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Historic Background

The tidal floodplain of the River Tywi and its tributary the Gwili where it occurs immediately beneath the town of Carmarthen. The present course of the river is a series of loops which appear to have remained fairly constant since at least the Medieval period, when the north-west side of the river lay within the Borough of Carmarthen and the south-east side belonged to the Lordship of Kidwelly (Rees 1932); both had been established in the early 12th-century. Several areas of marsh are mentioned in contemporary accounts, when the area appears to have been used solely as seasonal grazing land, presumably held of the crown as common land, as was 'Sylly' at the north end (James 1980, 44). The town rental of 1675 mentions 14 acres in 'Morfa Uchaf', and 'a bank thereto annexed' (ibid.), possibly a flood defence; however an area called 'The Island' was in dispute with Kidwelly lordship due to minor changes in the river's course (James 1980, 42). Some limited enclosure had taken place by 1842 (Carmarthen St Peters tithe map) when formal drainage systems appear to have been introduced, but the area was, and still is, subject to frequent inundation. Several clay pits were excavated in the floodplain during the 19th century and it has been suggested that the clay for the ramparts of Roman Carmarthen was derived from the flood-plain (James 1992, 22). The LNWR railway, opened in 1871 but now occupied by the new bypass, forms the north-west edge of the area, and the old A40 - following the line of the Roman Road to Llandovery, and a later turnpike - passes through it on an embankment. Some ribbon-development has occurred alongside the road during the late 19th- and 20th-century, usually on embanked platforms around a farm and dairy; the development included a bus depot that closed in 1998.

Base map reproduced from the OS map with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Crown Copyright 2001.
All rights reserved. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Licence Number: GD272221

Description and essential historic landscape components

Short lengths of the Tywi valley, and the lower Gwili valley, lying at or close to sea level. The area is subjected to flooding at exceptionally high tides and regular flooding during the winter months of high rainfall. The cycles of river deposition and erosion are also quite active in this area. Consequently there is no settlement in this historic landscape area, and, apart from close to Abergwili where there are fields surrounded by hedges, enclosures are poorly defined by wire fences and/or ditches. The whole area is under pasture. Apart from occasional small trees in some hedges and scrubby woodland alongside the rivers, it is essentially a treeless landscape. In 1999, the Carmarthen eastern bypass, which crosses this area, opened. Lengths of river bank were armoured as part of the engineering works associated with the bypass.

Recorded archaeology is limited. The Roman road has been mentioned and two watermills have been tentatively located within the area. A firing range was established in one of the loops in the 20th century.

None of the buildings, which mainly date from the 19th- and 20th-century, are distinctive.

The area is distinct from the rising ground to the northwest and southeast, but the boundary with the floodplain to the west and east is less well-defined.






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