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East Fforest Fawr and Mynydd-y-Gl˘g
Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

East Fforest Fawr and Mynydd-y-Gl˘g


LIMEKILNS AND QUARRIES

Probably from the Middle Ages those with commonersĺ rights in Fforest Fawr were able to exploit the natural resources within the historic landscape area. There is no explicit surviving evidence of peat cutting in the area, most probably due to the scarcity of suitable deposits, but there are widespread surviving remains of extraction industries associated with the stone and lime production which are of significance to the settlement and land use history of the area even though they are often on a smaller scale than those to be found in adjacent areas of south Wales. All rights to quarrying in Fforest Fawr passed to the entrepreneur John Christie when he purchased the mineral rights in the early 1820s, rights which following his bankruptcy were soon transferred to others.

Limekilns, many of which are not closely dated, have been identified either singly or in clusters in each of the character areas, generally close to the margins of the unenclosed moorland in places where limestone occurs naturally. It is possible that some lime production was carried out in the area during the Middle Ages but as yet there is no clear archaeological evidence for production at that period. Most of the surviving remains of the lime industry within the area were probably for the production of agricultural lime between the later 18th and earlier 19th centuries, and mostly going out of use when more commercial limekilns were established elsewhere in the later 19th century. Amongst the earliest known kilns in the area are ones towards the south-eastern corner of the area which are represented on a map of the Penmailard estate dated 1749. Many known kilns are represented on Ordnance Survey maps published in the 1880s, some of which are already shown to be out of use by that date. A kiln on Tirmawr Farm in the Hepste valley is said to have been still working up to the 1920s or 1930s.

The kilns are associated with often small-scale quarrying activity which for the sake of economy was generally focused on natural outcrops and rock faces. The kilns sometimes occur singly though are more often in pairs or clusters up to ten or more in number. Many of the kilns are visible only as grassed-over mounds with a hollow at the centre, though in some cases structural details of drystone walling and the presence of one or more flues are visible. Some kilns are associated with platforms or ramps by which they were loaded with limestone, and with waste heaps. The kilns often lie along paths or tracks for carts which carried the coal needed for firing the kilns and for carrying away the finished lime. Some of the kilns at least are likely to represent a seasonal activity undertaken by workers who were otherwise employed on farms and smallholdings in the area.

Many other small limestone and sandstone quarries are known in the area and are likely to have provided material for the construction of houses and farm buildings, field walls and roads, perhaps mostly in the period between the 17th century and mid 19th century, before the establishment of large-scale commercial stone quarries in the region. A small number of disused sandstone quarries appear to be later in date, cartographic evidence for those on Garn Ddu and the western side of Cefn Cadlan, for example, suggesting that the quarries originated during the first half of the 20th century. Deposits of silica sand for the manufacture of refractory bricks used in smelting furnaces in south Wales were also once worked at the Cefn Cadlan quarry.

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