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Penmaen Dewi

275 CILGWYN

GRID REFERENCE: SN080370
AREA IN HECTARES: 630.1

Historic Background
An area of modern Pembrokeshire, on the northern flank of Mynydd Preseli, within the medieval Cantref Cemaes. Cemaes was brought under Anglo-Norman control in c.1100 by the Fitzmartins who retained it, as the Barony of Cemaes, until 1326 when they were succeeded by the Audleys. The Barony was conterminous with the later Hundred of Cemais, which was created in 1536, but many feudal rights and obligations persisted, some until as late as 1922. This character area lies mainly within the hamlet of Cilgwyn, Nevern parish, which was a borough of the barony during the medieval period. It mainly comprised woodland during the medieval period and is today still heavily wooded. The present pattern of small irregular fields probably relates to piecemeal enclosure of woodland during the late medieval - early post-medieval period. The dispersed nature of settlement in this area is due to the Welsh tenurial systems under which land was held. Today, surviving woodland at Pentre Ifan is a remnant of the once greater Cilruth Wood that was under the forest jurisdiction of the Barony since the 12th century when it was said to extend west to Trewern and described as 'a wonder... to see such fair timber' in 1603. Wenallt and Brithdir woods to the north were 'minor woods' in the 16th century. Clearance and enclosure of this woodland had begun by the 13th century when Cilgwyn St Mary was a chapel-of-ease to Nevern. A settlement at Dolrannog was recorded in c.1280, while Fachongle was mentioned in a document of 1343, as was Pentre Ifan which was rebuilt on its present site in the late 15th-century for Sir James ab Owen as a reward for his services to Henry Tudor. Later established holdings were, by tradition, carved out of woodland. The Extent of Cemaes of 1577 lists many of the present farmsteads and holdings within and close to this character area. The 'mansion' of Trewern was liable for 6d annual rent to the Barony, Dolrannog was assessed for 6d rent from Thomas Lloid, while the Warrens were liable for 3s 4d for the 5 tenements that made up Fachongle, 3 of which are represented by the present Fachongle-uchaf, -ganol and -isaf. Later settlement may be represented by Cilgwyn and Cilgwyn Mawr which are probably 17th century homesteads - the latter also a Warren holding by 1734. In addition some of the irregular enclosures to the south, on the edge of Mynydd Preseli, which appear to be assarts into woodland, may in fact also be later, representing 18th- and early 19th-century squatter settlement on former common land, a remnant of which projects into this area as Carnedd Meibion Owen character area. The name 'Constantinople' in the centre of the area is also late in origin. To accommodate the growing population, a schoolroom was built onto St Mary Cilgwyn in the 18th century, and Caersalem Chapel was established in 1820. The present pattern was fully in place by the tithe survey of 1843. Since the mid 19th-century some farms have been abandoned and woodland regenerated over their fields. There has been some quarrying to the south, and much of the remaining woodland is managed by Forest Enterprise or Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Woodand management led to the construction of a light railway at Pentre Ifan in the early 20th century. The present situation is overwhelmingly rural, but with some depopulation - Caersalem is still well-attended but Cilgwyn St Mary has recently closed. .

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
Cilgwyn historic landscape character area lies across the valleys of the upper Afon Gwaun and the Afon Clydach. The valleys here are steep sided, producing an undulating landscape ranging in height from 20m at the lowest points to over 250m. The landscape is divided into small irregular fields. The boundaries of these fields come in a variety of forms, ranging from stone-faced banks, dry-stone walls to stone and earth banks. Stone is the common factor in the boundaries, with, in many instances monolithic foundation stones present. Most boundaries are topped by hedges, but these are generally neglected, very overgrown with small trees sprouting out of them. Deciduous woodland is a defining characteristic of this area. The more substantial woods at Ty Canol and Pentre Ifan have colonised former fields. Woodland on the steep valley sides is more ancient. Overall, the extensive woodland and trees on the overgrown hedge-banks provides a heavily wooded aspect to Cilgwyn. Agricultural land-use is almost entirely pasture. This is mostly improved on the less wooded valley shoulders, but on the valley sides and bottoms rougher, unimproved and rushy land is more common. Some of the more neglected land is reverting to scrub. The settlement pattern is one of dispersed farms and cottages. Dwellings are generally of 19th century date in the vernacular style. One, one-and-a-half and two storey buildings are present. They are stone-built (cement rendered and bare stone), slate roofed and of three bays. Out buildings where present are also quite small. Usually a single 19th century stone-built range is present, sometimes in combination with a mid 20th-century corrugated-iron structure and/or small late 20th-century steel, asbestos and concrete buildings. There are numerous deserted farms and cottages, most notably along the Clydach valley. Cilgwyn St Mary sits on a heavily wooded valley side and the imposing Caersalem Chapel, with an external baptistry tank, lies on more open, level ground. There are no listed buildings in the area. Transport elements of this landscape consist entirely of narrow winding lanes and tracks flanked by large hedge-banks.

Recorded archaeology includes the well-known, scheduled Pentre Ifan neolithic burial chamber, a neolithic findspot, and a possible chambered tomb/standing stone complex. There is also a bronze age round barrow, and a clearance cairn of unknown date. From the iron age there is a scheduled hillfort, another hillfort and a settlement site. There are medieval settlement sites and possible medieval field system, and post-medieval mill sites and a quarry. In Pentre Ifan woodland, there are management features including boundary banks, marl pits, cottages, saw-pits and a light railway from the early 20th-century.

The large woodland element of the landscape and the small irregular fields lends Cilgwyn a distinctive historic landscape character. It stands in sharp contrast with the areas of larger fields with little woodland which border it on most sides and with the open moorland of Carnedd Meibion-Owen to the southeast.

Sources: Charles 1992; Dyfed Archaeological Trust 1997; Howells 1977; Jones 1996; Lewis 1972; Nash 1989; Nevern tithe map and apportionment, 1843; Rees 1932; Trethowan 1998

 

 

 

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