The name Builth, in Welsh Buallt or perhaps Buellt, is older than the town to which it now refers. Buallt/Buellt originally applied to the Cantref or Hundred, an area within the old Welsh administrative system.
The Cantref of Buallt/Buellt was an area of land between the rivers Wye and Tywi and north of a line drawn roughly between Erwood and Llanwrtyd, covering an area of some 174 miles. It has long been thought the name of the Cantref, and later the town, came from the Welsh words 'Bu' and 'Allt', and could be translated as 'The Wild Ox of the Wooded Slope'. Roman remains have been found in the surrounding area (the Roman fort at Beulah, 8 miles to the west no evidence has yet been found in Builth Wells itself to prove Roman habitation.
The origin of the town dates with certainty from Norman times with the construction of the timber Motte and Bailey castle by Philip de Braose. The castle commanded the ancient crossing of the Wye, and as a result controlled the route to the south which ran over the Eppynt Mountains towards Brecon; it also guarded the entrance to the valley of the Irfon which gave access to the west.
The basic fabric of modern Builth dates largely from Victorian and Edwardian times. This growth, without doubt, resulted from the discovery of the health springs. The first recorded mention of the mineral waters at Builth was as far back as 1740. It was not until the 1830's that the Park Wells with its Saline, and the Glanne Wells with its Sulphur were well known.
During the second half of the nineteenth century large numbers of visitors came to Builth to 'take the Waters' and a myriad of hotels, guest houses and shops were built to accommodate them. This process was helped during the 1860's by the arrival of the railways, allowing visitors to travel to Builth with ease, from all over Wales and England. It is from this time that the word 'Wells' was added to Builth.
Nestling by the magnificant River Wye the town offers a totally different shopping experience. No shopping malls and arcades here - Builth Wells boasts town centre shopping with true individuality. A range of independently owned retailers jostle side by side to provide a truly original shopping environment.
The town has a selection of shops seldom seen nowadays in one place, including fashion outlets, a baker, butchers, a florist, Jewellers, an ironmonger, a newsagent, an electrical specialist, gift shops, and a selection of grocery stores.