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Tanat Valley Historic Landscape
Character area map

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Tanat Valley:
Allt Tair Ffynnon, Llangedwyn, Powys
(HLCA 1008)


Diverse, steeply-sloping area with north-facing slopes on south side of Dyffryn Tanat, part wooded and part 19th-century enclosure of upland common.

Historic background

The area formed part of the medieval ecclesiastical parishes of Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant and Llangedwyn and administratively fell within the ancient commote of Mochnant Is Rhaeadr, Denbighshire. One of the major archaeological sites in the character area is Tomen y Maerdy, one of four possible medieval earthwork castles in Dyffryn Tanat, which lies at the foot of a narrow ravine cut into the side of the hill south of Glantanat-isaf. The maer was one of the chief officials within the medieval commote and the association with this official in the place-name suggests that the motte may have been an administrative centre during perhaps the 12th century. The site is hidden from view, however, and has no good farming land in the immediate vicinity and seems unlikely to have provided a suitable nucleus for early settlement, and any administrative function it may ever have had was probably transferred to Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant as this developed as a market town in the 13th century.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Steeply, north-facing slopes on south side of Dyffryn Tanat, between a height of between about 110-310m OD, with rocky outcrops and prominent rock spines on the western slopes of Allt Tair Ffynnon.

Early settlement is represented by the medieval motte at Tomen y Maerdy and by the late medieval cruck-built house at Pen-y-graig. Buildings are otherwise largely limited to a small number of dispersed post-medieval farms on the lower-lying ground to the east and former 19th-century tenements and cottage encroachments on the higher ground. Large, 18th-century brick-built farmhouse replacing an earlier stone farmhouse and outbuildings at Ty-nant, and 19th-century farmhouse at Scrwgan.

Unimproved grazing with gorse and bracken with some improved areas on Allt Tair Ffynnon and with areas of semi-natural woodland on the lower slopes bordering Nant Engyll, with large irregular enclosures marked by overgrown hedges, now largely replaced by post and wire fences, representing 19th-century enclosure of common grazing. Extensive areas of improved pasture on the gentler north-facing slopes south of Henblas, towards the eastern end of the character area, with large rectilinear fields bounded by intermittent and overgrown hedges with low banks and occasional slight lynchets on steep slopes, again largely representing 19th-century enclosure of common pasture. Extensive areas of semi-natural oak woodland, mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland, and coniferous plantation on steeper at Coed y Wern-gerwyn, Coed Garth-eryr and Coed Glan-Tanat, and semi-natural mixed woodland in steep-sided stream valley south of Ty-nant.

The area is crossed by a number of lanes, trackways and footpaths linking valley bottom farms with mountain top pasture. A number of these run in hollow-ways and are probably of some antiquity.


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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