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Kingdom of Gwent

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Kingdom of Gwent

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Gwent was one of the kingdoms or principalities of mediŠval Wales, in the Welsh Marches. It is traditionally bounded on the east by the River Wye, the west by the River Usk and the south by the Severn Estuary.

The area has been occupied since the Paleolithic, with Mesolithic finds at Goldcliff.

The mediŠval Brythonic kingdom of Gwent was the area between the rivers Usk and Wye, and took a name that literally means 'place', or 'the place'. It came into existence after the Romans had left Britain, drawing on territories held by the Silures and survived in various forms until the Norman invasion of the west in 1067-91 AD. According to one Old Welsh genealogy, the semi-legendary founder of the kingdom was Caradoc Vreichfras. A later monarch was King Tewdrig who was mortally wounded repelling a Saxon invasion. Some believe his grandson, Athrwys ap Meurig, may be the origin for King Arthur. Welsh saints like Dubricius, Tatheus and Cadoc christianised the area.

The Normans partitioned the area into the lordships of Abergavenny, Monmouth, Striguil (Chepstow) and Usk. The lordships 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 Ś combining the lordships of Newport (Gwynllwg) and Caerleon east of the river Usk and 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 mediŠval kingdoms Ś such as Cumbria, Strathclyde and 'Gwent'.

Map of Mediaeval kingdoms of Wales by Rhion Pritchard


 

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