Historic Landscape Characterisation

Dysynni Valley – Area 1 Dysynni Lowlands PRN 28650


The broad plain of the Dysynni as seen from Tywyn



Historical background

An extensive lowland area that extends from the sea shore of Cardigan Bay to the foot of the mountains at Gwastadfryn beyond Llanfihangel y Pennant church, and which includes the course of the Afon Dysynni and the Broadwater, the expanse of water into which the Dysynni flows near the point at which it empties into the sea and the lower part of the Dysynni's tributary, the Afon Fathew.

Much of this area was clearly open water until historic times. It has been suggested that the Broadwater was an embarkation and landing-point in Prehistory, and it is highly likely that the establishment of the town of Tywyn (area 3) and the high-status dwellings at Peniarth (area 7) and Ynysysmaengwyn in the Medieval period reflect a shoreline that reached much further inland. As well as the Broadwater, a large lake remained in the marshes at Penllyn, south of Tywyn until after 1860. Embankments were constructed around Ynysymaengwyn and Tywyn in the light of the enclosure act of 1805. Water-control systems were installed from the upper part of the valley around Craig yr Aderyn to the sea in the 1860s.

The farm settlement at Talybont retains the name of the pre-Conquest commotal centre or llys, which is probably associated with the motte of Domen Dreiniog 250m to the south. The llys and its demesne land lay close to the river, at its crossing at Pont Dysynni, where in 1284 a fish weir is noted. No certain visible indications of the llys survive at or near the farm buildings at Talybont though a small earthwork castle stands on the river bank, 250m to the south. This might be thought to be a component of the llys complex but is not documented.

The erection of the native royal castle of Castell y Bere (in area 14) would be consistent with the late use of this llys. The Castle would have guarded the upland pastures which would have formed part of the Medieval administrative landscape catered on Talybont.


Key historic landscape characteristics

Reclaimed land; coastal inlet

This area includes the Broadwater SSSI and the Dyfi SSSI.

In essence, though this character area includes the Broadwater, it is an expanse of flat land, much of which has been reclaimed from the sea in historic times. It is not clear whether in the Medieval period much, or some, would have been salt marsh and was gradually improved or whether very active strategies involving building dykes and other sea-defences enclosed what would previously have been open areas of water. The Dysynni river is embanked, and substantial embankments have clearly also been erected in the vicinity of Ynysymaengwyn, as a consequence of the enclosure act of 1805-9. There is in addition much evidence of water-control systems, sea-defences and other improvements as far inland as Pont y Garth (SH 6355 0708), indicating active strategies on the part of local landowners to manage and develop this land.

In places there is an almost parkland quality to this character area, with clumps of larch and pine trees dotted about, evidently representing deliberate planting. The sense of a ‘parkland' is best appreciated from the higher ground to north and to south of this area, though it becomes muted towards the head of the valley, around Gwastadfryn, where the landscape becomes wilder, and to the south. There is almost the sense of a Lake District statesmen's landscape within this area, since farms are large, typically built just below the break of slope, and farm-houses seem to vary in date of construction from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth. Some of the farm-houses are substantial sub-Medieval structures, others are almost villa-like constructions of the Victorian period or even later. Some farm outbuildings are remarkably impressive, such as the seventeenth century cow-house at Llanllwyda, with its roof of early graded slates and its catslide dormer. Boundaries are variously post-and-wire, hedgerows, stone walls with some use of slab fences near the railway .

The character area includes the garden at Ynysymaengwyn, which has been developed as a caravan park. Little is evident of the historic garden and less of the house. The perimeter wall forms an important feature along the Tywyn road, as do the ornamental late-nineteenth century gateposts with the elephant motif at the principal entrance.

The part of this area which includes the twentieth century military sites preserves the abutments of a bailey bridge at SH 5667 0292.


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