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Tanat Valley Historic Landscape
Character area map

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Tanat Valley:
Cefn-côch, Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant, Powys
(HLCA 1007)


Landscape of cottages and tenements and small fields with stone walls and banks, representing late 18th and early 19th-century encroachment of the commons.

Historic background

The character area falls within the medieval ecclesiastical parishes of Pennant Melangell and Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant and lay within the ancient commote of Mochnant Uwch Rhaeadr, Montgomeryshire.

The principal archaeological monument in the character area is the probably 12th- to 13th-century Tomen Cefn-côch motte, one of up to four similar sites in Dyffryn Tanat. Like the Tomen Cefn Glaniwrch about 4.5km to the east, in the adjacent commote of Mochnant Is Rhaeadr, Tomen Cefn-côch is prominently sited, on the edge of the lower hills, and provides one of the best view points in Dyffryn Tanat. There is no evidence of medieval settlement or land-use in the immediate vicinity of either of these two mottes, suggesting that both of them, sited on the edge of the commons, had a purely military function. A number of mining levels of unknown date are recorded in the area of Garn Uchaf, on the western edge of the character area.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Ground sloping to the north, west and south, with flatter areas on the hilltops, ranging in height from between 210-420m OD, overlooking the valley of the Afon Tanat to the south and the valley of the Afon Rhaeadr to the north.

Settlement consists of scattered late 18th- and early 19th-century small stone cottages and small-holdings with slate roofs. The houses are generally set on or near the roadside, the small-holdings generally only associated with sheds rather than with extensive outbuildings. The houses are mostly built of split rounded boulders probably collected from field clearance from the surrounding fields during the period of colonization. The walls of a number of cottages have been rendered, and some cottages have been subsequently enlarged. A number of the cottages have names of some pretension, including that of Plas Newydd, on the western side of Cefn-côch. Some of the cottages marked on the Tithe have now disappeared.

The predominant present-day land-use is as pasture. Small fields and paddocks defined by either walls and banks and to a lesser extent by hedges. The walls and banks are built of rounded boulders, up to 1m across but generally smaller, resulting from surface clearance probably when the land was first enclosed, probably in the later 18th and earlier 19th century. Surviving hedges are generally of mixed species such as hawthorn, maple and holly, and were formally laid, though some former hedges are now represented by banks and scattered shrubs, occasionally replaced by post and wire fences. Some of the land in the character area with reeds is seasonally waterlogged and consequently there are artificial drainage ditches along some road and field boundaries.

Network of small lanes, unmade-up green lanes and footpaths. Some of the fields are set with regard to the straighter lanes, which consequently appear to represent early tracks across the unenclosed common.

The Elim Calvinist chapel was built on the western side of the character area in 1839 to serve the cottages in the area. The small stone chapel is typical of the chapels built to serve the new dispersed rural settlement that sprang up in Dyffryn Tanat during the course of the 19th-century.


Hancock 1871; 1872; 1873; 1875
Richards 1943-44; 1945-46
Spurgeon 1965-66

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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