Home > Historic Landscape Characterisation > Towy Valley >



Historic Background
A small area to the north of the town of Llandovery, either side of the River Tywi. Settlement in the area has considerable time-depth - at the north end of the area is an Iron Age hillfort, and the line of a Roman road leading northwards from the fort at Llandovery (Alabum) crosses the valley floor. Henllys, to the south of the fort, may be the site of an early Medieval administrative centre. By the historic period the Tywi formed the boundary between Cantref Bychan to the east and Cantref Mawr to the west. Cantref Bychan was invaded by the Anglo-Normans under Richard Fitz Pons who established a caput at Llandovery in 1110-16 (Rees n.d.) and was acquired soon after by the Clifford lords of Brecon as the Lordship of Llandovery; the latter remained an independent Welsh lordship until 1284. Both retained native tenurial customs until the end of the Medieval period when they were united within modern Carmarthenshire but Area 214 lay within the Medieval borough of Llandovery (Rees 1932) and was subject to Anglo-Norman tenure, representing 'town lands'. The northern boundary of the borough was apparently present in physical form as the 'Ditch of Krenchy' (ibid.) which may now be represented by a stream, Nant Ogwrn. The name 'Dolauhirion' suggests the former presence of strip-fields, which may account for the linear field boundaries occurring throughout the area. However, unlike Area 213 there is no physical evidence for the practice of ridge-and-furrow agriculture. The present pattern of large, fairly regular enclosures may have been a product of the 17th- or early 18th-century, supplanting previous open-field systems. In the floodplain of the Tywi itself are larger, more regular enclosures which may be of later, 18th century date. The former enclosure may be associated with the gentry houses, particularly Llwynhowell and Henllys which have origins before the 16th century (Jones 1987, 94, 118-9), Manorafon whose estate is documented from 1749 (Judith Alfrey, pers. comm.) and Tonn, which was mentioned in 1759 but burnt down in 1916 (Jones 1987, 181). The Tywi is crossed at Dolauhirion via a bridge with Medieval origins and by a Medieval ford at Llwynhowell, while the bridge carrying the A40(T) into Llandovery has replaced a 19th century suspension bridge which itself succeeded a ferry. The southern part of the area is crossed by the railway from Llandovery to Llanwrtyd Wells, which had been established by 1871 as part of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) Central Wales and Carmarthen Junction Line. It is still operational and forms part of the 'Heart of Wales' line.

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
Llwynhowell character area lies across the valley floor of the Tywi immediately upstream of Llandovery, and includes the gently-sloping west side and lower slopes of the eastern side of the valley. The narrow floodplain of the Tywi lies at approximately 70 m, and the western valley side rises up to over 120 m. This is essentially a landscape of small- to medium-sized irregular fields, large dispersed farms and scattered woodland. Improved pasture dominates the agricultural land-use; there is little rough ground. Field boundaries are composed of earth banks topped with hedges. Hedges are generally well maintained at lower levels, but at higher altitudes there is a tendency for them to be overgrown and derelict. Wire fences supplement the hedges. Some hedges contain distinctive trees, and these together with small stands of deciduous woodland - mostly on steeper valley sides - lend a moderately wooded aspect to some parts of this area. There are areas of former emparking but these have not profoundly influenced the appearance of the landscape. Farms are distributed along the lower valley sides on both sides of the Tywi. Farms are generally substantial. Farmhouses are mostly 18th- or 19th-century in date, stone-built with slate roofs and tend towards the polite, with semi-formal, stone-built outbuildings, although most are also associated with modern agricultural buildings. In addition to the farms there are many dispersed dwellings across the area, but concentrated alongside roads close to Llandovery. These are mainly of two periods: late 19th century 'villas', and late 20th-century houses and bungalows in a mixture of styles and materials. This part of the upper Tywi valley is a route corridor, with a B road following the generalised line of a Roman road on the eastern side of the river.

Recorded archaeology is limited to the Roman road and Roman finds to the south, near the fort at Llanfair-ar-y-bryn, and to the site of Tonn Mansion.

There are a number of distinctive buildings. The Grade I listed Dolauhirion bridge is by William Edwards from 1773, built on the site of a Medieval bridge. Manorafon, with model farm buildings from c.1800 (Judith Alfrey, pers. comm.), represents an important early example of farm planning, and Henllys is a Grade II* listed double-pile house associated with 6 Grade II listed outbuildings. There are also rebuilt gentry houses at Llwynhowell and Tonn, the latter - like Henllys - with an area of possible former emparking. Farms have generally been constructed with some architectural consideration, rather than in the vernacular tradition. There are some late 19th-century brick and stone-and-brick farmhouses present. Stone-built outbuildings are equally substantial and in some instances are in a semi-formal arrangement with the house

This is a very difficult area to define as, apart from its southern side against the urban area of Llandovery, neighbouring areas contain similar historic landscape components. In these cases there is a zone of change, rather than a hard-edged border.







[click for navigation menu if not present]