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Historic Background
An area in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains east of the headwaters of the River Tywi, once part of Cantref Bychan which was invaded by the Anglo-Normans under Richard Fitz Pons who established a caput at Llandovery in 1110-16 (Rees n.d.). It was acquired soon after by the Clifford lords of Brecon as the Lordship of Llandovery, but retained native tenurial customs until the end of the Medieval period when it was incorporated within the modern Carmarthenshire. The northern half of the area lay within the Manor of Nant-y-bai, which had been granted as a grange to the Cistercians of Strata Florida, probably by Gruffydd ap Rhys in c.1200, and remained together after the Dissolution as the Ystrad-ffin estate. A survey of 1629 (Carmarthenshire Record Office, Lort Muniments 17/678) shows that it contained most of the surrounding farms, demonstrating that the surrounding landscape was already settled. As an upland grange and manor, however, it was probably operated by tenant farmers primarily concerned with the mountain pasturing of animals. Area 223 is labelled 'Crugyblaidd Forest' on Rees' map of 14th century South Wales (Rees 1932) and its boundary morphology suggests that it remained largely unenclosed until the early 19th-century. A sheepfold in the northern part of the area may be earlier and demonstrates that pasturing was undertaken. The area also contains the remains of a house platform, and enclosures which may be associated, which are characteristic of early Post-Medieval settlement in upland southwest Wales (Sambrook and Ramsey 1995), and may represent squatting. Time-depth is provided by a number of Bronze Age ritual sites. There has been no recent development but there are pockets of later 20th century conifer plantation.

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.
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Description and essential historic landscape components
Fforest character area occupies the crest of a 6 km long ridge which lies between the valleys of the Afon Tywi and Afon Brān. The ridge rarely achieves heights of over 300 m. Its northern, southern and western flanks fall away steeply to the valley floors. To the northeast the ridge rises to unenclosed upland. There are no settlements in the area. Earth banks divide the ridge into fields. At the highest levels and on steep slopes the fields are large; the banks are redundant and wire fences provide stock-proof boundaries. Essentially at these highest levels the area is open moorland. Steep slopes are cloaked with scrubby woodland and bracken. At lower, sheltered locations on the ridge crest, and on the less steep flanks, fields are small and defined by earth banks with hedges. Hedges are in poor condition; either derelict or overgrown. Wire fences again provide stock-proof boundaries. Bushes in some of the very overgrown hedges have developed into distinctive hedgerow trees. Land-use in these areas is a mixture of improved grazing and rough pasture. There are one or two small conifer plantations present.

Recorded archaeology provides time-depth and comprises two round barrows, one possible barrow, and a findspot all from the Bronze Age, at least one Iron Age hillfort, and a second suggested by a cropmark, a Post-Medieval house platform and possible cockpit, and an undated field system

Built structures are represented only by a sheepfold and sheep-dip.

Fforest is a distinctive character area and contrasts with lower-lying, settled and enclosed land which surrounds it.




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