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Bro Trefaldwyn Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

Bro Trefaldwyn

Settlement Landscapes

A number of distinct settlement patterns are evident in the present-day landscape - larger nucleated settlements, villages, smaller hamlets, scattered farms and cottages, and country houses. The two largest settlements, Chirbury and Montgomery, are important early foundations, each as noted above with their own individual histories. Chirbury was established as a fortified burh in the early 10th-century and became the focus of a royal manor and monastic estate. Little is known of its early history through excavation, though it has considerable potential archaeological importance due to the relatively small scale of recent development. The town of Montgomery, a new fortified town created in the early 13th century below the royal castle, likewise has considerable archaeological potential, being the best preserved of the medieval towns of mid Wales, as well having an important architectural heritage of the 17th to 19th centuries.

The small villages at Churchstoke, Forden and Hyssington each began or became Mercian settlements in the period between the 7th and early 11th centuries. Medieval chapels were founded in each of the villages which were initially dependent upon the St Michael's Church, Chirbury, but which subsequently became the focus of separate ecclesiastical parishes in their own right. Montgomery and Chirbury and the smaller villages failed to develop as significant industrial or commercial centres and have consequently retained their essentially rural character. Schools were established at Montgomery, Chirbury, Forden, Hyssington, and Churchstoke.

Many of the smaller hamlets, like Kingswood, Cwm Cae, Old Church Stoke, and Stockton are sometimes no more than a cluster of houses, and appear to have originated between the later 17th and later 19th centuries. The settlements are sited at road junctions and are often associated with a smithy, nonconformist chapel, mill or inn. Numerous isolated roadside cottages sprang up along the turnpike roads which were built during the later 18th and early 19th centuries, including a number of toll-houses and workers' cottages.

A number of the farms including those at Aston, Castlewright, Hopton, Dudston, Woodluston (Penylan), Weston, and Hem first appear as pre-Conquest settlements or habitations which listed in the Domesday Book in the later 11th century, but which may in some instances have their origin in settlements dating back to the Iron Age or Roman periods. A high proportion of the names of these early settlements have survived to the present day. Some of the names belong to individual farms, though it is significant that in many cases the names of the early settlements is shared by two or more farms in the township, linked by a prefix such as great or little, upper and lower, red and white, east and west. Many of the farms evidently had their origin in townships which formerly operated on the basis shared arable open-fields and common grazing.

This agricultural system was rapidly breaking down throughout Britain during the course of the 14th and 15th centuries, with individual farms being created through a process of gradual amalgamation and consolidation of individual holdings. Woodland clearance and the improvement of more marginal land was at the same time giving rise to the creation of new farms between the 16th and 18th centuries, together with the growth of the larger estates. Some of the estates which were being created during the 18th and 19th centuries were themselves derived from pre-conquest settlements, such as Walcot, Marrington, Edderton and probably Gunley, country houses with parks or gardens were established at each of these places as well as at Nantcribba, Lymore and Pentrenant during this period.

Other distinctive settlement types were emerging during the course of the land-hungry years of the 18th and 19th centuries, notably the erection of cottages and the encroachment and enclosure of common land, as at Bankshead on the eastern end of the Kerry Ridgeway, on the side of Todleth Hill and Lan Fawr, and in the area of Forden. The increasing burdens of rural poverty gave rise to the erection of the imposing workhouse at Forden built with the combined resources of nine parishes and six townships in the neighbouring border country in the last decade of the 18th century.

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