Cadw (Welsh Historic Monuments) is the organization that has the responsibility for protecting, conserving and presenting ancient monuments and historic buildings in Wales. The name Cadw comes from the Welsh word that means “to keep” or “to preserve”. Cadw cares for over 100 ancient monuments and historic buildings of national importance, which are open to the public. If you are visiting Wales, you’ll want to join. Membership provides you entry to the sites. Even if you’re not visiting, you membership will support their efforts.
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Cadw prints a range of publications, each meticulously researched. In fact, I have never seen any better. Their scholarly Guidebook Series gives detailed information about the history and architecture of sites in addition to a comprehensive tour. They are fully illustrated with the highest quality photos, drawings, historical documents, maps and plans. A case in point is the 56-page guide for St Davids Bishop’s Palace. The history of St Davids from its beginnings through the Norman centuries, the 13th and 14th century, later Middle Ages and Reformation and Decline are presented.
A tour of each section of the Palace points outs and gives information on the details worthy of note. With this guide in hand there won’t be a thing missed and you’ll understand and appreciate better what you do see. The Guide includes the plan and construction of the palace. There are various feature articles as well. Examples are The Wealth and Power of the Bishops of St Davids, Sculpted Decoration and the Arcaded Parapet and information on the various bishops who ruled the Palace.
Another Guidebook in the series, Beaumaris Castle, tells of the history of the Castle from its building through the later Middle Ages and the Civil War and beyond. The tour of the castle gives a plan, detailed information on the features of the inner and outer wards. Feature articles include a letter of 1296, the purpose of the Castle’s residential accommodation, the Borough of Beaumaris and its defences and more. Each guide has a map showing the location of the monument along with others in the same area.
Cadw also prints a series of short, summary guides, Cadw Pamphlet Guides, that contain a brief history and tour of the site for tourists who want the highlights. There is a themed series of books as well: Historic Gardens of Wales, A Mirror of Medieval Wales and A Nation Under Siege: the Civil War in Wales, 1642-48.
Another series, A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales, is four regional guides giving information on 150 ancient and historic monuments. In their General Titles, you can obtain such books as Chieftains and Princes or The Cistercian Abbeys of Britain. Cadw also produces a map and gazetteer of the Cadw Historic Monuments, which is a great help when travelling.
One publication of particular interest to me is “What Style Is It? This is a pocket guide to architecture in Wales that includes a gazetteer of important buildings along with a map of their location. Each style is delineated along with photos and drawings. It is an invaluable resource for identifying whether a building is Early Gothic, Late Gothic, Tudor, etc. and a wonderful learning resource. I cannot speak highly enough of this organization and its publications.
For more details and to join,visit their website: Cadw Wales. Click on the button that says Cadw sites. This gives you a map of north or south Wales to choose from. Once you’ve done that you can choose from Castles, Prehistoric, Roman, Ecclesiastical and Other sites. They will all be listed with their locations shown on the map. Clicking on their name will give you the basic information you need.
Book covers courtesy Cadw.