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The Middle Wye Historic Landscape
Character area map

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Middle Wye: Tir-uched
Gwernyfed and Llanigon, Powys
(HLCA 1089)

CPAT PHOTO 00c0105

Medieval and later dispersed farmsteads on lower-lying land bordering the south bank of the Wye between Hay and Glasbury, some deriving from English-held manors.

Historic background

Early activity in the area is indicated by a Neolithic polished stone axe found near The Warren, a flint scraper near Llwynbrain, the Neolithic chambered long cairn at Little Lodge, and the Bronze Age round barrow near Coed-y-polyn. Later prehistoric settlement may be indicated by a cropmark enclosure on the river terrace overlooking the floodplain at Coed y Polyn. No early medieval or pre-conquest Welsh settlements are known within the area, though following the Norman conquest in the late 11th century the area fell partly within the sub-lordships of Hay and Glasbury and was partly held by a number of English-held manors. The motte at Llanthomas probably belongs to the later 11th to early 12th century and belonged to a manor that was probably associated with a proprietary church in the 14th century known as Thomaschurch. A second English-held manor of this period was established at Tregoyd as well as an English subtenancy at Felindre. A former dependent chapel of Glasbury church existed at Felindre until about the 18th century, by which time both it and the chapel at Llanthomas had disappeared. Small bonded settlements may have been attached to each of the manors, though no evidence of these has yet been identified. At the Act of Union in 1536 the area fell within the hundred of Talgarth in the County of Brecknock. In the mid 19th century the area formed parts of the Tithe parishes of Aberllynfi, Glasbury, Hay, and Llanigon.

Key historic landscape characteristics

The area occupies the gently undulating low-lying terrace, above the floodplain on the south bank of the Wye and below the foothills of the Black Mountains, between a height of 90-170m above Ordnance Datum. The area is dissected by several steep-sided stream valleys including Nant Ysgallen and Digedi Brook, the banks of Nant Ysgallen being lined with broad-leaved semi-natural woodland including ash and oak. The soils are predominantly coarse to fine brown earths (Newnham Series), locally quite deep, overlying fluvioglacial drift including gravels. Present-day land-use is mostly pasture with some arable for fodder crops and cereals. The area includes a number of small mixed broad-leaved and conifer plantations, such as Allt Frān.

Present-day settlement is dominated by a pattern of medium-sized farms spaced about 500-600m apart and often set within their own fields. An earlier building horizon of late medieval date is represented at Tynllyne and Pentwyn. The farmhouse at Tynllyne possibly originated as a cruck-built longhouse, subsequently altered in the 17th to 19th centuries. A possibly later 16th-century cruck-framed and weatherboarded barn at Pentwyn is set on sandstone rubble walls, was enlarged in the 17th to 18th century. By the early 17th century sandstone rubble had become the predominant building material, as in the case of the farmhouses at Upper Sheephouse and New Court. Many of the larger farmhouses belong to the 18th and 19th centuries, again in sandstone rubble, as at Tregoyd Farm, Llwynbrain, Little Lodge, Llwynfilly, Ffordd-fawr and Pentwyn, accompanied by 18th-century or earlier stone barns at Llwynbrain, Little Lodge and Llwynfilly, some with ventilation slots, and with occasional 19th-century brick and weatherboarded outbuildings, and 20th-century steel-framed buildings and other modern structures at Little Lodge, Tregoyd Farm and Ffordd-fawr. One of the few grander and more recent buildings in the character area is Tregoyd Hall (now an activity centre), an early 20th-century brick-built hall with sandstone dressings, replacing a 17th-century hall destroyed by fire in 1900. The house is set within contemporary pleasure grounds and has ornamental landscape plantings to the west, including Scots Pines, Wellingtonia and chestnut, beech, yew and cedar. A number of small settlements sprang up along the turnpike roads in the late 18th and earlier 19th centuries. Characteristic of this kind of roadside development is the chapel settlement at Felindre, slightly away from the core of the original settlement, with 18th and early 19th-century farmworkers' cottages, and an inn, the earlier buildings of stone rubble and the later ones of stone and yellow and blue brick dressings. A similar development of this period is the small cluster of late 18th to early 19th-century roadside stone cottages at Ffordd-las. Surviving buildings with religious associations include the now converted Ebenezer Welsh Presbyterian Chapel of 1862 at Felindre and possibly a stone barn at Llwynllwyd, west of Llanigon, said to have been the site of the nonconformist academy established here in the early 1700s and attended by both Howel Harris and Williams Williams, Pantycelyn, who were to become prominent figures in the nonconformist movement in Wales.

The modern farming landscape is characterized by medium-sized rectangular fields with low-cut multi-species hedges including hawthorn, elder, holly and hazel. There is some evidence of former hedge-laying, but a number of degraded hedges are being supplemented or replaced by post and wire stock-proof fences. There are scattered mature oak and ash trees, some of those in the middle of fields representing former field boundaries which have now been removed. Some of the fields on steeper slopes show lynchet formation resulting from former ploughing. Traces of ridge and furrow cultivation survive in a number of places, an area to the west of Llanthomas possibly being a remnant of the medieval open fields of the medieval manor. There are occasional roughly hewn stone roadside gateposts. Many of the farmhouses such as Llanthomas, Ffordd-fawr and Tir-uched were associated with orchards in the 19th century, of which some remnants still survive in places.

The area is bounded on the east by the old road between Talgarth and Hay and on the west by the improved turnpike road. The area between these main lines of communication is crossed by winding lanes in hollow-ways and a maze of footpaths and green lanes, some evidently of considerable antiquity. A series of stone bridges are associated with the turnpike improvements at Felindre, Pontcwrtyrargoed, Tregoyd and Llanigon, as are a number of milestones at Upper Sheephouse and near Pont-yr-angell. Following the turnpike along the river terrace on the western side of the area is the course of the former early 19th-century tramroad between Brecon and Hay, superseded in the later 19th-century by the now dismantled railway, both of which are represented by embankments and former culverts.

Former processing industry is represented by the small stone-built corn mill at Tregoyd with adjacent miller's house, leats and mill pond, and by the former mill site at Felindre. Extractive industry is represented by a number of small and scattered stone quarries, probably for building stone in the period from about the 16th century onwards.

A number of small ponds are scattered throughout the area, which are of potential palaeoenviromental significance.


Cadw 1994b;
Cadw 1995c;
Davies 1957;
Haslam 1979;
Jones & Smith 1964;
Powys Sites and Monuments Record;
Martin & Walters 1993;
Morgan 1995-96;
Rees 1932;
Soil Survey 1983

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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