowels of this rock. In this place there remain some ruins of an old Priory, founded by one of the family of Chandois.

From hence we came through a Fenny Country to the mouth of the river Isca, call'd by the Britains Wysk, in English Usk, and by others Osca. This river (as we have already observ'd) taking its course through the midst of the County, passes by three small cities of noted antiquity.

The first on the Northwest borders of the County, call'd by Antoninus Gobannium, is situate at the confluence of the, rivers Wysk and Govenni; and thence denominated. It is at this day (retaining its ancient appellation) call'd Aber-Gavenni, and by contraction Aber-Gaenni; which signifies the Confluence of Gavenni or Gobannium. It is fortified with walls and a castle, which (as Giraldus observes) has been oftner stain'd with the infamy of treachery, than any other castle of Wales. First by William Son of Earl Miles, and afterwards by William Breos; both having upon publick assurance, and under pretence of friendship, invited thither some of the Welsh Nobility, and then basely murder'd them. But they escaped not God's just punishment; for Breos having been depriv'd of all his effects, his wife and son starv'd with hunger, died himself in exile. The other having his brains dash'd out with a stone, while Breulas-castle was on fire, suffer'd at length the due reward of his villany. The first Lord of Aber-Gavenni, that I know of, was one Hamelin Balun, who made Brien Wallingford, or Brient de L'Isle (call'd also Fitz-Count) his Executor. And he having built here an Hospital for his two sons, who were Lepers, left the greatest part of his Inheritance to Walter the son of Miles, Earl of Hereford. This Walter was succeeded by his brother Henry, whom the Welsh slew, and invaded his Territories; which the King's Lieutenants defended, though not without great hazard. By Henry's sister it descended to the Breoses; and from them in right of marriage, by the Cantelows and Hastings to Reginald Lord Grey of Ruthin. But Willam Beauchamp obtain'd it of the Lord Grey, by conveyance: and he again in default of Issue male, entail'd it on his brother Thomas Earl of Warwick, and on his heirs-male. Richard son of William Beauchamp, Lord of Abergavenni, for his military valour created Earl of Worcester, being slain in the wars of France, left one only daughter, who was married to Edward Nevil. From henceforth the Nevils became eminent, under the title of Barons of Aber-Gavenni. But the castle was a long time detain'd from them, upon occasion of the conveyance before mention'd. The fourth of these dying, in our memory, left one only daughter Mary, married to Sir Thomas Fane; between whom and Sir Edward Nevil the next heir-male (to whom the castle and most of the estate had been left by Will, which was also confirm'd by authority of Parliament) there was a trial for the title of Baron of Aber-Gavenni, before the House of Lords, in the second year of King James; which continued seven days. But in regard the question of right could not be fully adjusted; and that each of them seem'd to all (in respect of descent ) very worthy of the title; and that moreover it was evident, that both the title of Baron of Aber-Gavenni, and that of Le Despenser, belong'd hereditarily to this family: the Peers requested of his Majesty, that both might be honour'd with the title of Baron to which he agreed. It was then proposed to the Peers by the L. Chancellor, first, Whether heirs-male or female should enjoy the title of Aber Gavenni; upon which the majority of voices gave it the heir-male. And when he had again proposed, Whether the title of Baron Le Despenser should be conferr'd on the female and her heirs, they unanimously agreed to it; to which his Majesty gave his Royal Assent. And Edward Nevil was soon after summon'd to Parliament by the King's Writ, under the title of Baron of Aber-Gavenni. And being according to the usual ceremony, introduc'd in his Parliament-Robe between two Barons; he was placed above the Baron de Audeley. At the same time also, the King's Patent was read before the Peers, whereby his Majesty restored, rais'd, preferred, &c. Mary Fane, to the state, degree, title, stile, name, honour, and dignity, of Baroness le Despenser; and that her heirs successively should be Barens le Despenser, &c. But the question of precedency being proposed, the Peers referr'd the decision thereof to the Commissioners for the office of Earl Marshal of England, who sign'd their Verdict for the Barony of le Despenser. This was read before the Peers, and by their order register'd in the Parliament Diary; out of which I have taken this account in short. What ought not to be omitted, is that John Hastings held the Castle by homage, ward, and marriage. When it happens (as we read in the Inquisition) and if there should chance any war between the King of England and Prince of Wales; he ought to defend the Country of Over-went at his own charges, to the utmost of his power for the good of himself, the King, and Kingdom.

The second town, call'd by Antoninus Burrium, (who places it 12 miles from Gobannium,) is seated where the river Byrdhin falls into Usk. 'Tis call'd now in British, by a transposition of letters Brynbiga for Burenbegi, and also Kaer-wysk, by Giraldus Castrum Oskae, and in English Usk. It shews now only the ruins of a large strong Castle, pleasantly seated between the river Usk, and Oilwy a small brook, which takes its course from the east, by Ragland, a stately castle-like house of the Earl of Worcester's, and passes under it.

The third City, call'd by Antoninus Isca and Legio secunda, (seated on the other side of the river Usk, and distant, as he observes, exactly 12 Italian miles from Burrium) is call'd by the Britains Kaer Lheion and Kaer Lheion ar Wysk (which signifies the City of the Legion on the river Usk) from the Legio Secunda Augusta, called also Britannica Secunda. This Legion, instituted by Augustus, and translated out of Germany into Britain by Claudius, under the conduct of Vespasian, (to whom, upon his aspiring to the Empire, it prov'd serviceable, and also secur'd him the British Legions,) was placed here at length by Julius Frontinus (as seems probable) in garrison against the Silures. How great a City this Isca was at that time, our Giraldus informs us, in his Itinerary of Wales.

A very ancient, city this was (saith he) and enjoy'd honourable privileges; elegantly built by the Romans with brick walls. There are yet remaining many footsteps of its ancient splendour: stately palaces which formerly with their gilded Tiles emulated the Roman grandeur, for that it was at first built by the Roman nobility, and adorn'd with sumptuous edifices: an exceeding high tower, remarkable hot baths, ruins of ancient temples, theatrical places, encompass'd with stately walls, which are partly yet standing. Subterraneous edifices are frequently met with, not only within the walls, but also in the suburbs, aqueducts, vaults, and (which is well worth our observation) Hypocausts or stoves, contriv'd with admirable artifice, conveying heat insensibly through some very narrow vents on the sides. [An. 1654. hot baths were discover'd near S. Julian's; the bricks equilaterally square, about an inch thick, like those art S. Albans. Mr Aubrey.] Two very eminent, and (next to St. Alban and Amphibalus) the cbief Protomartyrs of Britannia major, lye entombed here, where they were crown'd with martyrdom; viz. Julius and Aaron who had also Churches dedicated to them in this City. For in ancient times there were three noble Churches here. One of Julius the Martyr, grac'd with a Quire of Nuns devoted to God's service; another dedicated to St. Aaron his companion, ennobled with an excellent order of Canons; and the third honour'd with the Metropolitan See of Wales. Amphibalus also, teacher of St. Alban, who sincerely instructed him in the Faith, was born here. The City is excellently well seated on the navigable river Usk; and beautified with meadows and woods. Here the Roman Embassadors received their audience at the illustrious court of that great King Arthur. And here also the Archbishop Dubricius resign'd that honour to David of Menevia, by translating the Archiepiscopal See from this City thither.

Thus far Giraldus. But in confirmation of the antiquity of this place, I have taken care to add some ancient Inscriptions lately dug up there; and communicated to me by the right reverend Father in God Francis Godwin, Lord Bishop of Landaff, a lover of venerable antiquity, and all other good literature. In the year 1602. some labourers digging in a meadow adjoyning, found on a checquer'd pavement, a statue of a person in a short-truss'd habit, with a Quiver and Arrows; the head, hands, and feet, broken off: and also the fragment of an Altar with this Inscription of fair large characters about three inches long: erected by Haterianus Lieutenant-General of Augustus, and Propraetor of the Province of Cilicia.

These inscriptions are in the wall of the Garden at Moinscourt
[formely] the house of the Bishop of Landaff.

The next year was discover'd also this Inscription, which shews the Statue before mention'd to have been of the Goddess Diana; and that Titus Flavius Posthumius Varus, perhaps of the fifth Cohort of the second Legion, had repair'd her Temple.


Also this votive Altar, out of which the name of the Emperour * Geta seems to have been rased when be was deposed by his brother Antoninus Bassianus, and declared an enemy; yet so as there are some shadows of the Letters still remaining.


And this fragment of a very fair Altar; the Inscription whereof might perhaps be thus supplied.

Together with these two fragments.

7. VECILIANA.        [This was lately in the School-wall at Kaer-Lheion, but is now rased out.]

VIII.             [This is in the Garden-wall at Moin's Court; but the first line (VIII) and this character (7.)
7. VALER.      are not visible.]


Here also, about the time of the Saxon Conquest, was an Academy of 200 Philosophers, who being skill'd in Astronomy and other Sciences, observ'd accurately the courses of the Stars, as we aro informed by Alexander Elsebiensis, a very scarce Author; out of whom much has been transcrib'd for my use by the learned Tbomas James of Oxford, who may deservedly be stiled *********, as one that is wholly intent upon Books and Learning; and is at present (God prosper his endeavours) out of a desire of promoting the publick good, busily employ'd in searching the Libraries of England, on a design that is like to be of singular use to the Commonwealth of Learning.

In the time of K. Henry 2. when Giraldus writ, this City seems to have been a place of' considerable strength. For we find, that Yrwith of Kaer Lheion, a courageous Britain, defended it a long time against the English forces; till at last being over-power'd by the King, he was dispossest of it. But now (a fair instance that Cities as well as Men have their vicissitude and fortune) that is become an inconsiderable small town, which once was of so great extent on each side the river, that they affirm St. Gilian's (the house of the honourable Sir William Herbert, a person no less eminent for wit and judgment, than noble extraction) to have been in the city: and in that place the Church of Julius the Martyr is said to have stood; which is now about a mile out of the town.

From the ruins also of this City, Newport had its beginning, seated a little lower, at the fall of the river Usk. By Giraldus 'tis call'd Novus Burgus. It is a town of later foundation, and of considerable note for a Castle and a convenient harbour: where there was formerly some Military-way, mention'd by Necham in these verses:

Intrat, & auget aquas Sabrini fluminis Osca
Præceps; testis erit Julia Strata mihi.
Increas'd with Usk does Severn rise,
As Julia Strata testifies.

That this Julia Strata was a way, we have no reason to question: and if we may be free to conjecture, it seems not absurd to suppose it took its name from Julius Frontinus who conquer'd the Silures. Not far from this Newburgh (saith Giraldus) there glides small stream call'd Nant Pènkarn, passable (changed to unpassable 2nd edition) but at some certain fords, not so much for the depth of its water, as the hollowness of the chanel, and deepness of the mud. It had formerly a ford call'd Rhyd Penkarn, now of a long time discontinued. Henry 2. King of England having by chance pass'd this ford; the Welsh (who rely too much upon old prophecies) were presently discouraged; because their Oracle Merlinus Sylvester had foretold, that whenever a strong Prince, with a freckled face (such as King Henry was) should pass that Ford, the British Forces should be vanquish'd.

During the Saxon Heptarchy, this County was subject to the Mountain-Welsh, call'd by them Dunrettan; who were yet under the government of the West-Saxons, as appears by the ancient Laws. At the first coming in of the Normans, the Lords Marchers grievously plagued and annoy'd them: especially the above-mention'd Hamelin Balun, Hugh Lacy, Walter and Gilbert de Clare and Brien of Wallingford. To whom the Kings having granted all they could acquire in these parts, some of them reduced by degrees the upper part of this County, which they call'd Over-Went, and others the low lands, call'd Nether-Went.

Parishes in this County, 127.


Mynydh Kader (mention'd by our Author) is the name of many Mountains in Wales thus denominated: as Kader Arthur, Kader Verwin, Kader Idris, Kader Dhinmael, Kader yr Ychen, &c. which the learned Dr. Davies supposes to have been so call'd, not from their resemblance to a Kàdair or Chair; but because they have been either fortified places, or were look'd upon as naturally impregnable, by such as first impos'd those names on them. For the British Kader (as well as the Irish word Kathair) signifying anciently a Fort or Bulwark; whence probably the modern word Kaer of the same signification, might be corrupted. [ back ]

Lhan properly signifies a Yard, or some small Inclosure; as may be observ'd in compound words. For we find a Vineyard call'd Gwin-lhan; an Orchard, Per-lhan; a Hay-yard, Yd-lhan; a Church-yard, Korph-lhan; a Sheep-fold, Kor-lhan; &c. However (as Giraldus observes) it denotes separately, a Church or Chapel; and is of common use, in that sense, throughout all Wales: probably because such Yards or Inclosures might be places of Worship in the time of Heathenism, or upon the first planting of Christianity, when Churches were scarce. [ back ]

That this Jeffrey of Monmouth (as well as most other Writers of the Monkish times) abounds with Fables, is not deny'd by such as contend for some authority to that History: but that those Fables were of his own Invention, seems too severe a censure of our Author's, and scarce a just accusation: since we find most or all of them, in that British History he translated; whereof an ancient copy may be seen in the Library of Jesus-College at Oxford, which concludes to this effect: Walter Arch-Deacon of Oxford composed this Book in Latin, out of British Records; which he afterwards thus render'd into modern British. We find also many of the same Fables in Ninnius, who writ his Eulogium Britanniæ about three hundred years before this Galfridus Arturius compos'd the British History. As to the regard due to that History in general, the judicious Reader may consult Dr. Powel's Epistle De Britannica Historia rectè intelligenda; and Dr. Davies's Preface to his British Lexicon; and ballance them with the arguments and authority of those that wholly reject them.

Near Monmouth stands a noble House built by his Grace Henry Duke of Beaufort call'd Troy; the residence of his eldest Son Charles Marquiss of Worcester, who is owner of it, and of the Castle and Manour of Monmouth, settled upon him with other large possessions in this County, by the Duke his father. [ back ]

As a confirmation of what our Author observes, in the year 1689. there were three checquer'd Pavements discover'd here in the Garden of one Francis Ridley; which being in frosty weather exposed to the open air, upon the thaw the cement was dissolv'd, and this valuable antiquity utterly defac'd. So that at present there remains nothing for the entertainment of the Curious, but the small cubical stones whereof it was compos'd; which are of various sizes and colours, and may be found confusedly scatter'd in the earth, at the depth of half a yard. Checquer'd Pavements consist of oblong cubical stones, commonly about half an inch in length; whereof some are natural stones, wrought into that form; and others artificial, made like brick. These are of several colours; as white, black, blue, green, red, and yellow; and are close pitch'd together in a floor of fine plaister, and so dispos'd by the Artist, with respect to colour, as to exhibit any figures of men, beasts, birds, trees, &c. In one of these Pavements, as the owner relates, were delineated several flowers, which he compared to Roses, Tulips, and Flowers de Luce; and at each of the four corners a Crown, and a Peacock holding a Snake in his Bill, and treading it under one foot. Another had the figure of a Man in armour from the breast upward. There were also Imperial Heads, and some other variety of Figures, which had they been preserv'd, might have been instructive, as well as diverting to the Curious in the study of Antiquities. In their Gardens, and elsewhere in this Village, they frequently meet with brass Coyns; which an ingenious and worthy Gentleman of that neighbourhood has for some years collected. In his Collection I observ'd an adulterated Coyn of Antoninus Pius, which seem'd to have been counterfeited not of late, but anciently, when that Emperour's Coyns were current money. 'Tis a brass piece, of the bigness of a denarius, cover'd with a very thin leaf of silver, which when rub'd off the letters disappear. Also Julia Mæsiia of embas'd metal, not unlike our tin farthings. Others were of Valerianus, Gallienus, Probus, Dioclesianus, Constantius, Chlorus, Constantinus, Magnus, Julius Crispus, Constans, and both Valentinians. This present year (1693.) one Cbarles Keinton shew'd me part of a Roman brick-pavement in his Yard: the bricks were somewhat above a foot long, nine inches broad, and an inch and a half thick; all marked thus:

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The English names of Went-set and Wents land have their origin from the British word Gwent; whereby almost all this Country, and part of Glocestershire and Herefordshire were call'd; till Wales was divided into Counties. But it seems questionable, whether that name Gwent be owing to the City Venta; or whether the Romans might not call this City Venta Silurum, as well as that of the Iceni, and that other of the Belgæ, from the more ancient British names of part of their Countries. Had the Country been denominated since the Roman Conquest, from the chief City, it had been more properly call'd Gwlâd Gaer-Lheion, than Gwlâd Gwent. But of this enough, if not too much. [ back ]

In the year 1654. some workmen discover'd at St. Ju1ian's near Kaer-Lheion, a Roman Altar, the Inscription whereof was soon after copy'd by the learned and ingenious John Aubrey Esq; a true lover and promoter of real knowledge, and a person of equal industry and curiosity. The Altar, he says, was of Free-stone, four foot in length, and three in breadth: the Inscription he is pleas'd to communicate out of his excellent Collection of British Monuments, to be publish'd on this occasion.

It seems worth the enquiry of the curious, upon what occasion Jupiter is here stiled Dolichenus; for that I take to be the meaning of this word Dolichu. To me it seems somewhat probable, that this Altar was erected to implore his Tuition of some Iron Mines, either in the Forest of Dean, or some other place of this Country. The grounds of which conjecture I take from this Inscription in Reinesius:
Jovi optimo maximo Dolycheno, ubi ferrum nascitur, C. Sempronius Rectus cent. Frumentarius D.D. For unless Caius Sempronius, who dedicates this Altar Jovi Dolicheno, makes his request to Jupiter that he would either direct them to find out Iron Mines, or be propitious to some they had already discover'd, I cannot conjecture why he should add the words ubi Ferrum nascitur; which were not only superfluous, but absurd, if they imply'd no more than barely that Iron-ore was found at Doliche, a Town of Macedonia, whence Jupiter was call'd Dolichenus. Augustorum monitu is a Phrase we find parallel instances of in Reinesius, p. 42. where he tells us, ex monitu Dei Imperio Deorum Dearúmque, ex jussu numinis, quicquid facerent, facere videri volebant Pagani.

At Tre-Dynoq-Church about three miles distant from Kaer-leion, is preserv'd this fair and entire Monument of a Roman Souldier of the Second Legion. The Stone is a kind of blue slate: the four oblique lines are so many Grooves or Canaliculi; and the small squares without the lines are holes bor'd through the stone; whereby it was fasten'd with Iron pins to the Ground-wall of the Church on the outside; and discover'd by the Sexton about twenty years since, at the digging of a Grave. Considering that this was the Monument of a Heathen, and must be about fourteen or fifteen hundred years standing; it seems strange it should be reposited in this place, and thus fasten'd to the Foundation of the Church: unless we suppose it laid there by some pious Christian in after ages, or rather that the Church was built on some old Roman burial-place. But however that happen'd, that it was there found is most certain, and testified by a worthy Gentleman of the neighbourhood yet living, who was present at the discovery of it, and took care to preserve it.

At Kaer Leion they frequently dig up Roman Bricks with this Inscription.


The Letters on these Bricks are not inscrib'd (as on stone) but stamp'd with some instrument; there being a square cavity or impression in the midst of the Brick, at the bottom whereof the Letters are rais'd, and not insculp'd. One of these Bricks may be seen (together with Mr. Camden's Inscriptions) in the Garden-wall at Moinscourt, the seat of the worshipful Thomas Lyster Esq; and some others at Kaer Leion.

In the year 1692. a chequer'd pavement was discover'd in the grounds of the honoured Henry Tomkins of Kaer Leion Esq; the present High Sheriff of this County. 'Twas found by workmen a plowing, in a field close adjoyning to his house. And here we may observe, that these ancient pavements are not buried so deep in this County, as that in the Churchyard at Woodchester in Glocestershire. For whereas that lies at about 3 foot depth, this at Kaer Leion (as also some others formerly discover'd,) lay no deeper than the plow-share; and that abovementioned at Kaer-went not much lower. Mr. Tomkins has taken all possible care, to preserve what the Servants had not spoil'd of this valuable antiquity; by removing a considerable part of the floor in the same order it was found, into his garden; and was pleas'd to communicate a draught of the whole to be publish'd upon this occasion. The diameter of it is about 14 foot. All the arches, and that part of the border they touch, were composed of white, red, and blue stones, varyed alternately. The bills, eyes, and feet of the birds were red, and they had also a red ring about the neck; and in their wings, one or two of the longest feathers red, and another blue. The inside of the cups were also red; and elsewhere, whatever we have not excepted of this whole area, is variegated of umber or dark colour'd stones and white.

About forty years since, some Labourers digging in a Quarry betwixt Kaer Leion Bridge and Christchurch (near a place call'd Porth Sini Krân) discover'd a large coffin of free-stone; which being open'd they found therein a leaden sheet, wrap'd about an iron frame, curiously wrought; and in that frame a skeleton. Near the coffin they found also a gilded Alabaster statue of a person in a coat of mail; holding in the right-hand a short sword, and in the left a pair of scales. In the right scale appear'd a young maiden's head and breasts; and in the left (which was out-weigh'd by the former) a globe. This account of the coffin and statue I receiv'd from the worshipful Captain Matthias, Bird who saw both himself; and for the farther satisfaction of the curious, was pleas'd lately to present the statue to the Ashmolean Repository at Oxford. The feet and right-arm have been broken some years since, as also the scales; but in all other respects, it's tolerably well preserv'd; and some of the gilding still remains in the interstices of the armour. We have given figure of it, amongst some other curiosities relating to Antiquity, at the end of tbese Counties of Wales: but must leave the explication to some more experienc'd and judicious Antiquary; for though at first view it might seem to be the Goddess Astræe, yet I cannot satisfie my self as to the device of the Globe and Woman in the scales; and am unwilling to trouble the Reader with too many conjectures.

Amongst other Roman Antiquities frequently dug up here, we may take notice of some curious earthen Vessels; whereof some are plain, and the same with those red Patellæ or earthen Plates often discover'd in several parts of England; but others adorn'd with elegant figures; which were they preserv'd, might be made use of for the illustration of Roman Authors, as well as their Coyns, Statues, Altars, &c. That whereof I have given a figure. represents to us, first, as an emblem of Piety, the celebrated history of the woman at Rome, who being deny'd the liberty of relieving her father in prison with any food, yet obtaining free access to him, fed him with the milk of her own breasts. I am sensible that in Pliny and most printed copies of such Authors as mention this history, we are inform'd she exercis'd this piety to her mother: but this figure (though it be somewhat obscure) seems to represent a bearded man: however, whether I mistake the figure, or whether we may read with Festus, Patre (not matre) carcere incluso; or rather suppose the tradition erroneous (in some provinces at least) amongst the vulgar Romans; that the same history was hereby intended, is sufficiently evident. In the second place we find an Auspex or Soothsayer looking upwards to observe the motion of a bird; or rather perhaps a Cupid (according to the Potter's fancy) performing the office of a Soothsayer. And in the third, a woman sacrificing with Vervain and Frankincense: for I am satisfied, that the plant on the altar is no other than Vervein ; and that the Woman reaching her hand towards the Altar, is casting Frankincense on the Vervein, seems very probable; for we find that Women, a little before their time of lying in, sacrificed to Lucina with Vervein and Frankincense. Thus the Harlot Phronesium in Plautus, (Trucul. Act 2. Scene 5.) pretending she was to lye in, bids her maids provide her Sweetmeats, Oyl of Cinnamon, Myrrhe, and Vervein.

Date mihi huc stactam atque ignem in aram ut Venerem Lucinam meam:
Hic apponite atque abite ab oculis, ---
Ubi es, Astaphium? fer huc verbenam mihi, thus & bellaria.

We may also collect out of Virgil*, that women sacrific'd with Vervein and Frankincense upon other occasions.

Effer aquam & molli cinge hæc altaria vitta:
Verbenasque adole pingues & mascula thura,
Conjugis ut magicis sanos avertere sacris
Experiar sensus. ---

As for the naked person on the other side the Altar, I shall not pretend to determine whether it be her husband, or who else is intended thereby. In regard we find the other figures repeated alternately; I suppose there were no other delineations on the whole vessel, than what this piece included within the crack (which is all I have of it) represents. By the figures on this vessel we might conjecture it was a bowl used in those Feasts they call'd Matronalia, observ'd on the Kalends of March; when the married women sacrificed to Juno, for their happy delivery in childbirths, the preservation of their husbands, and the continuance of their mutual affections. And from its form, I should guess it was that sort of vessel they call'd Phiala: because in Welsh the only name we have for such vessels is Phîol; which is doubtless of the same origin with the Greek and Latin Phiala, and is very probably one of those many words left amongst us by the Romans, which we may presume to be still preserv'd in the sense they us'd them.

I shall only mention two other curiosities found here, and detain the Reader no longer in this County: the first is, a Ram's horn of brass, much of the bigness and form of a lesser Ram's horn; broken off at the root, as if it had been formerly united to a brass head. One of these heads and horns (though somewhat different from ours) may be seen in Lodovico Moscardo's Musæum, pag. 83. who supposes such heads of Rams and Oxen to have serv'd at once both as ornaments in their Temples, and also religious types of sacrifice.

The other is a very elegant and an entire Fibula vestiaria, whereof (because it would be difficult to give an intelligible description of it) I have given 2 figures, one being not sufficient to express it. It is of brass, and is curiously chequer'd on the back part, with enamel of red and blue. It should seem that when they used it, the ring at the upper end was drawn down over the acus or pin; and that a thread or small string tied through the ring, and about the notches at bottom, secured the Acus in its proper place. Such a Fibula in all respects, but that it is somewhat less, was found An. 1691. near King's Cotte in Glocestershire; where they also frequently meet with Roman brass coyns, which they call Chesle-money, a name probably of the same signification with Castle or Chester-money. They that would be farther satisfied of the various forms and matter of these Roman Fibulæ, and the several uses they were applied to, may consult amongst other Authors, the learned and ingenious Joannes Rhodius de Acia, and Smetius's Antiquitates Neomagenses. [ back ]

In the first of Charles I. Robert Lord Carey was created Earl of Monmouth, and was succeeded by Henry of the same name. An. 15 Car. 2. James Fitz-Roy, among other honours, was created Duke of Monmouth; and at present the right honourable Charles Mordant takes the title of Earl from this place.


1. This is the text from the 1695 edition of William Camden's Britannia.

2. Camden died in 1623, his Britannia continued being published after his death along with county maps. Most of the maps in the 1695 edition were the work of Robert Morden.

3. Earlier editions were published in Latin. In the 1695 edition Edward Llwyd translated text for the Welsh counties. In a letter published on page 583 (dated Sept. 13 1694) he explained "I have ... endeavour'd to retain the sense of the Author; but ... I have sometimes differ'd in writing the Welsh names of Persons and Places..." He added that he had not strictly used the Welsh or English spelling for this, but had used a "more general Alphabet" so that those unacquainted with the language would be able to pronounce the words "much truer". Thus a 'k' was used in place of a 'c' to denote a hard sound; a 'v' in place of 'f'; 'F' for 'Ff'; 'Lh' for 'Ll' and 'Dh' for 'Dd'. Also 'Lhan' was separated from the rest of the place name - 'Kaer Lheion' for 'Caerllion'. Since this spelling was also used on the maps, it may have been the cause of later confusion.

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