The Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Wales is an interpretative, educational and research resource aimed at increasing knowledge, raising awareness and prompting further research on battlefields and other historic conflict sites in Wales. It is intended for a wide-ranging audience that includes decision makers in the historic environment, interest groups and individual researchers. Over 700 battles appear in the Inventory, and this will be amended and added to as and when new information becomes available.
The Inventory has been funded by the Welsh Government, and is compiled and maintained by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service (Cadw).
Creation of the Inventory is linked to the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016, specifically section 35 which states that the Welsh Ministers must compile and keep up to date a historic environment record for each local authority area in Wales. Subsection (2)(e) of the Act states that the historic environment record should include ‘details of every conflict site in the authority’s area which the Welsh Ministers consider to be of historic interest’. In this context ‘conflict site’ means
(a) a battlefield or a site on which some other conflict involving military forces took place; or
(b) a site on which significant activities relating to a battle or other such conflict as is mentioned in paragraph (a) occurred.
The focus of the Inventory is the location of each battle or conflict site and core information on it; it is not intended to be a comprehensive study of individual battles. Bibliographies have been provided for each battle entry to enable the user to undertake further research.
Battles included in the Inventory are based upon historical sources, and include discussion of later antiquarian speculation. Locations of some battles have become widely assumed on the basis of this speculation and can now be shown to be mistaken. These have been tagged as disputed, both for awareness and as a prompt for further research.
Information on each battle has been derived from documentary (principally primary) sources and where applicable archaeological evidence. For the period between 600 and 1300 we are fortunate to have four major chronicles written in Wales, in Latin (Annales Cambriae) and three Welsh adaptations of these that add further material (Brut y Tywysogion). These form the core record of the Inventory. They are supported by further minor chronicles in both Latin and Welsh, and the official records of the Royal household which often give information about payments to soldiers and building works. The poetry written for the Welsh princes also mentions many battles including some not found in the chronicle sources. For the Civil War period (1642-51) we have a wealth of printed material in the form of weekly reports from both the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, which often provide detailed narratives. The work of antiquarians in Wales have provided some useful information, but have also caused some confusion with their identifications becoming established and shown on older mapping, despite not being proven. Further details about the principle sources can be found here.
In addition to this, a phased programme of investigation comprising detailed documentary and historical research, and in some cases non-invasive and invasive fieldwork, was undertaken between 2009 and 2014 on a priority list of 47 battles and sieges. Further information on this, including a list of sites investigated and the resulting research reports, can found here.
Locating a battlefield or site on which a conflict took place is often a challenge, and locations can range from anywhere in Wales down to a specific place. The Inventory uses eight levels of certainty on the interactive search and mapping element of the resource, with further additional information provided in the overview of each battle.
The levels of certainty used are (1) Wales, (2) a region in Wales, (3) Historic County, (4) Medieval Cantref, (5) Medieval Commote, (6) Community, (7) within a 1km area and (8) a specific point.