Edward Hunt's Forest of Dean Miscellany

Fact, Fiction and Fantasy

Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales)

The following excerpts are taken from "Gerald of Wales: The Journey Through Wales / The Description of Wales" translated by Lewis Thorpe (publisher: Penguin Classics 1978).

The journey describes the mission to Wales by Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1188. He was accompanied by Giraldus.

The Forest of Dean

We went through Caerleon, passing far away on our left Monmouth Castle and the great Forest of Dean, which is across the Wye, but still on this side of the Severn, and which supplies Gloucester with venison an iron ore. We spent the night at Newport.

The Severn and the Wye

The Severn, which is a noble river, rises in the Plinlimmon mountains. It flows round Shrewsbury Castle, then by Brignorth Castle, on through the city of Worcester and then through Gloucester, with its iron-works. A few miles from Gloucester it runs into the Severn Sea, which takes its name from it. For many years this river formed the boundary between Cambria and Loegria, or Wales and southern England. It took its Welsh name of Hafren from that of a girl, the daughter of Locrinus, who was drowned there by her stepmother. The Latin aspirate has changed in S, just as happens when Greek words are borrowed by Latin, and so we now say Sabrina, or Severn. Other examples of this are 'sal' for 'hal', 'semi' for 'hemi', 'septem' for 'hepta'.

The River Wye rises in these same Plinlimmon mountains. It flows by the castles of Hay and Clifford, through the city of Hereford, by Wilton Castle and Goodrich, through the Forest of Dean, which is full of deer and where iron-ore is mined, and so comes to Striguil Castle*, below which it enters the sea. It forms the modern boundary between England and Wales.

  The above text is from:
                "The Journey Through Wales / The Description of Wales"
                By Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis)
                translated by Lewis Thorpe
                publisher: Penguin Classics 1978

* Striguil Castle

Striguil or Strigoil is the name which was used from the 11th century until the late 14th century, for the port and Norman castle of Chepstow, on the Welsh side of the River Wye which forms the boundary with England.

Edward Hunt