and history of Cosmeston medieval settlement
The Cosmeston medieval settlement site was discovered
during excavations by the Glamorgan
Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd. in 1977 and 1982, in
response to a development threat close to the known site of 'Cosmeston
Castle'. Archaeological investigations revealed the remains of 13th
and 14th century stone buildings, the Local Authority then invited
the Trust to undertake a long term research programme. Cardiff University
is now investigating the large archive of archaeological
finds from the GGAT excavations as part of the new project,
and conducting ongoing investigations such as landscape
survey and excavation
to increase knowledge about this unique site.
Excavations by Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust
Image © Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.
Formerly in the Welsh kingdom of Morgannwg, Cosmeston lies within
the lands conquered by the Norman lord Robert Fitzhammon, and established
as the lordship of Glamorgan. One of his followers was the de Constentin
family, from the Constentin peninsular in northern France, who became
the first known lords of the manor at Constentinstune (Cosmeston)
'the place of the Constentins'. By 1317 the manor had passed to
the de Caversham family and then to the Herbert family by 1550.
During the 19th century the Bute family, famous for rebuilding Cardiff
Castle and the industrialisation of Cardiff's coal port, became
the owners of Cosmeston.
Village reconstruction. Image © Glamorgan Gwent
Archaeological Trust Ltd.
In the medieval period the manor of Cosmeston was a sub-manor of
Sully, forming part of the lordship of Glamorgan, and similar in
size to the present day parish of Lavernock.
The administrative centre of the manor was the manor house, which
at Cosmeston has been historically known as a 'castle'. In south
Wales manor houses of this period were often heavily fortified and
15th century references to Cosmeston mention a tower or corner bastion,
it appears to have been abandoned by 1437. Evidence of a manorial
garden and dovecot have also been found in the field south-west
of the manor house.
Medieval Fair Event at the village 2007. Image © Karolina Ploska.
The peasant farmers, who held land from the lord of the manor, usually
produced enough food to sustain their families, provide rent for
the land, and in a good year a surplus which could be traded for
money. At Cosmeston, in common with other local villages, their
buildings were made from locally available limestone bedded in courses
and mortared with clay. Each homestead was located within a block
of land known as a croft, typically 11/2 -2 acres in size. At Cosmeston
boundaries of some crofts can be seen as earthworks in a field on
the opposite side of the modern B4267 road, the original medieval
route being through the village. The farmstead, a group of three
buildings grouped around a central yard at Cosmeston, is very interesting
as many medieval farms in Wales consisted of a 'longhouse' where
people and animals lived at either end of the same building, and
not separately as in this case.The enclosed fields of the manorial
lord were known as the demesne, over which the peasants could not
exercise common rights of grazing, woodcutting or hunting.
This planned and managed landscape is likely to have existed around
Cosmeston as a direct consequence of the Norman conquest and settlement
of the Vale of Glamorgan in the early 12th century. Other types
of settlement also included small hamlets and isolated farmsteads,
two of which existed at nearby Sutton and Lavernock.
Cosmeston guide book © Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust