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Vale of Llangollen
Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Making of the Vale of Llangollen and Eglwyseg Historic Landscape


Prehistoric and Roman settlement and land use

The fertile lands of the Dee valley represented an important economic resource as well as an access route into central Wales from early times, which helps to explain the widespread evidence of human activity in the area during the earlier prehistoric periods.

A more detailed study of the archaeological sites and finds and an analysis of the vegetation history is needed, before a clearer picture can be drawn of the character of early settlement and land use within the area. However, woodland clearance and hunting during the Neolithic and earlier Bronze Age periods, between about 4000–2000 BC, are perhaps represented by occasional chance finds, such as the stone axes that have been found near Moel y Gaer hillfort on Llantysilio Mountain and by those found near Ty’n Celyn and Trevor Hall, and by flint arrowheads like those found near Blaenau Uchaf on the hills south of Llangollen. Despite the lack of known settlement sites, permanent settlement from the earlier Bronze Age between about 2300–1500 BC is clearly indicated by scattered burial mounds such as those at Moel y Gamelin and Gribin Oernant on Llantysilio Mountain, those on the peaks of Cyrn-y-brain overlooking Nant Craig y Moch and Aber Sychnant, and on the hills to the south of Llangollen near Ffynnon-las and Blaen Nant. The monuments on Ruabon Mountain include simple cairns of stone, occasionally with a stone kerb, as well as stone ring-banks and a stone circle which were probably associated with ritual or ceremonial activity.

CPAT PHOTO 1766-269

The eastern side of the Cyrn-y-brain upland looking towards Ruabon Mountain in the background. Photo: CPAT 1766-269.

These upland monuments, frequently sited on hilltops, ridge tops or on hill scarps, are often visible from some distance away. They appear singly or in small groups and are likely to have performed various roles in the the developing landscape of the fourth to second millennia BC, between about 3500 and 1500 BC. Clusters of monuments may represent ceremonial foci within the emerging landscape utilized by man and may have helped to define the activities of different family or tribal groupings. No contemporary settlement evidence has yet been found but it seems likely that the monuments are to be associated in some way with the exploitation of upland summer hunting grounds and summer grazing for domesticated animals, possibly associated with home bases sited in less exposed positions in the adjacent valley lowlands.

Continued activity in the Later Bronze Age period, between about 1200–700 BC, is indicated by chance finds of metalwork possibly to be associated with continued woodland clearance or with warfare, including a small hoard of socketed bronze axes and a leaf-shaped spearhead found in Llantysilo parish and by a single socketed axes found near Pentredwr and on Fron Fawr, east of Valle Crucis, and by two found separately within several hundred metres of the summit of Dinas Brân.

It was during this period or in the succeeding Iron Age period, between about 700 BC – AD 50, that the first evidence of defended settlements appears within the area. These are represented by the hillfort which preceded the medieval castle on Dinas Brân, by Moel y Gaer hillfort on the summit of Llantysilio Mountain, and by Pen y Gaer hillfort, on a spur of Ruabon Mountain to the east of Garth. It is uncertain whether or not these hillforts represent permanently occupied settlements, but it is clearly significant that they are not only sited in locations which are naturally well defended but also give ready access to extensive areas of upland grazing. Dinas Brân, like the subsequent medieval castle appears to control the Dee valley and like both Moel y Gaer, and Pen y Gaer probably represents a tribal centre possibly to be associated with early cattle ranching on the neighbouring moorland.

The narrow valley of the Dee near Llangollen has been of importance since early times, providing a narrow, lowland corridor to the lands of central Wales, further to the west. The strategic significance of the later prehistoric hillfort on Dinas Brân is perhaps emphasised by the fact that in order to avoid being ambushed in the valley in the late 1st century the invading Roman army chose a route across the Berwyns to the south, via the Ceiriog valley, though the hazardous nature of this mountain route to west Wales is exemplified by King Henry II’s disastrous expedition against the Welsh princes in 1165.

Relatively little evidence of Roman activity has been discovered in the Vale of Llangollen apart from a number of chance finds, including a small hoard of 2nd-century coins from near Maesyrychen-bach and a Roman brooch found near Trevor Hall. It is probable, however, that during the course of the later prehistoric and Roman periods an integrated economic system developed that exploited the resources provided by arable farming in the lowlands, woodland resources on the valley edge, and extensive upland grazing. This would have given rise to a gradually evolving landscape probably characterised by scattered farmsteads and associated arable on the lower ground, ever-diminishing areas of native broadleaved woodland and scrub on the more difficult slopes, and extensive areas of heather moorland on the surrounding hills.

Early medieval and medieval settlement and land use

It was from these early beginnings that the early medieval landscape emerged, again probably characterized by a pattern of arable ploughlands, residual ancient woodland, scrub and moorland. What is known about the area in the 14th century suggests that Welsh systems of land tenure by extended family groupings emerged during the early medieval period, between about the 6th and 11th centuries.

It was probably also during this period that the local commotal structure and the pattern of farmsteads, townships and parishes that are known in later history had already begun to develop. A picture of the possible settlement pattern that had evolved by this period is given by a number of early religious centres. A mythical story of the christianization of the area is given in the legendary Life of St Collen, a person associated with the slaying of a giantess aided by her god Arthur, the giant of Creigiau Eglwyseg. The church dedicated to saint Collen at Llangollen may have come into existence by the 6th or 7th century. The former grave chapel, known as the ‘Old Church’ survived here up until the mid 18th century when it was demolished together with the Romanseque shrine it contained, the material being used to build the church tower, replacing an earlier wooden one. Until the church was appropriated by Valle Crucis abbey in the early 13th century it was probably formed the mother church of the commote of Nanheudwy, forming a locally important religious centre both in terms of its geographical location and its association with the cult of saint Collen. It seems likely that an early nucleated settlement grew up in the area of the church, at the river crossing of the Dee. There are suggestions that a small nucleated settlement may also have grown up around Llantysilio Church, which may again have had an early foundation.

CPAT PHOTO 1766-126

Farmland and dispersed farms of medieval and late medieval origin below the dramatic limestone escarpment of Creigiau Eglwyseg. Photo: CPAT 1766-126.

The Vale came to form part of the Welsh kingdom of Powys from about the 7th or 8th century, the setting up of the Pillar of Eliseg by a prominent member of the ruling family in the 9th century in honour of his great-grandfather demonstrates the existence of a significant royal estate here at that date probably associated with bonded villages and holdings from which revenue and services were levied. The pillar, the base of a cross set up on a large mound, once bore an inscription relating the ‘foundation myth’ of the ruling dynasty.

Two important 14th-century documents, known as the Extent of Bromfield and Yale and the Extent of Chirkland, were compiled by the marcher lordships for taxation purposes in 1315 and 1391–93 respectively. These provide a fuller picture of the extent of settlement and land use in the 14th century, following the extinction of the native kingdom of Powys Fadog in the late 13th century. The extent to which the native inhabitants of Powys Fadog would have been affected by the creation of the new marcher lordships in uncertain. Unlike the more extensive fertile lands of the Vale of Clwyd and Maelor Saesneg there is no record of lands being confiscated from their original Welsh owners or of the deportation or removal of Welsh tenants taking place to make way for incoming English settlers. Some tenants may have been deprived of their ancient rights to common pasture and hunting, though the marcher lordships may simply have taken over many of the rights formerly held by the native princes. Plas Uchaf, at the head of the Eglwyseg valley, is thought to stand on the site of a hunting lodge of the princes of Powys in the later 11th century.

In the later 14th century tenants of the lordships were still overwhelmingly of Welsh origin and Welsh forms of inheritance known as gavelkind, by which possessions were shared by the heirs, continued to be followed until the later 15th and early 16th centuries. The occurrence of numerous holdings termed gafael in the extents indicates the widespread native tradition of shared rights in arable and pasture by a family group according to Welsh custom, but during the course of the 14th century, partly due to the disruptions caused by plague and perhaps partly due to remoteness from the administrative centres of the lordships, this system was breaking down in favour of a pattern of freehold farms grouped into townships. The Black Death had been particularly severe in the Llangollen area in 1349, after which many holdings were abandoned for many years. From the extents it is evident that the cultivation of wheat and oats was widespread in the later 14th century, other mainstays of the local economy at this period being the rearing of lambs, pigs and nut-gathering.

The establishment of the Cistercian monastery of Valle Crucis in 1201 had a considerable impact upon the local economy. The foundation of the monastery involved removal of a number of families to townships in the vicinity of Wrexham and probably also involved the reorganisation of the landscape around the abbey. Farming activity was focused on the home grange, to the north of the abbey precinct in addition to the Tirabad grange in the townships of Bache and Pengwern to the south of Llangollen and other poorly documented granges near Trevor Mill and near Pengwern Hall. Evidence of the local produce available to Valle Crucis is known from a wide variety of sources. Excavation suggests that cattle and pigs were important in the economy in its early years, but were overtaken by sheep and goats later in the 13th century. Hunted red deer also formed part of the diet. Fish was obtained from fishing in the river Dee in addition to the fishponds close to the abbey. The poet Guto’r Glyn, praised the provision of fruit for the guests of Valle Crucis before his death there in about 1493, in the care of the abbot, Dafydd ap Ieuan: ‘We shall have have thousand apples for dessert . . . honey, grapes, the fruit of the orchards’.

Transhumance, involving seasonal movement of families to upland settlements during the summer months to exploit the extensive moorland grazing would no doubt have been known during the early medieval and medieval periods though the extent to which it was important to the local economy is difficult to gauge. The site of a possible medieval hafod or summer house have been identified on the eastern slopes of Cyrn-y-brain near a tributary stream of the Eglwyseg, close to a deserted house nearby on the boundary with the lower unenclosed land significantly called Cae’r-hafod. A small number of abandoned house platforms and ruined buildings are to be seen around the margins of Ruabon Mountain, some of which may represent hafodydd, and there are several early references to hafodydd in the possession of Valle Crucis on the northern end of Esclusham Mountain in the vicinity of the later Lower Park and Pool Park lead mines. Elsewhere the evidence is slight, but is suggested by the place-names Hafod-y-maidd, Hafod-rhysg, Hafod-y-coed and Hafod-isaf which occur within the area, and perhaps also by the name Vivod which is probably derived from meifod (‘May house’). The element maid (‘whey’) in the name Hafod-y-maidd suggests association between hafodydd and upland dairy farms.

It seems likely that a pattern of dispersed freehold farms and cottages and lowland and valley-edge fieldscapes evident in the present-day landscape had largely evolved by the end of the medieval period, a number of the smaller farms having the place-name element tyddyn, generally contracted to ty’n, as in Ty’n-y-celyn, Ty’n-y-mynydd, and Ty’n-twll and cottages with the place-name element ty, as in Ty-uchaf and Ty-isaf. The predominant field patterns in these area are both small and large irregular fields which have evolved by the gradual clearance and enclosure of woodland from prehistoric times onwards, their boundaries mostly formed of multi-species hedges. Medieval open field arable farming was not an important influence on the creation of the modern landscape, though there several small and discrete areas which appear to represent the enclosure of former strip fields, close to Llandynan, on the eastern outskirts of Llangollen, and between Llangollen and Dinas Brân, which may indicate manorial farming in these areas.

Apart from the early use of water-power for milling and fulling on the river Eglwyseg near Valle Crucis and on the Dee near Llangollen there is little other evidence for the development of industry within the area by the end of the medieval period and the area continued to be essentially rural apart from small nucleated settlements which had come into being at Llangollen and possibly Llantysilio, both possibly from early medieval times, in association with early church foundations. Castell Dinas Brân was built within the earlier hillfort during the 1260s by Gruffudd ap Madog, lord of Powys Fadog, and it is probably significant that it lay close to an existing settlement at Llangollen as well as occupying a position which dominates the Vale of Llangollen. The castle ceased to have any military importance following the Edwardian conquest, a matter of only about 20 years later, but the settlement at Llangollen came to have both economic and administrative significance, being granted a market charter and the right to hold two annual fairs by Edward I in 1284.

Post medieval and modern settlement and land use

Changes in the pattern of land holdings, improvements in communications and the growth of industry came to have a notable impact upon the essentially agricultural landscape that had emerged by the end of the medieval period.

The dissolution of Valle Crucis and its granges in 1537 lead to the sale and disintegration of the large monastic estates which had dominated the agricultural regime of the Vale of Llangollen and the Eglwyseg valley for over 300 years. The monastic buildings themselves became a source of building materials which have turned up in the make-up of farm buildings at Maes-y-llyn, just to the north of the abbey, at Llangollen Bridge, and at Pengwern Hall to the south of Llangollen. The release of farmland gave an added spur to the growth of the agricultural estates by a number of prominent local families which were to have an important impact upon the landscape during the course of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in addition to consolidation of freehold farm holdings in a number of areas. The late 16th to early 17th century is the first period from which a significant number of buildings survive and which begin to have an impact upon the present-day landscape. Characteristic also, however, is extensive rebuilding and reworking from the late 18th and during the 19th century especially. During the 19th century there was also a major investment in building, notably in the case of the reconstruction of gentry houses and the rebuilding of farms which has played a major role in shaping the architectural character of the area.

The varied settlement patterns of the valley clearly relate to a long and varied history of land-use. A base-layer is represented by an agricultural landscape of dispersed farms, with its own geography related to topography, in the characteristic split between lowland and upland. Although size of farm varied (in some parts of the area, the lowland farms are relatively closely spaced and small), lowland farms appear more likely to have multiple, detached farm-buildings. Upland farms more often comprise linear ranges of buildings, as in the case of Ty Isa, a small upland farm in Llantysilio community dating to about 1700. Most existing farm buildings appear to have been rebuilt during the period when agricultural improvements were being made in the 19th-century, though earlier examples can be found: the most dominant building types are cow-houses and haybarns, typical of a pastoral economy. However, the presence of early, substantial barns such as examples at Pengwern, Llandyn and Pendre, indicates the importance of crop-growing at least in an earlier period.

The long chronology of settlement is partly revealed in the range of building materials displayed in the area. Traditions of timber-framing are important in the evolution of local building styles, though in practice little is visible owing to the extent of 19th century remodelling: the high quality framing of Plas uchaf and Plas yn-y-pentre is the visible face of a highly developed, sophisticated carpentry tradition. Elsewhere, timber-framing is often masked by later remodelling. Most farm-buildings, surviving in significant numbers only from the later periods, are brick or stone, but there are some examples of timber-framed construction, with weather-board cladding.

It seems that from the 18th century, there were readily available supplies of local stone for building. The geology of the area dictates much of its architectural character, with a clear distinction between the good limestone to the east, and slates and shales to the west. The building stone is often left exposed but there are instances of lime wash or render which possibly indicate the use of poorer stone. From the mid 18th century brick makes its presence felt as a building material, of which Trevor Hall is an early example. The wider use of brick from the earlier 19th century was sustained by the development of transport, but also presumably by greater investment in its production. By the later 19th century, local industries producing brick, tile, and terracotta, made a strong contribution to the architectural character of the area, either combined with stone, or used independently of it. The vernacular traditions of building in the Vale are often blurred by the extent of later refurbishment, but in terms of planning, the lobby entry seems to have been favoured, though there are plenty of examples of end-chimney, central entry houses.

The later 18th and early 19th centuries witnessed the continued growth of estates of varying sizes focused on a ‘polite’ landscape of prominently or picturesquely-sited gentry houses such as those at Plas Berwyn, Trevor Hall, Llantysilio Hall, Dinbren Hall, Plas-yn-Vivod and Pengwern Hall. Many of these houses adopted prominent locations within the Vale and involved landscape reorganisation for the creation of gardens, avenues and parks. The hilltop towers known at Sir Watkin’s Tower, now in ruins on the summit of Cyrn-y-brain, and Trevor Tower, a three-storey castellated tower still surviving in woodland to the north of Garth, were erected as follies by two of the prominent landowners in the area during this period.

The basic field pattern continued to be that which had emerged by the end of the end of the medieval period but some reorganisation of lowland fieldscapes seems to have taken place in some areas during the post-medieval period, resulting in discrete patterns of either large or small straight-sided or regular fields as for example along the floodplain of the Dee near Froncysyllte, in Pengwern Vale and in the vicinity of Llantysilio Hall.

More widespread changes to the landscape around the upland margin took place during the course of the 19th century. Reasonably extensive areas of conifer woodland were planted by a number of the estates to supply the construction and mining industries, as in the case of Ty-cerrig Wood, south of Vivod, Craig-y-dduallt Wood and Gwernant Wood to the south of Llangollen and at Black Wood and Tower Wood to the north-east of Garth, all of which appear to have been planted early in the second half of the 19th century. Some of these areas were felled in the earlier 20th century and were not replanted, though other areas were replanted at that time. Small-scale planting continued into the later 19th century, as in the case of small plantations to the north of Rhewl, and a number other plantations such as Foel Plantation near Pentredwr date to the second half of the 20th century. In addition, extensive areas of upland pasture to the south of Llangollen and on the southern edge of Ruabon Mountain were enclosed and improved during the first half of the 19th century by a number of the larger estates, giving rise to distinctive fieldscapes of large, straight-sided fields bounded either by drystone walls or by post and wire fences.

Superimposed on the medieval farming landscape in the Vale is a landscape of industry, connected variously with stone quarrying, lead mining and slate quarrying. Of these, it was stone quarrying which had the most obvious impact on settlement patterns as well as upon local building traditions. Pentredwr at the head of the Eglwyseg valley and Rhewl and Llandynan in the Dee valley to the west of Llangollen had probably all begun to develop as hamlets accommodating both agricultural workers and workers engaged in the extraction and transportation of slate from the quarries on Llantysilio Mountain, close to the Horseshoe Pass, from the late 17th century onwards. As noted in greater detail below, improvements to the turnpike roads in the later 18th century, but more particular the coming of the canal, improvements to the Holyhead Road and the coming of the railway during the course of the 19th century combined with growing demands for raw materials in the expanding industrial settlements to the east, at Acrefair, Cefn Mawr, Ruabon and Wrexham, and further afield in the English Midlands, led to the creation of new mining and quarrying landscapes within the area as well resulting in the emergence of a number of other smaller nucleated settlements which were needed for the accommodation of industrial workers. In addition, Llangollen continued to expand as a commercial, industrial and tourist centre. Froncysyllte, Trevor Uchaf and Garth emerged as loosely clustered settlements of quarry, limekiln and brick and tile workers between the early 19th and early 20th centuries. These settlements display the distinctive form of early industrial settlement, characterized by an absence of formal planning, with a jigsaw of housing development in small blocks, on small plots of land. The area also has a distinctive industrial vernacular, and at Froncysyllte there is at least one terrace of low, blind-backed two storey cottages marking an early phase in the formation of industrial and urban forms of building. A greater degree of planning is evident in terraces along the main road at Trevor, for example, perhaps built speculatively, the historic landscape area lying just on the margin of Cefn Mawr and Acrefair where the continuation of industrial development through the later 19th century and into the 20th century has resulted in examples of more rigourously planned industrial and urban settlements.

CPAT PHOTO 1766-179

The small mining and agricultural settlement at Llandynan with 20th-century housing development at Llidiart Annie in the foreground. On the hills in the background are the 19th and early 20th-century waste tips of the Berwyn (Clogau) slate quarry. Photo: CPAT 1766-179.

Improvements in communications also helped the Vale of Llangollen to become fashionable as a centre for visitors from the later 18th century onwards, fostered by cultural circle surrounding Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby — the Ladies of Llangollen — who developed the house and gardens at Plas Newydd on the southern outskirts of the town. Cultural influences of this kind combined with the inherently picturesque qualities the area became a rural retreat for the emerging class of entrepreneurs towards the end of the 19th century, which led to the embellishment of several of the existing gentry houses and the construction of several new country houses and villas set in their own grounds, along with lodges, outbuildings, parks and gardens, including one or two estates which maintained few direct ties with the land. There are small numbers of cottages clearly associated with some of these estates, though there is generally little distinctiveness in cottage architecture in the wider landscape.

The influx of wealth from the later 18th and in the 19th century especially has meant that ‘polite’ architectural traditions are more than usually evident in the area. The valley is punctuated by small country seats in a variety of styles, ranging from the Georgian classicism of Trevor Hall, or Dinbren hall, to the Gothic extravagance of Vivod. Trevor Hall, the ancient seat of the Trevor family was occupied by in the 1860s by James Coster Edwards senior, owner of several brick and tile works in the area. Tyn Dwr (now a Youth Hostel) was rebuilt in the late 1860s for the ironmaster John Dickin, replacing an earlier house associated with the adjacent home farm. Argoed Hall was built in 1864 for the German-born industrialist Robert F. Graesser associated with the Wrexham Lager Brewery and the founder of the chemical complex at Acrefair. The Italianate villa and gardens at Bryntysilio, just to east of Llangollen, was built between 1865–75 for Sir Theodore Martin, official biographer of Prince Abert, and his wife, the well-known Shakespearian actress Helen Faucit, replacing an earlier farm and farmhouse called Braich y Gwynt. Vivod was acquired and considerably remodelled in 1871 by William Wagstaff, the solicitor in charge of the construction of the Vale of Llangollen Railway, significant investment also being made at this time in the construction of the large industrial home farm complex next to the existing farmhouse at Bryn-newydd, with cartshed, granary, dairy, cattleshed, stables and hay-barn. Llantysilio Hall was built in 1872–74 for the German-born industrialist Charles F. Beyer, a partner a Manchester-based firm of locomotive builders. It replaced an earlier gentry house and like Vivod investment was extended to farm-buildings and housing for estate workers nearby. Bryn Howel (now a hotel) was built in 1896 by James Coster Edwards junior, as his retirement home. The relatively long chronology of surviving building combined with the particular social and cultural history of the area created a rich source-book for stylistic experiment during the nineteenth century especially, though the Ladies of Llangollen were pioneers in the ‘invention of tradition’. Plas Newydd is the first and most flamboyant of a series of buildings playing with ideas of history and tradition: filtered by the vocabulary of the picturesque (an important element in the cultural history of the area), what most often emerged was a fanciful neo-vernacular based on timber-framing. Other examples of this include Bryn Howell, Berwyn Station, and the Chain Bridge Hotel, and Tyn Dwr Hall. Influence of the picturesque movement is however also manifest in a number of Regency and gothick houses, and even in the pretty refronting of Dinbren Isaf.

Some of the estates that had emerged during the course of the 17th and 18th centuries have survived to the present day, most notably at Vivod, though a number of other country houses, such as Trevor, Llantysilio and Dinbren were sold away from the estates following the end of the Second World War.

The town of Llangollen which forms the commercial and cultural focus of the Vale of Llangollen from the late Middle Ages has its own social and architectural geography. The town underwent a rapid expansion between the later 18th and earlier 20th centuries in response to the coming of the branch from the Ellesmere canal, the Holyhead Road, and the railway. These greatly encouraged local processing industries including slate processing, cloth manufacture and timber, based upon water power, and upon the burgeoning tourist industry and giving rise to speculative developments in the southern and western parts of the town in the 1880s and 1890s.

Numerous buildings in the town have early origins in the 16th or more frequently the 17th century. These early buildings were probably all timber-framed; when the town began to expand from the later 18th century, it did so in stone and brick, and most of the earlier buildings were refronted in these newer materials. There was a major phase of development in the town centre in about 1860, coinciding with the arrival of the railway, the properties on Castle Street being particularly characteristic of this period. The distinction between those buildings with an earlier core, and those which were built of a piece in the later 18th century or during the 19th century, is an important one and has contributed to the highly varied and picturesque form of the town.

There is a complex social hierarchy of building within the town, each with its own geography. Houses within the confines of the town range from the detached villa, such as Siambr Wen, and the substantial terraced house to the small cottage. The architectural characteristics of the town are first and foremost, however, its urbanised form, with a recognisable commercial core, with densely developed residential streets around it, and small-scale 19th- and 20th-century suburbs — notably the detached and semi-detached houses that stretch out towards Pentrefelin, those which scale the slopes on the south side of the river, and the 20th-century housing estates on the east side of the town. Much of the urban development takes the form of terraced houses, ranging from the three-storeyed Georgian style rows on Berwyn Street and Bridge Street, to smaller rows of cottages. This implies an organisation of building work which is rare in a rural context; it produces a formality of design which seems recognisably urban.

Llangollen is also characterised by a suprising variety of styles and materials, indicating its growth over a considerable period, and via a number of different hands. Building in the town departs from rural vernacular traditions in a number of important respects: the constraints of urban building plots lead to tighter, more compact house-planning, often with an emphasis on height. There is much variety of building materials and finishes within the town, based on brick and stone, with some emphasis on style and detail, such as the gothick window detailing in Abbey Square and the use of polychrome brickwork on buildings along the Holyhead Road (A5). There is also extensive use of pebbledash, roughcast, and scribed render or stucco, and instances of painted brickwork. On occasion these surface coverings may serve to conceal alterations to structure and detail, many of the buildings in the town appearing to have been remodelled on a number of different occasions. In addition to domestic buildings, Llangollen also possesses several industrial buildings, such as the old tannery, but there are also examples of an identifiable commercial architecture. The Old Bank in Berwyn Street is a good example of this: it is built on a corner site, which it exploits by a distinctive curving façade, and with emphasis given to the ground floor former bank premises. The town also has a number of civic buildings, like the town hall and police station.

The impact of the town can also be seen in a string of villas close to it such as Fron Deg, Abbey Road, and Dinbren, Henllys and Wenffrwd. Urban and industrial growth appears to have given a spur to the development of farming in the area — for instance in the industrial home farm at Vivod which appears to have been established as a specialist dairy farm.

Landscape changes in the rural environment during the later 19th and 20th centuries have been relatively minor, but have resulted in the gradual loss, generally through neglect, of some traditional hedged or walled field boundaries and the abandonment or conversion of a number of the more isolated farms and cottages as a result of the creation of larger farming units. Public and private housing schemes from the second half of the 20th century onwards have given rise to a number of small housing estates, notably at Llidiart Annie near Llantysilio, on the southern and eastern outskirts of Llangollen, and at Trevor as well as the infilling if undeveloped plots within existing settlements elsewhere. The later 20th century has laid a heavy hand on the character of buildings in parts of the area, with its overlay of modernisation and ‘improvement’.

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