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Vale of Clwyd Historic Landscape
Character area map

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Vale of Clwyd:
Hirwaen, Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, Denbighshire
(HLCA 1049)

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Moorland-edge and lower-lying farms in landscape of smaller rectangular fields set out along the contour.

Historic background

The area falls on the northern edge of the medieval ecclesiastical parish of Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd and fell within the ancient commote of Dogfeilyn in the cantref of Dyffryn Clwyd. Part of the area was formerly covered by an area of medieval reserved woodland known as Hirwin, the limits of which are uncertain.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Lying on the lower western slopes of the Clwydian hills, sloping down from the moorland edge, at a height of about 250m above OD down to about 75m., the eastern side of the area forming part of the Clwydian Range AONB. The land slopes fairly evenly from east to west but is cut by a number of deep, steep-sided, wooded ravines cut by streams running off the Clwydian hills.

There are no clear indications of there having been a nucleated settlement around the former medieval church. Rural settlement characterised by a line of smaller, closely-spaced, probably late medieval farmsteads along the spring line near the moorland edge on the eastern side of the area and a smaller, more widely-spaced farms on lower-lying ground, together with a scattering of 20th-century houses alongside public roads. Traditional building materials for 18th/19th century buildings include both stone and brick, as at Teiran, Pen-y-waen and Llanbedr farms. The hamlet at Hirwaen, 18th/19th-century cottages, late 19th-century chapel and several 20th-century houses, appears to be a fairly modern nucleated settlement.

Relatively small rectangular fields, often with their long axes set out along the contour, generally defined by mature, well-maintained multiple-species hedges, often with slight banks, together with gorse in some instances. The generally regular pattern of field boundaries suggests although a number of possibly more ancient boundaries are represented by more irregular, curving field boundaries. Holly is more prevalent in some of the roadside and trackway hedges, possibly due to the selective exploitation of hedgerow trees. The predominant modern land-use is pastoral although there is some production of fodder crops. Many of the fields on sloping ground have distinct lynchets on their uphill sides, as for example uphill from Pen-y-wern, suggesting that ploughing was more widespread in the past. Some late enclosure or encroachment of the upland common is evident near Bron-y-felin, on the lower slopes of Moel y Gaer. A small area of deciduous woodland at The Chantry appears to represent an area of semi-natural ancient woodland, which may possibly relate to the reserved medieval woodland in this area known by the name of Hirwin. The area is reasonably distinct from the characteristically larger lower-lying fields in the character area to the west and the strip-fields in the character area to the north. Some stone field gateposts along public roads.

Footpaths and farm tracks tend to observe the basic field pattern, unlike the public roads leading uphill to Hirwaen which appear to cut across them. On more sloping ground farm tracks form quite deep hollow-ways, cutting into the hillside between the fields.

A former mill is indicated by the placename Bron-y-felin on the Nant-y-ne, one of the streams running off the west side of the Clwydian hills.

The ruined medieval church next to Llanbedr Hall, first recorded in 1254, was abandoned when the Victorian church in the modern village of Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd was built. The Sion Wesleyan chapel at Hirwaen was built in 1870.

Former parkland around Llanbedr Hall with large mature oaks, partly defined on the northern and north-west sides by a stream. Some of the parkland oaks have suffered from windblow in recent years. The hall, which has gates and a lodge on the main road to the west, was rebuilt in the late 19th century and is of yellow brick.


Berry 1994
Hubbard 1986
Silvester 1995
Walker & Richardson 1989

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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