Most often referred to simply as "Merthyr," the town and county borough of Merthyr Tydfil - Rhondda Cynon Taff boasts a population of around 55,000. Rhondda Cynon Taff itself, the neighboring borough of Merthyr Tydfil, holds nearly 32,000 residents. This area of Wales holds a great deal of history, helping to make it one of the richest cultural areas of Wales itself.
Merthyr's roots date back to pre-history. Excavations have uncovered remains from around 1000 BCE by the Ancient Celtic people. Forts built on hills became a common feature of this area, all of which sprung up during the Iron Age. The Roman records of their occupation in Britain classified these residents as the Silures.
Parts of the Roman fortresses can be found all around Merthyr and eventually overcame the local tribes of Celts. Peace was found and Roman soldiers eventually abandoned the fort, some of which married local tribal women and settled into farms. Minor kingdoms began to be established in their wake.
Much later in history, ironworks were formed in Merthyr, due to its close proximity to large reserves of limestone, iron ore, coal, and water. While small operations of ironworks had been running during the Tudor period of England's history, the Industrial Revolution caused four separate ironworks companies to grow in the area in the span of 25 years.
A number of famous residents call Merthyr Tydfil - Rhondda Cynon Taff their home. Actors, musicians, and athletes all hail from this area. Scientists have also called Merthyr home, as the origins of Viagra were first discovered during tests in Merthyr. While the ironworks themselves last closed in 1987, the history of iron in Merthyr still runs strong, helping to establish this area as a hardworking class of dedicated people. Merthyr still continues with this reputation into today.
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