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Mynydd Hiraethog Historic Landscape
Character area map

Historic Landscape Characterisation

Mynydd Hiraethog: Tan-y-graig
Llansannan Community, Conwy and Nantglyn Community, Denbighshire
(HLCA 1108)

CPAT PHOTO cs013112

Scattered post-medieval farmstead encroachments on sheltered south-facing slopes towards the southern edge of moor, some drained and improved land and small conifer plantations.

Historic background

The area falls within the 19th-century tithe parishes of Henllan and Nantglyn. Little recent archaeological fieldwork has been undertaken within the area and relatively few archaeological sites have been identified.

Key historic landscape characteristics

The character area occupies an area of just under 6km2 of generally improved pasture towards the southern side of Mynydd Hiraethog, between a height of about 370-450m above Ordnance Datum, and includes an isolated area of heather moorland on the Cerrig Caws ridge. The area faces predominantly to the south and is drained a number of streams on the south including the Nant-fach and Nant Gors-goch and on the east to the Afon Brenig, all of which are tributaries to the Afon Alwen and ultimately feed into the Dee drainage system.

No evidence of early settlement has been recorded within the area. Later settlement in the area is represented by a group of post-medieval farmsteads which like Ty-isaf, Tai-pellaf, Tan-y-graig and Pen-y-ffrith which appear to have first become established along the course of the old Pentrefoelas to Denbigh road. Each farmstead, with its own well or spring, occupies an area of improved enclosed pasture on the more sheltered, south-facing slopes in the stream valleys feeding the Afon Alwen at the western extremities of the tithe parishes of Henllan and Nantglyn. The farmhouses are relatively small two-storey structures of local stone with some rendering with large range of stone cattle sheds at Tan-y-graig. Several of the farmsteads, including Bryn-pellaf and Ty'n-y-gors were abandoned in the late 19th and earlier 20th century following the amalgamation of various holdings.

Earlier curvilinear boundaries enclosing the farmsteads at Ty-isaf and Tai-pellaf, shown on the Henllan tithe map of the 1840s were being expanded during the later 19th century by more rectilinear boundaries taking in formerly unenclosed moorland, particularly around Tan-y-coed and Tan-y-graig. Earlier boundaries are represented by earth banks now usually accompanied by post-and-wire fences. Later boundaries are usually of post-and-wire though with some drystone walls to the south of Tan-y-graig, together with some iron rail fencing along the Afon Alwen, probably contemporary with the early 20th-century Alwen Reservoir. The farmsteads are associated with a distinctive pattern of small conifer and deciduous plantations and shelter belts, many of which were already in existence by the 1870s.Waterlogged areas to the south of Llyn Aled and between Tan-y-graig and the Alwen have been drained by dykes probably dug as part of the improvements carried out in the later 19th century. Waterlogged and peaty deposits probably still survive within the area, however, which are of potential significance to an understanting of the vegetational and land use history of Mynydd Hiraethog.

The area is crossed by the modern Pentrefoelas to Denbigh road (A543) constructed as new turnpike road in the early 19th century via Sportsman's Arms and Bylchau replacing the older road across the moor which crossed the Afon Alwen at Nant Heilyn and ran along the Cerrig Caws ridge to the south of Tan-y-graig and thence to Nantglyn.


CPAT Sites and Monuments Record;
Henllan and Nantglyn tithe maps and apportionments

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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