|Ysbyty Ystwyth History Pictures|
Site plan Camp on Cefn Blewog
Site plan Castell Grogwynion
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 Ysbyty Ystwyth.
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 in the Medieval Period is uncertain. The dedication of the church to St John the Baptist has been taken as an indication that is was in the possession of the Knights Hospitaller, but it is perhaps more likely that it was a hospice belonging to Strata Florida Abbey, perhaps in one of the abbey’s granges (Ludlow 1998).
As this area lies on an important north – south route – from Machynlleth to Tregaron and beyond – the suggestion that a hospice was located here to tend the sick and cater for travellers and pilgrims is not unreasonable.
The present church is 19th century. The later history of this area is not clear. An 18th century estate map (NLW CrosswoodVol 1, 66) shows common land within the village of Ysbyty Ystwyth, much of which had been (recently?) encroached upon by squatters who had erected cottages.
It is suspected that the dense scatter of cottages across the craggy landscape to the east of the village was established by similar means and is of the same date, though there is no map evidence to support this. The later tithe map (Sputty Ystwyth Tithe Map and Apportionment, 1848) demonstrates that the settlements had been created by then.
The metal mining industry in the area clearly promoted an increase in population and hence the rapid spread of dwellings across the area in the 18th and 19th century, and the development of Pont-rhyd-y-groes as a settlement.
The largest and most ancient mine in the area is Logaulas, which functioned from at least the mid 18th century (Bick 1974, 22-25), but the scatter of mining remains across the landscape testifies to the extent of this once important industry. Pont-rhyd-y-groes continued to develop in the 20th century with the construction of a small housing estate.
Description and essential historic landscape components
A craggy hill-crest and craggy north-facing valley side of the Ystwyth, lying to the north and east of Ysbyty Ystwyth and ranging in height from 140m to 360m.
Included in this area is the small loosely nucleated village of Ysbyty Ystwyth, the straggling linear 19th century mining village of Pont-rhyd-y-groes, and numerous dispersed small cottages, houses and smallholdings.
Local stone is the traditional building material; this is left bare, cement rendered or painted (whitewashed in some instances). Slate is the universal roofing material.
Ysbyty Ystwyth village is centred on the listed former parish church (now the parish room) of St John the Baptist, and the more recent church and chapels, one of which has been recently demolished.
Several houses have strong vernacular traits and may date to the late 18th or early 19th century, but most are later 19th century, in the typical regional Georgian vernacular tradition and probably built for or by workers in the lead mining industry.
However, farmsteads with stone-built outbuildings within and on the outskirts of the village demonstrate the agricultural origins of the settlement. There is a small estate of late 20th century houses in the village.
Pont-rhyd-y-groes has a much more industrial character than Ysbyty Ystwyth. Listed buildings include a forming mining school, a mining count house and the former post office, all of mid 19th century date.
Houses are mid-to-late 19th century in the regional Georgian vernacular tradition – typical worker houses for the period – although some earlier strongly vernacular cottages are also present. There is some mid-to-late 20th century housing here also.
A fairly dense scatter of dispersed settlement lies on the higher, steep and rocky ground above the two villages. This is probably a squatter settlement, where people working in lead mines needed to find somewhere convenient to live.
Here the houses and cottages are typically small two storey structures dating to the mid-to-late 19th century. Most are in the regional Georgian vernacular tradition, often with strong vernacular traits, but some (probably built towards the end of the century) lean more towards the Georgian style. Many have been modernised and extended.
There are a few smallholdings in this area. Stone outbuildings of these are small and often attached in-line to the house. Modern agricultural buildings, where present on farms, are very small.
The area of the dispersed settlement lies on steep rocky slopes covered with small fields, unenclosed land and woodland, intermixed with which are the remains of lead mines. Garden trees of the houses and cottages provide a strong woodland, almost parkland, aspect to parts of the landscape.
Fields are small and irregular, and formed by earth banks, stone-faced banks or dry-stone walls. Hedges are not present and these boundaries are supplemented with wire fences. Many of the small enclosures contain improved grazing.
Surrounding the enclosures is rough grazing and moorland with peaty deposits in hollows. There are stands of deciduous woodland and conifer plantations on the lower slopes. Buildings and spoil heaps are the most obvious feature of the old lead mines dispersed amongst the rocky outcrops, though shafts and other features are present.
Apart from Ysbyty Church and chapel, the recorded archaeology of this area consists of abandoned dwellings and the remains of the metal mining industry.
The borders of this landscape are well defined with conifer plantations to the northwest, a landscape of large fields and rough grazing to the northeast, east and southeast, and small enclosures to the south and southwest.
By Dyfed Archaeological Trust – Historic Landscape Characterisation of Ysbyty Ystwyth
2. Ysbyty Ystwyth Field System
Nothing certain is known of this area until the late 18th century when an estate map (NLW Crosswood Vol 1) – ‘Map of Sputty Intermixed Lands’- shows the whole of the area as a sub-divided or strip field, with no obvious internal boundaries. This is the only unequivocal evidence for a sub-divided arable field system within the study area of upland Ceredigion.
It is assumed that it was the remaining field or part field of a much larger system that was no longer in use by the late 18th century, and had been then consolidated and enclosed. By the tithe survey (Sputty Ystwyth Tithe Map and Apportionment, 1848) the sub-divided fields shown on the estate map had been consolidated and enclosed into the form that exists today. There is no surviving surface evidence to indicate the former presence of a sub-divided field system, and the tithe map gives no indication of its former existence.
Description and essential historic landscape components
This is small block of undulating land between 210m and 250m, to the south of Ysbyty Ystwyth village, which has been characterised on the evidence of historic maps. The area is divided into small irregular fields separated by earth banks or stone and earth banks topped with hedges. Some hedges have been removed and others are derelict, and most have been augmented by wire fences. Conifer plantations now cover a large portion of the area. Elsewhere there is rough grazing and rush covered ground with a little improved pasture.
The only recorded archaeology in this area is a Bronze Age burnt mound.
The extent of this area not well defined on the ground, and it merges with enclosed land on all sides. However, historically, this area is very well defined.
By Dyfed Archaeological Trust – Historic Landscape Characterisation of Ysbyty Ystwyth Field System
4. External links
- Coflein, discover the archaeology, historic buildings, monuments and history of Ysbyty Ystwyth, Ceredigion
- Historic Place Names, learn about the field names and house names in the community of Ysbyty Ystwyth
- A Pint of History, read about the history of Ceredigion pub’s, inn’s and local taverns of Ysbyty Ystwyth
- People’s Collection Wales, share your stories, memories and photographs of Ysbyty Ystwyth
Some ideas to share your Stories below!
Have a memory and your not sure what to write? We have made it easy with some prompts and ideas, just think about this place and the importance its had in your life and ask yourself:
- What are my personal memories of living here?
- How has it developed and shops changed over the years?
- Do you have a story about the beach, community, its people and history?
- Tell us how it feels, seeing photographs and images of this place again?
- Tell us your favourite memories about this place?
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.