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INTRODUCTION; THREE SUBJECTS, Gerald of Wales, Henry II and the Gough map

It is from two of Gerald of Wales texts that we learn about the journey taken by Henry II from England through Wales to Ireland, and back.

He is in fact a highly born Norman/Welsh personage, born in Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire, c1146. He entered the Benedictine House at Gloucester for his initial education. He was further educated in Paris and on his return in 1184 became a Royal Clerk and then Chaplain to King Henry II of England.

Then his journeying began; first accompanying King Henry’s son John to Ireland which led to him writing “Topographia Hibernica”, first circulated as a manuscript in 1188.

In fact Prince John returned to England in the winter of 1185 but Giraldus remained in Ireland until Easter of 1186, returning shortly before Whitsuntide and finished the “Topographia”.

This was followed by “Expugnato Hibernica” which is an account of the “visit” by Henry II to Ireland in 1171/1172.
Then in 1188 he was selected by King Henry II , who having returned from Gisors, Normandy presided over a council for which the main objective was to induce his nobles to join the crusade. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Baldwin of Forde, attended by Ranulphus de Glanville, the Justiciary and Geraldus Cambrensis chosen to accompany him on a peregrination around Wales seeking support for the Third Crusade. But it was probably more for the political advantages arising from it because of the problems Wales contre England and it gave the English officials the opportunity to survey Wales at their leisure without causing suspicions of ulterior motive. In fact such a peregrination had never been possible before either by a native or foreigner. However King Henry II died in 1189 and thus never saw the results of this expedition. From that journey came the manuscripts of “Itinerarium Cambriae” in 1191 and then “Descriptio Cambriae” in 1194. He withdrew to Lincoln in 1192 until 1198 with the hope of attaining the Bishopric of St Davd’s which was never to be. One of the Lincoln copies of the “Descriptio” contained a map of Wales which is discussed later.
Thus, the texts of Gerald of Wales are used to determine the route utilized by King Henry II.

KING HENRY II 5/3/1133 to 6/7/1189; King, 19/12/1154 to 1189

It is worth noting that Henry II invaded Wales in 1157 by Sea through Anglesey and thence into North East Wales, but his army was ambushed and repulsed. In 1165 he tried again and invaded Wales via Oswestry but again to no avail and he withdrew.

Then in 1171, after much diplomacy and the “Becket Affair” he makes a pilgrimage to St Davids, within a year of “Beckets” death. That Cathedrals history is important, as follows;

“In 1115 with the area under Norman control King Henry 1st appointed Bishop Bernard as Bishop of St Davids. He began to improve life within the community and commenced the construction of a new Cathedral. In 1123, Pope Calixtus II granted Bishop Bernards request to bestow a Papal Privilege upon St Davids, making it a centre of Pilgrimage for the Western World. The Pope decreed that two pilgrimages to St David’s was the equivalent of one pilgrimage to Rome, and that three pilgrimages to St David’s was the equivalent of the one pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This new Cathedral was quickly constructed and consecrated by Bishop Bernard in 1131”.
With King Henry II visit in 1171 the following of St David’s increased and the need for an even larger Cathedral was obvious to all. It was begun in 1181 and completed not long afterwards, but problems beset the new building and the community in its infancy with the collapse of the tower in 1220 and an earth quake in 1247/1248.


Held in the Bodliean Library, Oxford, UK and the subject of a plethora of texts, it is 1164 x 553mm and is covered in Towns, Castles, Abbey’s all with a little vignette of a building. However, one feature, thin red lines joining numerous places with a Latin number to each section, place to place, perhaps represent their inter-distance measures. As already mentioned there are 34 (32+2) separate overall lines of varying length, but this text is only concerned with two; the route marked from Cardigan to Chester and a section of the route from London to St David’s, as follows.

A) Cardigan XXIIII Aberystwyth XII Aberdovey XII Barmouth XI Llaneddwyn ??? Harlech XII Criccieth XXIIII Caernarvon VIII Bangor XV (Capel Curig) VII Conwy ??? Abergele IIII Rhuddlan X Flint X Chester.

The facsimile produced by the Ordnance Survey has the place names written in normal letters but with the original form;
Kardigan; Aberarvon; Aberistwith; Aber—-: Log—-; Harlec; Crykeey; KAERNARVAN; Bangor; ????: ????; ????; Rudland; Flynt; Chestre.

B) Hereford XII Clyro X Brecon X Llywel XVIII Langadock ??? Llandeilo X Carmarthen ??? St Clears XI Llawhaden VIII Haverfordwest VIII St Davids.

Again from the facsimile we have;
Hereford; Clero; Brekenon; lliwell; ????; ????; ????; ????; ????; Haverford; Sent David.
From these a comparison can be made to the King Henry II and Gerald of Wales routes in Wales. It should also be noted that there is a second route on the map to Chester as follows; Worcester XII Kidderminster XII Bridgnorth XV Shrewsbury XII Ellesmere VII Overton XII Chester x and finally Liverpool.

Which is given on the facsimile as;
Wircester; ????; Briggenorth; Salopia; Ellesmere; —Ton; Chestre; Leverpole.
Richard Gough in his text “British Topography, volume 1, under the section headed “Maps”, pages 76-84 gives his transcription of the place names he could read.


In his text, “Topographia Hibernia”, the conquest of Ireland Gerald of Wales within chapters XXVIII< XXX< XXXVII< XXXVIII and XXXX gives enough information to recreate the route taken in 1171 and 1172.

In chapter XXVIII, he relates how Robert Fitz-Stephen met Henry II at Newnham on Severn near Gloucester where he was making preparations to pass over to Ireland with a large Army. The majority of the Army were from England and many had to cross the River Severn and that could be achieved in several ways. The obvious route being the bridge at Gloucester. The Romans had established a quay and bridge between the walled city of Glevum and the River Severn original Channel, outside the Westgate. Then in 1119 work commenced on a new bridge which in the 16th century was described as a; “Bridge on the cheife arme of Severne that runneth hard by the towne of seven great arches of stone”. However it may well be that that bridge is from 1265 and the original was a timber bridge as many of the Roman Bridges were. Thus the Army from the East could use either London, Silchester, Cirencester, Gloucester or London, St Albans, Alchester, Cirencester, Gloucester, both being Roman Road routes. From the North the Roman Roads linked to Cirencester (Fosse Way) and Gloucester via Birmingham.

But, the King being at Newnham on Severn also points to the use of the Ferry Crossings south of Gloucester. They being at Newnham and the Purton/Lydney crossing, both giving access to the Roman Road south west to Chepstow and Wales.

Chapter XXVIII is completed in the last sentence thus; “This matter being thus settled (an oath of Fealty), the King proceeded on his march towards St Davids by the ROAD ALONG THE COAST to Pembroke and quickly assembled a splendid fleet in the port of Milford”.

Chapter XXX
“The preparations for his great enterprise detaining the King for some time in the district of Menevia, he went to the church of St Davids, and having paid his devotions with all solemnity, when the weather was fair and the wind favourable, embarked his troops, consisting of as many as five hundred men-at-arms, and a large body of horsemen and archers; and crossing the sea, arrived at Waterford about the fifteenth of the calends of November (the 18th October), being St Luke’s day”.
Note; Hoveden informs us that King Henry’s fleet contained four hundred large ships laden with warriors, horses, arms and provisions. He landed at the Carrig as he had done before.

Chapter XXXVII
“Having successfully concluded his requirements in Ireland with appointments to Constables or Governors of Cities;

At length on the Monday of Easter week , at sunrise, he took boat, and getting on board ship in the outer harbour of Wexford, reached St David’s bay about noon, after a quick voyage, a strong wind blowing from the westward. Having landed, the King proceeded to St Davids with great devotion, in the guise of a pilgrim, on foot, and staff in hand, and was met by the canons of the Cathedral in solemn procession, who received him with due honour and reverence at the White Gate”.
“The King after he had supped, went on to the castle of Haverford, about twelve miles distant.”

“The King, in returning to England out of Wales, took the road on the sea coast by which he had journeyed thither, and going on board ship in great haste, and crossing over to Normandy, showed his deference to the Pope by losing no time in presenting himself to the Roman cardinals at Coutances”. Note; that is close to Mont St Michel..

Chapter XXXIX
“Before we proceed further, it may not be superfluous or un profitable to relate in this place what happened to the King on his return from Ireland by the sea coast of Wales. On the Sunday in Easter week he spent the night at the town of Cardiff, and on the morrow, being the day commonly called Low Sunday, he heard early mass in the chapel of St Perian”;

Note there follows a storyline which is then repeated in the Itinerary of Wales, Book 1, chapter 6.

If straight lines are drawn from London to Cirencester then Gloucester and St Davids, the two Roman Roads are probably equal to Cirencester, one curving North, the other South, with no central road as what was to become the A4 was much too far south.
But from Gloucester to St Davids it is quite obvious that the northern route via Hereford, Brecon thence Carmarthen is more direct, but in very awkward countryside, hilly and valley strewn with passes not conducive to allowing large bodies of men to access easily, thus the coastal route affords easier access. It also allows constant contact with ships laden with the armies goods and some of the troops and would be a form of extra security for Henry II.

There are two books which split the peregrination into its eastern and southern sections; Hereford- Cardiff- Carmarthen-St Davids and the western/northern section from St Davids to Anglesey then Chester returning to Hereford.

Book 1, Preface- to Stephan Langton Archbishop of Canterbury.
This preface is a litany of the high and mighty scholars whose works affect the thinking mans being. Gerald of Wales is showing Stephan Langton that he is a well educated erudite personage, well versed in the classics and thus names the following persons;
Persius; Galen; Justinian; Fabius; Sydonius; Marinus; Virgil; St Jerome and Croecus.

He writes how; ”I formerly completed with vain and fruitless the Topography of Ireland for its companions, the living King Henry the second and “Vaticinal History” for Richard of Poitiou, his son”. He continues; “To you illustrious Stephan Archbishop of Canterbury, equally commendable for your learning and religion, I now dedicate the account of our meritorious journey through the rugged provinces of Cambria, written in a scholastic style, and divided into two parts.”

Note; there is so far no mention of Baldwin Archbishop of Canterbury until the second preface titled “To the same Prelate”, where he writes, “I have thought good to commit to writing the devout visitation which Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury made throughout Wales and to hand down, as it were in a manner, through you, O Illustrious Stephan, to posterity, the difficult places through which we passed, the names of springs and torrents, the witty sayings, the toils and incidents of the journey and the natural history and description of the country; lest my study should perish through idleness, or the praise of these things be lost by silence.”

Comment; I think the most self-serving prefaces anybody could write.

Book 1 chapter1, Journey through Hereford and Radnor


“In the year 1188 from the incarnation of our Lord,—-Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, a venerable man, distinguished for his learning and sanctity, journeying from England for the service of the Holy Cross, entered Wales near the borders of Herefordshire.. The archbishop proceeded to Radnor on Ash Wednesday (Caput Jejunni). Early on the following morning, we came to Cruker Castle (CASTELL Crug Eryr) two miles distant from Radnor”.

Gerald of Wales discusses the ancient districts of Radnorshire, the church of Saint Germanus near Rhaidyr; the village of Glascum , Herefordshire and the castle of Rhaidyr.

He continues; “The church of LUEL in the neighbourhood of Brecheinoc (Brechinia) was burned, also in our time, by the enemy and everything destroyed except one small box in which the consecrated host was deposited. It came to pass also in the province of Elvenia (Radnorshire) which is separated from HAY by the river Wye in the night which King Henry 1 expired that two pools of no small extent, one natural and the other artificial suddenly burst their bounds;”

Book 1 chapter2, Journey through Hay and Brecheinia
“Having crossed the River Wye, we proceeded towards Brecknock, and on preaching a sermon at Hay, we observed some amongst the multitude, who were to be signed with the cross (leaving their garments in the hands of their friends or wives, who endeavoured to keep them back), fly for refuge to the archbishop in the castle. Early in the morning we began our journey to Aberhodni, and the word of the lord being preached at Landeu (Llanddew), we there spent the night”. (this implies a night at Hay.)


Note1; llanddew is actually 2 miles north of Brecon and the residence of Geraldus Cambrensis as Archdeacon.
NOTE 2 from records; What seems to be a relic of llaneleu’s manor house should be visited. It is within the area of a modern farmhouse whose door is protected by a porch probably from a medieval building. It bears the phrase “ Deus nobis haec atia fecit (God gave us this space of peace). Although he can hardly have seen it Gerald of Wales would have thought this phrase most apt. He lived in a little place he called Llaneleu : possibly the Llanddewui near Llangorse and some way from Talgarth and Llanelue in 1188, making as he went his sharp comments on the monks of Llanthony Abbey, who in that remote region , lusted after the flesh pots of the town!
The church of llanellieu is a simple church , a bell turret, loft or upper chamber entered by a rough ladder.

NOTE 3, Go to appendix 3 for a discussion on this section of the travels which actually makes little sense when analysed.
“The castle and chief town of the province, situated where the river Hodni joins the river Usk, is called Aberhodni ( Aberhonddu, Brecon); and every place where one river falls into another is called Aber in the British tongue. Landeu signifies the church of god.”
“The archdeacon of that place (G OF W) presented to the Archbishop his work on the Topography of Ireland, which he graciously received.” (No doubt why the long detour took place so that the text could be collected and presented).

He mentions, the lake and the river Leveni, the river Wye; Glasbyry; the church of Saint David at Llanvaes (Brecon); Newbury England; miracle at St Edmundsbury; the church at Hovedene, beyond the Humber; Winchelcumbe; the Hermit of Llanhamelach and the castle of Brendlais (Brynllys).

Book 1, chapter 3, Ewyas and Llanthony
“The deep vale of Ewyas, which is about an arrow-shot broad, encircled on all sides by lofty mountains, stands the church of Saint John the Baptist (Llanthony Priory), covered with lead, built of wrought stone; and, considering the nature of the place, not unhandsomely constructed, on the very spot where the humble Chapel of David, the archbishop, had formerly stood decorated only with moss and ivy.
It was founded by two hermits, in a solitary vale watered by the river Hodeni From Hodeni it was called Lanhodeni—the English therefore corruptly call it Lanthoni.”
Note; again G of W ensures we are aware of his learning by quoting; Ovid; Horace; Lucan and Petronius. But this text is nothing but a divergence from the route, not taken.

Book 1, chapter 4, the journey by Coed Grono and Abergavenny
“From thence we proceeded through the narrow, woody tract called the bad pass of Coed Grono (Grwyne), leaving the noble monastery of Llanthony, enclosed by its mountains, on our left”.
“The castle of Abergavenny is so called from its situation at the confluence of the river Gevenni with the Usk.” There is then a long dissertation on history.
Note; the text is explicit about which route they took and that did not include the valley and place of Llanthony Priory. It is merely mentioned as near-bye. See appendix 3.
Note, the “thence” must mean llanddew and a route via Llanelliue to the Coed Grono. At the end of chapter seven G of W writes about the various languages and their similarities for certain descriptive nouns. See appendix 3.

Book1 chapter 5; of the progress by the castle of Usk and the town of Caerleon
“At the castle of Usk, a multitude of persons (were) influenced by the archbishop’s sermon—. Passing from thence through Caerleon and leaving on our left hand the castle of Monmouth, and the noble Forest of Dean, situated on the other side of the river Wye and on this side of the Severn and which amply supplies Gloucester with iron and venison we spent the night at Newport having crossed the river USK three times”.( At Usk, Caerleon and Newport)
“Caerleon means the city of Legions, Caer, in the British language signifying a city or camp, for there the Roman Legions sent into this island were accustomed to winter and from this circumstance it was styled the city of Legions. This city was of undoubted antiquity and handsomely built of masonry with courses of bricks, by the Romans. Many vestiges of its former splendor may yet be seen; immense palaces, formerly ornamented with gilded roofs, in imitation of Roman magnificence, inasmuch as they were first raised by the Roman princes and embellished with splendid buildings; a tower of prodigious size, remarkable hot baths, relics of temples and theatres, all enclosed within fine walls, parts of which remain standing. You will find on all sides, both within and without the circuit of the walls, subterraneous buildings, aqueducts, underground passages; and what I think worthy of notice, stoves contrived with wonderful art, to transmit the heat insensibly through narrow tubes passing up the side walls”.
“This city is well situated on the river Usk, navigable to the sea, and adorned with woods and meadows”.
Not far hence is a rocky eminence, impending over the Severn, called by the English GOULDCLIFFE, or golden rock because from the reflections of the sun’s rays it assumes a bright golden colour. (SE of Newport on the banks of the Severn).

Book 1 chapter 6, Newport and Caerdyf
“At Newport, where the river Usk, descending from its original source in Cantref Bachan, falls into the sea, many persons were induced to take the cross. Having passed the river Remni, we approached the noble castle of Caerdyf, situated on the banks of the river Taf.”
“In this same town of Caerdyf, King Henry II, on his return from Ireland”—–See earlier for same story line)
“Not far from Caerdyf is a small island situated near the shore of the Severn, called Barri, from St Baroc who formerly lived there and whose remains are deposited in a chapel overgrown with ivy , having been transferred to a coffin”.

Book 1 chapter 7, The see of Llandaff and the monastery of Margam and the remarkable things in those parts.
“On the following morning, the business of the cross being publicly proclaimed at Llandaff, the English standing on one side and the Welsh on the other—-. The word Landaf signifies the church upon the river Taf, and is now Called the church of St Teileau, formerly bishop of that see. The archbishop having celebrated mass early in the morning, before the high altar of the cathedral, we immediately pursued our journey by the little cell of Ewenith (Ewenny Priory) to the noble Cistercian Monastery of Margam”.

Book 1, chapter 8, passage of the rivers Avon and Neth and of Abertawe and Goer.
“Continuing our journey, not far from Margam , where the alternate vicissitudes of a sandy shore and the tide commence, we forded over the river Avon, having been considerably delayed by the ebbing of the sea, and under the guidance of Morgan, eldest son of Caradoc, proceeded along the sea-shore towards the river Neth, which on account of its quick-sands is the most dangerous and inaccessible river in South Wales. A pack horse belonging to the author, which had proceeded by the lower way near the sea, although in the midst of many others was the only one which sunk down into the abyss, but he was at last with great difficulty extricated and not without some damage done to the baggage and books.
But as the fords of that river experience a change by every monthly tide and cannot be found after violent rains and floods we did not attempt the ford, but passed the river in a boast, leaving the monastery of Neath on our right hand, approaching again to the district of St Davids, and leaving the diocese of Llandaff (which we had entered at Abergavenny) behind us.
Entering the province called Gower, we spent the night at the castle of Swansea, which in Welsh is called Abertawe, or the fall of the river Tawe into the sea”.
Note; In continuing their journey from Neath to Swansea, our travelers directed their course by the sea-coast to the river Avon, which they forded, and, continuing their road along the sands, were probably ferried over the river Neath at a place now known by the name of Breton Ferry, leaving the monastery of Neath at some distance to the right, from thence traversing another tract of sands and crossing the river Tawe, they arrived at the castle of Swansea where they passed the night.

Book1 chapter 9, Passage over the rivers Lochor and Wendraeth; and of Cydweli.
“Thence we proceeded towards the river Lochor and having first crossed the river Lochor and afterwards the water called Wendraeth, we arrived at the castle of Cydweli”.

Book 1 chapter 10; Tywy river- Caermardyn- monastery of Aberlande.


“Having crossed the river Tywy in a boat, we proceeded towards Caermardyn, leaving Llanstephan and Talachar (Laugharne) on the sea coast to our left.— Caermardyn an ancient city is situated on the banks of the noble river Tywy, surrounded by woods and pastures and was very strongly enclosed with walls of brick, part of which are still standing ( Roman Walls). The castle of Dinevor (Dinefawr) is built on a lofty summit above the Tywy, the royal seat of the princes of South Wales.
In ancient times, there were three regal palaces in Wales; Dinevor in South Wales; Aberfrau in North Wales situated in Anglesea and Pengwern in Powys now called Shrewsbury; Pengwern signifies the head of a grove of Alders”.
“On our journey from Caermardyn towards the Cistercian monastery called ALBA DOMUS, the archbishop was informed of the murder of a young man by twelve archers of the adjacent castle of St Clare. (St Clears). They were signed with the cross at Alba Domus as a punishment for their crime”.(!!!! That means non- believers?)
“ Having traversed three rivers, the Taf, then the Cleddeu, under Lanwadein (Llawhaden), and afterwards another branch of the same river we at length arrived at Haverford. This province, from its situation between two rivers has acquired the name Daugleddeu, being enclosed and terminated as it were by two swords, for Cleddue in the British Language signifies a sword”.

Book1 chapter 11; Of Haverford and Ros.
“A sermon having been delivered at Haverford by the archbishop—- the inhabitants of this province derived their origin from Flanders and were sent by King Henry I to inhabit these districts—“.

Book 1 chapter 12 Of Pembroke.
“The province of Pembroke adjoins the southern part of the territory of Ros, and is separated from it by an arm of the sea. Its principal city—-is situated on an oblong rocky eminence, extending with two branches from Milford haven, from whence it derived the name of PENBROCH, which signifies the head of the estuary.
The castle called Maenor Pyrr (Manorbier) that is the mansion of Pyrrus, who also possessed the island of CHALDEY, which the Welsh call Inys Pyrr, or the island of Pyrrus a distant about three miles from Penbroch.
It is evident, therefore, that Maenor Pirr is the pleasantest spot in Wales, and the author may be pardoned for having thus extolled his native soil, his genial territory, with profusion of praise and admiration”. (as already noted Gerald of Wales was born here.)

Book 1 chapter13, of the progress by Camros and Niwegal
“ From Haverford we proceeded on our journey to Menevia, distant from thence about 12 miles, and passed through Camros—. We then passed over Niwegal Sands, at which place ( during the winter that King Henry II spent in Ireland) as well as in almost all other western ports, a very remarkable circumstance occurred. The sandy shores of South Wales, being Laid bare by the extraordinary violence of a storm, the surface of the earth which had been covered for many ages re-appeared and discovered the trunks of trees cut off, standing in the very sea itself, the strokes of the hatchet appearing as if made only yesterday. The soil was very black, the wood like ebony. By a wonderful revolution, the road for ships became impassable and looked, not like ashore but like a grove cut down, perhaps at the time of the deluge, or not long after, but certainly in the very remote ages, being by degrees consumed and swallowed up by the violence and encroachments of the sea. During the same tempest many sea fish were driven by the violence of the wind and waves upon dry land. We were lodged at St Davids by Peter, Bishop of the see, a liberal man, who had hitherto accompanied us during the whole of our Journey”.
NOTE; In 2014 the remains of 10,000 year old trees have been uncovered on a Pembrokeshire beach in recent storms, was the headline! In a clean up of the coast park it revealed the remains of an ancient woodland at NEWGALE. They form part of a forest which would , experts say, have been used by hunter gatherers. NIWEGAL morphs into NEWGALE and the story of sunken forests is repeated around the coast of Britain.

“Since, therefore, St David’s is the head, and in times past was the metropolitan city of Wales, though now, alas! retaining more of the NOMEN than of the OMEN. (G of W Pun)”

Book II chapter 1, of the see of St David’s
“The spot where the church of St David’s stands and was founded in honour of the apostle St Andrew, is called the Vale of Roses, which ought rather to be named the vale of Marble, since it abounds with one, and by no means with the other. The river Alun, a muddy and unproductive rivulet, bounding the churchyard on the northern side, flows under a marble stone, called Lechlavar, which — serves as a bridge”.

Book II, Chapter 2, Of the Journey by Cemmeis-the monastery of St Dogmael
“The Archbishop having celebrated mass early— hastened through Cemmeis to meet Prince Rhys at Aberteive.
We slept that night in the monastery of St Dogmaels, where , as well as on the next day at Aberteive, we were handsomely entertained by Prince Rhys. On the Cemmeis side of the river, not far from the Bridge, the people of the neighbourhood—-Near the head of the bridge where the sermons were delivered, the people immediately marked out the site for a Chapel”.

Book II, Chapter 3, Of the river Teivi, Cardigan and Emlyn
“The noble river Teivi flows here and abounds with the finest salmon, more than any other river in Wales. It has a productive fishery near CILGERRAN, which is situated on the summit of a rock , at a place called CANARCH MAWR (Kenarth), the ancient residence of St Ludoc, where the river falling from a great height forms a cataract which the salmon ascend by leaping from the bottom to the top of the rock which is about the height of the longest spear—. The church dedicated to St Ludoc, the mill, bridge, salmon leap, an orchard with a delightful garden all stand together on a small plot of ground.
We proceeded from Cilgerran towards Pont-Stephen leaving Cruc Mawr, i.e. the great hill near Aberteive on our left hand”.
( NOTE ; our author having made a long digression in order to introduce the history of the beaver, now continues his itinerary from Cardigan. The Archbishop proceeded towards Pont-Stephen, leaving the hill called Cruc Mawr on the left hand which still retains the ancient name and agrees exactly with the position given by Giraldus. On its summit is a tumulus and some appearance of an entrenchment.)

Book II Chapter 4, Of the journey by Pont Stephen, the Abbey of Stratflur, Landewi Brevi and Lhanpadarn Vawr.
“A sermon having been preached on the following morning at Pont Stephen—- we proceeded to STRATFLUR where we passed the night. Fropm thence we passed through Landewi Brevi, that is the church of David at Brevi situated on the summit of that hill–.
Having rested that night at Llanpadarn Vawr, or the church of Peternus the Great”.
Note, Leaving Stratflur, (Strata Florida) the Archbishop and his train returned to Llanddewi Brevi and from thence proceeded to Llanbadarn Vawr which is a short distance from Aberystwyth.

Book II chapter 5, of the River Devi and the land of the sons of Conan.
(From Llanbadarn our travellers directed their course towards the sea-coast, and ferrying over the River Dovey, which separates North from South Wales, proceeded to Towyn in Merionethshire where they passed the night.)
“Approaching to the River Devi,— having crossed the River in a boat—we slept the night at Towyn— On the same day we ferried over the bifurcate River Maw — and that night we lay at Llanvar, that is the church of St Mary in the province of Ardudwy. The next morning — met us at the passage of a bridge (query? over the River Arbo which forms a small estuary near the village of Llanbedr)”.

Book II chapter 6, Passage of Treath Mawr and Treath Bachan, and of Nevyn, Caernarvon and Bangor


“We continued our journey over Treath Mawr and Treath Bachan, that is the greater and smaller arm of the sea where two stone castles have newly been erected; one called DEUDREATH, belonging to Conan, situated in Evionyth, towards the northern mountains; the other named Carn Madryn, the property of the sons of Owen—-Treath in the Welsh language signifies a tract of land flooded by the tides and left bare when the sea ebbs. We had before passed over noted rivers, the DISSENITH, between the MAW and Treath mawr, and the ATHRO between Treath Mawr and Treath Bachan. We slept the night at NEVYN on the eve of PALM SUNDAY—.
Beyond Lleyn. There is a small island inhabited by very religious monks, called Caelibes or Colidei. This island, either from the wholesomeness of its climate, owing to the vicinity to Ireland, or rather from some miracle obtained by the merits of the saints, has this wonderful peculiarity, that the oldest people die first, because diseases are uncommon, and scarcely any die except from extreme old age. Its name is ENLLI in the Welsh, and BARDESEY in the Saxon language; and very many bodies of saints are said to be buried there, and amongst them that of Daniel , bishop of Bangor. The Archbishop having by his sermon the next day induced many persons to take the cross, we proceeded towards Banchor, passing through Caernarvon—. Our road leading us to a steep valley with many broken ascents and descents, we dismounted our horses and proceeded on foot—-. We remained the night at Banchor, the metropolitan See of North Wales, and were well entertained by the Bishop of the diocese”.
NOTE ;The Treath Mawr or the large sands are occasioned by a variety of springs and rivers which flow from the Snowdon Mountains, and, uniting their streams , form an estuary below Pont Aberglaslyn. The Treath Bychan or small sands are chiefly formed by the river which runs down the beautiful vale of Festiniog to Maentwrog and Tan y Bwlch, near which place it becomes navigable. Over each of these sands the road leads from Merionyth into Caernarvonshire.
Note; Having looked at the maps it appears that the steep valley is in fact between Nevyn and Caernarvon, not as the text may infer after Caernarvon. The map attached indicates the route now.


And, the map by Sir Richard Colt Hoare (see later) shows a stopping point at Pwllhweli which is not mentioned and thus I assume he has chosen the coast road as generally used.

Book II chapter 7, the Island of Mona
The whole text concerning Mona/Anglesey is full of historical information as well as the comparison of geographical facts about islands. It also contains a repeat of the information concerning Henry II and his attempted invasion.

Book II chapter 8, Passage of the River Conwy in a boat and of Dinas Emrys.
“They returned from Mona to Banchor.
We continued our journey on the sea coast, confined on one side by steep rocks and by the sea on the other, towards the River Conwy which preserves its waters unadulterated by the sea”.

Book II chapter 9, of the mountains of Eryri
A basic description of Snowdonia.

Book II chapter 10, of the passage by Deganwy and Ruthlan and the See of Lanelwy and of Coleshulle.
“Having crossed the River Conwy, or rather an arm of the sea under Deganwy, leaving the Cistercian Monastery of Conwy on the western bank of the river to our right hand, we arrived at RUTHLAN, a noble castle on the River Cloyd–.
Many persons—-, we proceeded from Ruthlan to the small Cathedral Church of LANELWY (St Asaph)— we continued our journey to the little cell of Basinwerk where we passed the night. The following day we traversed a long quicksand, and not without some degree of apprehension , leaving the woody district of Coleshulle, or hill of coal on our right hand where Henry II, who in our time actuated by youthful and indiscreet ardour, made a hostile interruption into Wales— defeated and left”.
Note; this implies that leaving Basinwerk they took a route along the shoreline of the Dee Estuary which today has the same problems of sandy marshland.

Book II chapter 11, of the passage of the River Dee and of Chester.
“Having crossed the River Dee below Chester on the third day before Easter, or the day of absolution (Holy Thursday) we reached Chester”.

Book II chapter 12, of the journey by the White Monastery, Oswaldestree, Powys and Shrewsbury.
“The feast of Easter having been observed with due solemnity—we directed our way from Chester to the White Monastery, and from thence towards Oswaldestree. We slept at Oswaldestree, or the tree of St Oswald—. From Oswaldestree, we directed our course towards Salopesburia (Shrewsbury), which is nearly surrounded by the River Severn, where we remained a few days to rest and refresh ourselves—“.
NOTES; 1) There are three churches in Shropshire with the name White Monastery, being Whitchurch, Oswestry and Alderbury which is a small village some 9 miles west of Shrewsbury.
2)The Roman Conquest and control of Wales was based on two legionary fortresses at Chester and Caerleon with that at Gloucester in reserve. Thus a base road connecting them was a first requirement and this was provided for in part by Watling Street from Chester to Wroxeter and then other routes south through Hereford and Monmouth.


Book II chapter 13, of the journey by Wenloch, Brunfeld, the castle of Ludlow and Leominster to Hereford.
“From Shrewsbury, we continued our journey towards Wenloch, by a narrow and rugged way, called Evil-Street, where in our time a Jew travelling with the Archdeacon of the place, whose name was SIN (Peccatum) and the dean, whose name was DEVIL, towards Shrewsbury, hearing the archdeacon say, that his archdeaconry began at a place called Evil-street and extended as far as Mal-pas, towards Chester, pleasantly told them, “it would be a miracle, if his fate brought him safe out of a country whose Archdeacon was SIN, whose Dean the Devil; the entrance to the Archdeaconry Evil-street and its exit Bad-pass.”
NOTES; Malpas is a township on the Roman Road to Chester and in Old French is Bad/difficult Passage. The story is basically filled with bad puns and jokes from personal names and places and a rough translation would read thus from the Medieval Latin;
We set out from there towards Wenlock by a southerly and steep route which they call Mala Platea ( literally the bad/evil road/broad-way). Now here it happened in our time to a certain Jew, travelling towards Shrewsbury with the archdeacon of the same place, who had the surname “SIN” and a Deacon with the by-name “Devil”, that he (the Jew) heard the archdeacon telling him that his archdeaconry began from the place which is called “Mala Platea” ( Bad/evil road) and stretched as far as “Malus passus” ( the bad/evil step or pass) in the direction of Chester (which is of course now Malpas in Cheshire) and considering and deducing from both the surname of the Archdeacon and the By-name of the deacon, he came up with something both clever and witty; “It is a wonder, he said should my fate ever lead me back unharmed from this land whose archdeacon is called “SIN” and the deacon, “Devil”, while the entrance to the archdeaconry is “Evil Road” and the exit “Evil Pass”
The Latin text has a note as follows; “Richard Peche or Peccatum was archdeacon of Salop about 1180 to 1190 and the list of deans about this time is imperfect and the Dean in question was probably a “Dayville” or “De Eyville”, the name of a family of considerable note.”

Comment; it would appear from this text that Gerald of Wales has conflated the journey and in fact “Evil Street” taken from Malpas is north of Whitchurch, White Monastery, and thus now appears to be in his storyline the whole route to and through Shrewsbury to Much Wenlock which is not on the Roman Road previously used.

Story line continues;
“From Wenloch we passed by the little cell of Brumfeld, the noble castle of Ludlow, through Leominster to Hereford, leaving on our right hand the districts of Melenyth and Elvel, thus ( describing as it were a circle) we came to the same point from which we had commenced the laborious journey through Wales”. Thus the peregrination concludes.

At the end of the text Geraldus confirms they started from Hereford, although he does not make that clear at the beginning. But the crucial information comes when he states “proceeded to Radnor on ASH WEDNESDAY”. That day is confirmed by the earliest Church teachings as being 46 days before Easter Day. The calculation for Easter Sunday being the first Sunday following the first full Moon after the Spring Equinox which is c 21st March. We then read that they arrived at Nevyn in the Lleyn Peninsula on the night of Palm Sunday, which is 7 days before Easter Sunday. He also tells us that they crossed the River Dee on the third day before Easter, that is Holy Thursday. In 1188 Easter Day was April 12th and thus Ash Wednesday would be c28th February. (Gregorian calendar)

Taking those days as given that means from Radnor on Ash Wednesday, to Nevyn on the eve of Palm Sunday, and Palm Sunday at Nevyn it is 39 days travel, but only 4 days travel from Nevyn to the River Dee, three days before Easter Day.

However reading the text and noting the “nights” spent I find I can account for only 32 nights. But, that Geraldus Cambrensis when he just starts a new text section is actually ignoring the actual length of a sojourn surely it would be no doubt seen as a slight by the Archbishop of Canterbury to arrive one afternoon, stay the night and immediately depart, hence the major Castles and Monastic stops were all probably at least two nights from Radnor to Nevyn. However from Nevyn it was an almighty rush to arrive early at Chester to celebrate Easter.

It also points to the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury left Canterbury (?) by the middle of February to journey to Hereford and be in Radnor on Ash Wednesday. It also begs the question of it being the worst time of the year to travel particularly in the mountains of Wales in early March, before the Spring Equinox. Just what the imperative for the journey was other than to preach the third crusade is unknown.


That concludes the text by Gerald of Wales and we can glean from it a situation where bridges were built, Rivers had to be forded and ferries used, which perhaps indicates a coherent system of travel in some areas. In Book II, chapter 6 we read that their journey was in fact on horseback, with pack horses for their belongings and books. That also raises the question of just how many persons were travelling. We know of three, and it would be surprising if there were not at least one scribe and two assistants, as we know of pack horses being in the entourage. Thus the routes chosen must have been capable of taking such a party.

Given that it is normal to allow a journey on foot to cover 10 or 12 miles, a horse will permit a distance of up to 40 miles per day, dependent upon the terrain. The horse chosen for travel in Medieval times was the PALFREY, which had a smooth gait enabling it to amble along to the comfort of the rider. Thus the actual journey time in days travelled is perhaps eclipsed by the periods stopped to address or rather preach to the populace and partake of hospitality given. The ferry crossings and other dangerous sand crossings may well have taken time and required guides/organising bearing in mind the horses and the journey from Cardigan to Harlech may well have been long and arduous and a 3 or 4 day journey overall. Walking the Gough Route would be at least 6 days continuous travel plus the waiting times for ferries and tides.


Richard Gough being an Antiquarian wrote the following in his British Topography introduction page ii as follows;
“Gyraldus’s topographies of Wales and Ireland (NOT THE ITINERARY) are so stuffed with fiction and marvellous, that one is almost deterred from receiving the little real information they give. He made a map of Wales, containing 43 towns and the parts of England bordering on it, which is still extant (Bishop Tanner mentions it as existing at the beginning of the Westminster MS of his Itineraium Cambriae.), is one of the oldest maps in England. His own account of it may give us some idea of the state of map-making at that time”.

“Expressam Cambriae Totius mappam, cum montanis ardius & sylvis horridis, aquis & fluvius, & castellis electis, cathedralibus etiam ecclefiis & monasteriis multis, maximeque Cisterciensis ordinis, copiofa partier & artificiosa sumptuofitate constructis ,arto folio strictoque valde locello & spatio bravissimo, distincte tamen & aperte declaravi” Epist. Ad capitulum libris fuis Ang. Sac.II .441. (H Whartons text)

Note; I have searched for this map and unfortunately found a note stating that the Westminster MS had been lost!


Hereford XII Clyro X Brecon X Llywel XVIII Langadock ??? Llandeilo X Carmarthen ??? St Clears XI Llawhaden VIII Haverfordwest VII St Davids.

From Hereford it is basically a Roman Road to Carmarthen. The route is, Willesley, north bank of River Wye to Clyro, then west bank of River Wye, Bronllys to Brecon. Next it is Trecastle, but Llywel is not on the Roman Road it is in fact on the A49(T) just north of the route. It was obviously visited as the Church of LUEL (Llywel) by the time of the Gough Map it had burnt down c1180, and is thus a sign of just how old the knowledge portrayed on this map can be, and thus out of date. The Roman Road continues to Llandovery, thence Langadock then Llandeilo to Carmarthen. Here the Roman Road changes course northerly to Lampeter, Llanio and Aberystwyth, where-as the Gough Map road is from Carmarthen to St Clears, Llawhaden with its Castle and thence Haverfordwest and St Davids, perhaps indicating the Pilgrimage route already discussed.

The route “miles” given can be thus assessed;

Hereford to Clyro c21miles given as XII and thus should be XXII
Clyro to Brecon c15 miles given as X and thus should be XV
Brecon to Llywel c12.5 miles given as X and should be XII or XIII
Llywel to Langadock c15 miles given as XVIII and accepted as 2 routes?
Langadock to Llandeilo, c6 miles ???
Llandeilo to Carmarthen, c15 miles given as X and should be XV
Carmarthen to St Clears c9 miles ???
St Clears to Llawhaden c15 miles given as XI and should be XV
Llawhaden to Haverford c8 miles given as VII and accepted
Haverford to St Davids c16 miles given as VII and should be XVII

The Gough map readable distances total 86 miles but the equivalent is 132 mile, and thus a minimum four day journey on horseback. The Gough Map may be considered as a normal scribal copying error for the numerals; a fact of life in the medieval texts extant.


Cardigan XXIIII (37) (Aberavon????) Aberystwyth XII (10) Aberdovey XII (9) Barmouth XI ????(8) Llaneddwyn ??? (2) Harlech XII (10) Criccieth XXIIII (17) Caernarvon XIII (9) Bangor XV (15) Capel Curig VII ????(15) Conwy ??? (12) Abergele IIII (5) Rhuddlan X (15) Flint X (12) Chester.

This route Cardigan to Chester is basically the coastal road, much of which is known to be Roman and mimics the Gerald Of Wales route in part except for their divergence from Criccieth via Nevyn to Caernarvon.

There is a second Gough Map route which covers part of the area under discussion which is Worcester to Liverpool as follows;
Worcester XII, Kidderminster XII, Bridgnorth XV, Shrewsbury XII, Ellesmere VII, Overton, Chester X Liverpool.
This route is quite direct and not as per the Gerald of Wales route (southwards). Strangely it avoids the Roman Roads which after Much Wenlock from Viriconium/Wroxeter via Whitchurch to Chester and thence Liverpool was a similar journey time but from Shrewsbury the Gough Route is quite strange. Ellesmere is given by Henry I in 1114 to William Peveril and included Overton and Whittington. But in 1177 , Henry II gave it to Owain Gwynedd. Ellesmere is in the Domesday Book but Overton is not and its first recording is in 1201, probably as before that date it was considered part of Ellesmere and not a separate village.


There are four A3 diagrams which all interlink to form a geographical map, c1000 x 600mm overall with the routes plotted there-on from the Gough Map original which is 1164 x 553mm.

Superimposed on this map is the Matthew Paris peregrination route, London to Berwick on Tweed thus indicating the continuity of certain parts of the route.

When set out thus, the routes radiating from London are well known as most of them are the principal routes of our roads today. The fact that many are set upon Roman Road foundations perhaps indicates a greater use of those roads for 1400 years than previously thought. By assessing the routes of Henry II in the mid 1100’s and Gerald of Wales we can see that they were well known and it is probably only in the Middle Ages that they became less used following problems like the Black Death c1349 when the population was severely depleted.

In later years no doubt the Wars of the Roses may have used them, but in 1534/1539 and the dissolution the monasteries by Henry VIII, peregrinations would have basically ceased and thus finally many of the Roman Roads fell into complete dis-repair and usage.

Later we see the resurgence of roads and trackways as the population increases and food, mainly cattle and sheep are required in major centres and thus Drove Roads appear in the records. These actually obliterated many roads as the cattle/sheep enlarged the overall width of the roadway which can still be seen in numerous places as very wide verges.

cgGWGM/1/D09 & D10





The attached section of the 1:50000 OS map indicates the area south of Hereford from the little church of Llanelieu through the Vale of Ewyas, the River Honndu and how it turns to join the River Monnow, the border of England and Wales in the Golden Valley. It is the two rivers named Grwyne which make their way to the River Usk.



The Roman Road plot will enable a visual comparison to the Gough map, and obviously I can be enlarged as my plot of the Gough Map roads is on the same OS base.

cgGWGM/1/D14 & D15

Map of Great Britain; Gough Map, contains a short text by Sir Frank Stenton F.B.A. and then follows the complete transcription of the place-names etc., on the Gough Map. In his preface he discusses much, but, does not include the Roman Roads which are a major part of the routes drawn on the Gough Map. This is a major over-sight as they obviously played a part in Medieval travel whilst they were still in a fit state to be used.


Britannia in the first 400 years of the new era was predominantly a Roman occupied country with many indigenous peoples accepting the skills that the Romans brought with them, Roads, heated housing, wine and food stuffs as well as fortresses and the chance to trade with the garrison from towns built surrounding them. It was a slow decline when the Roman Armies left, but the infrastructure was still there.

Thus in the next period of Britannia’s history, The Normans, with their building skills for Abbeys, and Cathedrals, coming from Normandy where there were a number of Roman Roads, they would have used them in preference to muddy tracks. Hence, when the Norman/English Kings required to move Armies, again they would have been used in preference being wide metalled surfaces. It is not until the 17th and 18th centuries that any major road building takes place in Britain. In fact the canals/rivers were the main forms of transport and movement of goods, except for parts of the old system which were useful.

That is what we can see in the texts and maps of the 12th and 13th centuries here-in discussed.
There are , as I have noted areas where the route can only have been by tracks, which on horseback would not have been too onerous, except where they crossed rugged landscapes. Many of these must have been formed by the Normans as they progressed, not paved, merely by bulk of usage, horses carts etc., and then became “roads” The many ancient tracks which would have existed no doubt also formed the backbone of the final system and may well be part of the route that has just been discussed.

Thus historically from c100AD to 2023 an original infrastructure has been used and mostly ignored by travellers as they motor the roads and by-ways of Britain.



This text is the search for a map of Wales drawn by Geraldus Cambrensis and appended to one of the copies of his text “Descriptio Cambriae, (1194).”
From the outset I can but include the following note from the Lambeth Palace Library index;
“Gerald of Wales; Mappa Kambriae (opus deperditum)”.

However the discussion which follows is so very necessary as the early extant maps of Britannia indicate a “Wales” that Gerald of Wales would not recognize given his travels and text descriptions.

The basic knowledge we have comes from two texts he has written, “Itinerarium Cambriae” and “Descriptio Cambriae”. It also helps that he was born at Manorbier Castle which in the c12th century was the Cantref of Penfro, what today we call the Pembroke Peninsular. He is a well-travelled and erudite scholar with dozens of works to his name and he is obviously very observant and thus the form of Wales even from his “Itinerarium Cambriae” would be so very apparent. The great bay, Cardigan Bay, stretching from St David’s in a sweeping curve to Tremadog Bay, Harlech and Criccieth and then the Lleyn Peninsular and Bardsey Island, “the Isle of Saints” are known to him because his texts inform us thus.


He writes in the “Descriptio Cambriae” details of the major rivers of Wales, the mountains, Abbeys and in the “Itinerary” where coastal sands are to be used to traverse estuaries including facts about the great storm of 1171/72 when the “Niwegal” sands (Newgale) exposed the forest of tree stumps which still bear the marks of an “adze”.

Why therefore in c1250 did Matthew Paris draw a form of Wales which was to continue through to the Gough Map c1400 and later maps including the early continental copy maps of Britannia. They obviously did not appreciate that they Lleyn Peninsular and Cardigan bay existed. (see text cgBRI/1 for details)

Another curiosity is why the Archbishop of Canterbury commenced his peregrination of Wales from Hereford in England. It had as Bishop William de Vere, 1182-1199 but was not as such a monastic establishment, especially Cistercian, and why is Hereford mentioned as recipient of a letter from Geraldus to the Dean and Chapter of Hereford, a letter which the Cathedral has no knowledge of?

In other words, the works of Gerald Cambrensis dated 1188 and published 1191 and 1195, which were widely circulated appear unknown and perhaps forgotten. Any scholar reading them would not consider the extant maps acceptable.

The autobiography of Giraldus Cambrensis clearly shows that the “Mappa Kambriae” was part of a manuscript version of “Descriptio Cambriae” held finally in Westminster Abbey where two important persons saw it and wrote such. They were Henry Wharton and Bishop Tanner. Henry Wharton writes “ Wallia Mapp, seu Tabula Chorographica, ab Authore suo saepius memoratur. Habe turea in fronte Codicis Westmonasteriensis superius laudati, minio depicta; quae praeter fluvius plures montes & bmaris conterminik ripam ac finitimas Angliae urbes, oppida Walliae 43 duntaxat notat.”

Which I translate as ; “The Map of Wales or Tabula Chorographia is often mentioned by its author. The possessions on the front of the Codex of Westminster praised above, depicted in miniature; which, in addition to the rivers, many mountains and the borders of the sea and the neighbouring cities of England, and the towns of Wales, 43 in number in particular.”

Bishop Tanner, 1674-1735 thus could have seen it before 1695 when there was a great fire at the Abbey in the January. Thomas Tanner became Bishop of St Asaph in 1732 until his death.

The route of the Peregrination has been discussed and the fact that the whole party was on horseback probably afforded Geraldus Cambrensis enough time when not preaching either to write notes or dictate to the scribes accompanying the Archbishop. The final texts were not written on the journey, but compiled just afterwards and in fact the original was still in his possession when he visited France with King Henry II just after the peregrination. The texts were feared lost but merely in the end a delay of the baggage train.

In 1950, J Conway Davies wrote in the Journal of the Historical Society of the Church of Wales, “The Kambriae Mappa of Geraldus Cambrensis”, but did not attempt a map. It is a 15 page well referenced text which sets down from his writings the geographical features described and specifically notes the information Gerald of Wales set down about the map.

“Expressam Cambriae Totius mappam, cum montanis arduis & Sylvis horridis, aquis & fluviis & castellis erectis, cathedralibus etaim ecclesiis & monatsreiis multis, maiximeque Cisterciensis ordinis, copiosa partier & artificiosa sumptuositate constructis, arcto folio, strictoque valde locello & spatio brevisiimo distincte tamen & aperte declaravi”.

“I declared distinctly and moreover openly a map of the whole Wales produced, with its steep mountains and frightening forests, waters and rivers and erected castles, as well as cathedrals, churches and many monasteries above, all of the Cistercian Order, built with a lavishness as abundant as it is skilful, on an enclosed (folded ) sheet, in a truly narrow case, and in a most brief space.”

Thus we know the probable contents of “Mappam Kambriae” and the fact that it was drawn on a “small page”, but, what does that actually mean. The manuscripts are noted as “Quarto” which is basically a printing term where a single sheet of paper has 8 pages (4 recto/verso) which are cut and folded and bound. But the Handwritten sheets would be at most two pages per sheet recto/verso, i.e. four written pages. There are many sizes of parchment used and the final manuscripts are in the order of 285 x 222mm and thus have a maximum sheet of 285 x 444mm, or approximately our A3 sheet. The Arundel 83 text c1310 is 235 x 355 and thus opened out is 355 x 470mm. The manuscript by Geraldus Cambrensis, “Topographis Hibernia” is 149 x 23mm and thus a double page is 223 x 298mm and the equivalent of our A4 page. At A4 it is quite easy to produce a map from “The Wirral to the Severn Estuary” and from “St David’s to Hereford “ and include the items noted in the “Desciptio” which are as follows.

Chapter 1; Length and Breadth of Wales.


“The length from Port Gordber in Anglesey to Port Eskwin in Monmouthshire is 8 days journey in extent; the breadth from Porth Mawr, or the great port of St David’s to Ryd-helic which in Latin means Vadum Salicis, or the ford of the Willow and in English called Willow-ford is a 4 day journey”.

If Geraldus Cambrensis is using “Horse” days, not “Foot” days with the direct distances being 240Km or 158Miles and 196Km or 115 miles it is easy to calculate. But of course, to journey from Anglesey to the Severn Estuary cannot be achieved in a straight line and the most probable route is via the Roman Road network, which includes the Sarn Helen. Basically we have, Caernarvon 23m ,Tomen Mur 20m, Dolgelly16m, Pennal 18m, Aberystwyth 20m, Llanio 15, Landovery 21, Brecon, 20 Abergavenny, 18 Caerleon 10, to the estuary, as short distance. The total is 181 miles, which takes 8 days and is an easy 22 miles per day; too far for walking but a very easy Horse journey, given some of the terrain on this north south route would be onerous and slower.

From Porth Marw to Ryd-helic it is; St David’s 16 Haverford 17 St Clears 8 Carmarthen 22 Neath 35 Cardiff 15 Caerleon 22 Lydney Ferry and a total of 135 Miles. Given it is 4 day journey that is 33 MPD and an easy Horseback ride on a non-onerous route.
The Gough Map as shown on cgGWGM/1/D04, is somewhat mimicking these two “distances” with its two roads indicated.

Chapter 2; The ancient divisions of Wales into three parts.
They are Venedotia or North Wales; Demetia or South Wales and Powys, the middle or eastern district.

Chapter4; Cantreds, Royal Places and Cathedrals
The text commences with 47 Cantreds and then states Wales contains 54 Cantreds.
Then there were but three Royal places or Seats, Dinevor, Aberfraw, and Pengwern. Aberfraw is on Anglesey and Pengwern is Shrewsbury but as the border changed it moved to Mathrafal as the capital of Powys, which is on the banks of the River Vyrnwy.
The four Cathedrals in Wales are, St David’s, Llandaff, Bangor and St Asaph.


Chapter 5; The two mountains from which the noble rivers which divide Wales Spring.


“Wales’ noble rivers derive their source from two ranges of mountains; the Ellennith in South Wales and the Eryri in North Wales, which they call Snowdon. Upon them are two Lakes , one of which has a floating island and the other contains fish having only one eye.”
At this point it must be made clear that Geraldus Cambrensis is actually including in “Ellennith” the “Plynlimon “ area which is in Cardiganshire and is a range of hills standing above an escarpment rising to over 2000 feet. It is a difficult moorland and five major rivers find their source in this upland moor. They are the WYE; SEVERN; RHEIDOL; YSTWYTH & CLYWEDOG. The moor is a proliferation of pools made from Peat-hag and Moss-pools and are found everywhere with quite dangerous depths.
Here we note that the Gough Map uses a “green” circle to place Plynlimon on that map clearly indicating an understanding of this moorland area, but the author obviously never ventured there to look at the broad sweep of Cardigan Bay and across to the Lleyn.

The name “Ellennith” has been anglicized as it means “Land of Lakes”

Geraldus Cambrensis then proceeds to name the rivers;
Wye; Usk; Hodni; Remni; Taff; Avon; Neth; Tawe; Lochor; Wendraeth; Tywy; Taf; Cledheu; Teivi; Ystuyth; Devi; Mawr; Dissennith; Arthro; Conwy; Cloyd; Doverdwyor/Dee.

The Castles;
These we find mentioned in Itinerarium Cambriae;


Radnor, Castell Crug Eryr; Rhaiadyr; Aberhonddu; Bronllys; Abergavenny; Landinegat (Dingestow); Usk; Caerleon; Cardiff; Swansea; Dinevor; Haverford; Pembroke; Maenor Pyrr (Manorbier) Cemmeis (Lanhever, Nevern) Cardigan; Deudraeth; Caernarvon; Ruhtlin; Chester; Shrewsbury; Ludlow.

The Monasteries and Churches
The Itinerarium is peppered with the Monastic establishments and churches both visited and named in the basic tales he delivers. There are 14 Cistercian and 21 other monastic houses and some 95 churches any of which could have been chosen for mention of the Mappa Kambriae.
What was included has been answered generally by the series of diagrams which cover the first five chapters of the “Descriptio”.


What has not been answered is why the peregrination commenced at Hereford Cathedral, unless as already premised it was at the behest of Geraldus Cambrensis and the chance to discuss with Rogerus Herefordensis. We are not informed of the length of sojourn at Hereford, but obviously as they returned to there after the whole journey the mention of a MAPPA could have been raised then.
The Hereford Cathedral Archivist kindly wrote concerning the above which unfortunately seems to indicate variations in the storyline so far not discussed. The following are the central paragraphs of the email I received.
“Gerald of Wale was actually a canon and prebendary here at Hereford, and was in contact with the chapter over the following years. There is even an argument that he may have been at Hereford when he died. —AS ALREADY SAID, WE DO NOT HOLD ANY OF Geralds letters in our archives, neither do we hold information about the start of the Itinerary being in Hereford. Though it may be because of Geralds links as detailed above”.

“Neither can I find any clear reference to Roger of Hereford in our archive documents. There are some deeds with that name as one of the parties- but it is not clear that it is THE roger of Hereford. Although Roger’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography mentions that Roger Infans ( who seems also to be Roger of Hereford) attested in charters at Hereford, it does not give any references to these documents and I cannot find anything obvious listed in the English Episcopal Acta. I can only find one deed within our collection, dated 1201-1216 which mentions Master R Infante (reference HCA 959)- which could be the same person?”

The Archivist kindly informed me of another text, “Hereford and Arabic Science in England about 1175-1200” which with texts I already hold tells us that Roger of Hereford was a scientist of note, in that he determined the Longitude of Hereford and in the MS Arundel 377 manuscript the altitude of the Sun was used.

A M. Phil dissertation in conclusion of that 377 manuscript states, “Scientific learning was not a passport to high ecclesiastical office. Gerald of Wales consciously abandoned naturalistic writings for theology as part of his campaign for advancement—.”

In a poem addressed to Gerald of Wales inviting him to come to Hereford, Simon de Fresne makes a rather clear statement that such existed ( Arabists and science);
“FLOS ET HONOR CLERI, NOSTRAM TE TRANSFER AD URBEM, SUNT UBI PHILOSOPHI, SUMMUS HABENDUS IBI, URBS HEREFORDENSIS multum tibi competit, in qus proprius est trivii quadriviique locus, floruit et floret, in hac specialiter urbe artis septenae praedominatur honos. Hunc, ubi tot radiant artes, de jure teneris, cum sis artis honce, artis amare locum ».

That is the seven liberal sciences of the ancient world which of course includes arithmetic and astronomy.

On the Gough Map it is evident that latitudes were known and from the time of the Mappa Kambriae, longitudes were being formulated, but still there was the lack of a proper survey of Wales to quantify what might have been. Thus the Mappa Kambriae of Geraldus Cambrensis could have opened a new chapter in the form of Maps of Britannia and with the knowledge of latitude and longitude becoming more usable perhaps the first “Geographical Map” would have been produced c1300AD.



When Sir Richard Colt Hoare translated the Itinerarium Cambriae he included a map of explanation some 59 x 50cms, engraved by J Cary sculptor, entitled “A map of Wales describing the military stations of the Romans and the Itinerary of Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 1188.” It was published March 1st 1806.

There are two items on that map which require some explanation as I have already premised. Firstly it is the route to and from Llanddew from Hay on Wye and proceeding via “Coed Grono” to Aberegavenny. It is possible to travel via a green road from Hay to Talgarth and thence to llanddew, but as Geraldus also mentions other places the second possible route is Hay, Glasbury, Bronllys to Llanddew. However the return route to enter the Coed Grono” from the north entails travelling via Talgarth and then Llanelieu to meet the head of the River Grwyne Fawr (Grono) and traverse the “Evil Pass” through dense woods to the bridges where the river turns west and the route is a by-way to Abergavenny.

Unless there was an imperative to visit the little church at Llanelieu which automatically means using the “Coed Grono”, being Archdeacon of Brecon/Aberhonddu, staying at his lodging in Llanddew, why the Archbishop did not go to Brecon and follow the River Usk via Crickhowell to Abergavenny, thus having many more chances of preaching the Crusade is a mystery, as is the reason to visit the Archdeacons lodging unless it is as I have already surmised.

Unfortunately the route from Hereford to St David’s has many stopping points or lengths of stay omitted from the text to be able to offer a concrete answer.

Secondly, the deviation from Criccieth via Pwllheli to Nevyn which is not in the text.

That the original by Gerald of Wales was lost in a fire in 1695 is more than a tragedy, but, that it does not appear to have been recognised by others, Monks or whomever, those preparing maps of Britannia in the 13th to 15th centuries is the real tragedy.

For some 300 years the form of Britannia both in the UK and as a copy drawn on the continent suffered from this oversight.