CPAT logo
Cymraeg / English
Back Home
East Fforest Fawr and Mynydd-y-Glôg
Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

East Fforest Fawr and Mynydd-y-Glôg


By the early medieval period the area formed part of the cantref (hundred) of Cantref Mawr in the kingdom of Brycheiniog which had emerged as one of the early British kingdoms in Wales by the 7th to 8th century AD. The kingdom was conquered by the Norman baron, Bernard de Neufmarché, in the late 12th century and continued to be administered as a marcher lordship until the 16th century.

The greater part, if not the whole of the historic landscape area formed part of one of the largest hunting preserves in Wales, belonging to the lords of Brecknock known as Fforest Fawr or the Great Forest of Brecknock stretching for about 20 kilometres from east to west and 12 kilometres from north to south (about 12 miles by 8 miles), called the forestya de Brechonie (‘Forest of Brecon’) by the 1160s and 1170s. In documents of the early 17th century it is named as Forest y Brenin (‘King’s Forest’), the area having been forfeited to Henry VIII by the Duke of Buckingham in 1521.

At the Act of Union of 1536 Cantref Mawr came to form the hundred of Defynnog (Devynock) in the newly-created county of Brecknock (Breconshire)

During the Middle Ages most of the historic landscape area fell within the ecclesiastical parish of Penderyn in the archdeaconry of Brecknock, in the diocese of St David’s. The ecclesiastical parish of Hirwaun was created in 1886 from the civil parishes of Aberdare in Glamorgan and Penderyn in the county of Brecon.

By the 19th century the area formed parts of the Brecknockshire civil parishes of Penderyn, Ystradfellte, Glyn and Cantref. Following local government reorganisation in 1974 Penderyn, making up most of the southern part of the area, was transferred to the new county of Mid Glamorganshire, and the northern communities were transferred to Brecknock District Council in the new county of Powys. In the local government reorganisation of 1996 the northern part of the area was subdivided between the communities of Ystradfellte and Llanfrynach within the unitary authority of Powys and the southern part of the area became part of the community of Hirwaun in the new unitary authority of Rhondda Cynon Taff.

Fforest Fawr remained Crown property until the sale of the central part of the area in 1819. The unenclosed moorland within the historic landscape area was unaffected by this sale, however, and is still mostly Common Land.

The historic landscape area falls wholly within the Brecon Beacons National Park, created in 1957 for the purpose of protecting the natural beauty of the area, to help visitors enjoy and understand it, and to foster the well-being of local people.

The historical significance of Fforest Fawr was highlighted in the early years of the 20th century with the publication of John Lloyd’s The Great Forest of Brecknock published in 1905 and later by William Rees’s similarly named book published in 1966. The archaeological importance of the area, in terms of the surviving prehistoric, medieval and industrial remains was highlighted by the fieldwork and publications of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales during the 1990s, notably Stephen Hughes’s The Brecon Forest Tramroads (1990), David Leighton’s Mynydd Du and Fforest Fawr: The Evolution of an Upland Landscape in South Wales (1997), and the Brecknock Inventory, Prehistoric Burial and Ritual Monuments and Settlement to A.D. 1000 (1997).

Greater awareness of the surviving archaeological remains was a major factor in the inclusion of the East Fforest Fawr and Mynydd-y-glog historic landscape area in the Register of Landscapes of Special Historic Significance in Wales, published under the auspices of Cadw, the Countryside Council for Wales and ICOMOS UK in 2001.

The historic landscape area now also falls within the Fforest Fawr Geopark, established to promote both the geological heritage and economic development of the area and granted recognition by the UNESCO Global Geopark Network in 2005.

(back to top)

Privacy and cookies