Dore Abbey ChurchHistory & Heritage

A Violent and Turbulent Past.

Hidden deep in the hillside of the Doward are Arthur's and Merlin's Caves inhabited by man from 10,000BC during the Ice Age, through the Bronze Age and up to the arrival of the Roman Legions. The Roman settlement of Ariconium was founded in 50AD near Weston-under-Penyard just a few miles from Ross-on-Wye. It's not known exactly when Ross first became a settlement but it seems likely that it was sometime during the Saxon period, the Saxon invaders had reached the Wye by 590AD. Although surrounded by myths and legends King Arthur was probably a Celtic British King or chieftan who fought against the Saxon invaders in the late 6th Century.

Throughout this period the area was ravaged by Welsh raids, border strifes and bloody battles contributing to a violent and turbulent local history. Offa's Dyke, a great earthen ditch was dug in 784AD to divide England and Wales and over the following centuries a line of motte and bailey castles were built along the borders as defenses against these raids. Many of the castles remain, some have fallen to ruin, others are on private land and sometimes only the earthworks remain. Some of these castles are open to visitors including Goodrich Castle built high on a rock outcrop overlooking the River Wye near Ross-on-Wye. Although the exact number of castles in Herefordshire has never been established, the area is reputed to be second only to Northumberland.

Following the Norman Conquest and by the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Ross had become a small village and by 1138 had been granted a charter by King Stephen to hold markets. Hereford City itself is home to the famous 'Mappa Mundi' - a map of the world as it was perceived in 1290. The area around Ross-on-Wye continued to be at the centre of major conflict due to it's strategic position and in the English Civil War in the 17th century the castle at Goodrich was the last castle in Herefordshire to fall to the Parliamentarians.