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Wrexham

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NPRN33102
Map ReferenceSJ35SW
Grid ReferenceSJ3351350215
Unitary (Local) AuthorityWrexham
Old CountyDenbighshire
CommunityCaia Park
Type Of SiteTOWN
PeriodGeneral
Description
1. Wrexham is the administrative centre of the wider County Borough of Wrexham, and the largest town in North Wales. It is situated between the Welsh mountains and the lower Dee Valley close to the border with Cheshire, England. As North Wales' largest town, it is the region's main commercial, retail, educational and cultural centre.

Unusually for a large town, Wrexham is not built up alongside a major river. Instead it is situated on a relatively flat plateau between the lower Dee Valley and eastern most mountains of Wales. This situation enabled it to grow as a market town as a cross roads between England and Wales and later as an industrial hub - due to its rich natural reserves of iron ore and coal. It does however have three relatively minor rivers running through parts of the town. These are the rivers Clywedog, Gwenfro and Alyn. Wrexham is also famed for the quality of its underground water reserves, which gave rise to its previous dominance as a major brewing centre.
Originally a market town with surrounding small villages, Wrexham is now coalesced with a number of urban villages and forms North Wales' largest conurbation of around 100,000 people.

In the 18th century Wrexham was known for its leather industry and also a nail-making industry in Wrexham. In the mid-18th century Wrexham was no more than a small market town with a population of perhaps 2,000. However, in the late 18th century Wrexham grew rapidly as it became one of the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution began in Wrexham in 1762 when the entrepreneur John Wilkinson (1728-1808) opened Bersham Ironworks. In 1793 he opened a smelting plant at Brymbo.

M. Lloyd Davies, RCAHMW, 21 January 2009

2. The earliest known use of the land and resources of the Wrexham area date from the prehistoric Mesolithic period, with tools made from flint being found in Borras, to the east of the town. So far, no evidence of more permanent settlement, in the form of buildings has been discovered, although finds of Neolithic and Bronze age tools suggest the area was being exploited. The Bronze age burial mounds in Fairy Road and Hillbury Road, to the west of the modern Town Centre give the first indications that the area meant something, in terms of leaving behind a family member as a permanent presence, to a group of people.

Iron age settlement and occupation is known from the Hillforts which occur on the higher ground to the west of the modern Town, but the Roman Invasion of Wales brought into being the first permanent settlement which has been archaeological excavated. The Romanised farm at Plas Coch, on the western edge of the modern Town, provided evidence for buildings, agriculture and trade with the wider Roman World.

Wrexham as a named settlement begins to grow in the period after the Romans left Wales. The name Wrexham was originally spelt Wryghtelsham, Wrechessham or Wristlesham, and comes from the old English for Wryhtel's river meadow or Wryhtel's hamm ? a peninsula surrounded on three sides by marsh. The network of streets which meet at a crossroads in the Town Centre as Church Street, High Street, Town Hill and Hope Street all use the high ground to the north of St. Giles Parish church, which to its south drops away to the river Gwenfro, and where the original water meadow would have been.

A water meadow by a river could provide high-quality grazing for animals, and it is this feature which fuelled the growth of Wrexham into a town during the medieval period. The `Beast Market? formerly occupied a large part of the land immediately east of the modern Town Centre, an area which has now been redeveloped as a Shopping and Retail Centre. The buying and selling of animals fuelled the need for other trades to supply the drovers and farmers who bought their here, and consequently more permanent houses and a network of streets were created.

The outskirts of what was becoming Wrexham town also saw developments which would affect the character of the settlement. Wat's Dyke, a large bank and ditch earthwork ran to the west, marking out, at least for a time, the border between the Welsh Kingdom of Powys and the English Kingdom of Mercia. Although this border was later superseded by others, it provides an indication the Wrexham was a border town.

RCAHMW (Spencer Gavin Smith June 2011)
Resources
DownloadTypeSource
application/pdfRCAHMW Exhibitions
application/pdfRCAHMW Exhibitions