THE INNS OF ABERCRAVE WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE To THEIR PLACE IN LOCAL HISTORY By D. WATKIN MORGAN, B.SC. Headmaster of Roath Park Secondary (Modem) School for Boys, Cardiff INNS have a most fascinating history. Indeed, so closely knit are local hostelries with the social life of a community that it is almost impossible to study the growth of any locality without some knowledge of their origin. Unfortunately, they have been associated with the drinking of beer, whose abuse has too often brought them into disrepute, but it is well to remember that up to 175 2, beer had been one of the most important beverages in the country from very early times. Even as far back as 300 B.C., Pytheas, the Greek explorer reported that the inhabitants of this island made a drink called 'mead' by mixing honey with wheat. The Celts called it 'curmi' from which the modem Welsh word 'cwrw' is derived. Inns have a long history, some date back to Roman times. Literature abounds in references to them. What vivid pictures are conjured up on reading Chaucer's Canterbury Tales or Boswell's Life of Doctor fohnson\ Who fails to enjoy Longfellow's Tales of a Wayside Inn, or who does not appreciate the accounts of the old Welsh Ballad singers, the itinerary harpists and the drovers of bygone days on their way to and from the English fairs and markets ? Undoubtedly, old inns and taverns are inextricably interwoven with the life of the country. Originally built as places of rest and refreshment, they have weathered many vicissitudes. Continuous road developments, construction of canals and railways, and the opening of new lines of communication have all in turn affected them. Nowadays with air travel on the ascendancy another epoch begins. Now, most inns are situated on the highway, but before the 14th century they were only found in the towns. Sometimes, the church built them as guest houses, especially in places visited by pilgrims. Of course, there were many ale-houses along the road but these did not provide sleeping accommodation. Hence, travellers always hastened to the towns before dark when the gates would be closed. Actually, it was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth that inns grew to great importance when wheeled carriages were introduced and the country's trade began to grow rapidly despite the bad state of the roads