183 ABERGWILI - LLANEGWAD PARISH
GRID REFERENCE: SN 477247
Base map reproduced from the OS map with the permission
of Ordnance Survey on behalf of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery
Office, © Crown Copyright 2001.
Description and essential historic landscape components
Despite its very large size, this historic landscape area is coherent, comprising as it does rolling hills of enclosed pasture and dispersed farms. From the junction of the valley floor of the River Tywi to the south at 15 m above sea level, this area rises steeply to over 100 m, and continues to rise in a series of rounded hills interspersed with deeply incised valleys to over 240 m. Valley sides are steep and often cloaked with ancient deciduous woodland. However, most of this area is enclosed under rich pasture, with the vast majority improved grazing and very little rough grazing and unimproved land. Fields are small- to medium-sized and irregular. Boundaries are universally of earth banks topped with hedges. Hedges are generally well maintained at lower levels, though gaps are opening in some examples. At higher altitudes there is a tendency for them to be neglected and here there is some dereliction. Wire fences supplement most boundaries. Distinctive hedgerow trees are present, but not common. The old established settlement pattern is predominantly one of dispersed farms, with clustering at White Mill and Felingwm-uchaf. Modern ribbon development has taken place along main roads. Within this area are three important routeways. The most important is the east-west corridor along the southern limits in the Tywi valley along the interface between the alluvium and the solid geology of the north side of the river. Here the A40(T) - which in 1999 was upgraded as part of the Carmarthen eastern bypass - is based on a turnpike route, which in turn follows the course of the Carmarthen to Llandovery Roman road. Running close to the western boundary of the area is the north-to-south A485 Carmarthen to Llandeilo road which also follows the general course of a Roman road. The B4310 runs north-to-south across the eastern section of the area.
Recorded archaeology from such a large landscape area takes in a range of sites from all periods. However, notable sites include the large hillfort at Merlin's Hill and the Roman road. Prehistoric and Medieval archaeology relates primarily to agricultural land-use but Post-Medieval features include chapels, mills and lead mine shafts.
St Michael, Llanfihangel-uwch-Gwili, a landmark church with Medieval origins and an unusual early 17th-century tower is Grade B listed. Few of the gentry houses retain early fabric but Cwmgwili, mentioned in c.1460, now mainly 18th century but with 16th- or 17th-century features, is Grade II listed. Gilfach-y-berthog was extensively remodelled in 1692 and is Grade II* listed, with Grade II listed stables and barn. The 18th- and 19th-century White Mill is Grade II listed. Gelli-fergam, mentioned in the late 16th-century is now a substantial double-piled house with a walled garden. Esgair-holiw retains no early features but is associated with a former water-mill. Traditionally farms are stone-built, two-storey, three-bay and generally of 19th century date and in the vernacular tradition, though there are examples in the more 'polite' Georgian style. Farms have one or two ranges of stone-built, 19th century outbuildings, very occasionally arranged semi-formally around a yard, together with modern agricultural buildings. Modern dwellings tend to be in small estates at Peniel and Rhydargaeau, in ribbon development alongside the A485, or as dispersed houses which are mostly situated alongside the main roads. This modern development is in a variety of styles and materials.
The boundary of this area to the south against Ystrad Tywi is very well defined at the foot of the valley floor. To the north there is similar good definition where high common land enclosed by Act of Parliament in the 19th century provides a distinctive landscape signature. The area to the southeast is very similar in character to this area, but generally of lower altitude - there is no clear-cut boundary between the two. Areas to the east and west have yet to be defined, but they contain many similar components to Abergwili-Llanegwad Parish historic character area.