BETA Version

Neath - Overview

The town takes its name from its strategic situation on the lowest crossing point of the River Neath (Nedd). Owing to the shallowness of the river, the Romans established a fort here, Nidum, c.75 AD which remained in use until the departure of the Roman forces in the fourth century.

Two castles were founded in the area in the twelfth century, one by Richard de Glanville who in 1130 also established Neath Abbey. The town and market of Neath quickly developed around the castle and abbey, but was repeatedly sacked by the Welsh Lords of Afan. By the fourteenth century a walled town was well established, however, and trade flourished.

Neath began to develop heavy industries relatively early, and in the sixteenth century coal mining and copper smelting were undertaken here. The town was heavily industrialised in the eighteenth century with the growth of iron, steel and tinplate works, and by 1795 the Neath Canal had been completed, followed by the Swansea to Aberdulais canal in 1824. With the arrival of two railways in 1850 and 1851, the town had excellent links with industrial production sites further inland making it a major industrial hub.

During the Romantic period, travellers who came to Neath looked with equal amounts of horror and fascination at the spectacle presented to them by a view across the valley. Sublime nature and abbey ruins situated at one end of the valley contrasted with the billowing smoke and flames shooting into the sky at the other end. For a Romantic traveller and thrill-seeker, Neath at night was like stepping into a painting of the underworld.

Accounts of Travel

About Us

This website was developed by a team of researchers and academics across a range of institutions and funded by the AHRC.

Terms of Use

Get in Touch