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Historic Background

This is a small area within modern Carmarthenshire consisting of a pocket of medium - large, fairly regular fields to the southwest of Newcastle Emlyn. It lies within the medieval Cantref Emlyn, in Emlyn Uwch-Cych commote. Cantref Emlyn had been partly brought under Anglo-Norman control in c.1100 when Emlyn Is-Cych commote to the west was reconstituted as the Lordship of Cilgerran. Numerous castles were established in Uwch-Cych comote - none of which has any recorded history - but the commote was back under Welsh control by the 1130s, where it remained throughout the 12th and early 13th centuries. Uwch-Cych commote was appropriated by the Anglo-Norman Marshal Earls of Pembroke in 1223, but was granted to Maredudd ap Rhys, with whose family it remained until finally annexed by the English crown in 1283, In 1536, it formed part of the Hundred of Elvet in Carmarthenshire. Uwch-Cych was granted to royal favourite Sir Rhys ap Thomas in the late 15th century, reverting to the crown in 1525, and granted in 1546 to Sir Thomas Jones of Haroldston, Pembrokeshire. It remained in this family for several generations, eventually passing by marriage to the Vaughans’ Golden Grove Estate, which in the 19th century still owned almost all the land on the southern side of the Teifi from Pentre-cwrt in the east to Cenarth in the west. The medieval Welsh tenurial pattern - with neither vills nor knight’s fees - has been largely responsible for the dispersed settlement within the region.

Indeed, this area appears to have been largely unenclosed before the present pattern of medium - large, fairly regular fields was established in the late 18th early 19th centuries. Estate maps of 1778 show parts of this area unenclosed, with strips or ‘slangs’ marked in different ownership. These strips are probably not medieval in origin, and are certainly not the formal, arable open field strips characteristic of Anglo-Norman tenure. Instead, the strips appear to represent grazing rights assigned to neighbouring farms and it would seem that at least part of this area was open land, under multiple-ownership grazing, which underwent enclosure in the late 18th century. By the time the tithe map was drawn in 1840 all these strips had gone and the field pattern of today was in place.


Description and essential historic landscape components

Rhyddgoed is a relatively small, agricultural historic landscape character area lying on gentle north- to northeast-facing slopes and ranging in height from 60m to 180m above sea level. It is characterised by medium- to large-sized fairly regularly shaped fields. Land-use is improved pasture. Boundaries are well-maintained hedges on earth banks. Except for hedgerow trees, shelter-belts close to farms, and larger bushes in the few overgrown hedges, it is a treeless landscape. The dispersed farms are small. Most buildings are 19th century and stone-built, with cement rendering on the dwellings. Farmhouses are in the typical southwest style of the period: two-storeyed, three-bayed with a central front door, and symmetrically arranged relatively large windows – a style that owes more to the ‘polite’ Georgian style than the vernacular tradition. One of the houses was rebuilt in the late 20th century. Nineteenth century farm outbuildings are also quite small and of one or two ranges. Most farms also have small ranges of modern outbuildings. Long straight sections of the B4333 cross this area. Apart from a ruined cottage, there are no recorded archaeological sites.

The main defining characteristics of this area are the larger, more regular fields than those of its neighbours. It is, however, not an easy area to define, and its neighbours share many of its historic landscape components.

Sources: Carmarthen Record Office c/v 5885 Newcastle Emlyn Estate – The Property of John Vaughan 1778; Craster, O E, 1957, Cilgerran Castle, London; Jones, D E, 1899, Hanes Plwyfi Llangeler a Phenboyr, Llandysul; Lewis, S, 1833, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales 1 & 2, London; Lloyd, J E, 1935, A History of Carmarthenshire, Volume I, Cardiff; Penboyr parish tithe map 1840; Rees, W, 1932, ‘Map of South Wales and the Border in the XIVth century’; Rees, W, 1951, An Historical Atlas of Wales, London; Regional Historic Environment Record housed with Dyfed Archaeological Trust



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


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