Welsh Marches
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The Welsh Marches ( cy, Y Mers) is an imprecisely defined area along the
border Borders are usually defined as geographical boundaries, imposed either by features such as ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth ...
between
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
. The precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods. The English term Welsh March (in
Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Literary Latin used in Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Western Europe during the Middle Ages. In this region it served as the primary written language, though local languages were also written to varying deg ...
''Marchia Walliae'') was originally used in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
to denote the
marches In Middle Ages, medieval Europe, a march or mark was, in broad terms, any kind of borderland, as opposed to a national "heartland". More specifically, a march was a border between realms or a neutral buffer zone under joint control of two states ...
between England and the
Principality of Wales The Principality of Wales ( cy, Tywysogaeth Cymru) was originally the territory of the native Welsh princes of the House of Aberffraw from 1216 to 1283, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales during its height of 1267–1277. Following the con ...
, in which
Marcher lord A Marcher lord () was a noble appointed by the king of England to guard the border (known as the Welsh Marches) between England and Wales. A Marcher lord was the English equivalent of a margrave (in the Holy Roman Empire) or a marquis (in Fran ...
s had specific rights, exercised to some extent independently of the
king of England The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of government by which a hereditary monarchy, hereditary sovereign reigns as the head of state of the United ...
. In modern usage, "the Marches" is often used to describe those English counties which lie along the border with Wales, particularly
Shropshire Shropshire (; alternatively Salop; abbreviated in print only as Shrops; demonym Salopian ) is a landlocked historic Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands region of England. It is bordered by Wales to the we ...
and
Herefordshire Herefordshire () is a county in the West Midlands of England, governed by Herefordshire Council. It is bordered by Shropshire to the north, Worcestershire to the east, Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a Count ...
, and sometimes adjoining areas of Wales. However, at one time the Marches included all of the historic counties of
Cheshire Cheshire ( ) is a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial and Historic counties of England, historic county in North West England, bordered by Wales to the west, Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, and Sta ...
, Shropshire, Herefordshire,
Worcestershire Worcestershire ( , ; written abbreviation: Worcs) is a Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands of England. The area that is now Worcestershire was absorbed into the unified Kingdom of England in 927, at which ...
and
Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a Counties of England, county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn and the entire Forest of Dean. The county town ...
. In this context the word ''march'' means a border region or frontier, and is cognate with the verb "to march," both ultimately derived from
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented Indo-European languages. No direct record of Proto-Indo-E ...
''*mereg-'', "edge" or "boundary".


Origins: Mercia and the Welsh

After the decline and fall of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
which occupied southern Britain until about AD 410, the area which is now Wales comprised a number of separate
Romano-British The Romano-British culture arose in Britain under the Roman Empire following the Roman conquest of Britain, Roman conquest in AD 43 and the creation of the Roman Britain, province of Britannia. It arose as a fusion of the imported Roman culture ...
kingdoms, including
Powys Powys (; ) is a county and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain ...
in the east. Over the next few centuries, the
Angles The Angles ( ang, Ængle, ; la, Angli) were one of the main Germanic peoples who settled in Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it i ...
,
Saxons The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of Germanic peoples, Germanic * * * * peoples whose name was given in the early Middle Ages to a large country (Old Saxony, la, Saxo ...
and others gradually conquered and settled in eastern and southern Britain. The kingdom of
Mercia la, Merciorum regnum , conventional_long_name=Kingdom of Mercia , common_name=Mercia , status=Kingdom , status_text=Independent kingdom (527–879)Client state of Wessex () , life_span=527–918 , era=Heptarchy , event_start= , date_start= , ye ...
, under Penda, became established around
Lichfield Lichfield () is a city status in the United Kingdom, cathedral city and Civil parishes in England, civil parish in Staffordshire, England. Lichfield is situated roughly south-east of the county town of Stafford, south-east of Rugeley, north- ...
, and initially established strong alliances with the Welsh kings. However, his successors sought to expand Mercia further westwards into what is now
Cheshire Cheshire ( ) is a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial and Historic counties of England, historic county in North West England, bordered by Wales to the west, Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, and Sta ...
, Shropshire and
Herefordshire Herefordshire () is a county in the West Midlands of England, governed by Herefordshire Council. It is bordered by Shropshire to the north, Worcestershire to the east, Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a Count ...
. As the power of Mercia grew, a string of garrisoned
market town A market town is a Human settlement, settlement most common in Europe that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages, a market right, which allowed it to host a regular marketplace, market; this distinguished it from a village or ...
s such as
Shrewsbury Shrewsbury ( , also ) is a market town, civil parish, and the county town of Shropshire, England, on the River Severn, north-west of London; at the 2021 United Kingdom census, 2021 census, it had a population of 76,782. The town's name can b ...
and
Hereford Hereford () is a cathedral city, civil parish and the county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, south-west of Worcester, England, Worcester and north-west of Gloucester. ...
defined the borderlands as much as
Offa's Dyke Offa's Dyke ( cy, Clawdd Offa) is a large linear Earthworks (Archaeology), earthwork that roughly follows the England–Wales border, border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa of Mercia, Offa, the Anglo-Saxon England, ...
, a stronger and longer boundary earthwork erected by order of
Offa of Mercia Offa (died 29 July 796 AD) was List of monarchs of Mercia, King of Mercia, a kingdom of History of Anglo-Saxon England, Anglo-Saxon England, from 757 until his death. The son of Thingfrith and a descendant of Eowa of Mercia, Eowa, Offa came to ...
between AD 757 and 796. The Dyke still exists, and can best be seen at Knighton, close to the modern border between England and Wales.David Hill and Margaret Worthington, ''Offa's Dyke – history and guide'', Tempus Publishing, 2003; Campaigns and raids from Powys led, possibly around about AD 820, to the building of Wat's Dyke, a boundary earthwork extending from the
Severn , name_etymology = , image = SevernFromCastleCB.JPG , image_size = 288 , image_caption = The river seen from Shrewsbury Castle , map = RiverSevernMap.jpg , map_size = 288 , map_ ...
valley near
Oswestry Oswestry ( ; ) is a market town, civil parish and historic railway town in Shropshire, England, close to the England–Wales border, Welsh border. It is at the junction of the A5 road (Great Britain), A5, A483 road, A483 and A495 road, A495 ro ...
to the
Dee estuary The Dee Estuary ( cy, Aber Dyfrdwy) is a large estuary by means of which the River Dee, Wales, River Dee flows into Liverpool Bay. The estuary starts near Shotton, Flintshire, Shotton after a five-mile (8 km) 'canalised' section and the ...
.John Davies, ''A History of Wales'', Penguin, 1993; Trevor Rowley, ''The Welsh Border – archaeology, history and landscape'', Tempus Publishing, 1986; In the centuries which followed, Offa's Dyke largely remained the frontier between the Welsh and English. Athelstan, often seen as the first king of a united England, summoned the British kings to a meeting at Hereford in AD 926, and according to
William of Malmesbury William of Malmesbury ( la, Willelmus Malmesbiriensis; ) was the foremost English historians in the Middle Ages, English historian of the 12th century. He has been ranked among the most talented English historians since Bede. Modern historian C. ...
laid down the boundary between Wales and England, particularly the disputed southern stretch where he specified that the
River Wye The River Wye (; cy, Afon Gwy ) is the Longest rivers of the United Kingdom, fourth-longest river in the UK, stretching some from its source on Plynlimon in mid Wales to the Severn estuary. For much of its length the river forms part of Wal ...
should form the boundary. By the mid-eleventh century, Wales was united under
Gruffudd ap Llywelyn Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (  5 August 1063) was King of Wales from 1055 to 1063. He had previously been Kingdom of Gwynedd, King of Gwynedd and Kingdom of Powys, Powys in 1039. He was the son of King Llywelyn ap Seisyll and Angharad daughter of ...
of
Gwynedd Gwynedd (; ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county and preserved county (latter with differing boundaries; includes the Isle of Anglesey) in the North West Wales, north-west of Wales. It shares borders with Powys, Conwy County B ...
, until his death in 1063.


The Marches in the Middle Ages

Immediately after the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west a ...
, King William of England installed three of his most trusted confidants, Hugh d'Avranches, Roger de Montgomerie, and William FitzOsbern, as Earls of Chester, Shrewsbury and Hereford respectively, with responsibilities for containing and subduing the Welsh. The process took a century and was never permanently effective. The term "March of Wales" was first used in the
Domesday Book Domesday Book () – the Middle English spelling of "Doomsday Book" – is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William I, known as William the Conqueror. The manusc ...
of 1086. Over the next four centuries, Norman lords established mostly small
marcher lord A Marcher lord () was a noble appointed by the king of England to guard the border (known as the Welsh Marches) between England and Wales. A Marcher lord was the English equivalent of a margrave (in the Holy Roman Empire) or a marquis (in Fran ...
ships between the Dee and Severn, and further west. Military adventurers went to Wales from
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie, Nouormandie ; from Old French , plural of ''Normant'', originally from the word for "northman" in several Scandinavian languages) is a geographical and cultural region in Northwestern ...
and elsewhere and after raiding an area of Wales, then fortified it and granted land to some of their supporters.Max Lieberman, ''The March of Wales, 1067–1300: a borderland of medieval Britain'', University of Wales Press, 2008; One example was Bernard de Neufmarché, responsible for conquering and pacifying the Welsh kingdom of
Brycheiniog Brycheiniog was an independent petty kingdom, kingdom in South Wales in the Early Middle Ages. It often acted as a buffer state between Kingdom of England, England to the east and the south Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth to the west. It was conqu ...
. The precise dates and means of formation of the lordships varied, as did their size. The March, or ''Marchia Wallie'', was to a greater or lesser extent independent of both the English monarchy and the
Principality of Wales The Principality of Wales ( cy, Tywysogaeth Cymru) was originally the territory of the native Welsh princes of the House of Aberffraw from 1216 to 1283, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales during its height of 1267–1277. Following the con ...
or ''Pura Wallia'', which remained based in
Gwynedd Gwynedd (; ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county and preserved county (latter with differing boundaries; includes the Isle of Anglesey) in the North West Wales, north-west of Wales. It shares borders with Powys, Conwy County B ...
in the north west of the country. By about AD 1100 the March covered the areas which would later become
Monmouthshire Monmouthshire ( cy, Sir Fynwy) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South East Wales, south-east of Wales. The name derives from the Monmouthshire (historic), historic county of the same name; the modern county covers th ...
and much of
Flintshire , settlement_type = Local government in Wales#Principal areas, County , image_skyline = , image_alt = , image_caption = , image_flag = , imag ...
, Montgomeryshire,
Radnorshire Radnorshire ( cy, Sir Faesyfed) is one of the thirteen historic counties of Wales and a former administrative county. It covers a sparsely populated area in mid Wales. The historic county was bounded to the north by Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, ...
, Brecknockshire,
Glamorgan , HQ = Cardiff , Government = Glamorgan County Council (1889–1974) , Origin= , Code = GLA , CodeName = Chapman code , Replace = * West Glamorgan * Mid Glamorgan * South Glamorgan , Mo ...
, Carmarthenshire and
Pembrokeshire Pembrokeshire ( ; cy, Sir Benfro ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South West Wales, south-west of Wales. It is bordered by Carmarthenshire to the east, Ceredigion to the northeast, and the rest by sea. The count ...
. Ultimately, this amounted to about two-thirds of Wales.Davies, R. R., ''The Age of Conquest: Wales 1063–1415'' (Oxford 1987, 2000 edition), pp. 271–88. During the period, the Marches were a frontier society in every sense, and a stamp was set on the region that lasted into the time of the Industrial Revolution. Hundreds of small
castles A castle is a type of fortification, fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by Military order (monastic society), military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castle'', but u ...
were built in the border area in the 12th and 13th centuries, predominantly by Norman lords as assertions of power as well as defences against Welsh raiders and rebels. The area still contains Britain's densest concentration of
motte-and-bailey A motte-and-bailey castle is a European fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised area of ground called a motte, accompanied by a walled courtyard, or Bailey (castle), bailey, surrounded by a protective Rampart (fortification ...
castles. The Marcher lords encouraged immigration from all the Norman-Angevin realms, and encouraged trade from "fair haven" ports like
Cardiff Cardiff (; cy, Caerdydd ) is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of Wales. It forms a Principal areas of Wales, principal area, officially known as the City and County of Cardiff ( cy, Dinas a ...
. Peasants went to Wales in large numbers: Henry I encouraged
Bretons The Bretons (; br, Bretoned or ''Vretoned,'' ) are a Celts, Celtic ethnic group native to Brittany. They trace much of their heritage to groups of Common Brittonic, Brittonic speakers who emigrated from Dumnonia, southwestern Great Britain, par ...
,
Flemings The Flemish or Flemings ( nl, Vlamingen ) are a Germanic ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them fr ...
,
Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were a population arising in the medieval Duchy of Normandy from the intermingling between Norsemen, Norse Viking settlers and indigenous West Fran ...
, and English settlers to move into the south of Wales. Many new towns were established, some such as
Chepstow Chepstow ( cy, Cas-gwent) is a town and community (Wales), community in Monmouthshire, Wales, adjoining Wales-England border, the border with Gloucestershire, England. It is located on the tidal River Wye, about above its confluence with the R ...
,
Monmouth Monmouth ( , ; cy, Trefynwy meaning "town on the Monnow") is a town and community (Wales), community in Wales. It is situated where the River Monnow joins the River Wye, from the Wales–England border. Monmouth is northeast of Cardiff, and ...
,
Ludlow Ludlow () is a market town in Shropshire, England. The town is significant in the history of the Welsh Marches and in relation to Wales. It is located south of Shrewsbury and north of Hereford, on the A49 road (Great Britain), A49 road which ...
and Newtown becoming successful trading centres, and these tended also to be a focus of English settlement. At the same time, the Welsh continued to attack English soil and supported rebellions against the Normans. The Norman lords each had similar rights to the Welsh princes. Each owed personal allegiance, as subjects, to the English king whom they were bound to support in times of war, but their lands were exempt from royal taxation and they possessed rights which elsewhere were reserved to the crown, such as the rights to create forests, markets and boroughs.Paul Courtney, ''The Marcher Lordships: Origins, Descent and Organization'', in ''The Gwent County History Vol. 2'', University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 2008; The lordships were geographically compact and jurisdictionally separate one from another, and their privileges differentiated them from English lordships. Marcher lords ruled their lands by their own law—''sicut regale'' ("like unto a king") as
Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, 7th Earl of Gloucester (2 September 1243 – 7 December 1295) was a powerful English noble. He was also known as "Red" Gilbert de Clare or "The Red Earl", probably because of his hair colour or fiery temp ...
statedNelson, Lynn H., 1966.
''The Normans in South Wales''
, 1070–1171'' (Austin and London: University of Texas Press)
— whereas in England fief-holders were directly accountable to the king. The crown's powers in the Marches were normally limited to those periods when the king held a lordship in its own hands, such as when it was forfeited for treason or on the death of the lord without a legitimate heir whereupon the title reverted to the Crown in
escheat Escheat is a common law doctrine that transfers the real property of a person who has died without heirs to the crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in "limbo" without recognized ownership. It originally applied to a ...
. At the top of a culturally diverse, intensely feudalised and local society, the Marcher barons combined the authority of
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in Middle Ages, medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a wa ...
lord and vassal of the King among their Normans, and of supplanting the traditional ''
tywysog Tywysog (), in modern Welsh language, Welsh, means "Prince", but historically it referred to a broader category of rulers. The feminine form is Tywysoges. The work Brut y Tywysogion is the Annals of the Princes of Wales and is a historical narrati ...
'' among their conquered Welsh. However,
Welsh law Welsh law ( cy, Cyfraith Cymru) is an autonomous part of the English law system composed of legislation made by the Senedd.Law Society of England and Wales (2019)England and Wales: A World Jurisdiction of Choice eport(Link accessed: 16 March 20 ...
was sometimes used in the Marches in preference to English law, and there were disputes as to which code should be used to decide a particular case. From this developed the distinctive March law. The
Statute of Rhuddlan The Statute of Rhuddlan (12 Edw 1 cc.1–14; cy, Statud Rhuddlan ), also known as the Statutes of Wales ( la, Statuta Valliae) or as the Statute of Wales ( la, Statutum Valliae, links=no), provided the constitutional basis for the government of ...
in 1284 followed the conquest of the Principality by
Edward I of England Edward I (17/18 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1272 to 1307. Concurrently, he ruled the duchies of Duchy of Aquitaine, Aquitaine and D ...
. It assumed the lands held by the Princes of Gwynedd under the title "
Prince of Wales Prince of Wales ( cy, Tywysog Cymru, ; la, Princeps Cambriae/Walliae) is a title traditionally given to the heir apparent An heir apparent, often shortened to heir, is a person who is first in an order of succession and cannot be displaced ...
" as legally part of the lands of the Crown, and established shire counties on the English model over those areas. The Marcher Lords were progressively tied to the English kings by the grants of lands and lordships in England, where control was stricter, and where many marcher lords spent most of their time, and through the English kings' dynastic alliances with the great magnates. The
Council of Wales and the Marches The Court of the Council in the Dominion and Principality of Wales, and the Marches of the same, commonly called the Council of Wales and the Marches () or the Council of the Marches, was a regional administrative body based in Ludlow Castle wi ...
, administered from
Ludlow Castle Ludlow Castle is a ruined medieval fortification in the Ludlow, town of the same name in the English county of Shropshire, standing on a promontory overlooking the River Teme. The castle was probably founded by Walter de Lacy (died 1085), Walt ...
, was initially established in 1472 by
Edward IV of England Edward IV (28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483) was King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, then again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. He was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars in England ...
to govern the lands held under the Principality of Wales which had become directly administered by the English crown following the Edwardian conquest of Wales in the 13th century.William Searle Holdsworth, ''A History of English Law'', Little, Brown, and Company, 1912, pg. 502


The end of Marcher powers

By the 16th century, many marcher lordships had passed into the hands of the crown, as the result of the accessions of Henry IV, who was previously
Duke of Lancaster The Dukedom of Lancaster is an Peerage of England, English peerage merged into the crown. It was created three times in the Middle Ages, but finally merged in the Crown when Henry V of England, Henry V succeeded to the throne in 1413. Despite t ...
, and
Edward IV Edward IV (28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483) was King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, then again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. He was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars in England ...
, the heir of the Earls of March; of the
attainder In English criminal law, attainder or attinctura was the metaphorical "stain" or "corruption of blood" which arose from being condemned for a serious capital crime (felony or treason). It entailed losing not only one's life, property and hereditary ...
of other lords during the
Wars of the Roses The Wars of the Roses (1455–1487), known at the time and for more than a century after as the Civil Wars, were a series of civil wars fought over control of the throne of England, English throne in the mid-to-late fifteenth century. These w ...
; and of other events. The crown was also directly responsible for the government of the Principality of Wales, which had its own institutions and was, like England, divided into counties. The jurisdiction of the remaining marcher lords was therefore seen as an anomaly, and their independence from the crown enabled criminals from England to evade justice by moving into the area and claiming "marcher liberties". Under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 introduced under
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for his Wives of Henry VIII, six marriages, and for his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) ...
, the jurisdiction of the marcher lords was abolished in 1536. The Acts had the effect of annexing Wales with
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
and creating a single state and legal
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Jur ...
, commonly referred to as
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is Engli ...
. The powers of the marcher lordships were abolished, and their areas were organised into the new Welsh counties of
Denbighshire Denbighshire ( ; cy, Sir Ddinbych; ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the North East Wales, north-east of Wales. Its borders differ from the Denbighshire (historic), historic county of the same name. This part of Wales ...
, Montgomeryshire,
Radnorshire Radnorshire ( cy, Sir Faesyfed) is one of the thirteen historic counties of Wales and a former administrative county. It covers a sparsely populated area in mid Wales. The historic county was bounded to the north by Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, ...
, Brecknockshire,
Monmouthshire Monmouthshire ( cy, Sir Fynwy) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South East Wales, south-east of Wales. The name derives from the Monmouthshire (historic), historic county of the same name; the modern county covers th ...
, and
Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire ( cy, Sir Gaerfyrddin; or informally ') is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South West Wales, south-west of Wales. The three largest towns are Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford. Carmarthen is the c ...
. The counties of
Pembrokeshire Pembrokeshire ( ; cy, Sir Benfro ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South West Wales, south-west of Wales. It is bordered by Carmarthenshire to the east, Ceredigion to the northeast, and the rest by sea. The count ...
and
Glamorgan , HQ = Cardiff , Government = Glamorgan County Council (1889–1974) , Origin= , Code = GLA , CodeName = Chapman code , Replace = * West Glamorgan * Mid Glamorgan * South Glamorgan , Mo ...
were created by adding other districts to existing lordships. In place of assize courts of England, there were Courts of Great Sessions. These administered English law, in contrast with the marcher lordships, which had administered Welsh law for their Welsh subjects. Some lordships were added to adjoining English counties:
Ludlow Ludlow () is a market town in Shropshire, England. The town is significant in the history of the Welsh Marches and in relation to Wales. It is located south of Shrewsbury and north of Hereford, on the A49 road (Great Britain), A49 road which ...
,
Clun Clun ( cy, Colunwy) is a town in south west Shropshire, England, and the Shropshire Hills AONB, Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The 2011 United Kingdom census, census recorded 680 people living in the town.Combined populat ...
, Caus and part of Montgomery were incorporated into Shropshire; Wigmore, Huntington, Clifford and most of Ewyas were included in Herefordshire; and that part of
Chepstow Chepstow ( cy, Cas-gwent) is a town and community (Wales), community in Monmouthshire, Wales, adjoining Wales-England border, the border with Gloucestershire, England. It is located on the tidal River Wye, about above its confluence with the R ...
east of the
River Wye The River Wye (; cy, Afon Gwy ) is the Longest rivers of the United Kingdom, fourth-longest river in the UK, stretching some from its source on Plynlimon in mid Wales to the Severn estuary. For much of its length the river forms part of Wal ...
was included in
Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a Counties of England, county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn and the entire Forest of Dean. The county town ...
. The Council of Wales, based at
Ludlow Castle Ludlow Castle is a ruined medieval fortification in the Ludlow, town of the same name in the English county of Shropshire, standing on a promontory overlooking the River Teme. The castle was probably founded by Walter de Lacy (died 1085), Walt ...
, was reconstituted as the
Council of Wales and the Marches The Court of the Council in the Dominion and Principality of Wales, and the Marches of the same, commonly called the Council of Wales and the Marches () or the Council of the Marches, was a regional administrative body based in Ludlow Castle wi ...
, with statutory responsibilities for the whole of Wales together with, initially,
Cheshire Cheshire ( ) is a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial and Historic counties of England, historic county in North West England, bordered by Wales to the west, Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, and Sta ...
,
Shropshire Shropshire (; alternatively Salop; abbreviated in print only as Shrops; demonym Salopian ) is a landlocked historic Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands region of England. It is bordered by Wales to the we ...
,
Herefordshire Herefordshire () is a county in the West Midlands of England, governed by Herefordshire Council. It is bordered by Shropshire to the north, Worcestershire to the east, Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a Count ...
,
Worcestershire Worcestershire ( , ; written abbreviation: Worcs) is a Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands of England. The area that is now Worcestershire was absorbed into the unified Kingdom of England in 927, at which ...
and
Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a Counties of England, county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn and the entire Forest of Dean. The county town ...
. The City of Bristol was exempted in 1562, and Cheshire in 1569. The Council was eventually abolished in 1689, following the "
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus , also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or ''Glorious Crossing'' in the Netherlands, is the sequence of events leading to the deposition of King James II and ...
" which overthrew James II (VII of Scotland) and established William III (William of
Orange Orange most often refers to: *Orange (fruit), the fruit of the tree species '' Citrus'' × ''sinensis'' ** Orange blossom, its fragrant flower *Orange (colour), from the color of an orange, occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum * ...
) as king.


List of Marcher lordships and successor shires

List of Marcher lordships and successor shires: *Flintshire :
Flint Flint, occasionally flintstone, is a sedimentary rock, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as the variety of chert that occurs in chalk or marly limestone. Flint was widely used historically to make stone tool ...
:
Hawarden Hawarden (; cy, Penarlâg) is a village, community (Wales), community and Wards and electoral divisions of the United Kingdom, electoral ward in Flintshire, Wales. It is part of the Deeside conurbation on the Wales-England border and is home ...
: Hopedale : Maelor Saesneg :
Mold A mold () or mould () is one of the structures certain fungi A fungus (plural, : fungi or funguses) is any member of the group of Eukaryote, eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and Mold (fungus), molds, as ...
*Denbighshire : Bromfield and Yale :
Chirkland Chirkland ( cy, Swydd y Waun) was a marcher lordship in north-east Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, t ...
:
Denbigh Denbigh (; cy, Dinbych; ) is a market town and a community in Denbighshire, Wales. Formerly, the county town, the Welsh name translates to "Little Fortress"; a reference to its historic castle. Denbigh lies near the Clwydian Hills. Hist ...
:
Ruthin Ruthin ( ; cy, Rhuthun) is a market town and Community (Wales), community in Denbighshire, Wales, in the south of the Vale of Clwyd. It is Denbighshire's county town. The town, castle and St Peter's Square lie on a hill, skirted by villages su ...
(
Dyffryn Clwyd Dyffryn Clwyd was a cantref A cantref ( ; ; plural cantrefi or cantrefs; also rendered as ''cantred'') was a Wales in the Early Middle Ages, medieval Welsh land division, particularly important in the administration of Welsh law. Description Lan ...
) *Montgomeryshire : Caus (part) : Cedewain : Ceri : Montgomery (part) :
Powys Powys (; ) is a county and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain ...
*Radnorshire : Cwmwd Deuddor :
Elfael Elfael was one of a number of Wales, Welsh cantrefi occupying the region between the River Wye and river Severn, known as Rhwng Gwy a Hafren, in the early Middle Ages. It was divided into two commotes, Is Mynydd and Uwch Mynydd, separated by the c ...
: Glasbury : Gwrtheyrnion : Maelienydd : Radnor *Brecknockshire : Blaenllyfni :
Brecon Brecon (; cy, Aberhonddu; ), archaically known as Brecknock, is a market town in Powys, mid Wales. In 1841, it had a population of 5,701. The population in 2001 was 7,901, increasing to 8,250 at the 2011 census. Historically it was the count ...
:
Builth Builth Wells (; cy, Llanfair-ym-Muallt) is a market town and community (Wales), community in the county of Powys and historic counties of Wales, historic county of Brecknockshire (Breconshire), mid Wales, lying at the confluence of rivers Rive ...
: Hay *Monmouthshire :
Abergavenny Abergavenny (; cy, Y Fenni , archaically ''Abergafenni'' meaning "mouth of the River Gavenny") is a market town and Community (Wales), community in Monmouthshire, Wales. Abergavenny is promoted as a ''Gateway to Wales''; it is approximately fr ...
:
Caerleon Caerleon (; cy, Caerllion) is a town and Community (Wales), community in Newport, Wales. Situated on the River Usk, it lies northeast of Newport city centre, and southeast of Cwmbran. Caerleon is of archaeological importance, being the site ...
:
Chepstow Chepstow ( cy, Cas-gwent) is a town and community (Wales), community in Monmouthshire, Wales, adjoining Wales-England border, the border with Gloucestershire, England. It is located on the tidal River Wye, about above its confluence with the R ...
(part) : Ewyas Lacy (part) : Gwynllwg (Wentloog) :
Monmouth Monmouth ( , ; cy, Trefynwy meaning "town on the Monnow") is a town and community (Wales), community in Wales. It is situated where the River Monnow joins the River Wye, from the Wales–England border. Monmouth is northeast of Cardiff, and ...
: Usk *Glamorgan : Lordship of Glamorgan : Lordship of Gower *Carmarthenshire : Cantref Bychan :
Kidwelly Kidwelly ( cy, Cydweli) is a town A town is a human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range ...
: Emlyn : Llansteffan :
Laugharne Laugharne ( cy, Talacharn) is a town on the south coast of Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire ( cy, Sir Gaerfyrddin; or informally ') is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South West Wales, south-west of Wales. The ...
: St Clears *Pembrokeshire : Cemais : Cilgerran : Haverford : Llawhaden : Narberth : Pebidiog : Pembroke *Transferred to English shires : Bishop's Castle ''(Shropshire)'' :Caus (part) ''(Shropshire)'' :Chepstow (part) ''(Gloucestershire)'' : Clifford ''(Herefordshire)'' :
Clun Clun ( cy, Colunwy) is a town in south west Shropshire, England, and the Shropshire Hills AONB, Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The 2011 United Kingdom census, census recorded 680 people living in the town.Combined populat ...
''(Shropshire)'' :Ewyas Lacy (part) ''(Herefordshire)'' : Kington ''(Herefordshire)'' : Huntington ''(Herefordshire)'' :Montgomery (part) ''(Shropshire)'' :
Oswestry Oswestry ( ; ) is a market town, civil parish and historic railway town in Shropshire, England, close to the England–Wales border, Welsh border. It is at the junction of the A5 road (Great Britain), A5, A483 road, A483 and A495 road, A495 ro ...
''(Shropshire)'' : Whittington ''(Shropshire)'' : Wigmore ''(Herefordshire)''


The Marches today

There is no modern legal or official definition of the extent of the Welsh Marches. However, the term the Welsh Marches (or sometimes just the Marches) is commonly used to describe those English counties which lie along the border with Wales, particularly Shropshire and Herefordshire. The term is also sometimes applied to parts of Powys, Monmouthshire and Wrexham. • • The Welsh Marches Line is a railway line from Newport in the south of Wales to Shrewsbury, via Abergavenny, Hereford, and
Craven Arms Craven Arms is a market town and Civil parishes in England, civil parish in Shropshire, England, on the A49 road and the Welsh Marches Line, Welsh Marches railway line, which link it north and south to the larger towns of Shrewsbury and Ludlow ...
. The Marches Way is a long distance footpath which connects Chester in the north of England, via Whitchurch,
Shrewsbury Shrewsbury ( , also ) is a market town, civil parish, and the county town of Shropshire, England, on the River Severn, north-west of London; at the 2021 United Kingdom census, 2021 census, it had a population of 76,782. The town's name can b ...
,
Leominster Leominster ( ) is a market town in Herefordshire, England, at the confluence of the River Lugg and its tributary the River Kenwater. The town is north of Hereford and south of Ludlow in Shropshire. With a population of 11,700, Leominster is t ...
and
Abergavenny Abergavenny (; cy, Y Fenni , archaically ''Abergafenni'' meaning "mouth of the River Gavenny") is a market town and Community (Wales), community in Monmouthshire, Wales. Abergavenny is promoted as a ''Gateway to Wales''; it is approximately fr ...
to the Welsh capital, Cardiff. The Marches School is a secondary school in
Oswestry Oswestry ( ; ) is a market town, civil parish and historic railway town in Shropshire, England, close to the England–Wales border, Welsh border. It is at the junction of the A5 road (Great Britain), A5, A483 road, A483 and A495 road, A495 ro ...
, Shropshire. The school has several meeting rooms named in Welsh, and has students and staff from both sides of the border.


See also

*
Marches In Middle Ages, medieval Europe, a march or mark was, in broad terms, any kind of borderland, as opposed to a national "heartland". More specifically, a march was a border between realms or a neutral buffer zone under joint control of two states ...
– for other examples, including
Scottish Marches Scottish Marches was the term used for the Anglo-Scottish border The Anglo-Scottish border () is a border separating Scotland and England which runs for 96 miles (154 km) between Marshall Meadows Bay on the east coast and the Solw ...
between England and Scotland. * Council of the Marches *
Earl of March Earl of March is a title that has been created several times in the Peerage of Scotland and the Peerage of England. The title derived from the "marches" or borderlands between England and either Wales (Welsh Marches) or Scotland (Scottish Marche ...
– some of the dynastic families controlling the Welsh Marches * Welsh Lost Lands * England–Wales border * A49 – main road that runs north-south through the Marches *
Honour of Richmond The Honour of Richmond (or English feudal barony of Richmond) in north-west Yorkshire, England was granted to Count Alan Rufus (also known as Alain le Roux) by King William I of England, William the Conqueror sometime during 1069 to 1071, althoug ...
* History of Gwynedd during the High Middle Ages * :Towns of the Welsh Marches * :Counties of the Welsh Marches


Notes


References

;Attribution *


Further reading

*Freeman, Edward Augustus Freeman, 1871
The History of the Norman Conquest of England: Its Causes and Its Results
(Clarendon Press, London) *Davies, R. R., ''The Age of Conquest: Wales 1063–1415'' (Oxford 1987, 2000 edition), pp. 271–88. *---. ''Lordship and Society in the March of Wales, 1282–1400'' (1978). *Froude, James Anthony, 1881.
History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Death of Elizabeth
' (London, Published by C. Scribner's sons) pp. 380–384. *Reeves, A. Compton, ''The Marcher Lords'' (1983) *Skeel, C.A.J
"The Council in the Marches of Wales", Hugh Rees Ltd. London (1904)
*Allott, Andrew. 2011, Marches. Collins New Naturalist Library. London * {{Coord, 52, -3, region:GB, display=title 926 establishments States and territories established in the 920s England–Wales border 01 01 History of Wales Medieval England Medieval Wales Regions of England Regions of Wales West Midlands (region) 16th century in England 16th century in Wales The Lordship of Bromfield and Yale Marches (country subdivision)