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The Original Text
A Geographical Description of the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with the Isles and Territories thereto belonging. And for The better perfecting of the said Work, there is added an Alphabetical Table of the Names, Titles, and Seats of the Nobility and Gentry that each County of England and Wales is, or lately was, enobled with. Illustrated with a Map of each County of England, besides several General ones. The like never before Published. London, Printed by Tho. Roycroft for the Undertaker, Richard Blome. MDCLXXIII.


Being the Ancient

MONMOUTHSHIRE, formerly a Welch County and by the Britains called Went-set and Wents-land, from an ancient City so named.

It is blest with a healthful and temperate air; and although very hilly and woody, yet is exceeding fertile; (especially the Eastern parts, which are not so hilly as the Western) the hills feeding abundance of cattle and sheep; and the valleys bearing great crops of corn and grass; which fertility is much furthered by its being plentifully watered with so many Rivers, (which all fall into the Severn Sea) the chief amongst which are the Uske, Wye, Munow, Ebunith, Sroway, Rumney, and others.

It hath for its bounds on the East the River Wye, which separateth it from Glocestershire; for its Southern, the Severn; for its Western, Brecknockshire, and the River Rumney, which parts it from Glamorganshire; and for its Northern limits, the River Munow, which disjoyns it from Herefordshire.

Its extent from Rempney in the South, to Llantony in the North (which maketh its length) is about 24 miles; and from Chepstow in the East, to Blanagwent in the West, is not about 19, so that its circumference is not 80 miles.

This shire hath been well if strengthned with Castles; and had formerly divers Religious Houses, as at Caerleon, Chepstow, Gold-cliff, Monmouth, and Llantony.

It is severed into six Hundreds, in which are numbred 127 Parish Churches; and for the accommodation of its Inhabitants, is traded unto by seven Market-towns, whose names are as followeth.

Monmouth, no less pleasantly then commodiously seated on the Rivers Wye and Munow, where they meet together, and do almost encompass it, over each of which is a Bridge: It was once fortified with a Wall and Ditch; and in the midst of the Town, near the Market-place, standeth (a once stately but now ruinous) Castle said to be built by John Baron of Monmouth, from whom it came to the house of Lancaster, and was the birth-place of the renowned King Henry the Fifth, the Conquerour of France. It is a fair, large, well-built, inhabited and frequented Town; enjoyeth large immunities, and sendeth a Burgess to Parliament; is beautified with a goodly Church; and at the East-end is a most curious built Church, called the Monks-Church, the Monastery whereof Jeffrey Ap Arthur, or Arthurius Bishop of Asaph, (who was born in this Town) wrote the History of Great Britain. For Civil Government, this Town hath for its Magistrates a Maior, two Bailiffs, fifteen Common-counsellors; a Town-clark, and other Sub-Officers. Its Market, which is on Saturdays, is considerable for corn and provisions: and at present this Town is much honoured in giving Title to the Right Noble James Duke of Monmouth and Buckleugh &c.

Chepstow, by the Britains called Castle-went, seated on the side of a hill, and on the banks of the Wye, near its fall into the Severn; a Town in former times very famous, and of great resort, being said to be raised out of the ruins of Venta Silurum, four miles distant, which was the ancient and chief City of the Silures, which flourished in the dayes of Antonine the Emperour: and as Mr. Gambden further noteth, this Town was fortified about with a Wall of a large circuit, and had a very spacious Castle, which was once fronted by a Priory, the better part of which being pulled down, the rest was converted to a Parish Church; and as to its present state, it is a large, well-built, inhabited and frequented Town, hath a fair and high bridge over the Wye; and its Market, which is on Saturdays, is very good for corn and provisions, and very considerable for Swine.

Not far from Chepstow on the Severn is seated Portskeweth, where according to report, in ann. 1065, Harald erected a Fort against the Welch-men, which was in a short time by them overthrown under the conduct of Caradock.

Near adjoyning to Portskeweth is Sudbrook, whose Church, called Trinity Chappel, is seated so near the Severn Sea, that great part of its Church-yard is washed quite away; as is long since an old Fortification of the Romans, which was compassed with a triple Ditch, and three Rampiers, as high as an ordinary house, cast up in form of a bow, the Sea-cliff serving for the string.

Farther Southwards lyeth a low and moorish tract of ground, called the Moor, which oft-times suffereth much by the overflowings of the Severn Sea at high Spring-tides. And in the very point of this Mersh coast, where it shooteth it self forth into the Sea, is Gold-clyff, so called from the golden colour of the stones which lye thereabouts. And opposite to this Clyff, about the midst of the Severn, lyeth a small Isle, called Denny Island.

Carlion, or Caer Leon, once called Isca; and according to Girald in his Book called Itinerarium Cambria, it was an ancient and flourishing City of the Romans, where lay (by order of Julius Frontinus, for the over-awing of the Silures) the second Roman Legion called Augusta, hither brought out of Germany, under the conduct of Vespatian. And the ruins of its stately buildings, as Palaces, Temples, and Theaters, enclosed within fair Walls, the foundation of houses within and without its spacious Walls, the Water-pipes Vaults, Hot-houses, Altars, and Roman coyns there oft-times digged up, do sufficiently evidence its Antiquity, and once stateliness. Here the Noble Arthur kept his Court, whether the Roman Embassadors repaired; also here it was that Dubritius resigned the Archiepiscopal honour unto David of Menevia, when the Metropolitan See was from hence thither translated. And according to Alexander Elsebiensis, in this City was a famous School or Colledge for two hundred Philosophers, which were skilfull in Astronomy, and other Arts; which the rather seemeth to be true; for that Amphibalus, instructor to Saint Albon, was here born; and Julius and Aaron, two noble Protomartyrs of Great Britain, received here the crown of martyrdom, and each of their bodies were here interr'd in a goodly church dedicated unto them. But enough of its pristine glory: A word or two of its present state. It is commodiously seated on the Usk, over which it hath a large Wooden-bridge; the town is pretty large, the houses for the generality well-built of stone; hath the ruins of a Castle yet standing; and its market, which is on Thursdays, is but indifferent.

Newport, also seated on the Usk, over which is a fair Bridge; which River soon after dischargeth it self into the Severn, where it hath a good Haven, bearing the name of the Town. The place is said to take its rise from the ruins of Carlion near adjoining; It is an indifferent good Town, hath a good Market on Saturdays for cattle and provisions; and was of note for its once strong (but now demolished) Castle.

Uske, scituate on the River so called, over which it hath a Bridge, at which place the River Birthin looseth it self; it is a large Town, beautified with well-built Stone-houses; and hath weekly on Mondays and Fridays two very good Markets. Here was formerly a large and strong Castle, now ruinated; and according to Antonine, here stood the little City Burrium.

Nigh unto this Town is Ragland-Castle, a fair house of the Marquess of Worcesters.

Ponte-pool, seated betwixt the hills, a small Town, of chief note for its Iron-mills, which is the only trade of the Town; and hath a new erected Market on Saturdays, for which the present is but indifferent.

Abergavenny, by Antonine called Gobanium, is seated at the meeting of the Rivers Uske and Keveny; a place of good strength, being fortified with Walls and a Castle of great note in former times. The Town is large, the houses well-built, is well inhabited, enjoyeth a good trade for flannels, and straw-hats here made in great plenty; and its Market, which is on Tuesdays, is very considerable for cattle, provisions, &c.

At a nook or angle of the County North-westwards, is Lantony, seated on the River Hothny, and encompassed with Hatterell-hills, which proudly elevate themselves to a great eminence; and here stood a little ancient but well-built Abbey, dedicated to St. John Baptist, and founded by Walter Lacy, which was richly endowed with Lands by William Earl of Hereford: And in (or near) this place, formerly stood a poor Chappel of St. David the Arch-bishop, whose chief ornament was only wild Moss, and Ivy wreathed about it; which place, for its solitary scituation and remoteness from all noise of people, was esteemed the most fit place for Religious worship of any in the Kingdom.

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