Vanished and Vanishing Cardiganshire –
Llanfihangel-Y-Creuddyn in 1889
Site plan of Camp near New Cross Inn
Since 1909 the Ceredigion Historical Society has published articles written about the archaeology, antiquities and history of Ceredigion, many of these articles printed within the Ceredigion Journal, are about the history of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn.
The society has also produced three county volumes, under the name of the Cardiganshire County History series, these knowledgeable, learned, comprehensive and scholary publications record the history of prehistoric, early and modern Cardiganshire.
The history of this area has not been researched. Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn was probably the administrative centre for Cwmwd Creuddyn in the Medieval Period. Rees (1932) records it as a trading centre, but not a borough.
It is uncertain when a church was established here, but the dedication hints at a pre Anglo-Norman foundation. The current imposing cruciform church dates from mainly the Middle Ages – the 14th to 15th centuries (Ludlow 1998).
Morgan (1997, 192) considers that Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn was a bond vill of the Welsh lords of Creuddyn. If this is correct, then the implication is that there would have been a small, nucleated settlement surrounded by a strip- or open-field system. There are no map sources to support this, though compelling evidence comes from a document of 1743 quoted by Morgan (1997, 191) which refers to a slang of ground 131 by 11 yards in Pen-dre fields, and from physical elements of the landscape which are described below.
In the 18th century Llanfihangel is occasionally referred to as a hamlet of half a dozen cottages. Assuming Morgan’s suggestion is correct, there is little evidence to indicate when the loose girdle of farms that surrounded the village were created, and when the modern field system was established. However, it is likely that by the end of the Medieval Period, with the acceptance in the concept of private ownership, farms held in severalty and small estates were being carved out of former strip fields.
This was possibly the case at Llanfihangel where the small estate of Abertrinant (now a farm) was recorded in the early modern period. It is therefore to the 15th and 16th centuries that we must look to find the origins of the modern field system and dispersed settlement pattern. Estate maps of the 18th and early 19th century and the tithe map of 1847 show a landscape similar to that of today, with a nucleated settlement and dispersed farms set in a system of small fields.
Description and essential historic landscape characteristics
Centred on the village of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn, this area includes the floor and sides of the terminal of an open-sided valley. The valley floor lies at 80m and sides rise up to over 180m.
It is a remarkably homogeneous area, consisting of small fields of improved pasture bounded by earth banks topped with hedges. There are small stands of deciduous woodland and conifer plantations. Improved pasture dominates, with virtually no rougher ground or arable.
Hedges are generally in good condition and well maintained, though some are overgrown and becoming neglected. Wire fences supplement most hedge boundaries. The field patterning of long narrow fields, particularly close to the village, indicates that the present enclosed pattern could have evolved from an open- or strip-field system.
The settlement pattern comprises the small nucleation of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn surrounded by a loose girdle of dispersed farms. The village retains much of its historic character.
Local stone is the traditional building material, which is either left bare or cement rendered, although towards the end of the 19th century brick begins to be used on dwellings and farm outbuildings.
The imposing listed cruciform St Michael’s church lies in the centre of the village and is surrounded by domestic buildings, including several that are listed. These include a cruck hall building probably dating to the 16th century, terraces of late 18th and early 19th century houses/cottages, a late Georgian house and a later 19th century gothic ‘villa’ with coach-house and stables.
Other buildings include a small late 19th century school and an ever-increasing number of modern dwellings. A couple of small working farms are located in the village, but most are dispersed across the area. These mostly comprise mid to late 19th century houses in the typical Georgian vernacular style of the region, with one or two small ranges of stone outbuildings. Working farms have small to medium-sized modern agricultural buildings – these are not prominent components of the landscape.
The recorded archaeology of this area is mostly composed of standing buildings including a church, chapel, dwellings, two mills and a smithy. However, a cropmark enclosure indicates greater time-depth in the landscape, as it may be the ploughed-out remains of an Iron Age fort. Two place-names, Castell Cynon and Castell Banc-y-mor, may also indicate sites of Iron Age hillforts or other defensive sites.
Though this is a distinct character area, its boundaries are not particularly well defined. To the south this area bounds the estate landscape of Crosswood, to the west landscape areas have yet to be described, and elsewhere it rises to higher, formerly unenclosed and less settled land.
By Dyfed Archaeological Trust – Historic Landscape Characterisation of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn
Extract from ‘A Topographical Dictionary of Wales‘ by Samuel Lewis 1833
“LLANVIHANGEL Y CREIDDYN (LLAN-VIHANGEL-Y-CREUDDYN), a parish in the upper division of the hundred of ILAR, county of CARDIGAN, SOUTH WALES, 7 miles (S. E.) from Aberystwith, on the road to Rhaiadr, comprising the chapelry of Eglwys-Newydd, or Llanvihangel y Creiddyn Uchâv, and the township of Llanvihangel y Creiddyn Isâv each supporting its own poor, and containing 1971 inhabitants, of which number, 944 are in Llanvihangel y Creiddyn Isâv. This parish, which is situated on the river Ystwith, and intersected by various other streams, is eminently distinguished by scenery which is equally remarkable for picturesque beauty and strikingly romantic grandeur. The former character prevails in a high degree through out the extensive and beautiful grounds of Hâvod and the latter on the precipitous and craggy cliffs through which the rivers Mynach and Rheidol wind an arduous and frequently interrupted course. Over the former of these streams is Pont ar Vynach, or, as it is called from a vulgar tradition, “the Devil’s Bridge:” the Mynach here rushes with impetuosity through a narrow chasm between the lofty cliffs which on each side confine its waters, darkened by the entangled branches and foliage of numerous trees which have taken root among the rocks, and at a great depth beneath a bridge of one arch, thrown over it, at a very early period, by the monks of the abbey of Strata Florida, an ancient establishment in the neighbourhood. This bridge, to which the descent from the road was found inconvenient and dangerous, was, in 1753, surmounted by another bridge of one arch, at a higher elevation and of larger span, over which the road is continued to Aberystwith. The descent to the river, which lies at a great depth below its craggy and precipitous banks, is frightfully steep, and only rendered practicable by the numerous trees with which the rocks on both sides are thickly interspersed. The view from the bottom of the valley is strikingly picturesque ; the bridges are seen to advantage only from this point, and present an appearance truly romantic; the height of the upper bridge above the bed of the river is about one hundred and twenty feet. At the distance of about fifty yards from the bridge, the river, rushing in a narrow and obstructed channel, falls with violence from a rock twenty feet in height into a cavity beneath : on its emerging it almost instantly descends from a precipice of sixty feet into another, and, after falling again from a height of twenty feet, descends in one unbroken sheet from an elevation of more than one hundred feet. On the opposite side of the glen a view of all the falls of the Mynach is obtained from a projecting mass of rock, a little below which the river falls into the Rheidol. The Rheidol, after receiving the Mynach, pursues a similar course, frequently interrupted by rocks of various elevation, over which it is precipitated with violence, and from one of which, of prodigious height, it descends in one vast and entire column, forming a cataract of great sublimity. The main torrent, in its descent, is partially intercepted on each side by projecting points of rock, which, diverting its course into an oblique direction, form two smaller cataracts which intersect each other in their descent. The scenery of the valley through which the Rheidol has its course is characterized by features similar to those of the vale of Mynach, and, not withstanding the difficulty of access to those parts from which it is seen to the greatest advantage, it still continues to attract the attention, and to excite the admiration of all travellers into this part of the principality. Lead-ore abounds in the parish, but is not worked to any great extent : there is a mine called Cwm-Ystwith, capable of being rendered very productive, and there are others of smaller importance. The working of these mines at a former period led to the establishment of a small village called Pentre Briwnant, which was chiefly inhabited by the persons employed in them, and which stands on the road from Rhaiadr to Aberystwith, in the upper part of the vale of the Ystwith, where the country is remarkably wild and rugged; but the population is now principally engaged in agriculture. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Cardigan, and diocese of St. David’s, rated in the king’s books at £8, endowed with £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Bishop. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a neat structure, in the later style of English architecture. The chapel of Eglwys-Newydd is within the precincts of the estate of Hâvod, and forms an interesting and beautiful feature in the landscape. There are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor amounts to £344.16., of which sum, £ 189.2. is raised on the township of Llanvihangel y Creiddyn Isâv.”
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- What are my personal memories of living here?
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The aim of the Ceredigion Historical Society is to preserve, record and promote the study of the archaeology, antiquities and history of Ceredigion. That objective has remained the same since the foundation of the Society in 1909, though its name was changed from Ceredigion Antiquarian Society to the Ceredigion Historical Society in 2002.
3. External links
- Coflein, discover the archaeology, historic buildings, monuments and history of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn, Ceredigion
- Historic Place Names, learn about the field names and house names in the community of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn
- A Pint of History, read about the history of Ceredigion pub’s, inn’s and local taverns of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn
- People’s Collection Wales, share your stories, memories and photographs of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn