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Vale of Clwyd Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Vale of Clwyd


The historic landscape area of The Vale of Clwyd forms the whole or part of the following communities: Aberwheeler, Bodfari, Denbigh, Efenechtyd, Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, Llandyrnog, Llanelidan, Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, Llangynhafal, Llanrhaeadr-yng-nghinmeirch, Llanynys, Ruthin (all in Denbighshire), and smaller parts of Ysceifiog, Nannerch, Cilcain and Llanarmon-yn-Iāl in Flintshire

In the early historic period the Vale of Clwyd fell on the border between the powerful kingdom of Gwynedd on the west and the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms on the east and possibly for this reason failed to develop a strong political identity of its own. This is emphasised by the fact that by the end of the 12th century the Welsh lands to the east of the Conwy, within which the vale fell, became known as Perfeddwlad, the 'middle country' perhaps signifying the land between Gwynedd and the kingdom of Powys to the south and south-east. The area to the east of the Afon Clwyd came under Norman influence in the late 11th century, Bodfari, within the vale, being one of the native settlements listed in the Doomsday Book of 1086.

Following the expansion of the kingdom of Gwynedd during the course of the 12th century the vale fell within the kingdom of Gwynedd Is-Conwy, Gwynedd below the river Conwy, conquered by the English crown under Henry III in the 1240s, following the death of Llywelyn Fawr. The land was retaken by Llywelyn's grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in the 1260s, the land by then having been held by Henry's son, Edward who had been made lord of the crown lands in Wales. Following the accession of Edward in 1272, the four cantrefs of Perfeddwlad - Rhos and Tegeingl (Englefield) in the north and Rhufoniog and Dyffryn Clwyd in the south - were retaken by the English crown, and in the period between 1277 and 1282 the two northern cantrefs were held by the English crown and the two southern cantrefs were held of the crown by Dafydd, brother of Llewelyn, who had sided with the Edward.

Following the revolt of Dafydd and Llewelyn in 1282-3, Edward finally conquered the whole of Wales, Rhos and Rhufoniog becoming the new Marcher lordship of Denbigh, conferred upon Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, the cantref of Dyffryn Clwyd becoming the lordship of Ruthin and granted to Reginald de Grey, the Lord Grey who has assisted Edward in the conquest of Wales. For administrative purposes the cantrefs of Rhufoniog and Dyffryn Clwyd were each subdivided into three commotes - lordship of Ruthin, for example, between the 13th to 17th century being administered as the borough of Ruthin and the three commotes of Coelion (Colion), Dogfeilyn (Dogfeiling) and Llannerch. At the Act of Union in 1536, the two lordships, together with the lordships of Bromfield and Yale and Chirk, became constituted as the county of Denbigh. Denbighshire was transferred to the new County of Clwyd in the local government reorganisation of 1974, and following boundary changes transferred back to the county of Denbighshire in the reorganisation of 1996.

During the medieval period, for reasons which are now unclear, the ecclesiastical parishes in the lorship of Denbigh fell within the Diocese of St Asaph, whilst those of Dyffryn Clwyd, though wholly surrounded by the Diocese of St Asaph fell within the Diocese of Bangor. The deanery of Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, including parishes of Efenechtyd, Llanbedr, Llandyrnog, Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, Llanfwrog, Llangynhafal, Llanrhaeadr-yng-nghinmeirch, Llanrhudd (including Ruthin), Llanychan and Llanynys were finally transferred to St Asaph in 1859.

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