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Tanat Valley Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Tanat Valley


The complex history of political and ecclesiastical boundary changes which the Tanat Valley has undergone since at least the 12th century has an important bearing upon its landscape history. The area falls within the ancient kingdom of Powys, which gained a stronger political identity from the later 11th century, following a period of several centuries during which it fell under the competing influences of the Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd and the English kingdom of Mercia, English cultural influence already being apparent in the period between the 9th to 11th centuries .

Until the death of Madog ap Maredudd in 1160 the Tanat Valley formed part of the cantref (hundred) of Mochnant, formed of the commotes of Mochnant Is Rhaeadr and Mochnant Uwch Rhaeadr (Mochnant, above and below the Rhaeadr), divided by Afon Rhaeadr. A greater proportion of the better, lower-lying agricultural land is to be found in Mochnant Is Rhaeadr, to the east of the Rhaeadr, and it is this commote which is more likely to have held the caput or early seat of government and administration within the cantref .

Following the death of Madog, the political and administrative history of the parts of the valley to either side of the Rhaeadr took different courses for a period of over 800 years, until the local government reorganisation of 1996. Madog's sons inherited the northern part of Powys including Mochnant Is Rhaeadr, which later became known as Powys Fadog. Southern Powys, later to become known as Powys Wenwynwyn and including Mochnant Uwch Rhaeadr, was inherited by his brother's family, thus separating administratively the two constituent commotes of the cantref of Mochnant. Following the Edwardian conquest of Wales in 1282-83 Powys Wenwynwyn continued under Welsh rule, but Powys Fadog was divided between two of Edward's English supporters, Mochnant Is Rhaeadr becoming part of Marcher lordship of Chirk held by Roger Mortimer. Southern Powys, which had supported the king in the war against Llywelyn, remained in the hands of its native ruler, under allegiance to the English crown. The inhabitants of Mochnant Uwch Rhaeadr no longer owed their services to a native lord speaking their own language and with a hereditary claim on their loyalty.

At the Act of Union of 1536, the boundary between the two commotes became the county boundary between Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire, Mochnant Is Rhaeadr forming part of the hundred of Chirk and Mochnant Uwch Rhaeadr forming part of the hundred of Mechain .

The Tanat Valley occupies parts of five medieval ecclesiastical parishes - including substantial portions of Pennant Melangell, Llangynog, and Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant and lesser portions of the parishes of Llansilin and Hirnant. Churches at Llanarmon-mynydd-mawr and Llangedwyn were initially dependent chapels of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, but subsequently formed separate parishes. The boundaries of the medieval parishes of Pennant Melangell and Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant in particular were extremely irregular. At the time of the tithe Pennant Melangell comprising six detached portions, four in Montgomeryshire, one in Denbighshire and one in Shropshire. The parish of Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant was again unusual in being divided almost equally between Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire, a consequence of the division of the cantref of Mochnant in 1160.

During the medieval period the commotes Mochnant Is Rhaeadr and Mochnant Uwch Rhaeadr were units of local government and political administration, each divided into townships upon which services, dues and rents were assessed. By the time of the tithe, in the 1830s and 1840s, Pennant Melangell and Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant were multiple township parishes and Llangynog was formed of a single township of Tre'r-llan. All or part of seven of Pennant Melangell's twelve townships fall within the Tanat Valley - Tre'r-llan, Cwm LlÍch, Pengwern, Cwm Blowty, Garthgelynen-fawr and Garthgelynen-fechan, and Peniarth. Likewise, all or part of fourteen of Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant's sixteen townships fall within the Tanat Valley - Glanhafon-fawr, Glanhafon-fach, Tre'r-llan, Cefn-cŰch, Castellmoch, Brithdir, Henfache, Banhadla-ucha, Banhadla-issa, Banhadla Hamlet, Trebrys-fach, Trebrys-fawr, Trewern, Gartheryr, and Trefeiliw. Llangedwyn and Llanarmon-mynydd-mawr, having originally formed part of the parish of Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant, were each formed of single townships, parts of which fall within the Tanat Valley. Llansilin was again a multiple township parish of which the township of Lloran falls within the Tanat Valley.

During the course of the later 19th century and the 20th century parts of Pennant Melangell were absorbed by the parishes of Llangynog, Llanwddyn, Hirnant and Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant, the civil community eventually disappearing altogether. Since local government reorganisation in 1996 the Tanat Valley falls wholly within the county of Powys, being split between the communities of Llangynog, Hirnant, Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant, Llangedwyn and Llansilin.

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