Abergavenny, Wales

Abergavenny by Marty Wilde

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Taking a trip up to Abergavenny
Hoping the weather is fine
If you should see a red dog running free
Well, you know he's mine Read full Lyrics
Abergavenny Castle Thanks, Jeremy Bolwell
Abergavenny is a busy and quaint British market town which boasts proudly to be "The gateway to Wales." It sits just 6 miles from the English border in the hilly countryside of Wales. In the beautiful Welsh language the town is called Y Fenni, which means "mouth of the Gavenny river." In Welsh the word 'aber' means 'mouth,' hence Aber-gavenny.

Abergavenny has history wherever you look. It began life as a Roman fort, the remains of which were discovered in the 1960s. After the Romans, the Normans conquered the area and built a stone castle. Its remains are still visible today. The city is surrounded by mountains and hills and is close to the Brecon Beacons National Park. Walking tracks abound with many beginning, ending, or passing through Abergavenny.

When the Normans settled in the area, their French influence was established, and today the 11th century priory church of St Mary has fascinating features, such as monuments and wood carvings.

The town also has some bloody history. Being close to the English-Welsh border meant it was often the scene for the fighting in the Welsh Marches. This was land in Wales adjacent to the English border. In the 12th century, a group of Welsh chieftains were invited to a Christmas feast in Abergavenny Castle only to be trapped and butchered. They arrived for some fine festive fare, handed in their weapons, and supposedly the only stuffing they got was from English swords.

Sport thrives in Abergavenny today, with the British National Cycling Championships hosted there in recent times. The locals are avid football, rugby, cricket and tennis players. The setting of the playing fields with the picturesque mountains all around is a sight to behold. Mind you, spectators in February might well need their fleecy underwear!
Street in Abergavenny
(Ghmyrtle/Wikimedia Commons)
Being a market town means Abergavenny is renowned for its exchange and sale of goods. The cattle market has cattle, sheep, hay and straw all on sale on Tuesdays. On the same day in the Market Hall you can see a vast array of goods on display. Often the market spills over to the adjoining car park and sometimes stretches to the cattle market, as well. If you enjoy a good market, Tuesday's the day.

Culturally the town is typical of many in Wales, with a love of music and the spoken word. William Shakespeare has Lord Abergavenny in his play Henry VIII, and even Sherlock Holmes remarked that he had a case in the town.

Marty Wilde recorded the song "Abergavenny" in 1968. It did well and was released later in the United States under the title of "Shannon," where it was a minor hit, as well. Marty is not your typical Welshman. He was born Reginald Smith in London and his music making continued as he toured in 2010. Marty is the father of performer Kim Wilde, who had the 1982 hit "Kids In America."

But back in Abergavenny, there's plenty to see and do in the town and surrounding districts. Access by car and train is easy and tourists are in for a warm Welsh welcome. Abergavenny Songfacts
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