Historic Landscape Characterisation

Creuddyn and Arllechwedd – Area 16 Enclosed intermediary hillslopes, west side of Conwy valley PRN 15812


SH 740715 looking north. Showing the nature of the enclosed yet expansive landscape, containing a wealth of upstanding relict archaeological remains, with open uplands (area 9) beyond



Historical background

The characteristic topography of the area includes hillsides along the west bank of the Conwy that are neither too shallow for intensive settlement nor too steep for exploitation, and these have historically been given over to enclosed field-systems, together with some quarrying and mining as at Llechan, and commercial forestry, as at Parc Mawr.

The steep slopes formed an obstacle to east-west traffic, but several ancient routes crossed this land-area, including the Roman road from Canovium to Segontium, and a trackway climbing through Parc Mawr to the old church at Llangelynin. The church itself is of Medieval origin, whose oldest parts date to the twelfth century, and the track itself is probably therefore of Medieval origin or older.


Key historic landscape characteristics

Upstanding prehistoric and medieval settlement, field system and funerary remains, dry-stone wall fields, well-established routeways

The land here is all enclosed with, on the whole, small-scale patterns which have been created by the organic development of an agricultural landscape, based on grazing, which has evolved over millennia. Most of the boundaries are dry stone walls, although hedges are more common on lower slopes where there also patches of woodland, and although many are now no longer stock-proof they are very characteristic of the area: in places, a relative chronology can be built up by careful observation. While some of the boundaries and larger patterns are relatively recent, others relate to farming practices which date back to the prehistoric period and are associated with relict settlements, many of which are scheduled ancient monuments. In general, the earlier sites and systems are better-preserved on the upper (flatter) slopes.

The area is chiefly important for the wealth of relict (mainly prehistoric, but with obvious overlying medieval) settlement sites, set within at least part of their contemporary agricultural landscape. Despite much of the area being scheduled, the potential for further discoveries is high given a programme of detailed flying and surveying. Unlike many other upland areas which display evidence for the organisation of the landscape in the post-medieval period, this area is relatively free of later ‘encumbrances'.

Most of the area is an open and exposed landscape with relatively few and widely-scattered farmsteads. On the valley slopes the scattered pattern predominated again, although there are small nucleations (especially around Llanbedr-y-Cennin). Farms vary from squat, upland-type dwellings to grander, nineteenth-century constructions with a suite of modern outbuildings.

A number of former major routes run through the area (linking the Conwy Valley with the coastal plain prior to the building of the coast road in the late eighteenth century). The line of the Roman road from Caerhun can be followed in places; this was probably replaced by (if it didn't follow) the road from Rowen past Rhiw, which itself seems to have been replaced by the road to the south of this. Interestingly, the upper-most routeways in the area (now a road and a footpath) follow the edge of the ‘older' enclosed land (pre-dating the great Caerhun enclosure of the mid-nineteenth century). Few of the footpaths seem to follow winding paths which they might be expected to, but cut across field patterns and earlier field systems. Deep lanes lead out from the main valley side to a stone-walled upland landscape, where the routeways, whilst retaining their character, are wider and more open.


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