The Lost Lands of Wales, a minor political idea of the mid 1960s, called into question the status of areas along the east side of the England–Wales border which its proponents regarded as Welsh. The idea was propounded by the Lost Lands Liberation League, and related to parts of the counties of Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.
The Council of Wales and the Marches, administered from Ludlow Castle, was initially established in 1472 by Edward IV of England to govern the lands held under the Principality of Wales which had become directly administered by the English crown following the Edwardian conquest of Wales in the 13th century.
Some Marcher lordships were added to adjoining English counties: Ludlow, Clun, Caus and part of Montgomery were incorporated into Shropshire; Wigmore, Huntington, Clifford and most of Ewyas were included in Herefordshire; and that part of Chepstow east of the River Wye was included in Gloucestershire.
The Council of Wales, based at Ludlow Castle, was reconstituted as the Council of Wales and the Marches, with statutory responsibilities for the whole of Wales together with, initially, Cheshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. The City of Bristol was exempted in 1562, and Cheshire in 1569. The Council was eventually abolished in 1689, following the "Glorious Revolution" which overthrew James II (VII of Scotland) and established William III (William of Orange) as king.
The Marches remained outside the shire system, and nominally outside the control of the English monarchy, until the first Laws in Wales Act was introduced in 1535 under Henry VIII. This, and a further Act in 1542, annexed Wales to England and created a single state and legal jurisdiction, commonly referred to as England and Wales. The powers of the marcher lord-ships were abolished, and their areas formed into new counties, or amalgamated into existing ones.
The boundary between England and Wales, which has existed ever since, was effectively fixed. In the border areas, five new counties were created - Denbighshire, Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, Brecknockshire and Monmouthshire - and Flintshire gained some additional territory. However, several of the marcher Lordships were incorporated in whole or in part into English counties. The lordships of Ludlow, Clun, Caus and part of Montgomery were incorporated into Shropshire; and Wigmore, Huntington, Clifford and most of Ewyas were included in Herefordshire. According to John Davies:
Thus was created the border between Wales and England, a border which has survived until today. It did not follow the old line of Offa's Dyke nor the eastern boundary of the Welsh dioceses; it excluded districts such as Oswestry and Ewias, where the Welsh language would continue to be spoken for centuries, districts which it would not be wholly fanciful to consider as Cambria irredenta. Yet, as the purpose of the statute was to incorporate Wales into England, the location of the Welsh border was irrelevant to the purposes of its framers.
An 1844 Act of Parliament later abolished several enclaves. One of these, Welsh Bicknor, was an exclave of Monmouthshire between Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.
In general, placenames of Welsh origin are found to the west of the border, and those of English origin to the east. However, many historically Welsh names are also found east of the border, particularly around Oswestry in northern Shropshire, such as Gobowen; in southern Shropshire, such as Clun; and in southern Herefordshire, such as Kilpeck and Pontrilas. Most of these areas were not incorporated fully into England until the 16th century, and native Welsh speakers still lived there until at least the 19th century.
The Lost Lands Liberation League was reportedly a minor group in the 1960s claiming to recover the 'Lost Lands' for Wales. Some Welsh nationalist organisations have campaigned on the issue, although Plaid Cymru does not. The group is associated with Gethin ap Gruffydd.