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Historic Background
A small area in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains, lying within the former Cwmwd MallŠen of Cantref Mawr which remained an independent Welsh lordship until 1284 and largely retained native systems of tenure throughout the medieval period; it also lies within the ecclesiastical parish of Cilycwm. It may have formed part of Nant-y-bai grange/Ystrad-ffin Manor, an ownership from which the name Allt Maesymeddygon on the eastern flanks of the area may be derived. As an upland grange, Nant-y-bai was probably operated by tenant farmers primarily concerned with the mountain pasturing of animals, and appears to have been largely unenclosed during the historic period, as it is today, and is depicted as open pasture on the earliest historic maps. Physical evidence for former enclosure exists, however, and there are relict field systems from both the Bronze Age and the earlier Post-Medieval period, the latter in association with the longhut/longhouse characteristic of upland settlement in southwest Wales during this transitional period (Sambrook and Ramsey, 1999). The area has no recent settlement, but the dam for Llyn Brianne reservoir, constructed at the northern edge of the area during the 1960s, has had a profound effect on the landscape.

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
Craig Ddu character area consists of open moorland. It lies between the upper Tywi and upper Gwenffrwd valleys. Steep, craggy valley sides of these two rivers form the eastern and southern boundaries of this area. The valley sides rise from approximately 130 m to over 350 m. The remainder the area comprises an undulating plateau between 350 m and 420 m. Apart from ancient deciduous woodland on some of the valley sides, and occasional wire fences, this area is entirely rough, open moorland with peat deposits in high hollows.

Recorded archaeology represents considerable time-depth, comprising a Bronze Age standing stone, a possible prehistoric field system, and a longhut/longhouse and field system from the earlier Post-Medieval period

There are virtually no standing buildings and none are distinctive; however, the late 20th-century Llyn Brianne dam deserves note

This area is well defined by farmland in the valley bottoms and by a conifer plantation to the north.




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