Fascinating Facts


Fascinating Facts

It's never 11 o'clock in Littledean

The 12th century parish in Littledean is dedicated to the St Elthelbert, the 8th century saxon king.  If you go through Littledean look up at the church tower.  The obvious thing is that the spire is just a stump, having been destroyed in a gale in the 1894.  Look carefully at the clock face - the roman numeral for eleven has been wrongly painted!

Tintern Abbey

The Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales.  It was the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales, and was founded on 9 May 1131 by Walter de Clare, lord of Chepstow.  It soon prospered, thanks to endowments of land in Gwent and Gloucestershire, and buildings were added and updated in every century until its dissolution in 1536.  Since the early 20th century, every effort has been made to keep standing one of the finest and most complete abbey churches in Wales.

William Wordsworth visited Tintern in 1798, returning 5 years later, to write the poem "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey", saying that "no poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant for me to remember than this"

Offa's Dyke

A 1,200 year old, linear earthwork roughly following the England/Wales border. Possibly built due to a border dispute, its origins however, are shrouded in mystery and the experts really don't know why it was built.  The dyke is attributed to Offa, King of Mercia from 757 to 796; Mercia was much of Southern England.  The Dyke ran from the estuary of the River Dee in the north to the River Wye in the south.  The Offa's Dyke Path was opened in 1971 and links Sedbury Cliffs to Prestatyn, a total of 177 miles of spectacular landscape.

Early Man

On the Doward near Symonds Yat,  there are signs of early settlement in the Wye Valley, as evidenced by the remains of the iron age hillforts at Little Doward and Symonds Yat, and King Arthur's Cave on the slopes of the Wye.

The Longstone, Buckstone, Toad's Mouth and Broadstone near Staunton, Coleford are Standing Stones that date back to the Bronze and Iron Ages.   When Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton visited Monmouth in 1802 the Buckstone was painted white in their honour. The stone used to rock on its base until 1885 when a group travelling actors and the landlord at the Agincourt Inn in Monmouth dislodged it and send it crashing down the slope. It split into several pieces, but was hauled back up the hill, was cemented together in place and no longer rocks.

The Harold Stones are in Trellech; three large monoliths of conglomerate stone, commonly referred to as pudding stone.  They date back to the Bronze Age and it is thought they were dragged to the site on logs and levered into position, probably either for seasonal information or for use at religious ceremonies. Some believe that they were aligned on the winter solstice with the Skirrid mountain, also known as the "Holy Mountain of Gwent".

Ships and the Navy

It may seem unlikely but the area has a long connection with the sea!

Lydney's harbour area was always strategically important, allowing the ships that opposed the Spanish Armada to be built here from the Forest's great oaks. This was actioned by Sir William Wintour, Admiral of the Fleet of Queen Elizabeth I in 1588, who was granted the manor of Lydney.  

The Forest grows the country's largest area of mature oak - thanks to Nelson.  The naval hero visited in 1802 looking for shipbuilding timber and was left concerned by how little was left.  Thirty million acorns were planted, but by the time the trees had grown, ships were made of iron and steel.  During that same visit Nelson visited the Kymin to see the Naval Temple built by the citizens of Monmouth to commemorate the naval triumphs of the napolonic wars.  Today the museum in Monmouth has possibly the best collection of Nelson memorabillia in the country.



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