The Romans mined for gold here, the Normans built castles here and the Tudor dynasty was founded here. Each of the major periods of history has left its mark and the sense of continuity can still be felt all around Wales.

Wales’s Celtic roots stretch back as far as 1000 BC. That’s a lot of time to cover, but here’s a short chronology to get you started:

1000 BC - the Iron Age dawns. Welsh people group themselves into large hill forts, practice farming, and work extensive copper mines.

500-100 BC – the Celts arrive. Despite their fierceness in battle, their lack of political unity leads to their eventual defeat by more disciplined Roman armies.

784 – The King of Mercia builds Offa’s Dyke, the first permanent boundary between the Welsh and the English people.

844 – Rhodri ap Merfyn becomes king of a small area called Gwynedd. By the time of his death in 877, all of Wales is united under his rule.

1066-77 – The Normans establish the Marcher Lordships on the borders of Wales. They are reluctant to venture into Wales at first, but they gradually consolidate their hold over the southern lowlands and the Borders. At the same time, Welsh Princes in the uplands - in Powys, Gwynedd, Deheubarth and parts of Glamorgan - adapt Norman methods to strengthen their rule.

1193 - Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales), writes his famous Description Of Wales. As well as being an important chronicle of the social history of Wales at the time, it's also the first of many great guidebooks to Wales.

1196-1240 - Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great) consolidates his rule in Gwynedd, and later most of Wales. In 1267, the English King Henry III signs the Treaty of Montgomery, ratifying Llywelyn's claim to be Prince of Wales.

1246-82 - Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (Llywelyn the Last) reigns as the last Welsh Prince of Wales. Llywelyn repeatedly refuses to pay homage to the powerful English King Edward I.

1276-77 - Edward I raises a huge army to launch his first campaign against the Welsh prince. After this campaign, Llywelyn is forced to pay homage to Edward, and is stripped of all but a small territory in Gwynedd.

1283 - Edward seeks to consolidate English rule by beginning the construction of the mighty castles at Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech.

1301 - Edward I revives the title "Prince of Wales" for his son, Edward II.

1400 – Charismatic national hero Owain Glyndŵr begins his rebellion against King Henry IV. By 1404, he had summoned a parliament in Machynlleth, and crowned himself Prince of Wales.  By 1408, Owain's ambitious plans ran out of steam, and this last real uprising against the English Crown was over.

1485 - Henry Tudor returns to Wales, landing at Milford Haven. He defeats King Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field and goes on to become King Henry VII of England.

1536-42 - The Acts of Union mark the union of Wales and England.

1588 - William Morgan completes his translation of the Bible into Welsh.

1644 - The Battle of Montgomery is the first battle of the Civil War on Welsh territory.

1768 - The copper industry is now using Welsh ore mined at Parys Mountain on the Isle of Anglesey. It's the beginning of an industry that would control half the world's production by the end of the century.

1839 – Bute Dock is built at Cardiff, supplying vast amounts of coal to the world's new navies, and causing Cardiff’s rapid expansion into the largest and most important city in Wales.

1905 – Cardiff is elevated to city status. It has experienced a seven-fold population increase in less than 50 years.

1916 - David Lloyd George becomes the first Welshman in British history to achieve the position of Prime Minister.

1932 - The weekly Welsh-language newspaper, "Y Cymro”, is founded.

1935 – The first radio broadcast in Welsh is made.

1946 - Welshmen James Griffiths and Aneurin Bevan produce the National Insurance Act of 1946, which sets up the UK's welfare state.

1953 – Dylan Thomas dies in New York City.

1955 – Cardiff is chosen as the nation’s capital.

1977 – Radio Cymru and Radio Wales are established.

2000 – First Welsh Assembly is formed.

2005 - Wales win a Six Nations Rugby Grand Slam for the first time in far too many years.

2008 - Wales win a Rugby Grand Slam again!

More History

You can find more useful historical information on the following sites:

• BBC Wales history Pages

• CADW – Welsh Historic Monuments

• Castles of Wales

• Ancient and Historic Monuments

• National Museums & Galleries

Places to Visit

If you're interested in seeing Welsh history close-up, make sure you add these places to your itinerary:

Conwy Castle

Big Pit

St Fagans: National History Museum



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