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Vale of Llangollen
Historic Landscape
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Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Vale of Llangollen: Cyrn-y-brain
Llandegla, Llantysilio Communities, Denbighshire, and Minera Community, Wrexham
(HLCA 1143)

CPAT PHOTO 1766-267

Unihabited upland moorland ridge mostly forming unenclosed common land, with prehistoric burial mounds, formerly partly managed as a grouse moor.

Historic background

In the earlier medieval period the area fell within the kingdom of Powys and from the late 12th century within the subdivided northern portion of the kingdom known as Powys Fadog. Following the Edwardian conquest of Wales in the late 13th century the area fell within the marcher lordship of Bromfield and Yale. Following the Act of Union in 1536 it fell within the hundred of Yale in the newly created county of Denbighshire.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Extensive upland heath with heather, gorse, bilberry, bracken and rushes, with some areas of improved pasture. The area lies between a height of about 350–560 metres above sea level with an underlying geology of Silurian and Ordovician shales, forming part of an upland ridge continuous with the Llantysilio Mountain and Maesyrychen character areas.

The early environmental history of the area since the last glaciation has been little studied but some indication of early prehistoric activity is indicated by a group of Bronze Age hilltop burial monuments on the peaks of Cyrn-y-brain and isolated mounds on the eastern slopes of the mountain overlooking Nant Craig y Moch and Aber Sychnant. These monuments are probably to be associated with the early exploitation of upland pastures for grazing. On the eastern slopes of the upland near a tributary stream of the Eglwyseg are the remains of a possible medieval or late medieval hafod or ‘summer house’ which seems to indicate the exploitation of upland summer pastures at a later period. Significantly, a deserted house nearby on the boundary with the lower unenclosed land has the name Cae’r-hafod. The later management of sheep grazing is represented by a nearby cruciform sheep shelter and by stone sheepfold near the summit of Cyrn-y-brain, which are most probably of later medieval or post-medieval date.

The former management of parts of the area as a grouse moor is indicated by groups of shooting butts on the eastern flanks of Cyrn-y-brain. Today, the area is mostly unenclosed common land, formerly managed for sheep grazing and as a grouse moor. The area has a number of modern recreational uses including hill walking. There are three telecommunications masts on the summit of Cyrn-y-brain which form a distinctive landmark for many miles around. The remains of a wartime radar mast can be seen lower down the hill.

Several of small stone quarries fall within the area were probably for building materials in the post-medieval period.


Burnham 1995; CPAT Historic Environment Record; Davies 1929; Denbighshire Countryside Service 2003b; Ellis 1924; Jones 1999; Llandegla MAG 2003; Richards 1969; Silvester and Hankinson 1995

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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