Wales United Kingdom: Cockfighting Then And Now


The articles below have to mention the alleged “cruelty” related with cockfighting. This is because it is criminal offense in their country now. Thus, they have to mentioned it.

But the good thing is that Talwrn, a cockpit, was relocated from North Wales (Denbighshire, Wales) to South Wales (Cardiff, Wales). And become part of St Fagans National Museum complex. And these writers are writing about it.

Cockfighting in United Kingdom will be legalized in the near future when the lawmakers that will be elected are Liberty Advocates and really fights for LIBERTY.

Stop oppressive laws on individual liberty, worldwide!

You may also visit wikipedia entry: St Fagans National History Museum.

– Gameness til the End

Wales Museum Cock Fighting Article


Originally introduced to Britain by the Romans, cockfighting was popular among all social classes in Wales from the Middle Ages until the mid nineteenth century. Cockpits were common in most villages and spectators travelled from near and far to attend the fights.

Cocks would be trained for many months before fighting, and were looked after by men called ‘feeders’. Birds practised sparring every day and after exercise were fed and watered. The correct diet was extremely important, and each feeder followed his own secret feeding programme: brandy, raw steak, maggots and even urine were just some of the varied ingredients used.

Cockfighting featured prominently on the rural calendar, and was popular with all sections of society throughout Wales until the early 19th century.

The fight

Before a fight the cock was fitted with sharp steel or silver spurs (which could fatally wound an opponent in a single strike) and then brought to the middle of the pit. Here it stood, facing its opponent, only inches apart. At a signal from the master of the match, the battle began, and continued until one bird was killed or badly injured. Charms thought to protect and safeguard fighting cocks were sometimes used. These included biblical verses or cryptic words and signs, which were written on pieces of paper small enough to be slotted into the spurs. Superstitious owners also believed that birds fed with soil from under the church altar would become unbeatable and capable of killing all opponents. Such spells and charms were annulled, however, if the fight took place on the hallowed ground of a churchyard, where it was thought that bouts could not be affected by external forces.

Spurs worn by fighting gamecocks.

The Welsh Main

A great number of cockfighting bouts were held during Easter. One of the severest tests on the cockfighting calendar was the Welsh Main, practised both in England and Wales, when only the best birds competed and large amounts of money were laid on the outcome. The Main usually featured over thirty birds, which fought each other head to head until only one was left standing. Other variants of cock fighting included ‘shying at cocks’, when spectators hurled pieces of wood at a bird in the pit, attempting to knock it over. ‘Throwing at cocks’ was particularly cruel and involved tying birds to a stake and shooting at them with staves.

The popularity of cock-fighting in Wales peaked during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, at a time when a series of religious revivals nationwide condemned sports and pastimes as sinful activities which guaranteed hell and damnation for all involved. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 1849 made cock-fighting illegal, both to protect the birds’ welfare and to stop the gathering of frequently unruly spectators who so enjoyed the gambling and heavy drinking usually associated with the contests. We can be sure, however, that cock fights continued to be held illegally long afterwards, and as late as 1952 a cockfighting act was passed making it an offence to possess any instruments associated with the sport.


Both covered and open air pits were used for cockfights. The circular indoor cockpit re-erected at St Fagans: National History Museum stood originally in the yard of the Hawk and Buckle Inn, Denbigh, and although its exact date is uncertain, may well have been built during the late seventeenth century.

Since none of the cockpit’s original indoor fixtures remained when it was acquired by the Museum in 1965, the centre stage, surrounding gangway and two-tiered seating accommodation are all modern constructions.

Glass Rummer

Glass rummer from Pontypridd, inscribed with an image of fighting cocks, with the name J. Lewis. 1850.

Further reading

  • Owen, Elias, ‘Churchyard Games in Wales’, The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist, vol 2 (1896), 154-161.
  • Peate, Iorwerth C., ‘The Denbigh Cockpit and Cockfighting in Wales’, Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions, vol.19 (1970), 125-132.

Author: Emma Lile, Curator: Traditional Music, Sports & Customs. Amgueddfa Cymru
Article Date: 14 August 2009

St Fagans National History Museum

Museum of Welsh Life (Amgueddfa Werin Cymru), Cardiff.
(Photos/words editor, urban75, December 27th 2007)

Deservedly one of the most popular tourist attractions in south Wales, St Fagans National History Museum is an open-air museum ‘chronicling the lifestyle, culture and architecture of the Welsh people’.

Set in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, late 16th-century manor house, the museum is part of the National Museum of Wales, opening to the public in 1948 following the donation of the castle and lands by the Earl of Plymouth two years previously.

The driving force behind the project was the fabulously named external link Iorwerth Peate, who based the museum on a similar venture in Skansen, Sweden.

However, seeing as the structures featured in the Swedish museum were built of wood – and thus easy to take apart and reassemble – the stone-built buildings of St Fagans represented a substantially more complex challenge.

The museum now hosts more than forty buildings from all regions and periods of Welsh history, including a Celtic village, a nonconformist chapel, a school house, a tollbooth, a cockpit and a Victorian shop.

All of the structures – except the Elizabethan manor house of the castle and the Celtic village and ‘House of the Future’ (a Millennium project) – have been painstakingly reconstructed onsite.

We visited on a cold winter’s afternoon and had a fantastic time. We thoroughly recommend a visit – it’s free too!

We continue our wander around the cottages, church and castle before the winter light fades.

Because we arrived over the Christmas period, some of the attractions weren’t open, but on other days you can watch a T blacksmith and a potter at work and buy some fresh bread baked in the traditional way.

Most of the friendly staff speak Welsh, so if you are visiting it’s worth learning some basics:

Hello = Helo or S’mae?
So long = Hwyl, Hwyl fawr
Good morning = Bore da
Good afternoon = Prynhawn da
Good evening = Noswaith dda
Good night = Nos da
Thank you = diolch
Goodbye = Da boch chi
external link Welsh phrasebook

The Museum of Welsh Life

by Barbara Ballard

The Museum of Welsh Life, 4 miles from Cardiff, at St Fagans, is a 100-acre (40.5ha) open air museum of reconstructed buildings gathered from all over Wales. This popular outdoor heritage attraction lets you wander around the grounds and go into buildings. You·ll feel a part of the past while learning how the people of Wales lived and worked.

More than 30 original buildings were moved from various parts of Wales to the Museum site. Unless a building is at risk of demolition or decay, it is left in its original setting, not moved to the museum. The buildings at the Museum vary from St Fagan’s Castle, a late 16th century manor house, to an original pigsty. The collection of farmhouses, cottages and working buildings illustrate vividly the life of the Welsh people through different periods of time and from different social levels. The buildings are fully furnished with the artefacts and furniture appropriate to the times.

An entire 13th century church, St Teilo’s, (St Teilo is the patron saint of horses and fruit trees, and his day is celebrated on February 9) was moved here for reassembly. During the process 16th century wall paintings were discovered on the church’s walls. Because ordinary people could not read, and church services were usually in Latin, the painted walls were used to tell Bible stories in pictures.

Terraced houses from Merthyr Tydfil portray life in a Welsh mining community spanning 200 years. The Gwalia Stores is a 1920s shop experience in a fully furnished general store. You can buy cheese and other goodies just as you would have in the 20s. The Llawryglyn Smith is a working one, and the blacksmith can be watched shaping horseshoes and farm tools. At the Esgair Moel Woollen Mill, fleece and flannel are manufactured. A mill produces stone-ground wheat flour used in the Derwen Bakehouse where traditional and bara brith bread are made. You can buy it fresh from the oven. A wood turner demonstrates his skills. A cooper, clogmaker, and a leather worker all demonstrate their crafts. The cockpit brings the cruel sport of cock fighting vividly to mind – bets were placed on the birds, and they fought to the death.

A gas lit farmhouse filled with Edwardian furniture includes a farmyard and outbuildings that are home to animals and poultry of the time. A Celtic village shows household and hunting equipment of 3000 years ago.

A large indoor museum on the site houses farming implements and vehicles, costumes, crafts, and artifacts of daily living from the Middle Ages to today. The craft collections include woodworking, leatherwork, metalwork, basketmaking, and pottery. A textile craft collection includes quilting, embroidery, lacemaking, tailoring, and woollen products. Cooking and dairying equipment is on display. There’s a library of over 40,000 volumes for research studies as well as photo archives. Special events are held throughout the year. Allow about 4 hours to visit. Restaurant, snack bar and tearoom on premises.

This article first appeared at

A Pub for St Fagans: National History Museum

St Fagans: National History Museum 03.08.08, 2pm: Trafferth Mewn Tafarn: (Contest in a Cockpit), Welsh Language Poetry Contest 07.08.08, 11am-1pm and 2pm-3pm: ‘Tafarn yr Iorwerth Peate’ – ‘A Tavern in the Cockpit’ Free Entry Opening Hours: St Fagans is open daily: 10am-5pm

Press Release 24.07.08

A Pub for St Fagans: National History Museum

As St Fagans: National History Museum celebrates its 60th birthday, for the first time ever, a tavern called “Tafarn yr Iorwerth Peate” will be opened at the Museum.

Dr Iorwerth C. Peate was the founder of the open-air museum at St Fagans in Cardiff, and he was strongly opposed to re-building a pub, but artist Bedwyr Williams is convinced that to truly reflect Welsh life the Museum must have a pub, and so he’ll be creating his own tavern inside the old cockfighting pit.

To coincide with the visit of the National Eisteddfod to Cardiff this summer, at 2pm, Sunday, August 3, Bedwyr Williams and others will be taking part in a poetry contest in the cockpit under the title of “Trafferth Mewn Talwrn” (Trouble in a Cockpit). The title is a play on words on “Trafferth Mewn Tafarn” (Trouble in a Tavern) one of the most famous works by 14th-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym. Bard Twm Morys will be the referee on the day. Booking is essential by phoning (029) 2057 3424.

On Thursday, August 7, visitors will have the chance to join Bedwyr Williams for a drink and maybe take part in a few pub games at “Tafarn yr Iorwerth Peate”.

Bedwyr Williams explained:

“The reason why I chose to build a pub is that Iorwerth Peate was against opening one at St. Fagans, but I’m sure most visitors would agree with me that we need a Welsh pub at the Museum – and that’s why I’ve named the tavern in his honour.

“Dr Peate was also an accomplished poet, so what better place to stage a spontaneous poetry competition than in a tavern inside a real cockpit?”

The Cockpit at St. Fagans was originally built in the 17th century and stood outside the ‘Hawk and Buckle’ public house in Denbigh, North Wales; the building was opened at St. Fagans in 1970.

Cockfighting was enjoyed for centuries in Wales by all social classes. Crowds flocked to witness gory encounters where birds fought each other to death. Gambling was rife; bouts were riotous and chaotic affairs, often ending in pandemonium.

There won’t be any betting or blood-letting at St. Fagans this August, but visitors will be given the exclusive chance to see an original performance by one of Wales’s most exciting artist. Visitors will also be able to enjoy a beer thanks to the kind sponsorship of Rhymney Brewery, Dowlais.

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven national museums across Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, National Wool Museum, Drefach and the National Slate Museum, Llanberis. ENDS


For press information and high resolution photographs please contact, Iwan Llwyd, Communications Officer. Call: 029 2057 3486 / 07920027054 Email: Visit:

• Entry to St. Fagans: National History Museum is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

• Principality – Wales’s biggest building society – is one of the event sponsors – they also sponsor Oriel 1 gallery, one of St. Fagans’ newest attractions. By investing in the new gallery, which was created in partnership with local groups, schools, authors, artists and poets, Principality Building Society is honouring its longstanding commitment to supporting the communities of Wales. Formed in 1860, Principality Building Society now has 50 branches across the country and over 420,000 members. For further information, please visit


Bedwyr Williams Bedwyr Williams was born in St. Asaph, North Wales in 1974 and was raised in Colwyn Bay. Following a BA in Fine Art from Central St. Martins School of Art in 1997 he attended Ateliers, Arnhem, studying for the Dutch equivalent of a UK MA. After living in London, he returned to live and work to Rhostryfan near Caernarfon, North Wales in 2002.

He makes and uses videos, photography, performance, drawing, text and the occasional stand-up comedy and karaoke. He was short-listed for the BECKS Futures prize in 2006, represented Wales at the 2006 Venice Biennale and won the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual Art in 2004.

Date: 24 July 2008

poultry gamefowl chicken gamecock

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