Home > Historic Landscape Characterisation > Upland Ceredigion >

Banc Esgair Mwn and Rhos Tanchwarel



Historic Background

In the Medieval Period this area formed part of Strata Florida Abbey’s grange of Mefenydd and Cwmystwyth. At the Dissolution the Earl of Essex was granted abbey lands, the greater portion of which was purchased by the Crosswood estate in 1630, including lands close to this area. The later history of this area is uncertain, though its unenclosed upland nature probably ensured that it was considered Crown land. The southern part of the area came to the interest of the Crosswood estate in the early 19th century when there were plans to enclosure this area by act of parliament, and a survey was undertaken to facilitate this in 1815 (NLW Crosswood 347), but no award was granted. The 1815 survey shows the area almost entirely unenclosed. By the time of the tithe survey (Gwnnws Tithe Map and Apportionment, 1844; Sputty Ystwyth Tithe Map and Apportionment, 1848) the majority of this area was still unenclosed. Unenclosed land in the northeastern portion of this area, on the eastern boundary of Ystbyty Ystwyth parish was subjected to illegal encroachments prior to 1846, recorded on a map in the National Library of Wales (NLW Map 7181). These encroachments seem to consist mostly of large enclosures, and were therefore carried out under the aegis of an estate or by tenant farmers, and were not the small-scale work of squatters. It would seem that following the tithe survey most of this area was subject to enclosure, dividing it into very large fields. The origin of the settlement pattern of dispersed farmsteads and cottages is therefore unclear, but it may have its foundations in 19th century squatting. Most of these settlements are now deserted. Esgair-Mwn lead mine was probably very ancient when it was re-discovered in the 18th century and worked for the Crown. The 18th century seems to have been its most profitable period of working, though production continued throughout the 19th century, and even until 1927. In the 1940s the mine was reopened for the purpose of working the rich tips (Bick 1974, 34-35). Other mines within this area are also ancient - Glogfach and Glogfawr - though their history is not so well recorded.

Description and essential historic landscape components

This area lies between 270m and 420m to the west of unenclosed land and includes the east - west aligned valleys of the Gwyddyl, Garw and Marchnant to the south, and the southern slopes of the Ystwyth valley to the north. Although it has a general appearance of being unenclosed, there are many large enclosures formed by earth banks. Few hedges are present, and the banks are topped with wire fences. In some instances the earth bank boundaries are derelict. Close to the farmsteads and cottages (mostly deserted) are smaller enclosures of improved pasture. Here some of the bank boundaries have hedges, but these are rarely stock-proof. Houses are stone-built with slate roofs. Old lead mines are distinctive landscape components. Spoil heaps are particularly prominent in this area, but stone buildings and ancillary features, including a corrugated iron machine shed at Banc Esgair-Mwn, are present. The high east-west-aligned ridges between valleys consist of improved grazing with rougher ground on steep slopes. Valley bottoms tend towards very rough grazing with peaty pockets. Farmsteads situated on lower valley slopes have small enclosures with improved pasture.

Recorded archaeology in this area comprises almost entirely deserted settlements and the remains of the metal mining industry.

This landscape area is not particularly distinct from its neighbours. To the east the landscape has many similar characteristics, but is of higher elevation and contains large tracts of conifer plantation. To the southeast the land is lower lying with a field system of smaller enclosures. Only on the northwest and northeast sides of this area is there clear distinction, with a block of forestry plantation bounding this area to the northeast, and smaller enclosures and scattered farmsteads/cottages comprising the land to the northwest.

Banc Esgair Mwn and Rhos Tanchwarel map


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


[click for navigation menu if not present]