Friday, 24 July 2009

Glamorgan /Glwysing: Place in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series ****

Glamorgan or Glamorganshire (Welsh: Morgannwg) is one of the thirteen historic counties and a former administrative county of Wales. It was originally an early medieval kingdom of varying names and boundaries until taken over by the Normans as a lordship. Glamorgan is latterly represented by the three preserved counties of West Glamorgan, Mid Glamorgan and South Glamorgan. The name also survives in that of the county borough of the Vale of Glamorgan.

The county of Glamorgan fell into several distinct regions: the industrial valleys, the agricultural Vale of Glamorgan, and the scenic Gower peninsula.
The county was bounded to the north by Brecknockshire, east by Monmouthshire, south by the Bristol Channel, and west by Carmarthenshire and Carmarthen Bay. Its total area was 2,100 km², and the total population of the three preserved counties of Glamorgan in 1991 was 1,288,309. In 2001 it was around 1.4 million. The historic county of Glamorgan is one of the fastest growing areas in the UK in population. Its highest point is at Craig y Llyn (600 m).
Glamorgan was the most populous and industrialised county in Wales. The northern part of the county was a mountainous area, dissected by deep narrow valleys, with urbanisation typified by ribbon development. At one time the coal industry was dominant, but the last deep mine, Tower Colliery at Hirwaun closed in January 2008. A few small drift mines like Unity Mine, formerly Pentreclwydau South, near Glynneath remain. The Vale of Glamorgan, a lowland area mainly comprising farmland and small villages stretched across most of the south of the county from Porthcawl to Cardiff. Further west, beyond Swansea, lay the Gower peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The major rivers of Glamorgan included the River Taff, the Ely, the Ogmore, the Neath, Dulais, the Tawe, the Rhymney (which formed the boundary with Monmouthshire), and the Loughor (which formed the boundary with Carmarthenshire).
The main towns included Aberdare, Barry, Bridgend, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Cowbridge, Maesteg, Merthyr Tydfil, Mountain Ash, Neath, Penarth, Pontypridd, Porthcawl, Port Talbot, and Swansea.
Despite the decline in the coal industry, the area remains heavily populated with, particularly around Cardiff, a wide and diverse economic base including public administration, agriculture, light industry, manufacturing, service sector, and tourism.

Initially it was founded as an independent petty kingdom named Glywysing. In the 10th century, it became known as Morgannwg after its greatest monarch, Morgan Hen. It was at times united with the neighbouring kingdoms of Gwent and Ergyng. By virtue of its location and geography, Morgannwg was the second part of Wales, after Gwent, to fall under the control of the Normans and was frequently the scene of fighting between the Marcher Lords and Welsh princes. After the fall of the Welsh Kingdom of Morgannwg to Robert FitzHamon in 1091, the region became the English Lordship of Glamorgan, sometimes called the Lordship of Glamorgan and Morgan because it was divided into the Norman settled Plain or Vale of Glamorgan and the Welsh upland area called Morgannwg, anglicized to Morgan. Both areas were under the control of the Norman Lords of Glamorgan (often the Earls of Gloucester).
In 1535, the first Act of Union attached the Lordship of Gower and Kilvey to Glamorgan and created the historic county of Glamorgan. An administrative county of Glamorgan was created under the Local Government Act 1888, excluding Swansea and Cardiff, which were independent county boroughs. They were soon joined by Merthyr Tydfil

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