Cymraeg / English
Historic Landscape Characterisation
Montgomery, Churchstoke and Kerry, Powys and Brompton and Rhiston, Shropshire
Gently undulating landscape of medium-sized irregular fields, widely scattered farms with earlier medieval and medieval origins, some relatively late enclosure, and concentration of county council smallholdings.
The character area fell on the junction of three medieval ecclesiastical parishes, Montgomery, Kerry and Churchstoke on the border between England and Wales, with part of its boundary formed by Offa's Dyke. The area includes parts of the townships of Weston Madoc and Brompton in the ecclesiastical parish of Churchstoke (Weston Madoc falling within the Welsh portion and Brompton in the English portion of the parish), and partly within the township of Caeliber Issa in the parish of Kerry, Montgomeryshire. Weston Madoc (Westune) is one of the settlements to the west of Offa's Dyke listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as having been waste at the time of the Conquest, but by then recovered. It had about 360 acres (3 hides). Like other similar settlements in the Vale of Montgomery it had possibly been founded by Mercian settlers in the 9th or 10th century, and seems to have been abandoned due to hostilities along the border in about the 1040s. Nothing seems to be known of the Madoc whose name was attached to the name Weston in the 16th century, no doubt added to distinguish if from other Westons in the neighbourhood. It has sometimes been known as Great Weston and in Welsh as Gwestun Fawr.
Key historic landscape characteristics
Gently undulating and mostly fairly low-lying land on the western side of the Vale of Montgomery between a height of about 140-275m above OD, rising up on the western side onto the east and south-east facing slopes of the uplands to the south-west of Montgomery. The underlying geology is composed of Silurian shales. There are predominantly well-drained and loamy and silty in the western side of the area, with fine silty and clayey stagnogley soils subject to seasonal waterlogging in some lower-lying areas to the east. An area of ancient semi-natural woodland survives to the east of Cockshutt.
Two distinct settlement patterns are evident in present-day landscape. Firstly there are fairly widely scattered medium to large farms, up to about 1km apart, some set in their own fields and some along the public roads, many of which are likely to have their origins in the medieval period. Secondly, there is a distinct landscape formed by a concentration of early 20th-century county council smallholdings occupying some of the recently enclosed land towards the eastern side of the area, between Great Weston Farm and Little Brompton. There are some abandoned settlements on edge of higher ground on the west, that were in existence by the late 18th/early 19th century. The earliest surviving buildings are timber-framed, including the large farmhouse at Cwm Bromley dated to 1633, the possibly late 17th-century timber-framed house at Great Weston, and the 18th-century timber-framed houses at Stone House and Cockshutt, and timber-framed and stone roadside cottages north of Cockshutt. Two timber-framed barns of later 17th to early 18th-century date, with weather-boarding or corrugated iron cladding, survive near Little Brompton. Later 18th and 19th-century farmhouses are generally in brick, including Fairfield, East Penylan, the alterations at Great Weston, and the rendered farmhouse at Weston Hill, with traces of earlier stone buildings in some instances represented by earlier stone-built foundations or dilapidated buildings or by earlier footings. The early 19th-century farmhouse at Llwynobin, however has both brick and stone elevations. There are outbuildings with weatherboarding at Stone House, but few other farm vernacular farm buildings survive, existing buildings including 19th- and 20th-century brick outbuildings at Fairfield, Great Weston, and Cwm Bromley, and Cockshutt, together with fairly ubiquitous 20th-century steel-framed structures. The 20th-century county council smallholdings to the east of Great Weston Farm form a distinct and uniform group having brick farmhouses with stone dressings, small dutch barns, outbuildings clad in corrugated iron, and concreted yards.
Present-day land-use is predominantly pasture, but with some arable. The irregular and polygonal fields in the core areas was probably enclosed by a gradual process of expansion and amalgamation of individual farmsteads during the later medieval period, but reasonably substantial areas of hillside pasture on the western side of the area and lower-lying ploughland on the east with more regularly laid out boundaries remained unenclosed until relatively recent times. Numerous small scattered parcels of land near New House, Stone House, Fairfield and between Great Weston Farm and Little Brompton were subject to enclosure awards in 1803 and 1805. A block of land to the west of Planfa is also shown as a recent allotment in the tithe allotment for the township of Weston Madoc. As noted above, the recently enclosed land between Great Weston and Little Brompton was subsequently occupied by a number of county council smallholdings which probably focused on small-scale dairy production. Existing field boundaries were retained when the smallholdings were established, though against the usual trend a number of fields in this area were subdivided into small units. Field boundaries are mostly multiple-species hedges, including hazel, sycamore and holly. They are generally low clipped, and with some traditional hedge-laying, and a number of particularly substantial roadside hedges. Some mature oaks mark the course of former field boundaries which have now disappeared. There are small, scattered conifer plantations and some small areas of semi-natural deciduous woodland on steeper slopes along stream valleys.
Characteristically twisting roads and lanes, some running in distinct hollow-ways up to 2m deep which formed before the advent of tarmacadam and road drains, and are probably of considerable antiquity. Turnpike improvements were made in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, however, and belonging to this period is the Toll Cottage on the B4385 between Montgomery and Brompton, to the south of Llwynobin and the early to mid 19th-century milestone on the B4385 to the south-west of The Ditches.
Extractive industry is represented by number of small old stone quarries on the edge of the hills on the western side of the area and on the side of the road between Sarn and Churchstoke (A 489) which appear to have gone out of use by the end of the 19th century.
Earp & Haines 1971
Soil Survey 1983
Sothern & Drewett 1991
Thorn & Thorn 1986
For further information please contact the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust at this address, or link to the Countryside Council for Wales' web site at www.ccw.gov.uk.
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