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Welsh: Sir Fynwy
United Kingdom
Ragland castle t100.jpg
Raglan Castle
Flag of Monmouthshire
Utrique Fidelis
(Faithful to both)
[Interactive map]
Area: 542 square miles
Population: 514,723
County town: Monmouth
Biggest town: Newport
County flower: Foxglove [1]

The County of Monmouth is a shire in the south-west of Great Britain. The eastern part of the county is mainly agricultural, while rich mineral resources were discovered in the western valleys in the 18th century. This led to the western part of the county becoming highly industrialised with coal mining and iron working becoming major employers between the 18th and late 20th centuries.[1]

Monmouth, the county town, stands at the extreme north-east of the county, on the border with Herefordshire, while the largest settlement, the city of Newport lies in the southern coastal belt. The highest point is Chwarel y Fan at 2,228 feet.


Monmouthshire lies to the north of the Severn Estuary, which forms the county's southern border. Three other rivers form the majority of the county's other borders: The Wye forms the eastern border with Gloucestershire, the Rhymney forms the western border with Glamorgan and the Monnow forms the north-eastern border with Herefordshire. The Brecon Beacons form the northern border with Brecknockshire.

The parish of Welsh Bicknor is an exclave of Monmouthshire, sandwiched between Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. The Herefordshire hamlet of Fwthog adjoining the Honddu Valley is an exclave within Monmouthshire.

The island of Denny in the Bristol Channel also belongs to Monmouthshire and hundred of Caldicot.


The Usk meandering near Scethrog

Monmouthshire is watered by four main rivers, fed from the county's verdant valleys, of which three are border rivers and the fourth runs through the green heart of the shire.

The River Monnow marks the border with Gloucestershire, flowing out of the Black Mountains, it runs 26 miles down to Monmouth, which town takes its name from the river and thus so does the county of Monmouth itself.

The Wye is one of the great rivers of the kingdom; indeed only four rivers of Britain are longer. It is not specifically a Monmouthshire river, rising in the mountains between Brecknockshire and Radnorshire and swelling in the womb of Herefordshire, but its broad lower reach is Monmouthshire's eastern border, with Gloucestershire, and on this river stand the fine Monmouthshire towns of Monmouth and Chepstow and the picturesque valley side at Tintern.

The River Rhymney flows off the Brecon Beacons, down the Rhymney Valley amongst the mining villages which once turned is waters black. Its highest village is Rhymney and its lowest Rumney, and between these two namesakes and down to the Severn estuary its whole course marks the border between Monmouthshire and Glamorgan.

The River Usk is the river which waters Monmouthshire's heartland. It sees all the contrasting aspects of the county in its course. It enters the shire as a young river in the mountains in the northernmost parts, above Abergavenny, and meanders gently through the rolling farmland in middle of the shire, eventually coming to Caerleon of the county's historic heritage, and then on to the county's urban aspect, in the ancient and modern of Newport, disgorging its waters into the Severn Estuary at Uskmouth.


Map of the hundreds of Monmouthshire by Thomas Moule, c. 1831

The county was divided into six Hundreds in 1542: (map)


the Flag of Monmouthshire flying at the Hood Memorial Hall, Devauden


Boundary towns

The valley of the Rhymney River is extensively urbanised, such that many towns and other settlements straddle the border between Monmouthshire and Glamorgan:

  • Cardiff lies in the extreme south-east of Glamorgan, such that its eastern suburbs of Rumney and St Mellons lie across the Rhymney River in Monmouthshire.
  • Caerphilly, also in Glamorgan, has its eastern suburb of Bedwas across the Rhymney River in Monmouthshire.
  • Maesycwmmer in Monmouthshire and Ystrad Mynach in Glamorgan form a single conurbation.
  • Blackwood in Monmouthshire has its western suburb of Tir-y-Berth across the Rhymney River in Glamorgan. Additionally, the suburb of Pengam has its railway station on the Glamorgan side.
  • Bargoed in Glamorgan and Aberbargoed in Monmouthshire form a single town under the Bargoed Town Council. Aberbargoed is located on the eastern side of the Rhymney river and in Monmouthshire, whereas Bargoed town and suburbs are located on the western side of the Rhymney river and therefore a part of Glamorgan.
  • New Tredegar has western suburbs of Brithdir and part of Tirphil across the Rhymney River in Glamorgan. The communities of Elliots Town and Phillipstown are on the eastern side of the river in Monmouthshire.
  • Rhymney, located at the north of the Rhymney Valley, is the most north-westerly community. For civil purposes it includes Abertysswg, Butetown, Rhymney and Lechryd and extends into Glamorgan to the west and Brecknockshire to the north.

Several settlements also straddle the river Wye, which forms the border between Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire:

  • Chepstow lies in the extreme south-east of Monmouthshire, such that its eastern suburbs of Sedbury and Tutshill are in Gloucestershire.
  • The village of Brockweir in Gloucestershire is situated on the eastern bank of the Wye such that the main access into the village is from the A466 in Monmouthshire. The former railway station on the Wye Valley line was also on the western (Monmouthshire) bank.
  • The village of Redbrook straddles the border where it heads away from the river in a north-easterly direction.

Along the urbanised northern border with Brecknockshire is a further example of a cross-border conurbation:

  • The Rassau-Brynmawr-Beaufort-Nantyglo-Ebbw Vale area forms a single conurbation, with the former three lying in Brecknockshire and latter two part of the industrialised Monmouthshire western valleys.


See Category:Towns and villages in Monmouthshire



Monmouthshire lies at the junction of major routes from South Wales to London and the Midlands. Major roads include the M4 motorway from London to Carmarthenshire, the parallel A40 and A48 routes and the A465 and A449 routes to the Midlands.

Princiapal rail routes converge on Newport, including the South Wales Main Line via the Severn Tunnel, the Gloucester to Newport Line, Welsh Marches Line and Ebbw Valley Line.

The Monmouthshire canal and the Brecknockshire and Abergavenny canal converge at Pontymoile near Pontypool.

Things to see in Monmouthshire

Cathedral/Abbey/Priory Cathedral/Abbey/Priory
Accessible open space Accessible open space
Amusement/Theme Park Amusement/Theme Park
Castle Castle
Country Park Country Park
Cadw Cadw
Forestry Commission Forestry Commission
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
Museum (free)
Museum (not free)
Museum (free/not free)
National Trust National Trust
Zoo Zoo
Llanthony Priory


Castle Castles:

Other fine buildings and ruins

Landscape and walks

See also


  1. John Bartholomew (1887). "Monmouthshire". Gazetteer of the British Isles. Vision of Britain. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 

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