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233 LLANDDEUSANT - CAPEL-GWYNFE

GRID REFERENCE: SN 761261
AREA IN HECTARES: 4778.00

Historic Background
A very large character area on the northwest fringes of the Black Mountain/Mynydd Myddfai, lying within the former Cwmwd Perfedd 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 later reverted to Welsh rule. In 1282 the Lordship was acquired by John Giffard and thereafter remained under English rule (James n.d., 87) but retained native tenurial customs until the end of the Medieval period when it was incorporated within modern Carmarthenshire. The area has strong 'Celtic' traditions - hagiographies suggest that St Paulinus, the reputed teacher of St David established a monastic college in the general area, dedicated to two saints (Sambrook and Page 1995, 4); the present dedication of Llanddeusant parish church is to SS Simon & Jude but may reflect an earlier joint dedication (Ludlow 1998). Capel Gwynfe has historically been a chapel-of-ease to Llangadog parish, but a system of boundaries adjacent to the church may perpetuate the line of a llan (Sambrook and Page 1995, 5). By the post-Conquest period Area 233 was divided between the Medieval Maenor Llanddeusant, coterminous with the ecclesiastical parish, and Maenor Gwynfe. The present pattern of small, irregular fields may well be early in date, and represent a system of small dispersed holdings that were well-established by the time of the tithe surveys of the early 19th-century. Indeed, the physical boundary between this area and the unenclosed moorland of Areas 239 and 240 to the south is well-defined as a masonry wall, suggesting a long period of stability without evidence for ad hoc encroachments. During the later Middle Ages the Lordship of Llandovery was held by the Audleys, and in the Post-Medieval period by the Vaughans of Golden Grove and the Earls of Cawdor (James n.d., 87). Both Coed Mawr and Llwynfron were recorded as dwellings of the Aubrey family in the 16th century (Jones 1987, 40, 121), Pant Hywel, Penrhiw and Penycrug were residences of the Lewis family (Jones 1987, 142) while the Lewis family of Gwynfe styled themselves 'Lords of Gwynfe' (Jones 1987, 89-90). Nevertheless, the effects of gentrification have been less extensive within this character area than is general within the region and there is little parkland or 'polite' architecture. The area includes a network of Post-Medieval drovers routes, the most important of which followed the Sawdde Valley down from the Black Mountain to Llangadog; the current A4069 partly follows a drovers road, the 'Bryn Road', turnpiked from 1779 (DAT & CPAT, 1997, 5). The present nucleations are all late; the development of Capel Gwynfe, for example, was concomitant on the establishment of the turnpike running past the church which was rebuilt in c.1800 and again in 1898 (Ludlow 1998). Llanddeusant Church never became a focus for settlement, which instead developed around routeways, particularly the crossroads at Twyn-llanan and at Cross Inn (the latter with an inn). However, in all cases settlement is slight, and dispersed.

 

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
This is an extremely large character area. It runs for some 17 km southwest to northeast along the northern side of the Black Mountain, and is up to 5 km wide, southeast to northwest. It consists of rolling hills and deeply incised narrow valleys, ranging in height from 120 m in the valley bottoms to over 300 m on the summits of the higher hills and along the fringes of the Black Mountain. The historic landscape comprises small irregular fields, dispersed small farms and scattered woodland. The whole area has been enclosed into a patchwork of small fields by earth banks and hedges. Over such an extensive area there are clear differences of hedge management, but generally hedges are in good condition and well maintained, with derelict and overgrown examples usually occurring only at higher altitudes and along the fringes of the Black Mountain. A striking characteristic of this area is the very sharp boundary between it and the unenclosed land of the Black Mountain. On the ground this boundary is marked for at least part of its course by a dry-stone wall/stony bank. Other stony banks rather than earth banks were also noted close to the boundary of the Black Mountain, especially at the northeastern end of the area. Land-use varies across the area, but is predominantly improved pasture with pockets of rough grazing and rushy ground. Most of the steep valley sides are cloaked with deciduous woodland. This together with distinctive hedgerow trees in areas of overgrown hedges lends a wooded aspect to parts of the landscape. A couple of small conifer plantations are present. Apart from the A4069, the old turnpike road which runs south to north across the area linking the south side of the Black Mountain with the Tywi valley, transport links are confined to numerous local minor roads, lanes and tracks. Settlement in the area comprises predominantly dispersed farms and other dwellings. Farmhouses are mostly 19th century, stone-built, two-storey, three-bays in the vernacular tradition. Traditional outbuildings associated with the farms are also 19th century and stone-built, and tend to be relatively small, often limited to just one range. Most farms have a collection of modern agricultural buildings. Early 19th-century buildings, including an old inn, in the polite 'Georgian' tradition are dispersed close to New Inn on the A4069 old turnpike road. Capel Gwynfe and Twynllanan are the only aggregate settlements in the area. Both are essentially hamlets, comprising a loose cluster of 19th century houses focused on chapels, with late 20th-century residential development in a variety of materials and styles. Other 19th century chapels in the area stand in isolated locations, as does the Medieval parish church of Llanddeusant. Outside the two hamlets, other late 20th-century development is limited to occasional isolated houses or bungalows.

Recorded archaeology from such a large landscape area takes in a range of sites from all periods. However, all features relate primarily to agricultural land-use.

There are a few distinctive buildings, but the older houses have mostly been rebuilt, and none are listed. Llwynfron, however, is a small gentry farmhouse with 17th century origins, Bedw-hirion is a similar house of 1796 and Ty Brych is a small farmhouse of the early 19th-century, all subject to consideration for relisting (Judith Alfrey, pers. comm.). SS Simon & Jude, Llanddeusant is a Grade B listed landmark Medieval church with a turret, while the unlisted Capel Gwynfe is from 1898-9, with a tower (Ludlow 1998) and an earlier 19th century church hall (formerly the church building).

The boundary wall between this area and Area 240 is distinctive but now derelict. The boundary of this area is very well defined against the Black Mountain to the south, and against a forestry plantation to the north. Elsewhere to the north between this area and its neighbours there tends to be a zone of change rather than a hard-edged border.

 

 

 

 

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