Historic Landscape Characterisation

Mawddach - Area 6 Lower Afon Cwm-Mynach (PRN 18336)



Historic background

This area is centred on a small, remote valley leading off from the northern banks of the Mawddach based on the Afon Cwm-mynach, with a wider area of woods and lately-enclosed (probably 19th-century for the main part) fields. There is no recorded evidence for prehistoric settlement here, although several deserted rural settlement sites do point towards 16th-century and later settlement. The earliest houses recorded are 17th-century (see below). The area also contains some evidence for late 19th century, gold mining in the areas away from the estuary. Much of the area facing on to the Mawddach estuary itself, is modern conifer plantation.

In about 1860, the owner of the copper mines above Bontddu (area 05) discovered gold, and the owners of the Vigra and Clogau Copper Mining Company (actually situated outside the character areas considered in this report) took out a licence to extract gold, and by May 1861 profits were sufficient to initiate a mini gold rush in the area. Gwynfynydd Gold Mine was also established at this time but serious mining ceased during the First World War. All of these mines were water-powered; although around 150 shafts and levels are known in the mountains to the north of Bontddu, the three main centres of activity were those listed above (Farr, 2001). At Clogau the mining was adit mining, centred on inclined tunnels which were dug by hand until the 1870s, when compressor drills were introduced. Figra Mine was powered by a waterwheel which had been built as a crushing mill for the copper mine and was adapted to its new use in 1862. A zig-zag track and incline connected it with the mine above. At the end of the 19th century a new mill powered by a turbine was built, and downstream a smaller mill was in use until the 1930s.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Mining remains, early farmhouses, irregular fields, woodland

There are four listed buildings here (all grade II): Borthwnog Hall Hotel is a late 17th century, elegant Georgian villa with 19th century alterations; Cae-mab-seifion is an early 17th century upland vernacular farmhouse which retains much of its original character; Cesailgwm-bach, nearby is also an early 17th century farmhouse, while Maestryfer is a late 17th century house and byre complex of whitened rubble. Much of the area is covered by a mixture of deciduous and conifer woodland, particularly on the hill slopes, while the open valley sides above the estuary contain open fields defined by straggling drystone walls (see photograph).

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