THE Gwent region is steeped in history - from the coal mines to the docks, grizzly murders and war heroes.

But there are many stories people are unaware of across the region which makes for fascinating local knowledge.

Here we highlight just some of these little-known historical gems.

Rodney Parade’s role in the war

South Wales Argus: Picture: Chris TinsleyPicture: Chris Tinsley

A little-known fact is that during the Second World War, there was an air raid shelter at Newport’s famous ground. Managing director Mark Jones told the Argus in 2019 that he was told by a colleague about the shelter during his 35-year career at the stadium.

He said: “The oldest part of the stadium is the red brick building by the clubhouse, I’m not sure if its part of the original build from 1877 or not.

“Aside from that, the clubhouse is the second oldest and there are thick walls by the toilets which I was told by a previous member of staff was an air raid shelter during the war.”

Civilians would have been able to reach the shelter at the ground quickly as it is in a prime location, surrounded by houses.

Rodney Parade’s memorial gates

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Staying at Rodney Parade, and the gates as you approach the ground from Rodney Road are not like most gates into stadiums.

These gates were made in 1923 to commemorate the 86 people from Newport Athletic Club – which was the initial team on the ground – who died during the First World War.

Caerphilly’s ‘witch marks’

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An unusual series of marks were found at Tudor manor home Llancaich Fawr in Nelson. They were initially dismissed as accidental marks, however, research carried out by site historical interpreter Alicia Jessop shows that they are in fact witch marks.

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Witch marks were made with the belief of preventing witches or evil spirits from entering a house. The marks at the house are scorch marks and also overlapping Vs with ‘demon traps’, marks in the shape of crosses, circles and coffins.

Interpreters believe a servant at the house was absolutely terrified of something – after 130 of these marks were found on the beams and door frames of a small attic space which used to be a servant’s chambers.


High Cross bombing

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Many people know High Cross for its roundabout which links to the M4, but few know of the story of May 31, 1941, where seven people – including children – were killed in an explosion.

Vernon Morgan was a child when he witnessed the explosion.

He told the Argus in 2007 – then aged 81: "I was in Ifor Hael Road where we lived looking east, roughly in the direction of High Cross Lane where I now live.

"I saw those houses go up.

"When you get an explosion like that there's not just a flash there's a sort of dull, eerie glow as the bricks and wood are thrown into the air.

"There's also a loud bang at a distance which oddly, is not noticeable when you are nearer the blast as I was to be later that year."

Mr Morgan was closer to the October 7 blast which killed 11 people.

Abertillery’s child murderer – and links to London serial killer

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A recent documentary brought the story of Harold Jones – Abertillery’s young killer – back into people’s knowledge.

At the age of 14, Jones was working in a local shop when he lured eight-year-old Freda Burnett to her death on February 5, 1921.

He was actually tried for her murder after Scotland Yard were brought in to investigate the case. He was acquitted on June 21 after local residents testified about his good character. It turned out to be a bad move as just days later on July 8, he killed 11-year-old Florence Little – the daughter of one of those who testified to his character.

With both murders he helped with the searches for the girls, but his father apprehended him following the discovery of Florence’s body in the attic of the Jones house. He pleaded guilty in November of that year and was sent to Usk Prison as he was too young for the gallows. He was said to have admitted guilt for the murder of Freda when in prison.

He was released from jail in Wandsworth, London, in 1941 and it was unknown what he got up to as electoral registers were suspended due to the war. It is believed he regularly returned to visit his parents.

He died of cancer in 1971 and is buried in Hammersmith cemetery. But his name has not gone away – as he had been linked to the murder of 12-year-old Muriel Drinkwater in Swansea in 1946 and a number of murders done by ‘Jack the Stripper’ in London in the 1960s.

He was ruled out of the 1946 murder in 2009 after DNA evidence did not match.

St Mary’s Church, Tintern

South Wales Argus: Picture: Andrew GeorgePicture: Andrew George

St Mary’s Church in Tintern has been a ruin since the 1970s after a fire devastated the building. People are able to enter the remains today - although caution should be taken as what is left is structurally unsafe.

The church itself stands on the site of a medieval chapel which was rebuilt in 1865. It is thought to have been a retreat for the monks at Tintern Abbey or for the secular community that was growing outside the abbey walls.

It has been associated with the Llandogo, Trellech and Llanishen parishes and Tintern Parva. It was annexed to Tintern Parva in 1902. Seventy years later, it became redundant and some of the contents were sold to Clearwell Castle.

South Wales Argus: Picture: Catherine MayoPicture: Catherine Mayo

Five years after being made redundant, a fire destroyed St Mary’s. There is not much known about the fire and it is thought that two people died in the fire according to the Monmouthshire Beacon who provided an appeal from a production company to trace the families of the two.

Today the church ruins are privately owned, however, the graveyard is still owned by the Church in Wales.

What are some of the lesser-known historical landmarks or stories in Gwent that you are aware of? Let us know by emailing