Historic Landscape Characterisation

Llŷn - Area 10 Carn Fadryn PRN 33480

Carn Fadryn

Carn Fadryn, enclosures

Historic background

Carn Fadryn is a very conspicuous peak rising at its summit to 371m above an enclosed plateau at around 350m. Moel Caerau stands to the east at 200m; Garn Bach to the south-east at 280m.

There is the possibility of early activity on the summit of Carn Fadryn, represented by a cairn and cist burial on the plateau area and discovery of a single Bronze Age palstave nearby. The most visible and dramatic evidence of activity is, however, the phases of fortification which have been applied to this mountain over several periods of the past. The first phase incorporates the plateau between about 340m and 350m OD, defined by a dry stone rampart, enclosing an area of around 5ha. There are two entrances; one through the north wall of the enclosure, the other in the south. Phase 2 represents an extension of the enclosed area to the slopes on the north and a smaller extension to the south. Well-defined tracks approach the entrances and it is very likely that these are ancient and contemporary with the defences. Circular and rectangular structures cluster among small paddocks against the scree and rising rock wall on the west side of the plateau. These structures are later than the first phase and may be later than the second. There is a resemblance to the structures of the Romano-British phase at Tre’r Ceiri. Both Carn Fadryn and Tre’r Ceiri had their oblique entranceways re-lined in the second century AD, or thereabouts. There are hut circles on the northern and southern slopes which may be contemporary with the earlier phases of defence (PRN 1021). Only one definite hut circle is recorded within the plateau enclosure, on the south side.

The third phase of defence presents an enigma. A trapezoidal enclosure 75m by 16m has been constructed on, and along the ridge from the summit boss. The wall, where it survives, is vertical and has indications of a double thickness in places. The wall is drystone. Having crossed the Traeth Mawr from Ardudwy into Eifionydd and on to Llyn, Gerald of Wales, in 1188, saw a stone castle called Karnmadrun, recently built and belonging to the sons of Owain Gwynedd. The dry-stone summit citadel is a plausible candidate.

There are several more hut circles on the south eastern slopes of Garn Bach (PRNs 4019, 416) and at Pen y Caerau (4027, 4028, 4030). There is a platform house on the western slopes of Carn Fadryn in the area of the enclosed fields.

In 1812, 230ha (568 acres) of Carn Fadryn and Garn Bach were enclosed by Parliamentary enclosure. The area involved took in the entire summit plateau of Carn Fadryn and the western half of the summit of Garn Bach. The western and south-western slopes of both hills were enclosed at the same time. The principal beneficiaries were Lord Newborough and William Harvey.

Key historic landscape characteristic

•A large hillfort with two phases of rampart construction in later prehistory

•A stone-walled summit citadel of possible 12th century date and plausibly documented by Giraldus Cambrensis in 1188.

•A landscape of Parliamentary enclosure with small rectilinear plots and a dispersed cluster of cottages on the lower slopes

There is a chain of igneous intrusions and high ground which run from north-west to south-east from Carn Fadryn in the parish of Llaniestyn to the sea at Llanbedrog. This character area describes the Parliamentary Inclosure at Carn Fadryn and the contiguous high ground of Moel Caerau and Garn Bach.

The three hills within the Carn Fadryn landscape character area are rocky igneous intrusions. Carn Fadryn dominates at 371m. The smaller hills are connected by low spurs. Carn Fadryn is engulfed, across its summit plateau, with heath and partly so at Garn Bach. Moel Caerau is rocky but grazed. Two dramatically opposite themes are encountered here. One is that of fortification in later prehistory, through two phases of rampart construction with clear and ancient manufactured paths of access, particularly on the south side. A potentially much later fortification was established on the summit with plausible arguments in favour of accepting the suggestion that the stone-walled summit citadel is the documented Karnmadrun, the stone castle seen by Gerald of Wales in 1188, recently built and, at that time in the hands of the sons of Owain Gwynedd. The third theme is that of Parliamentary enclosure. Despite enclosure, no development took place on the summit of Carn Fadryn, much of which was released as fuel ground, but the small rectilinear plots and the dispersed cluster of cottages on the lower slopes contained within the Inclosure boundary are indicative of that process in the early nineteenth century.

There is a chain of igneous intrusions and high ground which run from north-west to south-east from Carn Fadryn in the parish of Llaniestyn to the sea at Llanbedrog. This character area describes the Parliamentary Inclosures at Mynytho and Mynydd Tirycwmwd and the contiguous high ground of Carn Saethon, Carneddol and Foel Fawr.

Carn Saethon and Carneddol are included within this character area, together with Mynytho, as they continue the line of volcanic intrusions from Carn Fadryn to Mynydd Tirycwmwd. Carn Saethon and Carneddol lie between Carn Fadryn and Mynytho. Mynydd Tirycwmwd extends, as a promontory, into the sea at Llanbedrog.


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