An Illustrated Guide to the Castles of England and Wales

Castles (1973)
Castles (1973)

I noted the launch of the new illustrated guides series in 1973. This is volume 6 in the same series, Castles: An Introduction to the Castles of England and Wales (London: HMSO, 1973). Price 35 p. The author is B.H. St. J. O’Neil, former Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments. This is in effect the 2nd edition of the 1954 guide.

The guide has a section on ‘Some castles of especial interest’ and those under the care of the Department of the Environment are indicated. There is also a glossary and a set of plans.

The back of the guide announces the publication of Guide 3: East Anglia and Midlands (55 p), and paperbound and blockbound of 6: Scotland (30 p / 50 p).

An Illustrated Guide to the Ancient Monuments of Wales

Wales (1973)
Wales (1973)

I have commented before on the Illustrated Regional Guides to Ancient Monuments that appeared in the late 1930s. This volume was published in 1973 as An Illustrated Guide to the Ancient Monuments Maintained by the Department of the Environment on Behalf of the Secretary of State for Wales (London: HMSO, 1973; 2nd impression with amendments, 1976). The price is clearly £1.65.

There are five main sections:

  • H.N. Savory, Prehistory (7-29)
  • G.C. Boon, The Roman Occupation (30-46)
  • C.A. Ralegh Radford, Early Christianity and the Emergence of Wales (47-57)
  • Glanmor Williams, The Middle Ages (58-99)
  • D. Morgan Rees, The Industrial Revolution (100-105)

There is a short bibliography for each of the sections.

The catalogue of sites appears on ‘pink’ pages at the end arranged by county. There is a foldout map at the end locating the sites.

The Preface informs us:

The guide differs from its predecessors (the previous guides to North Wales and South Wales) as the result of recent changes in the arrangements for the custody of Ancient Monuments in Britain. The Department of the Environment has absorbed the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works and the Secretary of State for Wales is now responsible for Welsh Ancient Monuments in the place of the Minister. Industrial Monuments have ben included for the first time, since they now fall within the scope of the Ancient Monuments Act.

This is part of a new series announced as:

  1. Northern England. 75p
  2. Southern England. 60p
  3. [Blank – for East Anglia]
  4. Wales. £1.65
  5. Cymru. £1.65 [Welsh language version of 4]
  6. Castles. 35 p
  7. Abbeys. £1.25


Regional Guides to Ancient Monuments in the Care of the Ministry of Works

South Wales
South Wales (1959)

We are used to the paperback handbooks to sites in the care of CADW, English Heritage and Historic Scotland. In the 1930s the Ministry of Works commissioned a series of Illustrated Regional Guides to Ancient Monuments in the Care of the Ministry of Works.

The series consisted of (with prices):

1. Northern England. 4/6.

2. Southern England. 6/0.

3. East Anglia and the Midlands. 5/0.

4. South Wales. 5/0.

5. North Wales. 4/6.

6. Scotland. 7/6.

I have a hardback copy of the 3rd edition for Guide no. 4 ‘South Wales and Monmouthshire’ (HMSO [1938] 1954, 3rd impression with amendments, 1959; 5 shillings) by Sir Cyril Fox, Director of the National Museum of Wales. It contains maps and black and white photographs.

The notes to the 2nd and 3rd editions observe the growing number of sites that had moved into the care of the Ministry of Works: 12 between 1938 and January 1949; and a further 8 between 1949 and January 1954.


Preface, 7

Chronological Table, 10-11

The Geographical Background, 13-14

Prehistoric Periods, 15-21

Roman Period, 22-25

Post-Roman Periods, 26-55

Notes, 56-57 [Gazeteer of 49 sites, 58-68]

Bibliography, 69

Index, 70-71

Bury St Edmunds Abbey

Bury St Edmunds Abbey

The abbey at Bury St Edmunds can be traced back to the early 7th century. The remains of the martyred St Edmund were buried here in 903. The Abbey survived until 1539 when it was handed to the Crown. English Heritage are now custodians of the site.

This guidebook, published in 1971 (and reprinted here in 1976) was prepared by A. B. Whittingham for the Department of the Environment. This was based on Whittingham’s 1951 article published in the Archaeological Journal. [For details see here.]

The guide (331 pp.) contains:

a. History

b. Description

c. Glossary

There are two plans inside the back cover: the Abbey Church (and crypt), and the Abbey precinct. There are also back and white photographs as well as reproductions of 18th century views of the ruins.

Guides to Corbridge


Interpretation of sites is crucial. Guide books were produced to help visitors understand the sites. The ‘green’ guide to ‘Corbridge Roman Station (Corstopitum) Northumberland’ was prepared by Eric Birley in 1935 and the copy shown is the 3rd edition (1954; Fourth impression, 1958; 1 shilling) (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office / Ministry of Works: Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings). The guide has the following information:

I. The Site

II. The History of the Site

III. Description of the Remains

IV. The Museum

There are black and white plates, and a folding plan inside the back cover.


My 10th impression (1970) of the 3rd edition (1954) has the more traditional ‘blue’ cover (Ministry of Public Building and Works, Official Guidebook; 2 shillings and 6 d [helpfully with the new decimal currency, 12.5 p]. This follows the structure of the ‘green’ guide but with black and white images in the text at appropriate points. In the spirit of decimalisation there is a ‘Conversion Table’ at the end converting feet and inches into metres.


J.N. Dore’s ‘Corbridge Roman Site’ was published by English Heritage in 1989 (HMSO). Note the change from ‘Roman Station’ (£1). This has a fuller structure with the main themes:

a. Tour

b. History

c. The Museum

There are plans, reconstructions, and black and white images in text.


The Dore guide was revised in 2012 (with an image of the ‘Corbridge Lanx’) with a colour cover.