CPAT logo
Cymraeg / English
Back Home
Mynydd Hiraethog Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

Mynydd Hiraethog

Administrative Boundaries

The earlier administrative history of the area is uncertain, though by the 7th to 8th centuries Mynydd Hiraethog formed the eastern part of the emergent Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd, consisting partly of the district which became known as Gwynedd Is-Conwy ('Gwynedd below the Conwy'). By the medieval period Gwynedd Is-Conwy district had become divided administratively into the cantrefs of Rhos and Rhufoniog on the west and Tegeingl and Dyffryn Clwyd on the east, the four cantrefs also being known to the Welsh as Perfeddwlad or 'middle country' lying between England and Wales. The greater part of Mynydd Hiraethog was to fall within the commotes of Is-Aled and Uwch-Aled, (respectively the southern and northern parts of the moor), and Ceinmerch, (the eastern side of the moor) in the cantref of Rhufoniog, the commote of Uwch Dulas within the cantref of Rhos (the western edge of the moor), and the commote of Colion in the cantref of Dyffryn Clwyd (south-eastern corner of the moor). The area was nominally to change hands between the Welsh and English on a number of occasions during the medieval period. The cantref of Rhufoniog was annexed in 1086 by the Norman earl of Chester, and again conquered by the English crown under Henry III in the early 13th century, but was retaken by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and reunited with the kingdom of Gwynedd. The territory was regained by the English crown under Henry's son, Edward I in the 1270s, the cantrefs of Rhufoniog and Dyffryn Clwyd being held briefly from the crown by Llywelyn's brother Dafydd. With the subsequent loss of Welsh independence in the 1280s the cantrefs of Rhos and Rhufoniog formed part of the lordship of Denbigh granted to the earl of Lincoln in recognition of his part in the conquest, the lordship subsequently being held by the important Marcher family of the Mortimers.

At the Act of Union in 1536 the area fell within the hundreds of Isaled and Isdulas in the newly-created county of Denbigh, the western edge of the moor falling within the hundred of Nant Conwy in Caernarvonshire. By the mid 19th century the moor was subdivided into numerous tithe parishes of medieval origin within the diocese of St Asaph, each taking in their share of the moorland grazing. The western part of the moor fell within the tithe parishes of Llanrwst, the southern part within the tithe parishes of Tiryrabad-isaf (Pentrefoelas) and Cerrigydrudion, the northern part in the tithe parishes of Gwytherin, Llanfair Talhaiarn, Llansannan and Henllan, and the eastern part in the tithe parishes of Nantglyn, Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nhinmeirch and Gyffylliog.

By the later 12th century extensive properties on the southern edge of the moor had been gifted to the abbey at Aberconwy. The south-eastern corner of the moor, within the tithe parish of Cerrigydrudion, fell within a property including several thousand acres of mountain land suitable for sheepfarming along the Alwen, extending into the area now occupied by the Alwen Reservoir and Pentre Llyn Cymmer, called Tiryrabad-uchaf ('upper abbot's land'), within the cantref of Rhufoniog. The southern part of the moor, within the tithe parish of Tiryrabad-isaf ('lower abott's land', subsequently named Pentrefoelas), formed part of an extensive grange which included many thousands of acres of mountain grazing land, partly within Rhos and partly within Rhufoniog. In later years the two estates of Tiryrabad-uchaf and Tiryrabad-isaf were grouped together under the name Hiraethog. By the l9th century much of the southern side of the moor and the lower-lying properties fell within the ownership of the Voelas estate.

Immediately before the local government reorganisation in 1974 the historic landscape area of Mynydd Hiraethog fell mostly within Aled, Hiraethog and Rhuthin Rural District Councils in Denbighshire, following which it briefly fell within the county of Clwyd, with the exception of the western edge of the area which fell within the county of Gwynedd. Today, following various changes to community boundaries and local government reorganisation in 1996, the historic landscape area falls within the communities of Bro Garmon (the former parish of Llanrwst), Gwynedd, Llangernyw, Llansannan, Pentrefoelas and Cerrigydrudion, and Nantglyn and Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch in Denbighshire.

Various parish and estate boundaries, some probably of considerable antiquity, are represented on the ground today. The parish boundaries which in some instances denote medieval territorial divisions were often set out by reference to natural features such as ridges or streams, or were defined by reference to prehistoric burial mounds, as in the case of the Bronze Age round barrow known as Boncyn Cynefir Cleirrach which lies in open moorland on the boundary between the parishes of Llanfair Talhaiarn and Llansannan. The tithe maps of the mid 19th century clearly indicated that many other less topographically distinct parish boundaries, such as those between Llanfair Talhaiarn and Llansannan, Llansannan and Pentrefoelas and between Llanfair Talhaiarn and Gwytherin, were marked at that time by boundary stones or marker cairns, some of which can still be identified. Today, some of these parish boundaries, which defined common grazing rights on the moorland, are now marked by earthen banks or by post-and-wire fences erected for the control of grazing stock. A series of parish or estate marker stones near the head of the Afon Llaethog, between Tiryrabad-isaf (Pentrefoelas) and Cerrigydrudion and, apparently spaced at distances of about 2 furlongs (440 yards), are inscribed HIRAETHOG, with a place-name such as PONT ALICE HUGH and GARREG LLWYD added.

Privacy and cookies