Historic Landscape Characterisation

Llŷn - Area 13 Llannor and Boduan PRN 33499


Y Ffor




Historic background

A burial chamber of the Neolithic period has been recorded at Cromlech Farm south of Y Ffôr (Four Crosses) and another at Pont Pensarn at the north-east end of Pwllheli (PRNs 437, 438). A standing stone is known 500m to the south east of Carnguwch Church; another at Pencaenewydd on the Afon Erch north of Y Ffôr and a third at Y Ffôr itself (PRNs 1286, 1308, 1333). Two standing stones are known from Tir Gwyn land, 174m apart on a north-south axis (PRNs 1553, 1534). There are other funerary associations at Tir Gwyn which are relevant to the Early Middle Ages.

Three Bronze Age barrows are recorded within a radius of 25m near the house of Cefn Mine, 600m west of the Afon Rhyd-hir. A cremation cemetery of broadly the same period is known to the south of Cefn Mine at 300m from the barrows (PRNs 16620, 16621, 1167, 3650).

A small embanked earthwork, Castell Gwgan, some 65m across may be a defended enclosure of the late Iron Age on a locally elevated position, 160m from the Afon Erch, near Pont Rhyd-goch (PRN 2256). Until 2006 very little was known of settlement in later prehistory in this area. However, in that year aerial reconnaissance, undertaken by RCAHMW, identified three cropmark enclosures indicative of small defended settlements at Y Ffôr, Efail Newydd and Pont Rhyd-hir. These discoveries were followed up with geophysical survey by Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. At Bwlch y Ffordd Isa, 700m north east of Y Ffôr, a circular enclosure, 40m across with asymmetric outer bank was identified on a low rise at 60m OD immediately above the west bank of the Afon Erch. At King George’s field, Efailnewydd, on the south side of the village, a circular ditched enclosure, 35m across, was identified on low-lying flat ground at c.12m OD. At Pont Rhyd-hir a bivallate, sub-polygonal enclosure, 55m by 35m, stood on the east bank of the Rhyd-hir, 170m south of the bridge and causeway, at 10m OD.

Two further enclosures are recorded but have not been investigated. One shows as a curvilinear cropmark, at Traian, between Mathan Isaf and Cefn Mine at 50m OD. The other, rectilinear, is at Mela, near Moel y Penmaen, at 80m OD. Both enclosures may have been occupied during the later prehistoric or Romano-British periods (PRNs 1156, 4383).

Hut circle settlements have been recorded to the north and east of Yoke House, near Pwllheli on rocky rising ground on the margins of arable cultivation at between 60m and 80m OD. Three of these settlements are nucleated and the polygonal enclosures of at least two of these groups of huts suggest occupation in the Romano-British period (PRNs 432, 433, 434, 435).

Early medieval activity is represented by funerary and religious associations rather than direct evidence of settlement. Inscribed memorial stones of fifth-sixth-century date are known from Llanaelhaearn, Penprys and Llannor. There are three stones now housed within the church or churchyard at Llanaelhaearn. The monument of Aliortus (ALIORTUS ELMETIACO / HIC IACET) was discovered in the nineteenth century in an adjacent field called Gardd y Sant which had recently been enclosed to provide additional graveyard space. A second stone, a monument to Melitus, was found while a grave was being dug in the churchyard. The discovery of one of the stones outside the graveyard as it was then, raises the question of whether it predated the establishment of a church on that site or whether the original ecclesiastical precinct or noddfa was, at one time, larger.

At Llannor a monument to Figulinus (FIGULINI FILI LOCULITI HIC IACIT = Here lies the grave of Figulinus son of Loculitus) was recorded, in use as the jamb of a gate at the entrance to the churchyard in the mid-nineteenth century.

At Penprys two stone-lined graves were found in the early nineteenth century, in the process of pulling down a cottage called Beudy’r Mynydd, near Tir Gwyn. The graves lay between the two standing stones mentioned previously and one of the graves, at least, had been placed at a north-south alignment, on-line, no doubt with the two orthostats. One of the graves had re-used two inscribed stones as side slabs. The second grave re-used a third inscribed stone in an unspecified position. The original memorials were: VENDESETLI (the grave of VENDESETLUS = Gwynhoedl (possibly)) and IOVENALI FILI ETERNI HIC IACIT (the grave of Iovenalis, son of Eternus, here he lies). The second grave incorporated the re-used memorial of Devorus (DEVORI HIC IACET). It cannot be said with certainty that the fifth and sixth-century stones originally stood close to the location of the graves. It is, however, probable that they represent gentlemen of some status in the locality.

The origins of churches in this character area are obscure. Nevertheless, the church of Llannor was in existence by the late thirteenth century and is identified as a possession of Clynnog in the mid-fourteenth century. Clynnog had been a clas church and, as Llannor, was an ecclesiastical township with dependant hamlets, it is probable that Llannor had clas origins too. Abererch had also been a clas community. In 1308, in Abererch, there were 85 freeholding tenants of the Bishop of Bangor (the residue of the claswyr)..

There are holy wells at Ffynnon Aelhaearn, Llanaelhaern; at Ffynnon Gwynedd south of Llwyndyrus; Ffynnon Gadfarch, south-east of Pont Rhyd Goch and Ffynnon Cawrdaf, north-east of Abererch. Divination was practised at Ffynnon Gwynedd. Although some distance from the parish church at Abererch (3.3kms) water was carried from the well to the church for baptisms. The water from Ffynnon Cawrdaf was thought to be a cure-all. Cawrdaf and Cadfarch are said to have been saintly brothers (Jones 1954, 148). It is possible that the presence of a holy well or spring at Llanaelhaearn was contributory to the establishment of a church there (PRNs 2232, 2254, 2255, 2262).

An earthwork castle mound was built near Moelypenmaen in the late eleventh or twelfth century but there is no record as to who built it (PRN 1532). Penmaen Beuno at Moelypenmaen was a hamlet of the township of Llannor in the early fourteenth century.

The greater part of this character area falls across the parishes of Llanor and Abererch and the former townships of Llannor, Abererch and part of Glasfryn in Eifionnydd. The reach of these medieval townships was extensive. The tenants of Glasfryn were freeholders of the gwely Wyrion David. Their landed interests ranged across Glasfryn itself, Chwilog, Cadairelwa, Llecheiddion and Pennarth. Llannor’s hamlets ran from Bodfaelion, above Penprys in the north, to Penmaen Beuno and Bodegroes near Pwllheli in the south and to the coast at Pistyll and Bodeilas. Abererch lay west of the River Erch comprising 85 freeholding tenants in two gwelyau with around 720 acres of arable land and 21 bond tenants.

Bodfel and Boduan
In the southern part of this character area, bordering on Cors Geirch, lay two important secular townships, Boduan and Bodfel. Boduan in the fourteenth century was a bond township comprising demesne land of the former Prince in the commote of Dinllaen. Bodfel, lying adjacent, was a free township within the commote of Afloegion, with its own mill. In 1293, ten years after the conquest of Gwynedd, the townships were assessed as to the value of their moveable assets in order to raise a subsidy for the expense of Edward I’s Scottish campaign. Twenty-one tenants were found in Bodfel, with moveable assets worth more than 15d, (the worth of two sheep or two or three crannocks of oats). In total, these twenty-one taxpayers owned 70 bulls, 117 cows and 24 horses. They also had sheep and 39 draught animals and milled oat and wheat flour and some barley.

The Bodfel family are first noticed in the 1530s in the person of John ap Madog ap Howell of Pennarth. John is described by Leland as living at Bodfel. His grandson, John Wyn ap Hugh, distinguished himself in the service of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and was granted Bardsey and Cwrt, Aberdaron, in recognition. John Wyn’s son, Hugh Gwyn, fell out of favour in the late sixteenth century when he opposed Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’s attempt to sequester alleged encroached lands in the forest of Snowdon. His younger brother, Thomas Wynn, settled at Boduan.

Hugh’s great grandson, Colonel John Bodfel, initially supported the Puritans at the beginning of the Civil War but soon went over to the Royalist cause. His wife was a staunch Puritan, however, and irreconcilable philosophical differences ultimately led to the sell-off of the Bodfel lands at the end of the seventeenth century. The Bodfel and Boduan estates vied with each other during the seventeenth century. Bodfel had originally been pre-eminent but by the end of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century Boduan’s star was in the ascendant. Thomas Wynn of Boduan, great, great, great grandson of John Wyn ap Hugh Bodfel married Frances Glynne, heiress of Glynllivon. Frances’ grandson, Sir Thomas Wynn was created First Baron Newborough in 1776.

Llanaelhaearn is an ancient church and community. The nave of the church is twelfth or perhaps thirteenth century with a fourteenth-century window in the east gable of the chancel. The east end was dramatically re-worked in the sixteenth or seventeenth century when transepts were added, north and south. Windows of this date were inserted into the west end and the south side of the early masonry at this time. In the late nineteenth century the church was renovated and the fourteenth-century chancel was lengthened.

During the second half of the eighteenth century road improvements were being made across North Wales in response to the requirements of commerce and industry. New roads along the North Wales coast to Bangor and Caernarfon were carried south to Pwllheli, through Clynnog and Llanaelhaearn. After 1802, William Maddocks’ venture to create an Irish Sea crossing from Porthdinllaen required good communications. These were achieved via routes through Pwllheli and, further north, through Chwilog. The northernmost of these two east-west routes crossed the north-south route to Pwllheli between Bwlch y Ffordd and Plas Gwyn, creating, or certainly leading to the development of, the crossroads which came to be known as Four Crosses.

Y Ffôr
Y Ffôr developed at the intersection of two turnpike roads, built at the very beginning of the nineteenth century. There was a crossing of north-south and west-east routes before 1800 but the turnpikes made a considerable difference. By 1840 there was an Inn, the ‘Four Crosses’, a stable yard and a few houses on the south-east corner of the crossroads. A row of four substantial terraced houses were attached to the Inn on the east side of the Pwllheli road and represent a contemporary development. During the second half of the nineteenth century there had been some filling in at the south-east corner which may have included a row of ten smaller, two-storey terraced houses on the Chwilog road. More extensive development had taken place at the north-west and north-east corners of the crossroads. This includes the construction of a Calvinistic Methodist chapel, Ebenezer, on the crossroads, a smithy adjacent and a terrace of about a dozen houses on the west side of the Llanaelhaearn and Chwilog roads, with the addition of a public house and second chapel (Salem, Independent).

By the present day the original roadside development has expanded into a reasonable-sized residential community with road access to areas of employment. In the 1830s there were, perhaps, a dozen properties close to the Inn at Y Ffôr. By the 1880s, the village had expanded to about 50 properties, including two chapels, an Inn, a public house, a smithy and a post office. At the beginning of the twenty-first century there are 160 premises, including a local shop, roadside garage, factory, warehouses, shop for agricultural equipment and two schools.

Abererch was almost certainly an ancient clas community which had come within the holdings of the Bishop of Bangor by the early fourteenth century. Abererch’s land was extensive but the focus of the community spiritually, if not geographically, lay in the bend of the Erch near its estuary. The church of St. Cawrdaf is first recorded in the thirteenth century. The earliest part of the present church is at the west end of the nave. The nave was extended eastward by a further four bays in the late fifteenth century and in the following century a northern aisle was added which communicated with the nave through an arcade of sixteenth-century, four-centred arches. The roof comprises twenty collar-beam trusses with arched braces and raking struts. The first seven from the west end of the nave are of the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries; the remainder are sixteenth century, associated with the enlargement of the church. A large sixteenth-century, perpendicular-style, window was inserted into the east gable of the nave, to light the chancel.

In the 1830s Abererch comprised around 30 to 40 premises, clustering at the west end of the churchyard and extending along the main street, on the north side of the churchyard, from the church to Pont Abererch (Abererch bridge). A mill stood close to the stream on the west side. Towards the end of the nineteenth century very little expansion had taken place. A Calvinistic Methodist chapel had already been built, a Congregational chapel, Ebenezer, was added in 1868, by the western church gate. By the twenty-first century, however, another 70 houses have been added in estates across the bridge at Ger-y-Bont and Lôn Glen Elen; another 20 near the old corn mill and six at Tan yr Eglwys, next to the churchyard.

The church of Llannor is large (Llannor = Llan Fawr), but the village always seems to have been relatively small. Llannor’s significance is that it provides a symbol and a contextual focus in the landscape for the wide ranging reach of its tenants and possessions in the middle ages albeit held ultimately from the church of Clynnog Fawr. In other words this is the landscape of ecclesiastical tenure as seen from the perspective of quasi-monastic clas communities.

The village clusters around the church. The dedication is to the Holy Cross which, perhaps, suggests that the church was not always aligned with Clynnog. The nave is long, with no structural division to differentiate the chancel. It is probably of thirteenth-century date. A tower was added at the west end in the fifteenth or sixteenth century.

The graveyard is curvilinear, abutting roads on the west and south side, where at the south-western boundary of the graveyard there is a staggered crossroads. In the 1830s there were about 20 premises in the village, mostly at the roadside end of long, narrow, garden plots. By the 1880s the village had hardly grown at all. By the present day there are about 50 premises in the village, mostly through the development of a small estate on the eastern side of the village and to the north west of the church. Many of the early nineteenth-century tenements, identifiable on the Tithe Survey map, have been replaced.

Efail Newydd
Efail Newydd is positioned on a convergence of old routes. These roads were used by drovers, bringing cattle from southern Llyn. The drovers’ roads passed through Sarn, through Botwnnog and from Llangian and Llanengan, crossing Cors Geirch at or near Rhydyclafdy to reach Efail Newydd. Here the smithy could fit the beasts with small cattle shoes which would provide some protection for their hooves on the long journey to the English markets (Efail Newydd = New Smithy).

There were 16 or 17 properties at Efail Newydd in the 1830s, almost all to the west of the Pwllheli-Nefyn road. The early tenements are distinguishable by their long narrow back plots. Two-storey terraced houses on both sides of the Rhyd-y-Clafdy road are later Victorian. Eighteenth or early nineteenth-century single storey cottages occupy the southern corner of the crossroads, with others on the north side. The large, former public house, The Farmer’s Arms stands opposite, occupying the entire corner. In the early nineteenth century it stood alone; now it is accompanied by the spread of more recent housing. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century there were 24 families in Efail Newydd; four buildings were uninhabited. At the beginning of the twenty-first century there are about 115 properties in Efail Newydd with most residential development expanding to the south and east of the village.

Key historic landscape characteristic

•An agricultural landscape, now mostly pasture, of dispersed farms, transacted by rivers and streams crossed by stone bridges.

•A landscape of irregular fields defined by clawdd banks and, towards the rising ground, stone walls.

•A landscape crossed by important late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century turnpike roads giving a spur to the development of roadside communities.

•Small villages with ancient Ecclesiastical origins.

•An axis of ornamental landscape development from Boduan to Pwllheli.

This character area is low-lying, bounded on the north-west by the rising ground of Yr Eifl and the chain of igneous hills and mountains which run down toward Garn Boduan; by the Afon Erch on the east side as it takes a southerly route to the sea at Pwllheli and, on the south-west, the marshland of Cors Geirch.

The physical character of the landscape is predominantly low-lying, slightly undulating with few eminences. The area drops gently down from 140m OD at Llanaelhaearn in the north to 20m at Cors y Geirch. The exception is the isolated igneous intrusion at Moelypenmaen on Boduan land, rising to 150m. The area is transected by numerous streams which drain from the mountains and higher ground in the north, feeding two larger rivers which enter the sea at Pwllheli. These rivers are the Erch, which forms; the eastern boundary of this character area, and the Rhyd-hir which meanders more or less centrally through the area. The area is wet and marshy in places and displays a mottling of the surface of the landscape where land crossed by former stream beds has been reclaimed. The relatively flat aspect is conducive to communication and two former turnpike roads run generally straight across this character area. There are several important late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century bridges such as Pont Bodfel and Pont Penprys which facilitate communication and contribute character.

The landscape is predominantly agricultural, mostly pasture. Fields are irregular, often enlarged from earlier small enclosures and, in particular, but not exclusively, on the Boduan estate, rectilinear. Rarely, sinuous curves and narrow fields indicate the former presence of unfenced quillets of arable fields.

Farms are dispersed and there are no large towns within the area, which is extensive. The origins of the villages, which include Llanaelhaearn, Y Ffôr, Llannor, Abererch and Efail Newydd, have been discussed in the history section. Each has its own particular character.

The church, with its association of holy well and its dramatic location at the foot of one of the peaks of Yr Eifl, capped by the hillfort of Tre’r Ceiri, together with the association of fifth- and sixth-century inscribed funerary monuments, lends very significant character to this landscape. Much later different axes of association developed as the turnpike road recreated Llanaelhaearn as a roadside village on one of the best lines of communication on Llyn, in the late eighteenth century and on the other hand, the communities’ association with the coastal quarries at Trefor.

Y Ffôr
Y Ffôr is an excellent example of a roadside development at the junction of two important turnpikes. Built before 1840, the ‘Four Crosses’ inn and a row of four substantial terraced houses attached to the Inn on the east side of the Pwllheli road represent a contemporary development. All but one of the doors still retain their original pilaster and pediment porches. The windows of the Inn on the north side, which includes the gable, appear to have retained their original hornless sashes (12 panes, six above six). The exterior walls are rendered. A row of ten smaller, two-storey terraced houses on the Chwilog road have walls of random rubble in local stone and may have replaced the buildings adjacent to the Inn on that side. One of the houses on the Llanaelhaearn road, apparently un-named, is particularly attractive, mid-century with slightly projecting gabled entrance and original, hornless, sashes.

The core of the village retains considerable character despite replacement, renewal and additions over the last century. The terraced properties which line both sides of the main street are two-storey. Many of these terraced houses are listed as indicative of the early nineteenth-century character of the village. The rows on the south of the road as it approaches the bridge are of quarried stone, coursed. Most of the openings have been replaced with modern windows and doors. A group of two cottages, adjacent to the present school, on the east side, are of random rubble and many of the window openings have retained their hornless sash windows. A reminder of the agricultural context of Abererch is the presence of Ty Gwyn farmhouse, at the centre of the village, close to the north-eastern boundary of the churchyard. The house is late eighteenth century, two storey with dormer windows on the first floor and with an attached single storey farm building in-line. The walls are random rubble with a slated roof using small slates which diminish towards the ridge. The windows are horizontally sliding sashes on both floors. Most of the twentieth century houses are low bungalow-style, with dormers. These contrast with the traditional two-storey terraced properties in the village.

Llannor, with Abererch and Llanaelhaearn are small villages with ancient churches at their core. Each may once have been clas communities; Abererch and Llannor both were and both had extensive lands. Llannor and Llanaelhaearn may claim that the presence of fifth-sixth-century funerary memorials in the immediate vicinity of their respective churches is an argument in favour of their considerable antiquity.

The present church at Abererch, at the heart of the village, has very significant architectural detail, in particular, the sixteenth century arcade, the twenty collar-beam roof trusses and the sixteenth century perpendicular window in the east gable of the nave.

Efail Newydd
Efail Newydd lends historic character to this landscape area as the location of an important roadside smithy at a convergence of eighteenth and nineteenth century drovers’ routes. Early tenements are distinguishable by their long narrow back plots. Eighteenth or early nineteenth-century single storey cottages have survived in a terrace on the southern corner of the crossroads, with others on the northern side. The early nineteenth century Farmer’s Arms once stood alone, occupying the entire corner of the crossroads on the east side and was once a dominant feature of the village. It is built of local random rubble, rendered on the street facade, in two-storeys and an attic.

Individual properties which lend character to this landscape include:

Llwyndyrys, close to the Afon Erch in its upper reaches, a two-storey farmhouse of the early seventeenth century with projecting stack at the east gable and important early decorative features internally. The walls are of local rubble with large quoins.

Plas Gwyn, near Y Ffor,is a sixteenth century house with cross-passage, remodelled in the early 17th century with crow-stepped gables and tall chimneys at the end walls. The walls are of random rubble with massive quoins. The windows are early nineteenth century hornless sashes;

Bodfel, is an unusual house of seventeenth-century origins. It was built as a cruciform gatehouse and converted to a dwelling with the addition of an external stair at the back. It rises on three storeys with attic and the front façade has Doric columns supporting an entablature framing a wide arched entrance to the present door. The windows are late eighteenth-early nineteenth century.

Parks and Gardens
Planting and design on the estates of Boduan, Bodfel and Bodegroes have created an axis of ornamental landscape from Garn Boduan to Pwllheli. On the north-eastern side of Pwllheli, Yoke House preserves several features of a small nineteenth-century estate, including otter-house, used to train hunting dogs, a cart house, stable and gig-house range.

Designed parks and gardens which are considered to have contributed significantly to the historic landscape character of this area are listed in the Cadw/ICOMOS Register and include Glasfryn, Boduan and Bodegroes. The following are extracts from the register entries for Boduan and Bodegroes.

Site description

The house is a large, three storey building situated towards the apex of its triangle of grounds. It looks south over lawns and along an avenue of trees which shelters the main drive. The drive runs from a lodge almost due south of the house along a gently curving course to approach the house on the west. Most of what is visible dates from the late nineteenth century, but the core of an older, 1736, house is incorporated. The stable block is dated 1850 The late nineteenth-century expansion was undertaken by the Honourable F. G. Wynn, who inherited Boduan and Glynllifon. The house has been recently restored, and is rendered and painted white. There is a sundial over the main entrance dated 1898, and the rainwater heads, all initialled FGW, are dated from 1892 to 1909. Hyde Hall, writing in 1810, described Boduan as ‘a building of small pretension’, this presumably being the 1736 house.

A south range of buildings, formerly coach houses, has been rendered and painted to match the house, with similar windows. The large archways on the yard side have been blocked and ordinary doors and windows inserted, and this is now clearly an extension of the house. A large chapel lies immediately opposite the stable block, to the west, and is in a similar style. It was built between 1889 and 1918 and now converted to a house.

The rear yard is enclosed within castellated walls, through which are two large arched gateways with iron gates, at the back (north) and front (south).

The park was probably first laid out when the eighteenth century house was built (1736) but much has been changed. The 1889 Ordnance Survey map shows an enormous park extending on both sides of the house, ringed with plantations, dotted with single trees and with rows of trees along the field boundaries. By the time of the survey for the map of 1918, much of this had already disappeared, including some of the plantations.

The eastern part of the garden, containing the stream, is the lowest, and has three large fishponds, all with ornamental bridges and paths along the edges. A more formal pool with waterfall, lies just to the west of the main stream. An interesting small, two-storey, stone-built octagonal building with slate roof and central chimney, with weather-vane, which is built at a point where two gardens join was presumably the gardener’s cottage.

Bodegroes is situated on flat land just north west of Pwllheli, not far from the coast and in an area of favourable climate. The housewas built in 1780, possibly incorporating part of an earlier house, and was the first of the three Llyn houses thought to have been designed by Joseph Broomfield. Like the other two, Broom Hall and Nanhoron, it has a veranda along the garden front, returning up the sides, supported on iron pillars, and a drive which does not directly approach the front of the house, but comes in from the north-east side. The lodge is located between the farm drive to the west and the house drive to the east.

The house is rendered and painted white and is of two storeys, with attics. The symmetrical façade is less austere than that of either of the other Broomfield houses, all the windows on the first floor having curved pediments, and all those on the ground floor being full-length. The iron pillars supporting the veranda comprise a group of four very slim pillars hunched together.

Hyde Hall, writing in about 1810, describes the house as belonging to a Mr Griffiths, probably William Griffith (1748-1816), for whom the house was no doubt built. At this time there were already protecting trees around the house, but Hyde Hall also mentions new planting and fencing.

A lake, north west of the kitchen garden, is small and partly silted up, with an artificial island at the north east end. An orchard, on the south west side of the kitchen garden, is now completely overgrown with impenetrable undergrowth. There is a level lawn to the south west of the house, over which a vista down the avenue is obtained. A ha ha forms the southern boundary of the garden, either side of a beech avenue to the house. The long glasshouse, with curving eaves, is first shown on the 1917 25 in. Ordnance Survey map, but a small stone-built boiler house, outside the south east wall in the east corner, is not. The glasshouse retains much of its glass, and still contains heating pipes and the workings of the ventilation system.

The park, which surrounds the house and garden, was once quite extensive and was probably laid out when the house was built. Hyde Hall’s reference to ‘new planting and fencing’ in the early years of the nineteenth century suggests that work was still continuing at that time, but the layout was complete by 1836. Though many of the plantations and some of the parkland trees survive, as does much of the boundary wall, this area now has the character and appearance of farmland rather than parkland.

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