Wales and the Sea: 10,000 years of Welsh Maritime History

Wales and the Sea: 10,000 years of Welsh Maritime History

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This book is also available in Welsh:
Cymru a’r Môr: 10,000 o flynyddoedd o Hanes y Môr

The most comprehensive study of Wales’ maritime history ever commissioned, taking over a decade to research and produce – sees publication this week. Entitled Wales and the Sea: 10,000 years of Welsh Maritime History, the volume delves into every aspect of Wales’ connection with the sea, from earliest history to the present day: from archaeology to paintings and poetry, from naval history to seaside holidays.

Winner of the Best Illustrated Maritime Book of the Year Award by the Maritime Foundation, 2020, and the quinquennial GT Clark Prize by the Cambrian Archaeological Association, 2017-21.


Foreword by The Right Honourable The Lord Elis-Thomas, PC, AM, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport in the Welsh Government

Introduction: People and the sea: a common inheritance

Chapter 1: Ships, sea and the imagination

  • The art of Francis Place
  • The architecture of the sea
  • Seafaring in medieval legend
  • Medieval poets at sea
  • Ships fashioned and scratched
  • Visual imagery
  • Sailor' souvenirs
  • Pioneers of photography and film
  • Songs of the sea

Chapter 2: For those in peril: navigation and safety

  • Medals for bravery
  • A cut above the rest: the pilot cutter
  • ‘And now for the shipping forecast…’
  • Measuring, marking and timekeeping
  • Seamarks, beacons and lighthouses
  • A house fit for a lifeboat

Chapter 3: The sea’s rise and fall

  • The West Coast Palaeolandscapes Project
  • The evolution of the Menai Strait
  • Molluscs, middens and fishing
  • Seascapes characterisation
  • Welsh floods

Chapter 4: Prehistoric and Roman boats

  • The golden boat of Caergwrle
  • Caldicot and Goldcliff
  • Ships on coins in the Rogiet hoard
  • Placing faith in divine aid
  • The Barland’s Farm boat

Chapter 5: Roman conquest and trade

  • Port facilities at Caerleon
  • Late-Roman coastal defences
  • Roman trade and transport

Chapter 6: Early medieval connections

  • Documentary sources for early medieval seafaring
  • Scandinavian coastal names
  • A Viking ship that wasn't
  • The Battle of the Menai Strait
  • A victim of The Smalls reef

Chapter 7: The Middle Ages

  • The medieval dock at Beaumaris Castle
  • Rhuddlan Castle and the canalisation of the River Clwyd
  • Flint: coastal fortress and centre of industry
  • The ports and harbours of south-west Wales
  • Two ships and their fates

Chapter 8: Coracles to carracks

  • The Magor Pill ship: a medieval workhorse
  • The Newport ship
  • Slates in the sea
  • Ships on seals
  • Ships and faith
  • The Bardsey handgun

Chapter 9: Maritime Wales in the Tudor period

  • Tudor ship images
  • A Tudor trader's house
  • Port books and trade

Chapter 10: Merchant shipping in the modern age

  • Centres of Welsh shipbuilding
  • Coastal trade
  • Distinctive small vessels: smacks, sloops, trows and flats
  • The ‘Mersey flat’ and the North Wales coastal trade
  • ‘Such store of fishe as pleased God to send’
  • ‘Consider slavery’
  • The 'Bronze Bell' wreck
  • Ships that roofed the world
  • The Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris boats
  • The Pembrokeshire lime trade
  • Coastal limekilns
  • Shipping dynasties and local shareholders
  • North American vessels in Welsh waters
  • The coal trade
  • Sarah and Primrose
  • Trans-shipment from canal to ocean-going vessels
  • Ballast spotting
  • Cable ships
  • Sand factories

Chapter 11: The lure of the sea

  • The royal yacht Mary
  • On pleasure bent…
  • Packet services, ferries and pleasure steamers
  • The Kathleen & May
  • The Blue Riband
  • A. M. Dickie & Sons

Chapter 12: Defending the coast of Wales

  • Pembroke Dockyard: a great enterprise
  • The last invasion of the British Isles
  • Victory spoils: Napoleonic cannon in Wales
  • Robert Seppings and HMS Conway
  • Faded glories: training ships
  • HMS Hamadryad
  • The Resurgam submarine
  • The H5 submarine
  • Short Sunderland T9044: a unique survivor
  • Saunders-Roe, of Beaumaris, Anglesey
  • The Harlech Lightning
  • The Royal Naval Patrol Service
  • Ferro-concrete shipping
  • Modern warfare

Chapter 13: Ships as microcosms

  • A Roman sailors’ joke?
  • Newport Ship carpenters’ marks
  • Food on board
  • Weapons on board
  • The Ann Francis
  • Finds from the royal yacht Mary
  • The Royal Charter
  • Life aboard the ‘Bronze Bell’

Chapter 14: A future for our underwater past

  • Intertidal wrecks in Swansea Bay
  • Wales’s maritime archaeological record
  • The naming of ships
  • Historic vessels afloat
  • Magnificent flying machines
  • Recording techniques
  • The view from the air
  • Documenting fishtraps
  • Climate change
  • Modelling the Newport ship
  • Rescuing the Magor Pill hull
  • Renewable energy
  • Dredging for sand and gravel
  • Waterfront regeneration; the Alice and the City of Ottawa
  • Eroding coastlines

Chapter 15: Maritime heritage and the law

  • Protection, marine archaeology and the law in Wales
  • State-owned vessels and aircraft
  • Salvage law
  • Smugglers, wreckers and pirates
  • Legendary smugglers
  • The Ann Francis: wreck and aftermath
  • Swallowing sands: the Dollar wreck

Chapter 16: Museums: access for all

  • The Nautical Archaeology Society
  • Archives as research sources
  • Models and replicas


  • Glossary
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Contributors
  • Acknowledgements
  • Index
Author Royal Commission, Mark Redknap (Editor), Sian Rees (Editor), Alan Aberg (Editor)
Cover Softback
Size 237 x 270
Pages 348
Illustrations 300
ISBN 978-1-78461-527-7