Historic Landscape Characterisation

Dolgellau - Area 16 Fields and woods around Tir Stent (PRN 19195)



Historic background

Ellis Morris (d. 1693) of Dolgun-uchaf appears among the list of freeholders entitled to graze cattle on Tir Stent in 1654 (Smith & Suggett, 1995). On the 1838 tithe map 'Tir y Stent' is shown as an undefined large area within this character area, but seemingly without owner or tenant, implying common land. The area has a typical scattered settlement pattern, with farms concentrated on the lower slopes, and all that are shown (including Tyddyn Ednyfed, Trefla (Trefeilia), Hafodlas, Pen yr Allt and Drefgerrig) still exist today (without recent additions). Again, the large enclosures shown on the tithe map show the extent of holdings rather than individual fields. The infrastructure of trackways and roads in this area is quite complex (particularly when compared with neighbouring areas), and all routes are still traceable today.

The lower slopes of Cadair Idris contain a series of farms, such as Bryn-mawr and Tan y fedw, recorded as being in the township of Dyffrydan with single long, regular walls extending up the mountainside behind.

Tir Stent is shown on modern maps as an unenclosed, rocky area, largely devoid of trees and without enclosures or settlement. The field patterns along the lower slopes of Cadair, around farms such as Tan y Gader, Bryn-rhûg, Tan y fedw and Bryn mawr are almost identical to what survives today, with small, irregular enclosures clustered around the farms, with the upper slopes still unenclosed.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Woodland, field patterns, distinctive architecture, Quaker associations

The main characteristics have been described above. The area is set on north-facing land, between Dolgellau (area 01) and the valley of the Afon Wnion, and the higher rocky slopes of Cadair Idris (area 17). Most of the area is heavily wooded and relatively inaccessible (despite the network of trackways), a fact which disguises a distinctive pattern of scattered farmsteads.

While this area contains mixed woodland, some of which (Tir Stent) is semi-natural ancient woodland, and some (particularly Coed Drefgerrig) is 20th century forestry, largely owned by the Forestry Commission, it is more dispersed than areas to the east.

The field patterns are less regular (and more interesting) than those in area 15, with a couple of areas in particular (to the north of Tabor, and around Pen-yr-allt to the south-west) indicative of possible prehistoric origins (certainly they are not post-medieval). The field banks on the steeper slopes between Dolgellau and Tabor, in particular, form distinctive lynchets.

The settlement pattern is one of very dispersed farmsteads concentrated on the lower-lying part of the area, some of which are 18th-century in date. The area is poorly served by roads, and most of the farms are situated at the end of long trackways. The only exception to this is the small nucleation at the road junction of Tabor (associated in particular with the Quakers in the 18th-century (see above). The area also contains a number of mills (on the steep slopes of the Afon Aran).


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