Historic Landscape Characterisation

Vale of Ffestiniog - Area 25 Coed Llyn y Garnedd

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

Historic background

An area of largely 20th century forestry, incorporating some earlier ancient and semi-natural woodland and overlying in part earlier field enclosures and some relict archaeology (hut circle and long hut settlement).

No historical research has been carried out on this particular woodland, but some general facts can be gleaned. In the eighteenth century the felling of timber formed an important part of the local economy around Ffestiniog, and though documentary sources typically have far more to do with the sale and transport of timber than with the management of the woodlands themselves, enough evidence has survived to give some indication of the scope of the trade and the sources exploited.

Timber – hardwoods, especially oak – was being exported from the heavily-wooded slopes of Ffestiniog and Maentwrog. Though the trade may have begun earlier, the first record dates from 1739, and concerns the Pengwern estate (see area 28), when it was specified that timber to the value of £400 was to be felled. Sir Richard Colt Hoare, in 1801, describes making his way from Tan y Bwlch to Cwmorthin through Cymerau (see paragraph 8.2.2) for description.

By the end of the eighteenth century, the Vale of Ffestiniog had suffered much deforestation. Already by 1763 it was reported of Merioneth that ‘this county has been much drained of her timber’. By the nineteenth century as many as 6,400 trees a year were offered for sale. Further pointers to the importance of the timber trade are the individuals who were clearly acting as timber merchants. With the revival of shipbuilding in the northern part of Cardigan Bay in the late eighteenth century, local timber came to be needed in ever-greater quantities. This remained the case until the 1820s, when Porthmadog shipwrights began to use Mawddach timber instead.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Woodland, forestry, underlying relict archaeology

The area covered by forestry or woodland in the area between Moelwyn Mawr and the Dwyryd is massive and diverse. The higher, upland areas (the northern part of this area) are mainly 20th century conifer, while the true ancient and semi-natual woodland (some of it SSSI) lies lower doan and nearer to the Dwyryd. Much of this was part of the plas Tan y Bwlch estate, and thus also has many specimen sand exotic trees as well.

Within the older woodland, there are some scattered relict remains of hut circles, long huts and more recent cottages, along with stone-built field walls which could be relatively ancient. There is a strong possibility of much medieval archaeology surviving under the afforestation, especially in view of the frequency of hafod place-names. These include Hafod y Mynydd at SH 6362 4092; Hafod Boeth at SH 6390 4130; Hafotty at SH 61312 4325 and Hafod Uchaf at SH 6390 4335. There is scope for further survey, along the lines of that carried out by GAT in other woods within this area such as Hafod Garegog (area 15) and Cymerau Isaf (part of area 28).


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