Glamorgan, Wales


Glamorgan, a maritime county of South Wales; bounded on the S and SW by the Bristol Channel; on the W by the river Loughor, which divides it from Carmarthenshire; on the N by Carmarthenshire and Breconshire; and on the E by the river Rhymney, which divides it from Monmouthshire. Its greatest length, from W to E, is 52 miles; its greatest breadth, from N to S, is 27 miles; its mean breadth is about 13 1/2 miles; its coast line is about 64 miles; its circumference is about 140 miles; and its area is 516,959 statute acres. A tract along the coast, called the Vale of Glamorgan, from 8 to 10 miles broad, is a fine plain, very fertile, and popularly known as the "garden of South Wales." The tracts on the N and the NE consist chiefly of craggy and almost inaccessible mountains, partly extending in chains, and partly cut into groups, or even isolated heights, by the deep courses of streams. Craig-y-Llyn, at the head of the river Rhondda, has an altitude of 1971 feet, and is the highest ground in the county. The surface as a whole is eminently picturesque, abounds in wild valleys and flashing streams, and combines in large degree the characteristics of Merionethshire with those of rich low country. The coast has a sinuous, almost semicircular sweep from end to end; terminates on the W in the peninsula of Gower; rises over a fine sandy beach into limestone rocks, sometimes soaring into cliffs 300 feet high, and often pierced with deep and lofty caverns, yet has few bays or inlets, and these of no great depth. The chief streams, besides the Loughor and the Ehymney, are the Taff, the Cynon, the Rhondda, the Ehondda Fechan, the Ely, the Ogmore, the Afon, the Neath, and the Tawe. Rocks of carboniferous limestone and shale, of new red sandstone and keuper marl, and of upper lias sand, clay, and marlstone, occupy considerable tracts along most of the coast; and rocks of the coal measures, with mountain limestone and old red sandstone, occupy nearly all the rest of the county. The boundary between the latter rocks and the former is a line drawn across the Gower pensinula, from Whitford Burrows to Oystermouth, by the shore of Swansea Bay; and a waving line drawn eastward from Margam, on that bay, by Llantrissant and Caerphilly, to the Rhymney. The coal, throughout most of the coal basin, is bituminous; but in the upper parts of the vales of Meath and Tawe is anthracite. A very thick "fault" exists near Swansea, traverses the coalfield, and raises the strata on one side as high as 240 feet, and there are many other " faults." The chief mineral obtained in the county is coal, of which its output is one of the largest among the counties of the kingdom, amounting to from 22,000,000 to 23,000,000 tons annually, valued at upwards of £10,000,000. Iron ore is also produced to the extent of 22,000 tons, while the annual product of pig-iron in the county exceeds 400,000. There are also extensive copper smelting works in the county, at Swansea, Landore, Port Talbot, Briton Ferry, and Cardiff, but the ore used is almost entirely imported, less than 1000 tons being obtained from British ores.

The soil, in the Vale of Glamorgan, is rich deep loam, improved in fertility by substratum of limestone or by application of lime; the soil, in the central tracts, ranges from poor detritus on the hills to rich alluvium in the valley bottoms ; and the soil, in the northern and north-eastern tracts, varies from black peat on the heights, through brown gravelly earth in the drier situations, to a brown fertile loam in the valleys. The best tracts are so well plied with tillage as to be deficient in wood. The Vale of Glamorgan yields, on the average, 25 bushels of wheat per acre, from 30 to 35 of barley, 35 of oats, and 6 tons of potatoes. Beans, pease, turnips, mangel-wurzel, clover, and other crops are also grown. The farms, both arable and dairy, are of all sizes, and mostly on lease. The farm buildings and the cottages are of stone. The native cattle and sheep are useful breeds. The climate, on the seaboard and in the lower valleys, is so mild that myrtles, magnolias, and other delicate plants thrive in the open air.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5
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Archives and Libraries

Glamorgan Archives
Clos Parc Morgannwg
CF11 8AW
Tel: (029) 2087 2200

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

List of Registration Districts in Glamorgan from 1837 to 1974.


Old map of Glamorganshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Old map of Glamorganshire circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)

Newspapers and Periodicals

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Parishes and places

The towns and parishes have now been moved to a separate page.