Historic battles were often iconic events that frequently invoke strong emotions and passions today. The reputations of political and military leaders were often based on success on the battlefield. The locations where battles took place can be significant historic assets. They often retain topographical and archaeological evidence, including war graves, which can increase our understanding of these momentous events.
Consultations in 2011 and 2013 demonstrated strong public support for the recognition of the importance of these pivotal episodes through the creation of a comprehensive record of historic battlefields in Wales. Cadw therefore asked the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales to create The Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Wales.
During the preparation of the inventory, extensive documentary research was undertaken along with the field survey of a limited number of sites traditionally associated with significant engagements. In light of the findings of these investigations, the inventory adopted the following definition of a battlefield:
An area or location, terrestrial or marine, where a conflict occurred, involving military forces. All aspects of Wales’s past should be considered for the identification of historic battlefield sites, which may include traditional battles, sieges, invasions, skirmishes, ambushes, massacres and sites of civil unrest.
Over 700 battlefields have been identified, ranging from battles of the Roman period to outbreaks of civil unrest in the nineteenth century. The inventory maps these sites using an innovative system employing eight levels of certainty in locating a site. It also provides information on the documentary sources and archaeological evidence available for the inventoried battles.
The preparation of the inventory has shown that Welsh battlefields have been relatively little studied and are poorly understood when compared to comparable sites in the rest of the UK and Europe. Cadw actively encourages research into this type of historic environment asset and welcomes contact regarding future research opportunities.
The inventory highlights the importance of battlefields as significant elements of the Welsh historic environment. Details of inventoried conflict sites must be included in the statutory historic environment records established for every local authority area by the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016. These publicly available records give local planning authorities and other land managers the information and evidence required for informed decisions on the historic environment.