CPAT logo
Cymraeg / English
Back Home
Clywedog Valley
Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Making of the Clywedog Valley Landscape


Secular boundaries

The earliest political grouping known in the area is the native tribe known as the Ordovices who inhabited central Wales at the time of the Roman conquest in the 1st century AD.

There is no evidence for the establishment of civil administration during the period of Roman rule between the mid to late 1st century AD and the early 5th century and it is possible that the area continued to be subject to administration by the Roman army throughout this period.

It seems possible that by the early medieval period most of the area had come to form part of the small kingdom or cantref of Arwystli, first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as the hundred of Arvester, with the north-western part forming part of the commote of Cyfeiliog in the kingdom of Powys.

During the earlier medieval period the small kingdom of Arwystli lay between and became the subject of violent disputes between the two more powerful kingdoms of Gwynedd to the west and Powys to the east. Its early history is obscure though by the late 11th century it was held by the Norman earl, Roger de Montgomery, who had annexed the territory from his power base further east, but returned into the hands of a native dynasty during the first half of the 12th century. Arwystli continued to be hotly contested by the kings of Gwynedd and Powys for a period of about a century and a half during which much slaughter and destruction of buildings is recorded. Though much of the cantref was composed of no more than moorland it included some scarce, fertile valley land, which in the historic landscape area included the valley of the Severn and its tributaries the Cerist and Clywedog. The Severn and the Clywedog valleys were also of some strategic significance in terms of providing a corridor of communication between central Wales and the Marches. During this period allegiances ebbed and flowed between the local dynasty and the house of Gwynedd, the local dynasty and the house of Powys, between the house of Powys and the Crown of England, and even between the competing kingdoms of Gwynedd and Powys, until a period of relative stability following the conquest of Wales by Edward I in the 1280s when it reverted to Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn, the then ruler of Powys.

With the exception of the north-west corner which fell within the commote of Cyfeiliog, most of the historic landscape area formed part of the easternmost commote of Arwystli known as Arwystli Uwchcoed (literally ‘Arwystli above the wood’) administered by stewards probably from the early 13th century. By the late 1290s Talgarth in the parish of Trefeglwys, now a farm about a third of kilometre to the north of the historic landscape area, had become the manorial centre of Arwystli Uwchcoed.

Arwystli together with the lordships of Cyfeiliog and Caereinion were regained by the Cherltons, lords of Powys in 1401, during the Glyndwr uprising, from the prominent marcher lord Sir Edmund Mortimer who had formerly seized them. The lordship subsequently passed through the Tiptoft family to the Dudleys who sold the lordships to the Crown during the reign of Henry VIII.

At the Act of Union in 1536 the lordship of Arwystli formed Arwystli Hundred, subsequently renamed Llanidloes Hundred, a part of Montgomeryshire, divided into upper and lower divisions which loosely corresponded to the medieval commotes of Arwystli Uwchcoed and Iscoed. The two divisions were subdivided into manorial townships which had probably originated during early medieval and medieval times and which were to continue to have significance until the mid 19th century. Townships within the area bounded by the historic landscape comprised Penegoes Uwchycoed, Esgeiriaeth, Ystradhynod, Glyntrefnant, Brithdir, Manledd, Dolgwden, Glynhafren Iscoed, and Cilmachallt.

At the present day the historic landscape area falls largely within the communities of Llanbrynmair, Trefeglwys, Llanidloes Without, and Llanidloes. Following local government reorganisation in 1974 these communities fell within the newly-created county of Powys, which became a unitary authority in 1996.

Ecclesiastical boundaries

The area formed part of the 19th-century ecclesiastical parishes of Llanidloes, Trefeglwys, Llanbrynmair and Penegoes within the deanery of Arwystli in the diocese of Bangor.

A single medieval church lay within the historic landscape area, St Idloes Church at Llanidloes. The church is first recorded in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 as capella de Lanidloes but is thought to be of early medieval origin and to be a daughter church of the clas church at Llandinam.

A new ecclesiastical parish was created in 1856 out of the parishes of Llanbrynmair, Darowen, Penegoes and Trefeglwys, focused on St David’s Church, Dylife, which was demolished in 1962.

(back to top)

Privacy and cookies