The intention of this website is to provide information on the Pre-History, Early History, and Geology of Wales

Prehistoric Wales


The story of  Wales begins 500 million years ago 
during the Silurian period.

At this time the area formed part of the sea bed of the Welsh Basin.
The sediment sinking to the sea floor formed  slate millions of years later

350 million years ago Wales lay on the Equator and what became North Wales was a shallow tropical sea.
The corals and other shelled marine creatures formed Carboniferous Limestone deposits as they  died and sank to the bottom of the sea.

By 300 million years ago the sea had become much shallower and the area became a network of swamps and river deltas.
It was at this time that the Welsh Coal Measures were laid down.

250 million years ago the climate became warmer and drier leading to a desert environment and sandstone was formed.
It was at this time that veins of valuable minerals such as Silver, Zinc and Lead were created within fault lines in the  Carboniferous Limestone deposits 

Throughout this time Wales was slowly moving North.

It has taken many millions of years to create the natural mineral resources that made Wales so important to the rise of the Industrial Revolution

Welsh Timeline 

Palaeolithic = 250,000 - 8000BC

Lower Palaeolithic = 250,000 - 70,000 B.C.


Middle Palaeolithic  = 70,000 - 40,000 B.C


Upper Palaeolithic = 40,000 – 8000 B.C


Mesolithic = 8000 - 4400 BC

Neolithic = 4000 - 2300 BC

Early Neolithic = 4400 - 2900 BC

Late Neolithic = 2900 - 300 BC

Copper Age = 2500 - 2200BC

Bronze Age = 2300 - 700 BC 

Early Bronze Age = 2300 - 1400 BC

Middle Bronze Age = 1400 - 1100 BC

Late Bronze Age = 1100 - 700 BC

Iron Age = 700 BC - 43 AD 

Earliest Iron Age 800 - 600 BC

 Early Iron Age = 600 - 400 BC

Middle Iron Age = 400 - 100 BC

Late Iron Age = 100 - 50 BC

Latest Iron Age = 50 BC - 100 AD

Roman = 43 - 410 AD

Early Medieval = 410 - 1283 AD


Later Medieval (Post Conquest) = 1283 - 1536 AD


Post-Medieval = 1536 AD - 18th century


Modern = 18th century to present


Welsh Prehistory

In terms of human settlements this covers the period from about 230,000 years ago, the date attributed to the earliest human remains found in what is now Wales, to the year 48 AD when the Roman army began a military campaign against one of the Welsh tribes. 

Early Neanderthals lived in what is now Wales, at least 230,000 years ago, while Homo sapiens arrived by about 29,000 years ago. 

However, continuous habitation by modern humans dates from the period after the end of the last ice age around 9000 BC, and Wales has many remains from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age. During the Iron Age the region, like all of Britain south of the Firth of Forth, was dominated by the Celtic Britons and the British language. 

The British Isles have experienced a long history of migration from across Europe. Over the millennia successive waves of immigrants have come to the Isles The ancient migrations have mainly come via two routes: along the Atlantic coast and from Germany/Scandinavia. The main settlement came in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods

There is archaeological evidence, thirty-two worked flints found in April 2003 at Pakefield on the Suffolk coast, of settlement of hominini in Britain from about 700,000 BC. A shinbone found belonging to "Boxgrove Man", a member of species Homo heidelbergensis was found at Boxgrove Quarry, West Sussex is the oldest human remains found in Britain and has been dated at c. 480,000 BC .Neanderthal man is thought to have appeared in Britain around 130,000 BC and become the dominant species until their disappearance from archaeological record c. 30,000 BC. A skull found in Swanscombe in Kent and teeth found at Pontnewydd Cave in Denbighshire are examples of remains found with distinct early Neanderthal features.

Cro-Magnons (the first anatomically modern humans) are believed to have arrived in Europe about 40,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of modern humans in north west Europe is part of a jawbone and three teeth found in a cave in Torquay, Devon which dates to a period between 44,200 and 41,500 years ago, when a temporary warm spell lasting perhaps only a thousand years, made Britain habitable during the Ice Age

They are known to have had a presence in the geographical region that was to become Wales by 29,000 years ago due to the discovery of the skeletal remains of the "Red Lady of Paviland" found in a cave on Gower. This is actually the skeleton (lacking the skull) of a young man, and may be the oldest modern human remains yet discovered in Wales

During the following Ice Age (known as the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM)) around 20,000 years ago Northern Europe may have been completely depopulated of humans. Humans probably returned to the region of the British and Irish peninsula about 14,700 years ago as the Ice Age started to end, after an absence of about 5,000 years Interestingly, eighty per cent of the DNA of most white Britons, according to modern research, has been passed down from a few thousand individuals who hunted in this region during the last Ice Age. This would indicate a significance which dwarves all subsequent migrations to Britain from Europe

The Romans, who began their conquest of Britain in 43 AD, first campaigned in what is now North East Wales in 48 AD against the Deceangli, and gained total control of the region with their defeat of the Ordovices in 79 AD

It has been estimated the population of Britain around 9000 BC to be around 1,000 people, in 8000 BC to be 1,200–I,500, in 7000 BC to be 2,500 and by the end of the Mesolithic , 4,000 BC, there may have been around 3,000 people in Britain.

 At the beginning of the Bronze Age, 2,500 BC, the population has been estimated at 20,000, rising, by the later Bronze Age, 1000BC, to around 100,000.

 By 100 BC there may have been around 250,000 people in Britain, which had risen to 500,000 by 50 BC

 The Roman invasion involved around 20,000 combat troops and the same number of auxiliaries, making a figure of around 40-45,000. The Romans kept around 16,000 legionaries stationed here, with perhaps around the same number of dependents and auxiliaries, some of whom came from the native population. Estimates for the population by 200 AD vary between 1 and 2 million