Cardiganshire History (page 3)

Cardiganshire Soils

The SOILS vary rather from difference of situation than of substrata. Most of the higher grounds have a grey light mould, occasionally intermixed with sand, and varying in depth from a few inches to a foot. Peat, however, generally occupies the hollows, and sometimes the slopes of the mountains; and clay abounds near the surface in some places, requiring great expense to render it in any degree productive, a difficulty which is increased by the distance from all calcareous rocks. The whole county is included in the slate and shale tract of South Wales; and the bluer the slate or shale, the more meagre the soil above it: the most grateful of the mountain soils are found upon the anomalous grey mountain rock and the pale grey shale, except where the elevation is too great or the aspect too bleak. The soils of the vales, being deposits from the uplands, increase in fertility as they approach the sea, when the current of the rivers which traverse them becomes less rapid: thus the lower levels of the valleys of the Teivy, Aëron, Ystwith, Rheidiol, &c., possess a variety of rich loams, frequently of considerable depth. The coast has generally excellent light and early soils, which have for ages been famous for the production of barley, with little, and in some places without any, alternation with other crops. In most places these soils are more or less mixed with grey porous stones, which are known to be very favourable to the growth of corn, by retaining moisture beneath them during time of drought, and affording regular warmth to the blades of the rising grain; the pastures also abound with these stones, which the farmers will on no account suffer to be removed. The substratum of these soils in the south-western part of the county is in some places a hungry light mould, tinged with oxyde of iron, resting on thick beds of marl, beneath which is found the soft kind of argillaceous schistus, called shale.