Gower is a relatively small area, centred on Swansea on the south Wales coast. Its name, Gower, was adopted in Norman times, when the lordship of Gower was created from the earlier Welsh area of Gŵyr. Today that area covers almost all of the City and County of Swansea plus a bit of Neath Port Talbot. Many people are unaware of the larger extent of the lordship and tend to think of Gower as just the peninsula. The Society’s interest covers all of the lordship – an area bounded by the rivers Tawe, Llwchwr, Cathan, Amman and Twrch.… and why is it so special?
Much of the peninsula was designated as the U.K.’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956. It narrowly beat The Quantocks to this honour thanks largely to effective lobbying by The Gower Society.
“Gower is a happy accident of geological forces, climatic conditions and human enterprise: a harmonious blend of landscape, nature and history. This ‘rare patch of the earth’s surface’, as Wynford Vaughan Thomas called it, is a rich mix of natural scenic beauty, farmed landscape and diverse flora” [A Guide to Gower].
Gower is a country of contrasts. Magnificent cliffs and seascapes, some of the finest beaches in the country, hidden valleys, wind-swept uplands, salt marshes…
The peninsula includes Burry Inlet, a Ramsar Site and Special Protection Area; it boasts five Special Areas of Conservation, three National Nature Reserves, twenty-five other reserves, twenty-five Sites of Special Scientific Interest and sixty-seven Ancient Woodland Sites. It also includes five Historic Gardens or Parks.
It has the oldest formal human burial in Europe (at Paviland), Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments and burial sites, Iron Age fortifications, Roman remains, Norman churches and castles and eighteenth-century houses.
Landscape, nature and history…. all in a compact package less than 25 miles by 5.