Blaenavon Ironworks – Where better steel was born!

Not our usual fare because you can in no way look at this and say it is a castle but it is none the less very interesting from a historical viewpoint and can be described as robustly built. If you have an interest in Industrial history, specifically the innovation that allowed the production of cheaper, better quality steel. The “basic steel process” or the “Gilchrist-Thomas process”, named for the industrial chemist Sidney Gilchrist Thomas and his cousin Percy Gilchrist who was a chemist at the Blaenavon Ironworks came about when Sidney discovered a solution to the problem of phosphorus in iron, which resulted in the production of low-grade steel. By using dolomite or sometimes limestone as a lining for the Bessemer converter rather than the usual clay they were able to remove the phosphorus and produce a better quality of steel at a fraction of the price. It also produced a byproduct of phosphate fertilizer.

Caerleon Amphitheatre.

Wolf Nipple Chips! Get ’em While They’re Hot, They’re Lovely! Monty Python quotes aside, this is the location of a Roman legionary fortress or castra and the headquarters for Legio II Augusta from about 75 to 300 AD. That’s Augustus’ Second Legion to the likes of you and me. And where you have soldiers you need to have entertainment. Apparently, subduing the indigenous population just wasn’t entertaining enough and their company clearly wasn’t that good. Probably because they didn’t want to be subdued. (The locals were revolting) Cinema hadn’t been invented yet and so instead, in around 90 AD they built an Amphitheatre with seating for around 6,000 spectators. The word Amphitheatre isn’t even Roman but instead comes from the Greek (amphi), meaning “on both sides” or “around” and (théātron), meaning “place for viewing”. That’s the trouble with the Romans. If it isn’t nailed down, they would have it away.

Haverfordwest Priory

A Priory of Augustinian Canons Regular on the banks of the Western Cleddau at Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, thought to date to the late 12th or early 13th centuries. Between 1983 to 1996 the site was excavated revealing the outlines of buildings and unearthing a unique medieval garden with raised beds.

A River, a major road and a railway line now flank the Priory. It was probably a major route at the time being so close to the river and the valley bottom.