Historic Landscape Characterisation

Penmon - Area 6 Rhos Llaniestyn PRN 33475

St Iestyn, Llaniestyn


Key historic landscape features and processes

  • A wet, elevated moorland, rocky in places, suitable for grazing.
  • A church with features of twelfth century origin and an important effigy of St Iestyn inside the south chapel.
  • The possible location of the Princes' pasture lands in the thirteenth century.
  • Hafotty, an important fifteenth and sixteenth century house, the best preserved of that date on Anglesey.

This character area is a relatively elevated tract of land at between 100 and 140m OD, extending over 2000 acres. It is bounded on the north by the limestone ridge at Din Sylwy; on the west by the rough and rocky moorland of Llanddona Common and the western boundary of Hafotty; on the east by the steep slopes of Coed Cadw and on the south by the arbitrary boundary of the B5109 Beaumaris to Llansadwrn road.

There are possible prehistoric standing stones in the south-west corner of the area, in and to the east of Hafotty Covert (PRNs 16628; 2642; 2643; 2648). There is a possible chambered tomb within Hafotty Covert (PRN 241) and a certain Neolithic burial chamber at Hendrefor, 1.7km to the south-west of the possible site within Hafotty Covert.

Llaniestyn church, at one time an appurtenance of St. Catherine's Llanfaes, is an ancient church. There is a twelfth-century decorated font in the nave and a small twelfth-century door with a semicircular arched head supported by imposts projecting from the jambs. The church was enlarged or extended in the fourteenth and fifteenth century and provided with a south transept or chapel. There is a surviving fifteenth-century collar-beam truss in the nave. The added porch has a late fifteenth-century door. There is a late fourteenth-century effigy of St. Iestyn, in low relief, in the south chapel. The churchyard appears to have been truncated and may once have been curvilinear and, perhaps, concentric around an earlier focus.

Three medieval townships occupy the character area. In the northern part lies Bodynwy. It would seem that this township, before the conquest of Gwynedd, was divided into two parts. There was a free element, represented by the Gwely Iorwerth Fychan, and one and a half carucates of land in the holding of Gwenhwyfar, daughter of Einion ap Meilir and Lleucu and Gwenllian, daughters of Carwed. There is a tenement called Carwed, attested, at least, from the early seventeenth century, 600m south of Llaniestyn church. The remaining element occupied their land under bond, tir cyfrif, tenure, a particularly restrictive tenure found on, or associated with, the lord's demesne. Later, very soon after the conquest, the bond land formerly in the hand of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd and later in the possession of Edward I, at Bodynwy, was granted freely to the previous occupiers of land on which Beaumaris castle was built, in compensation. It would be exceptional for an early church to be built on bond land and, in the situation of Bodynwy, we must assume that Llaniestyn church was a product of the free holding element of the township.

To the south-west of the character area lay the township of Crymlyn, comprising two hamlets of Bodarddar and Cefn Coch. The hamlet of Cefn Coch was the location of the Prince's mill in this locality and this is where the bond tenants and their successors milled their grain.

Grant to Penmon
However, there was another aspect to Crymlyn which was omitted from the detailed Crown Survey of 1352. Crymlyn Wastrodion had already been granted to the monastery of Penmon in 1248 by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth. This part of Crymlyn lay at the southern end of the character area, between Bodarddar and Cefn Coch. Between 1551 and 1554 there had been accusations of encroachment into two tenements on the east side of Crymlyn. One of these, Hafod Hirgwrn, was described to be within the township of Bancenyn while the other was in Crymlyn. In addition to encroachment, twenty head of cattle were driven out. Bancenyn had been granted to the canons of Ynys Lannog (Penmon and Ynys Seiriol) in 1221 and the Prior had kept livestock on these two tenements before the dissolution. In 1552 it was claimed, retrospectively, that the beasts had been 'privily conveyed away' before the commissioners for suppression arrived.

Hafod Hirgwm appropriately describes the long defile of the Cadnant and the description 'on the east side of Crymlyn' identifies the location at the headwaters of the valley in the area of Bodgylched. Confirmation of the location is provided by a Crown lease under the Great Seal in 1595 granting Crymlyn Mynach and Hafod Hardwyn (Hirgwm) as being in Bancenyn. The tenements of Crymlyn Mynach, Bancenyn, Bodynwy and (outside this character area) Din Sylwy Frenin, are each bond tenures. The hamlet of Bodarddar in Crymlyn Heilyn is a free hamlet and is now represented by the house, Hafotty. The landscape and, very possibly the agricultural regime, is comparable.

Hafotty, occupies an elevated position straddling the parish boundaries of Llansadwrn and Llanddona. The present house itself stands at the western end of a low rocky outcrop, from which the lie of the land drops a little before rising again towards the slopes of Mynydd Llwydiarth to the north west. Despite its raised position, drainage is poor and much of the land around is sodden in winter time. The landscape of the present day is given over almost entirely to grass. There are improved fields to the east of the house but much of the periphery of the demesne is rocky, gorse-covered, and, for modern purposes, intractable. Clear evidence of ridge and furrow ploughing is visible despite, the rocky outcrops.

In the eighteenth century, in Baron Hill hands, an estate survey suggests that only a portion of the holding was under cultivation. The uncultivated and rocky fields strengthen the impression given by their names. Gwaen Fawr (the Great Moor) occupied thirty-four and a half acres; Cae Eithin Mawr (the Great Gorsey Field) had twenty-four acres; Gwaen Arw (the Harsh Moor) had forty-eight acres and Rhos (the Moor) to the south, extended over ninety-nine acres. Only ninety-four of the 299 acres were suitable for arable cultivation.

The tenement known as Hafotty, in the hamlets of Bodarddar , came into the hand of Thomas Norres of west Derby in around the middle of the fifteenth century. It extended over 54 acres. Over time additional land accrued, quite possibly when leases were let in monastic land after the dissolution. By the 1770s Hafotty had expanded to over 300 acres.

Cattle rearing at Hafotty
In 1511 the land was transferred to Richard Bulkeley, Archdeacon. The next direct references appear during the 1570s and 1580s. In November 1577 Sir Richard Bulkeley granted a lease to Richard Lewis ap Ieuan ap Rees of Crawgoyd (Crafgoed near Llanddona) on the messuage or mansion house of Botyorthergh (Hafotty) at a yearly rent of £33.6.8d. Thirty-four cattle were provided with the lease. In 1585 there is a reference to Edward Lewis Gethin's 'dayre house in Llansadwrn', subsequently endorsed as 'Hafodty Ortherch'. Seven years earlier, Sir Richard Bulkeley granted a lease to Owen ap Llywelyn ap Hoell of Llansadwrn, a yeoman. Although the tenement is not named it is similarly described as Sir Richard's 'daryie' house in that parish'. The lease provided for 24 cows and a bull. The tenancy, in addition to £25 a year rent, required the supply of good, fresh and sweet butter to the mansion house of Baron Hill'. Hafotty remained in Bulkeley hands well into the twentieth century.

Crymlyn and Bancenyn must both have been in the Prince's hand during the reign of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth for the grant to Penmon to have been made. A pattern emerges whereby, at Din Sylwy (a separate character area) a free township incorporates within it, a tir cyfrif bond component. Similarly Bodynwy included both free and bond tir cyfrif tenants. Crymlyn also divided between free and bond elements. Bancenyn was clearly bond but the nature of the bond tenure is not certain. Bodarddar (Hafotty) was free, but it too raised cattle. It is possible that, under the Princes, bond tenants were installed, with a specialised function to perform, on the Rhos Llaniestyn uplands - that being the maintenance of castle ranches, friddoedd or hafodydd, as an adjunct to the operation of the maerdref demesne at Llanfaes, on land suited to it.

Historic Landscape Character
The Rhos Llaniestyn uplands are potentially historically important in that it is possible to suggest that the string of medieval bond tenures which run from Crymlyn and Bancenyn in the south, through Bodynwy (now represented by the ancient tenement of Carwad) to the slopes of Din Silwy, are an infrastructural component of the operation of the maerdref of Llanfaes in the specialised function of cattle ranching.

The landscape is generally flat with the exception of the gorges which score the steep eastern slopes and drain the plateau eastward to the coast at Llanfaes and Trecastell powering mills until relatively recent times. Streams also drain in a southerly direction, notably the Cadnant on its long route down to the shoreline of the Straits at the northern limit of Porthaethwy. There were, until the twentieth century, extensive areas of rough ground and common land in the northern part around Carwad and Llaniestyn. The south part of the area is still marshy ground around Llyn Bodgylched.

The house of Hafotty is important for many reasons. It is probably the best preserved mediaeval house on Anglesey. It is first identified as a Hall house of timber frame construction, later clad in stone with additions and modifications. The trusses of the early house, (mid-fifteenth century) in the hall and east wing, are of king-post and tie-beam construction, supported by arched-braces to the wall plate and posts. Wind braces strengthen the construction. The decorative quarter-round moulding under the tie beam and braces, together with the king-post suggests an influence from the Lancashire and Cheshire area. These features are of particular interest in respect of the number of incomers who took up burgages in Beaumaris during this period. The trusses in the western stone built wing (of around AD 1500) are of collar-beam type, bedded on the top of the lateral walls.

The house is also important in respect of the addition of a monumental external chimney stack, on the south long wall, and the inscribed legend above the four-centred arch of the fireplace which firmly associates the feature with Bulkeley tenure after 1511.

There are large fields with generally straight boundaries in the southern part of the area (mostly banks and hedges), with few indications of former arable agriculture. To the south east of Llaniestyn there are smaller plots but, nevertheless, regularly laid out. There is a more or less straight road, the Ffordd Deg which makes a bee-line from Beaumaris to the southern boundary of Llanddona Common, turning to drop down from the higher ground of Llanddona to the coastline of Red Wharf Bay. This road cuts directly across the character area and services many of the premises en-route.

There are no villages or clusters of population in the character area. There are around fifteen farms dispersed across the plateau, many of which contribute considerable character to the landscape. Tyddyn Isaf at the northern extent of the character area is a vernacular, two-storey farmhouse of late eighteen- early nineteenth-century date with stable and barn attached. It is rubble built with a large squat chimney stack and still retained its original thatched roof into the mid-nineteenth century. Cefn Lech, to the east of Carwad is an eighteenth-century, two-storey farmhouse, rubble built, rendered and lime-washed. Rhos Isaf is another example of a late eighteenth- early nineteenth-century, two-storey farmhouse with a barn attached, in-line. Ty'n Rhos is a nineteenth-century crog-lofft cottage, one of a very few cottages on the common land of Llaniestyn, in contrast to the extensive encroachment at Llanddona, adjacent. Bryn Bella, on Ffordd Deg,, near the Bulkeley monument on Tower Hill, is a very different type of farmhouse. It is of two storeys with agricultural ranges attached and in-line, but the house is taller and considerably more substantial with designed proportions.

On the north side of the B5109, the main road from Beaumaris to Llansadwrn and Pentraeth, at the south western end of the character area stands College, a premises of eight units in two right-angled ranges, with a cobbled yard at the back. This building might have accommodated poor tenants of the parish. The name is thought to derive from the proprietors, Jesus College, Oxford.



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