Today (29 October), Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, marks 30 years since its creation, so to celebrate, here’re 30 fascinating facts you might not know about the organisation and its iconic monuments…
© Cadw, Welsh Assembly Government (Crown Copyright)
If Cadw monuments were top trumps
1. Caerphilly Castle is the largest single monument in Cadw’s care; although Roman sites such as Caerwent Town and Caerleon Fortress cover more ground space.
Filming Dr. Who in Caerphilly Castle. © Cadw, Welsh Assembly Government (Crown Copyright)
2. The smallest monument is Carew Cross, which is also the inspiration for the Cadw logo
The Hoff at Caerphilly Castle
3. Blaenavon Ironworks is the highest altitude site at 355m, followed by Carreg Cennen which stands at 265m
Dylan Thomas. © Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales
4. The most recently built monument is, surprisingly, a castle! Although built on the site of a 13th century castle, Castell Coch was built in the 1870s
5. Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber is one of the oldest monuments, dating back to approximately 3,500 B.C.
The weird and the wonderful
6. Two of the most unusual sites protected by Cadw are a lump of coal at Bedwellty House in Tredegar which was destined for the Great Exhibition in 1851, and the TARDIS lookalike in Newport, a former 1930’s police phone box – both are listed.
7. There are six designated shipwrecks around the coast of Wales, including “Resurgam” – a permanently submerged submarine.
8. The Paviland Cave, is one of Wales’ oldest scheduled ancient monuments. It was here that the ‘Red Lady of Paviland’, an Upper Paleolithic-era human male skeleton estimated at 33,000 years old was discovered
9. Caerphilly Castle’s south-east tower has a bigger lean than the bell tower at Pisa, with a lean of more than 10 degrees.
Cadw in the 80s
10. Cadw was originally created on 29 October 1984, by the then Secretary of State for Wales, Nicholas Edwards
11. The first building ever listed by Cadw in 1984 was an 18th century cottage, Rhos Boeth farmhouse, in Benllech, Anglesey
12. Four members of staff have been with Cadw since the beginning – Laurence Toole, Alan Cornish, Gwilym Pritchard and Gwyndaf Edwards
13. In 1985, Presteigne in mid Wales became the first community systematically surveyed by Cadw for candidate listed buildings
14. Conwy Castle is Cadw’s most visited site, attracting nearly 200,000 visitors every year
15. Cadw protects in excess of 30,000 listed buildings across Wales
16. Some 200 events take place at Cadw sites each year
17. Cadw protects 4,182 scheduled ancient monuments
18. Approximately 1.2 million people visit Cadw staffed sites each year
19. 10 of Cadw’s guardianship sites are located within or also form part of a registered park and garden. Cadw has staffed monuments in all three of Wales’ National Parks; Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire Coast and the Brecon Beacon
TV, film and well-known visitors
20. Five Cadw sites appear in cult-TV series Doctor Who. They are Caerphilly Castle, Castell Coch, Chepstow Castle, Neath Abbey and Tretower Court and Castle
21. Kidwelly Castle was used as a location for the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, appearing in the very first scene after the titles
22. Celebrities love Cadw sites too! Famous visitors include Tiger Woods, Johnny Depp, Richard Gere, Tom Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, and Ellie Goulding, to name but a few. And let’s not forget The Hoff…
23. Henry VII was brought up at Raglan Castle between 1462 and 1469 (between the ages of 5 and 12) before eventually going on to defeat Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485
24. Dylan Thomas put pen to paper in Laugharne Castle’s garden summerhouse
25. Other famous films at Cadw sites include The Black Knight (1954), Jabberwocky (1977), The Song Remains the Same (1976 featuring Led Zepplin) and Time Bandits (1981). While Caernarfon Castle has been the backdrop of Bollywood films
26. Olympic medallist, Colin Jackson CBE, has been a Cadw member since 2002.
27. Cadw’s longest serving custodian is Amanda Canby-Lewis who works at St Davids Bishop’s Palace and joined in 1988
28. Dilys Glynne, Joan Blease, Nona Bluchard, Ann Peacock, Llew Groom and Margaret Egan are the longest serving volunteers, working at Plas Mawr since it came into Cadw care and opened to the public in 1997
29. Jane Colclough, Head Custodian at Rhuddlan Castle, was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to the castle
30. Custodians come in all shapes and sizes, such as Lola the Basset Hound who works at Valle Crucis Abbey and Chester the Rug Chapel cat. They are also both very popular on twitter!