History and heritage to enchant and enlighten.
Where history is concerned, the Vale's cup doth indeed runneth over! With tangible reminders, remnants and ruins of the past, and stories of old, just waiting to be re-told...
History is an amazing eye-opener, isn't it? And if you consider it in generations rather than years, you begin to understand that technology may be unrecognisable to what it once was, but often, the thoughts of peoples and societies, parents and grandparents, and their parents and grandparents before them, were actually not so very different from yours and ours today...
Charismatic castles and historic churches.
Ogmore Castle is set in idyllic surroundings, with fun stepping stones over the river, and St Quentin's Castle in Llanblethian stands in a beautiful spot just outside Cowbridge. A visit to St Illtud's Church in Llantwit Major could see you standing in a spot that St David, patron saint of Wales himself, could very well have stood, as he studied there at the start of the Middle Ages.
Follow these enjoyable and informative Blue Plaque Trails as a great starting point to discover more about Cowbridge and Llantwit Major.
St Donats Castle, extensively renovated and extended by none other than William Randolph Hearst, American newspaper tycoon, is a site that's been occupied since the iron age, and was thought to be the home of the Celtic chieftain, Caradog. 12th century Ewenny Priory, who's Church of St Michael is open to the public, is a Norman building, and was home to a Benedictine monastery.
Prehistoric peoples, and Jurassic footprints and fossils.
This extensive list of Scheduled Monuments is a great place to begin planning your pre-history explorations in the Vale. From Tinkins Wood burial chamber near Bonvilston, to St Lythan's (or Maesyfelin) chamber near Wenvoe, or the iron age remains at Dunraven Bay Castle hill fort on the cliffs near Southerndown.
All along the coast, from the extremely well documented Jurassic dinosaur footprints site at The Bendricks beach off Barry, to the whole length of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and beyond, the Vale is renowned for its fossil finds and a fascinating area for fossil hunting.
More recent revolutions and revelations.
As the industrial revolution continued well into the end of the 19th century and beyond, the coal and metal ores found in the South Wales hills needed ever bigger ports from which to ship them. Barry and Barry Island, formerly separated by the waters of Barry Sound, became one as the sea was held back and massive docks were built, joining the two. By 1913, Barry was the largest coal port in the world.
Not such good times, and the Vale's ports and railways became target for potential invaders in World War II, and Barry War Museum makes sure we don't forget those times of trouble. The Victorian era and the advance of the railways also led to the development of the 'seaside resort' as many took their first holidays away from home. Reminders of these times can be seen all over Penarth and Barry.
We hope you enjoy discovering the history of the Vale. Make sure to plan those Activities and Attractions visits too.