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Formation 1984
Legal status Historic Environment division of the Welsh Government
Headquarters Treforest Industrial Estate, Treforest, Rhondda Cynon Taf
Region served
Kate Clark

Cadw (Welsh for: to keep/to protect, Welsh pronunciation: ) is the historic environment service of the Welsh Government and part of the Tourism and Culture group, Cadw works to protect the historic environment and heritage sites of Wales, and to enable accessible, understandable and life-enhancing experiences of Welsh history, culture and landscape.


  • Aims and objectives 1
    • Conservation and protection 1.1
    • Distinctive character 1.2
    • Understanding history and place 1.3
    • Making a difference 1.4
  • Equivalent organisations 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Aims and objectives

Dolwyddelan Castle, one of the sites in Cadw's care.

As the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, Cadw is charged with protecting the historic environment of Wales, and making it accessible. To this end, it identifies four aspects to its work:-

  • Conserving Wales’s heritage.
  • Sustaining the distinctive character of Wales’s landscapes and towns.
  • Helping people understand and care about their place and history — and the place of Wales in the world.
  • Making a real difference to people’s wellbeing in Wales.[1]

Conservation and protection

In Wales in 2011 there were three World Heritage Sites; 29,936 Listed Buildings, (493 Grade I, 2,124 Grade II* and 27,319 Grade II); 4,175 Scheduled Monuments, 6 Designated historic wrecks, and 523 Conservation Areas, all of which provide statutory protection. A register of significant Welsh battlefield sites is also underway.[1]

Cadw has specific responsibility for 127 historic sites in state ownership. Many of Wales's great castles and other monuments, such as bishop's palaces, historic houses, and ruined abbeys, are protected and maintained in this way, as well being opened to the public.[2] Cadw is the successor body in Wales to the Ministry of Works.

Distinctive character

There are 58 Historic Landscapes and 376 Historic parks and gardens in Wales. Cadw is also undertaking urban character studies of urban areas. Eight had been completed by September 2013.[3] Combined with a register of buildings and ancient monuments at risk these aim to enable management decision making and grant allocation to strengthen the character of different areas.[1]

Understanding history and place

Valle Crucis Abbey Ruins, a historic abbey in Cadw's care
Pentre Ifan, a Neolithic dolmen in Pembrokeshire

Cadw operates most of the heritage sites in its care and opens them to the public. In 2010-11 there were an estimated 2 million visits to Cadw properties. In some cases, these are major tourist attractions and offer tours of the monuments, exhibitions and display panels. Cadw also produces books and guidebooks on many of their properties. However many of the sites are unstaffed, free to access, and have interpretation boards to explain their significance.

Cadw Membership, formerly known as Heritage in Wales, gives the member free admission to all Cadw properties for the length of their membership (annual or life). Cadw has also entered into reciprocal agreements with English Heritage and Historic Scotland and Manx National Heritage.[4]

The five most visited properties in 2010-11 were:

To provide a better context for the history of Wales, Cadw is developing thematic 'All Wales Interpretation Plans', that can develop themes across numerous sites and localities. There are eight themes:-

  • Origins and prehistory.
  • Roman invasion and settlement.
  • Celtic saints and pilgrimage.
  • Churches, chapels and monastic landscapes.
  • Castles and Princes of Medieval Wales.
  • Artistic responses to the landscape.
  • The Defence of the Realm — Pembrokeshire.
  • Wales — the first industrial nation.[1]

Making a difference

The Valuing our Historic Environment Group estimates that in 2011, 30,000 jobs and £840 million per year of added value can be attributed to the Welsh historic environment of Wales, as well as the less quantifiable benefits in leisure, recreation, health and well-being.[1] Historical and cultural events are one of the ways people are encouraged to engage more thoroughly with the places and history of Cadw properties, and some 200 events a year are held.[5]

Equivalent organisations

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Cadw Historic Environment Position Satatement 2010-11 Accessed 1 October 2013
  2. ^ Introducing Cadw accessed 31 August 2013
  3. ^ Understanding Character, Cadw studies of Welsh towns
  4. ^ Official Cadw website
  5. ^ Cadw Events web page

External links

  • Official Cadw website (English) (Welsh)
  • Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (English) (Welsh)
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