THE County of Kaer-Vyrdhin, call’d by the English Caer-mardhin-shire, is a Country sufficiently supply’d with Corn, and very well stock’d with Cattel; and in divers places affords plenty of Coal. It is bounded on the east with Glamorganshire and Brecknockshire, on the west with Pembrokeshire, on the north it is divided from Cardiganshire by the river Teivi, and on the south it is bounded with the main Ocean, which encroaches on the Land here, with such a vast Bay, as if this Country out of fear had withdrawn it self.Kynedhav In this Bay, KydweliKydweli. first offers it self, the territory whereof was possess’d for some time by the sons of Keianus a Scot, till they were driven out by Kynèdhav a British Prince. But now it is esteem’d part of the Inheritance of the Dutchy of Lancaster, by the heirs of Maurice of London, or de Londres, who removing out of Glamorganshire, made himself master of it after a tedious war, and fortify’d old Kydweli with Walls, and a Castle now decay’d with age. For the Inhabitants passing over the river of Gwen-draeth-vechan, built new Kydweli, being invited thither by the convenience of a Harbour, which yet at present is of no great use, being choak’d with shelves.Gwenlhian When Maurice of London invaded these territories, GwenlhîanGwenlhîan, a woman of manly courage. the wife of Prince Gryffydh, a woman of invincible courage (endeavouring to restore her husband’s declining state) bravely engag’d him in a pitch’d battel. But she with her son Morgan, and divers other Noblemen (as Giraldus informs us) were slain in the field.
By Hawis the daughter and heir of Thomas de Londres, this fair Inheritance,Lords of Ogmor and Kydweli. with the Title of Lord of Ogmor and Kydweli, descended to Patrick Chaworth, and, by a daughter of his son Patrick, to Henry Earl of Lancaster. The heirs of Maurice de Londres (as we read in an old Inquisition) were oblig’d by this Tenure, In case the King, or his Chief Justice should lead an Army into these parts of Kydweli, to conduct the said Army, with their Banners, and all their Forces, through the midst of the Country of Neath to Lochor.
A few miles below Kydweli, the river Towy,The river Towy or Tobius. which Ptolemy calls Tobius, is receiv’d into the Ocean; having pass’d the length of this County from North to South. First, by Lhan ym Dhyvri (so call’d, as is suppos’d, from the confluence of rivers) which, out of malice to the English, was long since demolish’d by Howel ap Rhŷs. Rhys Afterwards, by Dinevor-castle,Dinevor. the Royal Seat of the Princes of South-Wales whilst they flourish’d; situated aloft on the top of a Hill. And at last, by Caer-mardhin, which the Britains themselves call Kaer-Vyrdhin, Ptolemy Maridunum,Maridunum. and Antoninus Muridunum,Caer-Mardhin. who continues not his Journeys any farther than this place, and has here been ill us’d by the negligence of the Copyists. For they have carelessly confounded two Journeys: the one from Galena to Isca; the other from Maridunum to Viroconovium. This is the chief town of the County, pleasantly seated for Meadows and Woods, and is a place venerable for its Antiquity; excellently fortify’d (saith Giraldus) with brick-walls, partly yet standing, on the noble river of Towy: which is navigable with ships of small burden; though there is a bed of sand before the mouth of it. Here, our Merlin,Merlin, or Myrdhin Emris. the British Tages, was born: for as Tages was reported to have been the son of a Genius, and to have taught his Tuscans Sooth-saying; so our Merlin, who was said to have been the son of an Incubus, devis’d Prophecies, or rather mere Phantastical Dreams, for our Britains. Insomuch, that in this Island he has the reputation of an eminent Prophet, amongst the ignorant common people. ⌈This Merlin, or Merdhin Emrys (for so the British Writers call him) flourish’d Anno 480. The first of our Historians that mentions him is * * Eulogium Brit. c.42. &c.Ninnius, who supposes he was call’d Embreys Gleutic. He says nothing of his being the son of an Incubus; but on the contrary tells us expressly, his mother was afraid of owning the father, lest she should be sentenc’d to dye for it: but that the boy confess’d to King Vortigern, that his father was by Nation a Roman. The same Author informs us, that King Vortigern’s Messengers found him ad campum Electi in regione quæ vocatur Glevising; i.e. at the field of Electus, in the Country call’d Glevising; which whether it were at this Town or County, or in some other place, seems very questionable; no places (that I can hear of) being known by such names at present. All the Monkish Writers that mention him, make him either a Prophet or Magician. But H. Lhwyd † † Com. Brit. Descript. p.65.a judicious Author, and very conversant in British Antiquities, informs us, that he was a man of extraordinary learning and prudence for the time he liv’d in; and that for some skill in the Mathematicks, many fables were invented of him by the vulgar; which being afterwards put in writing, were handed down to posterity.⌉
Soon after the Normans enter’d Wales, this town fell into their possession, but under whose conduct I know not; and
for a long time it encounter’d many difficulties: having been often besieg’d, and twice burnt; first by Gryffydh ap
Rhys, and afterwards by Rhys the said Gryffydh’s brother. At which time, Henry Turbervil, an
Englishman, reliev’d the castle, and cut down the bridge. But the walls and castle being afterwards repair’d by
Gilbert de Clare, it was freed from those miseries; so that being thus secur’d, it bore the storms of war much
easier afterwards. The Princes of Wales, eldest sons of the Kings of England, settled here their Chancery and
Exchequer for South-Wales. Opposite to this city, towards the east, lies
Cantrevbychan,Cantrevbychan. which signifies the lesser Hundred (for the
Britains call such a portion of a country as contains one hundred villages, Kantrev) where may be seen the
ruins of Kastelh Karreg, which was seated on a steep, and on all sides inaccessible rock;Caverns. and likewise several vast caverns, now all cover’d with green Turf (where, in time of War, such as
were unfit for arms, are thought ⌈by some⌉ to have secur’d themselves:) a notable fountain also,
which (as Giraldus writes) ebbing and flowing twice in twenty four hours, imitates the sea-tides.
⌈Those Caverns are suppos’d, by inquisitive persons who have often view’d them, rather to have been Copper-mines of the
Romans. And indeed, seeing it is evident (from some Antiquities found there) that Kaer-Gai in Meirionydh-shire
was a Roman Town or Fort; and that the place where these Caves are, is also call’d Kaio; I am apt to infer
from the name, that this place must have been likewise well known to the Romans. And that I may note this by the way, I
suspect most names of places in Wales, that end in i or o, such as Bod Vari, Kevn Korwyni,
Kaer-Gai; Lhannio, Keidio, and Kaio, to be Roman names, these terminations being not so agreeable with
the Idiotism of the British. But for the Antiquity of this place, we need not wholly rely upon conjectures: for I have
lately receiv’d from ¦ ¦ Mr. Saunders, è Coll. Jesu, Oxon.
Pant y Pòlion.a curious person these following Inscriptions; which he copy’d from two stones at a place call’d Pant y Pòlion, in this parish. The first (being a monument of one Paulinus, whence, doubtless, is the name of Pant y polion) lies flat on the ground, and is placed cross a gutter: but the other, which seems to be of somewhat later date, is pitch’d on end, and is about a yard in height; the Inscription whereof is to be read downwards.
Whether Odin in the several names of places in this neighbourhood be from the same Advent (or Adwen) whose Monument this was, or some other origin, is recommended to the observation of the Inhabitants. However it be, it is certain, there are more of them hereabouts, than in all Wales besides; as, Gálht yr Odyn, Pant yr Odyn, &c.⌉Galht
To the north is extended Cantrev Mawr,Cantrev Mawr. or the great Hundred; a safe Retreat heretofore for the Britains, as being very woody and rocky, and full of uncouth ways, by reason of the windings of the hills. On the south, the Castles of TalcharnTalcharn. and Lhan StephanLhan Stephan. stand on the sea-rocks, and are ample testimonies of warlike prowess, as well in the English as Britains.
Below Talcharn, the river * * Brit. Tâv.Taff is discharged into the sea: on the bank of which river, was famous heretofore Ty gwyn ar Dav, which signifies, the white house on the river Taff; so call’d, because it was built of white hasel-rods for a Summer-house. ⌈I cannot conjecture, what might be the original signification of this word Tav: but it may be worth our observation, that the most noted rivers in South-Wales seem to have been thence denominated: for besides that there are three or four rivers of that name; the first syllable also in Tawy, Towy, Teivi, and Dyvi, seems to me but so many various pronunciations of it: and for the latter syllable, I have † † Radnorshire.elsewhere offer’d my conjecture, that it only denotes a River, or perhaps Water.tav tavwy tavwys Nor would it seem to me very absurd, if any should derive the name of the river Thames from the same original. For since we find it pretty evident, that the Romans changed Dyved (the ancient name of this Country) into Dimetia, and Kynedhav (a man’s name) into ¦ ¦ An old Inscription in Pembrokeshire.Cunotamus, and also that in many words where the Latins use an M, the Britains have an V, as Firmus, Firv; Terminus, Tervin; Amnis, Avon; Lima, Lhiv; &c. it seems not unlikely (considering we find the word Tav, usual in the names of our rivers) that the Britains might call that river Tâv, Tàvwy, or Tàvwys, before the Roman Conquest; which they afterwards call’d Tamesis. And this seems to be more than a mere conjecture, when we consider further, that the word Táv was, according to the old British Orthography, written Tam; which shews, not only that Táv or TaffArchaion. Brit. p.40. col.2. & p.268. in Glamorganshire, &c. is originally the same word with Thame or Thames, but also that the Greek in is probably no other.⌉
Here, at the foresaid Ty gwyn ar Dav, in the year of our Lord 914, Howel, sirnam’d the Good, Prince of Wales, in a full Assembly (there being, besides Laymen, one hundred and forty Ecclesiasticks) abrogated the Laws of his Ancestors, and gave ⌈a Body of⌉ new Laws to his people,* Ac o gynghor y doethon hynny, rei or hen gyfreitheu a gynhalyaud ef, ereill a wellaawd, ereill a dileawd o gubyl, a gossot kyfreitheu newyd yn eu lle. as the Preface before those Laws testifies; ⌈and yet in an ancient MS. Copy of them, to be seen in Jesus-College Library in Oxford, fairly writ on parchment, the Preface does not inform us, that Howel Dha abrogated all the Laws of his Ancestors; but expressly tells us, that according to the advice of his Council, some of the ancient Laws he retain’d, others he corrected, and some he quite disannull’d, appointing others in their stead *.⌉Caelius
In the same place, a small Monastery was built afterwards, call’d Whitland-Abbey.Whitland-Abbey. Not far from whence is Kilmaen Lhwyd,Kilmaen Lhwyd.
Roman Coins. where some Country-men † † So said, ann. 1607.lately discover’d an earthen Vessel, that contain’d a considerable quantity of Roman Coins of embas’d silver; from the time of Commodus (who was the first of the Roman Emperors that embas’d their silver) to the fifth Tribuneship of Gordian the third; which falls in with the year of Christ 243. Amongst these, were Helvius Pertinax, Marcus Opellius, Antoninus Diadumenianus, Julius Verus, Maximus the son of Maximinus, Cælius Balbinus, Clodius Pupienus, Aquilia Severa the wife of Elagabalus, and Sall. Barbia Orbiana: which (as being very rare) were Coins of considerable value among Antiquaries. ⌈Anno 1692. there were about two hundred Roman Coins found not far from hence, at a place call’d Bronyskawen in Lhan Boydy parish. They were discover’d by two Shepherd-boys, at the very entry of a spacious Camp call’d y Gaer; bury’d in two very rude leaden boxes (one of which I have caus’d to be figur’d in the Table, n.10.) so near the surface of the ground, that they were not wholly out of sight. They were all of silver, and were some of the ancientest Roman Coins we find in Britain. Of about thirty I have seen of them, the latest were of Domitian Cos.xv. An. Dom. 91. But perhaps a Catalogue of them may not be unacceptable to the curious; though I have only those in my possession which are thus distinguish’d with an asterisk *.praetoria altius Vestae Dianae
Caesar Cathedrae dimetae
The Camp where these Coins were found, is somewhat of an oval form, and may be at least three hundred paces in circumference. The bank or rampire is near the entry, about three yards in height; but elsewhere it is generally much lower. At the entrance (which is about four yards wide) the two ends of the dike are not directly opposite; the one (at the point whereof the Coins were found) being continu’d somewhat farther out than the other, so as to render the passage oblique. On each side the Camp, there is an old Barrow or Tumulus; the one, small, somewhat near it; the other, which is much bigger, at least three hundred yards distant: both hollow on the top. The leaden Boxes wherein these Coins were preserv’d, are so very rude, that were it not for what they contain’d, I should never imagin them Roman. For they appear only like lumps of lead-ore, and weigh about five pounds, though they contain scarce half a pint of liquor. They are of an orbicular form, like small loaves; and have a round hole in the middle of the lid, about the circumference of a shilling.⌉
It remains now, that I give some account of NewcastleNewcastle. (seated on the bank of the river Teivi, which divides this County from Cardiganshire) for so they now call it, because it was repair’d by Rhys ap Thomas, a stout warrior, who assisted Henry the seventh in gaining his Kingdom, and was by him deservedly created Knight of the Garter, whereas formerly it * * Was call’d, C.is said by some to have been call’d † Elmlin.† Vulg. Emlin. Which name, if the English gave it from Elm-trees; their conjecture is not to be despis’d, who are of opinion, that it was the LoventiumLoventium. of the Dimetæ, mention’d by Ptolemy: for an Elm is call’d in British Lhwyven. ⌈But it makes against this conjecture, that the old British name of Emlin, is Dinas Emlin; the most obvious Interpretation whereof (tho’ I shall not much contend for it) is Urbs Æmiliani, which seems to have no other original, than that a person so nam’d was once the Lord or Proprietor of it. AEmiliani AEmilinus alias The name (which was common among the Britains anciently, and is partly yet retain’d) was Roman, and is the same with the Æmilinus mention’d in Denbighshire, which the Inscription calls Aimilini. I cannot find, that ever it was call’d Elmlin, either in Welsh or English; and therefore dare not subscribe to the ¦ ¦ See Brecknockshire and Cardiganshire.foregoing conjecture, that the Lovantinum of the Dimetæ, mention’d by Ptolemy, was at this place; nor yet that it perish’d in the lake Lhyn Savadhan, in Brecknockshire. Indeed, the footsteps of several Towns and Forts that flourish’d in the time of the Romans, are now so obscure and undiscernible, that we are not to wonder if the conjectures of learned and judicious men about their situation, prove sometimes erroneous. I have lately observ’d in Cardiganshire, some tokens of a Roman Fort, which I suspect to have been the Lovantinum or Lovantium of Ptolemy; for which I shall take the liberty of offering my arguments, when we come into that County.
In the 19th of King Charles the first, Richard Earl of Carbery in Ireland, was advanced to the dignity of a Baron of this Realm, by the title of Lord Vaughan of Emlyn.
Besides the Inscriptions, which we observ’d at Kaio, there are three or four others in this County which may deserve our notice. The first is not far from Caer-MardhinAliàs Lhan Vihangel y Krwys. town, in Lhan-Newydh parish; which, by the names therein, should be Roman; tho’ the form of some Letters, and the rudeness of the Stone on which they are inscrib’d, might give us grounds to suspect it the Epitaph of some person of Roman descent, but who liv’d somewhat later than their time. The stone is a rude pillar, erected near the highway; somewhat of a flat form, five or six foot high, and about half a yard in breadth, and contains the following Inscription, not to be read downwards, as on many stones in these Countries, but from the left to the right.
The second is in the Parish of Hen-lhan Amgoed, in a field belonging to Parkeu,Parkeu. and is almost such a Monument as the former. At present it lies on the ground; but considering its form, it is probable that it stood heretofore upright; and if so, the Inscription was read downwards.
Both these names of Menvendan and Barcun, are now obsolete; nor do I remember to have read either of them, in any Genealogical MS. But near this monument there is a place call’d Kevn Varchen, which may seem to be denominated either from this Barcun, or some other of the same name. The third Inscription was copy’d by my * * Mr. Saunders. above-mention’d friend, from a polish’d Free-stone at the west-end of the Church ofLhan Vihangel Jerwerth. Lhan Vihangel Jerwerth.
The fourth (which seems less intelligible than any of the rest) was also communicated by the same hand. The stone whence he copy’d it, is neatly carv’d, about six foot high, and two foot broad, and has a cavity on the top, which makes me suspect it to have been no other than the Pedestal of a Cross. It may be seen at a place denominated from it Kae’r Maen, not far from Aber Sannan; but for the meaning of the Inscription, if it be any other than the Stone-cutter’s name (though I confess I know no name like it) I must leave it to the Reader’s conjecture.
In the Parish of Lhan Vair y Bryn,Lhan Vair y Bryn. we find manifest signs of a place possess’d by the Romans. For not far from the east-end of the Church, Labourers frequently dig-up bricks, and meet with some other marks of Roman Antiquity; and there is a very notable Roman way of Gravel and small Pebles, continu’d from that Church to Lhan Brân, the seat of a family of the Gwyns, which (as I am told) may be also trac’d betwixt this Lhan Vair, and Lhan Deilaw Vawr, and is visible in several other places.
This Country abounds with ancient Forts, Camps, and Tumuli or Barrows, which we have not room here to take notice of. I shall therefore mention only one Barrow,Barrow. call’d Krîg y Dyrn, in the Parish of Tre’lêch,Tre’lêch. which seems particularly remarkable. trelech The circumference of it at bottom may be about sixty paces, the height about six yards. It rises with an easy ascent, and is hollow on the top, gently inclining from the circumference to the center. This Barrow is not a mount of Earth, as others generally are; but seems to have been such a heap of stones, as are call’d in Wales Karnedheu (whereof the Reader may see some account in Radnorshire) cover’d with Turf. At the center of the cavity on the top, we find a vast rude Lhech, or flat stone, somewhat of an oval form, about three yards in length, five foot over where broadest, and about ten or twelve inches thick. A * * Mr. William Lewis of Lhwyn Derw.Gentleman, to satisfy my curiosity, having employ’d some Labourers to search under it, found it, after removing much stone, to be the covering of such a barbarous Monument, as we call Kist-vaen, or Stone-chest; which was about four foot and a half in length, and about three foot broad, but somewhat narrower at the east than west-end. It is made up of seven stones, viz. the covering stone, already mention’d, and two side-stones, one at each end, and one behind each of these for the better securing or bolstering of them; all equally rude, and about the same thickness; the two last excepted, which are considerably thicker. They found, as well within the Chest as without, some rude pieces of brick (or stones burnt like them) and free-stone, some of which were wrought. They observ’d also some pieces of bones, but such as they suppos’d to have been only brought in by Foxes; but, not sinking to the bottom of the Chest, we know not what else it may afford.
Krîg y Dyrn (the name of this Tumulus) is now scarce intelligible; but if a conjecture may be allow’d, I should be apt to interpret it King’s Barrow. I am sensible that even such as are well acquainted with the Welsh tongue, may at first view think this a groundless opinion, and wonder what I aim at; but when they consider that the common word Teyrnas, which signifies a Kingdom, is only a derivative from the old word Teyrn (which was originally the same with Tyrannus, and signify’d a King or Prince;) they will perhaps acknowledge it not altogether improbable. And considering the rudeness of the Monument describ’d, and yet the labour and strength requir’d in erecting it, I am apt to suspect it the Barrow of some British Prince, who might live probably before the Roman Conquest. For seeing it is much too barbarous to be suppos’d Roman, and that we do not find in History that the Saxons were ever concern’d here, or the Danes any farther than in plundering the Sea-coasts; it seems necessary to conclude it British. That it was a Royal Sepulchre I am apt to infer, partly from the signification of the name; which being not understood in these ages, could not therefore be any novel invention of the vulgar; and partly for that (as I hinted already) more labour and strength was requir’d here than we can suppose to be allow’d to persons of inferiour quality. That it is older than Christianity, there is no room to doubt; but that it was before the Roman Conquest, is only my conjecture, supposing that after the Britains were reduced by the Romans, they had none whom they could call Teyrn or King, whose corps or ashes might be reposited here.Gwal kil
Gwâl y Vilast or Bwrdh Arthur, in Lhan BoudyLhan Boudy. parish, is a monument in some respect like that which we have describ’d at this Barrow, viz. a rude stone about ten yards in circumference, and above three foot thick, supported by four pillars, which are about two foot and a half in height.
But Buarth Arthur or Meineu Gwyr, on a Mountain near Kîl y maen lhwyd,Kîl y maen Lhwyd. is one of that kind of circular Stone-monuments which our English Historians ascribe to the Danes. The Diameter of the Circle is about twenty yards. The stones are as rude as may be, and pitch’d on end at uncertain distances from each other, some at three or four foot, but others about two yards; and are also of several heights, some being about three or four foot high, and others five or six. There are now standing here, fifteen of them; but there seem to be seven or eight carry’d off. The entry into it for about the space of three yards, is guarded on each side with stones much lower and less than those of the circle, and pitch’d so close as to be contiguous. And over-against this avenue, at the distance of about two hundred paces, there stand on end three other large, rude stones, which I therefore note particularly, because there are also four or five stones erected at such a distance from that circular Monument which they call King’s-stones near Little Rolrich in Oxfordshire. As for the name of Buarth Arthur, it is only a nick-name of the vulgar, whose humour it is, though not so much (as some have imagin’d) out of ignorance and credulity, as a kind of Rustick diversion, to dedicate many unaccountable Monuments to the memory of that Hero; calling some stones of several tun weight his Coits, others his Tables, Chairs, &c. But Meineu gwyr is so old a name, that it seems scarce intelligible. menhir Meineu is indeed our common word for large stones; but gwyr in the present British signifies only crooked, which is scarce applicable to these stones, unless we should suppose them to be so denominated, because some of them are not at present directly upright, but a little Capel inclining. It may be, such as take these circular Monuments for Druid-Temples may imagin them so call’d from bowing, as having been places of worship. For my part, I leave every man to his conjecture; and shall only add, that near Càpel Kirig in Caernarvonshire, there is a stone pitch’d on end, call’d also Maen gwyr; which perhaps is the only stone now remaining, of such a circular Monument as this. At least-wise it has such a Kist vaen by it (but much less) as that which we observ’d in the midst of the Monument, describ’d in Glamorganshire, by the name of Karn Lhechart.⌉
Seeing we find it not recorded, which of the Normans first extorted this Country out of the hands of the Princes of Wales; Order requires that we now proceed to the description of Pembrokshire, ⌈having first observ’d, that of late, Carmarthen hath given the title of MarquissMarquiss of Carmarthen. to Thomas Osborn, Earl of Danby; afterwards advanced to the more honourable title of Duke of Leeds; which Honours are now enjoy’d by his son.⌉
This County has 87 Parishes.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48