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Themes Famous People National Parks
Actors/Actresses and Directors Nobel Prize Winners
Anglo-Saxons and Danes Heritage and Nature Places of Interest
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Historic Events Prime Ministers
Artists and Architects Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Composers Maps and Documents World Heritage Sites
Explorers and Adventurers Monarchs Writers and Poets

Wales was made up of thirteen historic counties of whose original boundaries can be seen on the map on the Association of British Counties website. These boundaries were changed in 1974 and again in 1996.

Historic Welsh counties

Includes Anglesey, the largest Island in England and Wales; and Mount Snowdon (1,085 metres), the highest mountain in England and Wales.

Over half a million people speak Welsh in Wales, one of only four Celtic languages that are still spoken today; Irish and Scottish Gaelic and Breton being the other three. Welsh is most closely related to Cornish (now extinct) and Breton (spoken in Brittany in France).

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
In 1956 the Gower peninsula stretching out into the sea west of Swansea became the very first AONB to be designated in England and Wales. The protected area includes a wide range of rare habitats including dunes, mud-flats, marshland, grassland, heath and also ancient woodlands. The peninsula is also home to a large concentration of ancient sites dating back to the Bronze Age and Neolithic times.

Nearly a quarter of the Lleyn peninsula was designated an AONB in 1956. Found in the north-west of Wales west of Snowdonia National Park, the peninsula has a variety of coastal scenery including cliffs, sandy bays and dunes providing an important haven for birds and seals.

Lying off the north-west coast of Wales, parts of the island of Anglesey were designated an AONB in 1966. The area encompasses a third of the island, with almost the entire coastline and significant areas of inland scenery protected, making it the largest AONB in Wales.

The limestone gorges, woodlands and meadows of the Wye Valley stretch from Hereford in the north to near Chepstow Castle in the south and were designated an AONB in 1971. The northern part of the AONB lies in Herefordshire with the southern half split between Gloucesteshire in the east and Wales in the west.

The Clwydian Range stretches south from just below Prestatyn between the Vale of Clwyd to the west and the Dee Estuary in east. It was designated an AONB in 1985 to protect the heather-covered hillsides but also areas of woodland and grassland.

Explorers and Adventurers

The buccaneer Henry Morgan was born in Llanrhymney in Glamorgan around 1635. He fought against the Spanish and Dutch in the Caribbean where his role in the capture of the Spanish-controlled city of Panama in 1671 led him to be arrested and returned to London in an attempt to forge peace with Spain. He was later knighted and returned to the Caribbean as deputy Governor of Jamaica where he died in 1688.

In 1841 Henry Morton Stanley was born as John Rowlands in Denbigh, Denbighshire. He was most famous for finding the Scottish explorer David Livingstone in Tanganyika in Africa in 1871.

Henry Morton Stanley

T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, was born as Thomas Edward Lawrence in Tremadoc, Caernarfonshire in 1888.

T.E. Lawrence

T.E. Lawrence
T.E. Lawrence Society

Famous People
The social reformer Robert Owen was born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire in 1771. He believed that character was formed by social environment and with the aim of combatting the inhuman conditions created by the Industrial Revolution began to set up model communities. These included New Lanark in Lanarkshire, Scotland where the world's first day-nursery and playground were introduced and evening classes organized. Owen died in the town in 1858.

Robert Owen

All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.
(Letter to his business partner on ending their partnership at New Lanark, 1828)

The politician Aneurin Bevan was born in Tredegar, Monmouthshire in 1897. Active early on in the Welsh trade union movement, he later served as Minister of Health in Clement Attlee's post-war 1945-51 government. It was during this legislative period that the Welfare State was created, revolutionizing British society and it was Bevan who was responsible for introducing the National Health Service in 1948, which he did despite stiff opposition.

Aneurin Bevan
Welfare State

This island is made mainly of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish at the same time.
(Speech at Blackpool, 1945)

We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.
(Observer, 1953)


Archives Network Wales
(Lists documents and at which record office in Wales they are held)

College of Arms
(Official repository of the coats of arms and pedigrees for English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families)

Heritage and Nature
Countryside Council for Wales
Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru

Gathering the Jewels
Casglu'r Tlysau
(Recording Welsh cultural history)

National Museums and Galleries of Wales
Amgueddfeydd ac Orielau Cenedlaethol Cymru

National Trust

Welsh Historic Monuments

Historic Events

Landings and Departures
Exiled to France since the Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, Henry Tudor landed at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire in 1485. After defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth he was crowned Henry VII, the first of the Tudor monarchs.

Henry VII


House of Plantagenet
House of Plantagenet
Edward II was born in 1284 at Caernarfon Castle, Caernarfonshire. He ruled from 1307-27.

Edward II

House of Lancaster
House of Lancaster
Henry V was born at Monmouth Castle, Monmouthshire in 1387. He ruled from 1413-22.

Henry V
Henry V

House of Tudor
House of Tudor
The first of the Tudor monarchs Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire in 1457. He ruled from 1485-1509.

Henry VII

National Parks
Second only in area to the Lake District, Snowdonia became a National Park in 1951. The area is principally mountainous and it has within its boundaries Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales.

The only coastal National Park in Britain was created on the Pembrokeshire Coast in 1952.

The Brecon Beacons were designated a National Park in 1957.

Nobel Prize Winners

The economist Clive W.J. Granger was born in Swansea in 1934. In 2003 he shared the Nobel Prize for Economics with the American Robert F. Engle.

The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950 Bertrand Russell was born in Trelleck, Monmouthshire in 1872. He died at Penrhyndeudraeth, Merionethshire in 1970.

Bertrand Russell

The physicist Brian D. Josephson was born in Cardiff in 1940. In 1973 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with the Japanese scientist Leo Esaki and the naturalised American Ivar Giaever.

Brian D. Josephson

Places of Interest

Cardiff Castle

Pembroke Castle

Cathedrals and Abbeys
Bangor Cathedral

Llandaff Cathedral

St Asaph Cathedral

St David's Cathedral

Tintern Abbey

In 1822 St David's College was established in Lampeter receiving its first students in 1827 and a Royal Charter in 1828. Now part of the University of Wales, it was the first university in Wales.

The University of Wales was established by Royal Charter in 1893. It was created out of three existing colleges: the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth (founded 1872), the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (founded 1883), and the University College of North Wales, in Bangor (founded 1884).

Prime Ministers

Prime Ministers

Prime Minister four times in 1868-74, 1880-85, 1886 and 1892-94, William Ewart Gladstone died in 1898 at Hawarden Castle, Flintshire, his home since 1839. In 1892 Gladstone became the oldest ever Prime Minister when at the age of 83 he formed his fourth government. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

William Ewart Gladstone
Famous people buried in Westminster Abbey

David Lloyd George was the last Liberal Prime Minister, governing Britain from 1916-22. He died in 1945 at his home Ty Newydd in Llanystumdwy, Caernarfonshire and is buried nearby on the banks of the River Dwyfor.

David Lloyd George

Royal Consorts and Heirs

House of Normandy
Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy died in 1134 at Cardiff Castle where he had been held in prison. He was the eldest son of William the Conqueror but it was his younger brothers William and Henry who succeeded to the throne. In 1106 he was captured by his brother Henry I's invading army at the Battle of Tinchebrai in Normandy and spent the rest of his life a prisoner in England and finally Wales. He was buried at Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucestershire.

World Heritage Sites
The castles and fortified complexes built in north Wales during the reign of Edward I (1272-1307), were designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1986. These include Beaumaris on Anglesey and Harlech, Caernarfon and Conwy on the mainland.

The industrial landscape of Blaenavon, was designated a World Heritage Site in 2000. The area shows the mines, quarries, furnaces, railways and social infrastructure which once made south Wales the centre of iron and coal production in the world during the 19th century.

Completed at the beginning of the 19th century, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal was designated a World Heritage Site in 2009. Situated in Denbighshire in the north-east of the country, the 18 kilometre stretch of waterway was designed and built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop to take the Ellesmere (now Llangollen) Canal over the River Dee. Its innovative design includes no locks and acted as a blueprint for similar canal projects around the world.

Thomas Telford

A centre of global slate production during the Industrial Revolution, the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales was designated a World Heritage Site in 2021.

Writers and Poets
For Bertrand Russell see Nobel Prize Winners

Richard Llewellyn was born in 1906 as Richard Dafydd Vivian Llewellyn Lloyd in St David's, Pembrokeshire (although some sources claim he was born in London). A novelist and playwright who also worked in film and journalism and travelled widely, Llewellyn was best known for his first novel, How Green Was My Valley which recounted life in a Welsh mining community.

I felt good inside and out, a feeling not to be had many times in your life, indeed.
How Green Was My Valley (1939)

Here in this quiet house I sit thinking back the structure of my life, building again that which has fallen. It do seem to me that the life of man is merely a pattern scrawled on Time, with little thought, little care, and no sense of design. Why is it, I wonder, that people suffer, when there is so little need, when an effort of will and some hard work would bring them from their misery into peace and contentment.
How Green Was My Valley (1939)

There is good to see happy faces round a table full of good food. Indeed, for good sounds, I will put the song of knives and forks next to the song of man.
How Green Was My Valley (1939)

The poet Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea in 1914. He died whilst on a visit to New York City in 1953 and was buried in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire where he had lived since 1938.

Dylan Thomas

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon.
Poem in October (1946)

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall vales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.
Poem in October (1946)

To begin at the beginning:
It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black.
Under Milk Wood (1954)

The writer John Cowper Powys died in the village of Blaenau Ffestiniogg, Merionethshire in 1963. With ancestors on his mother's side of the family who included the poets John Donne and William Cowper, he himself became a writer as did two of his younger brothers: Theodore Francis, born in 1875 and Llewelyn, born in 1884. Born in Derbyshire and growing up in the West Country, it was this rural upbringing that featured so prominently in the books he wrote later in life. After spending a quarter of a century in the USA he returned to Britain and settled in Wales.

John Cowper Powys

He pulled in his legs and clasped his hands over his knees, leaning forward, frowning and intent. "I don't care whether I make money. I don't care whether I get fame. I don't care whether I leave any work behind me when I die. All I want is certain sensations!" And with all the power of his wits he set himself to try and analyse what these sensations were that he wanted beyond everything.
Wolf Solent (1929)

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