Historic Landscape Characterisation

Ardudwy - Area 28 Cwm Bychan (PRN 18261)



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

Historic background

Cwm Bychan is one of the two narrow river valleys which cut into the western side of the upland massif of Ardudwy (Cwm Nantcol, area 17, being the other). Both rivers feed into the Artro, the main river of Ardudwy, which passes through Llanbedr and out into the sea near Llandanwg (area 04). Cwm Bychan runs south-west north-east for most of its course before veering east.

There are no relict sites of archaeological interest here, although it seems likely that the valley, lying between area 25 and 16, for example, which are full of evidence for prehistoric occupation, was certainly exploited since early times. Cwm Bychan (at the very top of the valley) is a fine example of a sub-medieval, two-unit storeyed house: it is recorded as one of the homes of the patrons of the bards and thus was one of the principal houses of Ardudwy at that time. It is surrounded by several pasture fields. Further down the valley are a few scattered farmsteads (e.g. Dolwreiddiog, Cwm-yr-afon, Crafnant and Hen Dolbebin) which date from the 17th to 19th centuries. There are no 20th century settlements here.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Sheltered valley, broadleafed woodland, farmhouses

The principal defining characteristic of this river valley is probably the woodland that extends along both steep sides of the valley for almost its entire length. None have been designated as SSSIs, but Coed Dol-wreddiog, Coed Gerddi bluog, Coed Crafnant, Coed Dolbebin and other areas are broadleafed woodlands (comprising mainly sessile oak and other species) which represent an important resource. The names of the woods (linked with the names of the farms) imply that they may have originated in the early post-medieval period, although it is likely that they had earlier origins (there are no obvious earlier field systems preserved within them).

Below the woods, the floor of the valley is very narrow and flat for certain lengths (some parts are marshy), and above them the landscape gives way to the rugged uplands of areas 26 and 16. The substantial stone farms and houses are the other main characteristic of the valley, while the few field boundaries (there are only limited areas which could be described as fieldscapes, towards the southern end) are drystone.

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