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The History of Cardiff

THE ROMAN FORT AT CARDIFF

Cardiff began as a Roman fort. The Romans invaded Wales about 50 AD and about 55 AD they built a fort on the site of Cardiff. In the late 1st century the fort was reduced in size as Wales was now at peace.

However in the mid-3rd century the fort was rebuilt and strengthened to defend South Wales against Irish raiders. Yet in the fourth century Roman civilisation declined. Towards the end of the century the Romans abandoned the fort at Cardiff.

CARDIFF IN THE MIDDLE AGES

The town of Cardiff was founded when the Normans conquered Glamorgan. A Norman called Robert Fitz Hamon conquered the area. He built a wooden castle within the walls of the old Roman fort. (The castle was rebuilt in stone in the early 12th century).

Soon a little town grew up in the shadow of Cardiff castle. That often happened in the Middle Ages as the castle's garrison provided a market for the goods made by the craftsmen of the town. Cardiff had a population of between 1,500 and 2,000 in the Middle Ages. Towns were very small in those days, especially Welsh towns.


In Cardiff there were weekly markets. After 1340 Cardiff also had 2 annual fairs. In the Middle Ages the fairs were like markets but they were held only once a year and they lasted a fortnight. Buyers and sellers would come from all over Glamorgan and even further away to attend a Cardiff fair.

In Medieval Cardiff there were the same craftsmen you would find in any Medieval town like butchers, bakers, brewers, carpenters and blacksmiths. There were also leather workers like shoemakers and glovers. Medieval Cardiff was also a busy port. Ships were loaded and unloaded at a town quay.

In the early 12th century a wooden palisade was erected around Cardiff to protect it. In the late 13th century this was replaced by a stone wall. Then in the 13th century the friars arrived in Cardiff. Friars were like monks but instead of withdrawing from the world they went out to preach. There were 2 orders of friars in Cardiff. The Dominicans were called black friars because of their black costumes. The Franciscans were known as grey friars because of their grey costumes. Although they have long since disappeared from Cardiff the grey friars live on in the street name Greyfriars Road.

In 1404 Owain Glendower burned Cardiff. That was an easy task as most of the buildings were made of wood with thatched roofs. However Cardiff was soon rebuilt and it flourished once again.



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