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Caersws Basin
Historic Landscape
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Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Caersws Basin: Penbedw
Caersws community, Powys
(HLCA 1178)


Fieldscapes and dispersed farms on sloping land and lower hills forming the north-eastern rim of the Caersws Basin, partly representing piecemeal enclosure probably from medieval times onwards and partly early 19th-century enclosure of former common, with evidence of probable later prehistoric defended settlements. Course of Roman road north-east of the Roman fort at Caersws.

Historic background

The area fell within the manorial township of Escob and Castle in the Montgomeryshire tithe parish of Llanwnog.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Mixed fieldscapes on the generally gently rising ground to the north of Caersws and east of Llanwnog but with steeper slopes skirting Alltwnnog to the north of Llanwnog, between a height of 130-350 metres with low elongated ridges representing glacial drumlins which have affected local drainage patterns. The soils are mostly seasonally waterlogged fine silty and clayey soils though well drained fine loamy soils in places, economically most suited to stock rearing on permanent grassland and dairying on lower ground. Predominantly large and small irregular fields probably representing piecemeal clearance and enclosure during the medieval and late medieval periods but with a distinctive pattern of both large and small straight-sided fields in the central part of the area, between Gwynfynydd and Penbedw, representing early 19th-century enclosure of former common grazing. Residual areas of ancient semi-natural and ancient replanted woodland at Tregastell Wood, Penbedw Wood, Coed Llwyn-gwyn and flanking the lower slopes of Alltwnnog. Recent conifer woodland on Alltwnnog, planted in the 1950s.

Placename evidence provides an indication of historic land use, perhaps suggesting relatively late woodland clearance and enclosure for animal grazing. In addition to the names of existing woods, such as Coed Llwyn-gwyn and Tregastell Wood, the placename element coed (‘wood’) also occurs in Goleugoed (‘light wood’), Gwastadcoed, Gwastadgoed-uchaf (‘?level wood’), whilst the element llwyn (‘grove’) appears in Llwyn-y-gog and bedw (‘birch’) appears in Pen-bedw Wood. Rough grazing is suggested by the element rhos in the name Rhos-goch. The penning of livestock is indicated by the plural of buarth (‘yard, animal pen’) in the name Buarthau.

Probable pre-Roman Iron Age settlement and land use is indicated by the Wyle Cop enclosure which lies on the side of a stream to the north of Llanwnog and the Gwynfynydd enclosure which lies on sloping ground north of Caersws, both enclosing areas of about 0.3 hectares. The course of the Roman road north from the Roman fort at Caersws passes roughly along the line of the modern road at Llwyn y Gog running in the direction of Dolanog in the Banwy valley.

The earliest surviving element in the modern settlement pattern is represented by a number of widely-dispersed farms set off the main road such as Gwastadcoed, Gwastadgoed-uchaf and the former farm at Gwynfynydd and possibly of medieval or later medieval origin. Early maps suggest that these formerly took the form of a single range of buildings in line. Some farms have ceased to exist following the amalgamation of farm holdings whilst others, such as Gwastadcoed grew significantly during the 20th century, with the erection of steel-framed buildings. Some later farms, such as Llwyn-y-gog, were created in the later 19th-century following the enclosure of former common land. Some smaller cottages which perhaps began life as roadside encroachments. The area also includes a significant number of new small detached roadside houses.


Historic Environment Record; Cadw Listed Building descriptions; modern Ordnance Survey 1:10,000, 1:25,000 mapping and 1st edn Ordnance Survey 1:2,500 mapping; Collens 1988; Lea 1975; Spurgeon 1972; Fisher 1917; Silvester 2004; Silvester and Owen 2003; Soil Survey of England and Wales; Sothern and Drewitt 1991

For further information please contact the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust at this address, or link to the Countryside Council for Wales' web site at

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