Historic Landscape Characterisation

Ardudwy - Area 13 Fieldscape, mid-hill slopes around Byrllysg (PRN 18246)


© Crown copyright. All rights reserved, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, 100017916, 2005

Historic background

This intermediary area has a complex history, with a well-preserved series of relict archaeological monuments including early neolithic burial chambers (Bron y Foel west and Dyffryn Ardudwy), prehistoric cairns, later prehistoric hut groups with associated enclosures and small hillfort (Byrllysg). The complex field pattern or irregular, curvilinear enclosures (still in use) show a long and complex agricultural history.

A complex of three farms in the upper part of the area (Bron-y-foel isaf, Bron-y-foel ganol and Bron-y-foel uchaf) may indicate medieval nucleated settlement, particularly as there is reference to Bron-y-foel being a substantial medieval township. There is certainly an interesting set of earthwork and stone-built archaeological remains around here.

There are a number of interesting (later) farms in the area, including Meifod-Isa (73 acres) and Meifod-Uchaf (72 acres) (the only examples from western Meirionnydd). This could mean ‘May dwelling’ or it could mean ‘middle dwelling’ between a hendre and a hafod. Their location is consistent with their being an early summer, or middle, station between winter and summer dwellings but the evidence is very scanty. Others include Byrdir, Byrllysg (neighbouring farms with interesting placenames), Gwerncarnyddion and Llwyneinion Fechan.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Early prehistoric funerary and ritual monuments, late prehistoric settlement and field systems, upland edge encroachment, farmsteads

This area lies on the mid hill-slopes, sandwiched in part between areas 15 (improved pasture, 19th century enclosures, woodland) and area 16 (largely unimproved mountain, with 19th century regular enclosures and many, minor relict archaeological features). It is similar to area 7. It is quite distinct from both principally by virtue of its field pattern (indicating a long and complex agricultural use and history) and its wealth of relict archaeological sites and monuments (many of which are scheduled). This area is dominated by irregular, often sub-circular, large enclosures (although there are a few, later small regular fields in the lower part of the area around Hwlfa Lydan which are probably 19th century) and there are many major, important archaeological monuments (see above); past fieldwork suggests that many more remain to be found. In plan, the irregular field pattern and the presence of round hut-based settlement and a small hillfort suggest that much of the character is late prehistoric in origin, possibly overlain in the upper area by subsequent post-medieval encroachment on to the fringes of the upland waste. Many of the field boundaries are distinctive, comprising drystone walls over earlier stone rubble banks. Some are lyncheted while other, especially Bron-y-foel, are distinctly ‘old’. Again, some of the fields have been cleared (for agricultural purposes are have been relatively improved) while others remain full of natural stones and boulders.


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