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Images of Wales                          Back to Webpage Archive

The feature below was first shown on my website on 17 May 2004

John Ball

Images of Wales

18th and 19th Century Prints of South and West Wales

Page 2

Breconshire       Cardiganshire       Carmarthenshire       Glamorgan       Monmouthshire       Pembrokeshire

Page 1                   Page 3                   Page 4


Drawn by Wilson, engraved by Scott 1812, in Rees (1815)
Above: Carmarthen Town.

The ancient town of Caermarthen [is] the metropolis of the shire, and at one period the metropolitan city of the kingdom of South Wales. This place is very beautifully situated on the western bank of the Tywi, which previous to its arrival here, has been swelled by its numerous tributary streams into a most majestic river. The ground occupied by the town is in some parts of considerable elevation, a circumstance which imparts to it a striking appearance when viewed from a distance, and gives it a commanding prospect of some of the finest parts of the scenery of this delightful vale. The communication with the country on the eastward is formed by a substantial stone bridge of several arches over the Tywi. (Rees, 1815)

Kidwelly Castle
Unknown artist (circa 1800)
Above: Kidwelly Castle.

Kidwelly Castle
Unknown artist, in Donovan (1805)
Above: Kidwelly Castle.

This castle, allowed to be the most perfect building of the kind in Wales, is certainly a magnificent remain of ancient military architecture. There is an air of solemn majesty in its appearance, that bespeaks a noble origin, and leads the antiquary, while he contemplates its ruin, to regret that the particulars of its early history should be so much involved in uncertainty as they really are. (Donovan, 1805)

Carreg Cennen Castle
Drawn by A. Wilson, engraved by Scott 1812, in Rees (1815)
Above: Carreg Cennen Castle.

About four miles from Llandeilo, and about a mile to the northward of the turnpike road, stand the romantic ruins of Carreg Cennen Castle. This singular fortress is seated on a lofty insulated rock about three hundred feet in perpendicular height above the river Cennen, which flows at its base, and is wholly inaccessible except one side, which affords a difficult approach. The buildings occupy the summit of the precipice, and cover altogether an acre of ground. The country to the north and northeast is wild and uninteresting, but on the south and west is fertile and well cultivated. The situation of the castle is in one respect very remarkable. It is almost surrounded by hills of considerable elevation, but commands a prospect of prodigious extent, along the wide vallies [sic] which intervene. The castle itself constitutes a striking object in the landscape from a great number of situations, but the finest view is from the south and west, and the most picturesque approach from the Llandybie road. (Rees, 1815)

Laugharne Castle
Unknown artist (circa 1800)
Above: Laugharne Castle.

Here are the well-preserved remains of a Norman castle, believed to have been built about the year 1100. In 1215 it fell into the hands of Prince Llewelyn, by whom it was nearly destroyed. Subsequently it was restored by Sir Guildo be Brian, and it remained to share the fate of the numerous Welsh fortresses which were besieged and dismantled in the time of Cromwell. (Black, 1869)

Llansteffan Castle
Drawn by Grose, engraved by J. Storer 1811, in Rees (1815)
Above: Llansteffan Castle.

Llanstephan Castle crowns the summit of a bold hill, the precipitous base of which is washed by the sea.. Its broken walls enclose a large area, and there are indications of earthen ramparts by which these appear to have been surrounded. This castle is said to have been built by Uchtryd, Prince of Meirion, in 1138, but it soon fell into the hands of the Normans and Flemings. From then it was taken by the sons of Gryffydd ap Rhys, Prince of South Wales; and so vigorously was it maintained by them, that the utmost force which the foreigners could raise was unable to recover it. In latter times, likewise, it successfully withstood some formidable assaults, whence we may infer that it was a fortress of great strength. (Black, 1869)

Newcastle Emlyn
Drawn by Rev. Richard Salwey Booth, engraved by J. Storer 1811, in Rees (1815)
Above: Newcastle Emlyn.

The decayed grandeur of the fortress, standing on an eminence in the centre of the scene, greatly heightens the effect of the whole. In the year 1215, Llewelyn ab Iorwerth won the original castle, which in the following year he resigned, dividing the principality of South Wales equitably between its rival princes. The present structure was garrisoned for the royalists, in the civil wars of King Charles and the commonwealth. The greater part of the building has entirely disappeared; but it has fallen away in such a manner, as to leave what remains the more picturesque. The approach from the town [Newcastle Emlyn] is particularly fine. (Rees, 1815)

Vale of Tywi
Donovan (1805)
Above: Llangunnor Hill, Allt Fyrddyn, Allt Fawr; Vale of Tywi.

There is a lofty eminence within sight of Carmarthen, called by the Welsh 'Allt Fyrthyn', 'Allt Merddin', or the hill of Merlin, that caught our observation as we retraced our journey, and which, upon traditional evidence, disputes the palm with his authority. The cluster of trees upon this eminence was pointed out to us by a shepherd's boy, under the title of Merlin's grove, and a cavity he mentioned on one side, of course by that of Merlin's cave.—Subsequent enquiry has confirmed the truth of the boy's assertion. (Donovan, 1805)

Ty Gwyn
Donovan (1805)
Above: Ty Gwyn, the farm of Sir Richard Steele; Vale of Tywi.

There is a certain share of celebrity attached to the city of Caermarthen, for having been during a period of some years, the retreat of that eminent literary character, Sir Richard Steele, once the friend of Swift and Addison, and editor of the Spectator. He had a decent farm in the vale of Towey, within a quarter of a mile from Caermarthen. To this day the house he inhabited remains. It is known by the Cambrian appellation of 'Ty Gwyn', or the white house; and there it is pretty certain he wrote the Conscious Lovers, with some other pieces that fix the standard of his reputation in the annals of dramatic fame. (Donovan, 1805)


drawn by Henri Gastineau, engraved by R. Roberts, 1830
Above: Bridge at Pontypridd (Newbridge).

Until lately, it was an inconsiderable village, but it now takes rank with the important manufacturing towns of Glamorganshire. To the tourist, however, its interest is derived from another remarkable bridge which here crosses the Taff, consisting of one arch of singular elegance, forming the perfect segment of a circle, with a chord of 140 feet, and a height from the spring to the key-stone of 35 feet. It is aptly named Pony-y-Prydd, the bridge of beauty, and is the work of a self-taught native mason, William Edwards, of whose ingenuity and perseverance it is a striking memorial.
In 1746, having contracted to build a bridge at this place, he first constructed one with three arches, but, owing to a rapid swell of the river, and a number of trees and other things brought down by the flood, this bridge was quickly swept away. His second attempt was a bridge of one arch, and this was scarcely completed, when the weight of masonry in the abutments or haunches caused the arch to spring in the middle, and reduced the whole to ruins. This occurred in 1751. Engaging a third time in the work, he reduced the weight by the introduction of three cylindrical openings or tubes in each side of the arch, securing greater stability with a diminution of material; involving, as it appears, the very principle of which we have the most distinguished example in the mighty tubular bridges of Conway and Bangor. The circular openings give to the appearance of the structure a lightness and elegance which have always rendered it a favourite subject with artists. An inscription in the centre fixes the date of completion at 1756, so that Pont-y-Prydd has now endured the test of upwards of a hundred years. Underneath the bridge is an echo which is said to repeat a single sound nine times. The talents and enterprise of William Edwards advanced him to a station of great respectability. A considerable number of bridges and other structures in South Wales are his workmanship. With his occupations as mason and architect he united the management of an extensive farm and the sacred duties of an ordained dissenting minister.
(Black, 1869)

Donovan (1805)
Above: Bridge at Pontarddulais.

This bridge is a ruinous, antiquated structure of four arches, two of which are dissimilar from the others. The broken parapet is beautifully hung with ivy. (Donovan, 1805)

Kenfig Castle
Donovan (1805)
Above: Kenfig Castle.

The ruin of Kenfig castle, from the obscurity of its situation, is rarely visited by strangers. It lies upon a small eminence, surrounded by a cluster of sand hills, in the midst of a sandy plain that stretches along one side of the village. (Donovan, 1805)

Glamorgan continues on Page 3

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