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Historic Background
A character area which comprises the entire Black Mountain/Mynydd Myddfai/Mynydd Bach massif. The majority of the area lay within Cwmwd Perfedd, of Cantref Bychan, which retained native tenurial customs until the end of the Medieval period when it was incorporated within modern Carmarthenshire, while the easternmost section lay within the Lordship of Brycheiniog. It is now unenclosed moorland and mountain which generally exhibits a hard boundary with enclosed areas to the north, suggesting a long period of stability - since the 16th century in parts (Leighton 1997, 29). However, both ad hoc encroachment and parliamentary enclosure have occurred along its far western edge. Much of the area comprises mountain which has never been subject to intense human usage, but those areas of moorland which have been exploited exhibit five main themes of land-use. Dominated by the continuous upland pasturing of sheep, they include the removal of natural woodland, which reached altitudes of 800 m, from the Mesolithic period onwards; the occupation and partial enclosure of the landscape in the prehistoric period, and contemporary ritual activity; some informal occupation of the area, with longhuts, and its partial enclosure during the Post-Medieval period; and 19th- and 20th-century leisure activities including field sport (Leighton 1997). The northern part of the area exhibits a more complex history. Here, Mynydd Myddfai is crossed by the Roman road from Llandovery (Alabum) to Brecon (Cicutio), with the establishment of two successive, superimposed marching camps at Y Pigwn. The road was later abandoned in favour of the line of the present A40(T). A second marching camp site lies on the moorland plateau at Arosfa Garreg to the south. Much of Mynydd Myddfai once lay within Dôl Hywel grange, which had been granted to Talley Abbey by 1324 (Ludlow 1998). It was an upland grange, probably operated by tenant farmers primarily concerned with the mountain pasturing of animals, and appears to have been largely unenclosed during the historic period, as it is today. It was later exploited for tilestone and the line of quarries following the outcrop were mainly operational in the 18th- and 19th-century. Running from east-west alongside Arosfa Garreg is a drovers road from Llangadog to Trecastle, beside which is a large turbary (peat-cutting) from the Post-Medieval period. Further south, the existing mountain road from Brynamman to Llangadog, which was a major Post-Medieval droving route, was turnpiked from 1779. It was superseded by the present A4069 but still survives as a track, the 'Bryn Road' (DAT & CPAT, 1997, 5). The eastern edge of the area is characterised by a number of pillow-mounds which may have early Post-Medieval origins, although rabbit farming was practised in neighbouring areas to the east until the end of the 19th century.


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.
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Description and essential historic landscape components
This extremely large character area comprises all of the Black Mountain/Mynydd Myddfai/Mynydd Bach which lies outside Area 239. The whole area is unenclosed moorland. It includes the high escarpment above Llyn y Fan Fach/Llyn y Fan Fawr known as Bannau Sir Gar/Fan Brycheiniog which peaks at over 800 m. However, generally this area lies between 250 m and 600 m. The remains of past human exploitation are slight but nevertheless distinctive. Bronze Age burial mounds which cap the summits of most hills are the most obvious ancient elements of the landscape, but there are numerous abandoned settlements scattered across the mountain, mostly in valleys and at lower levels. Most are probably Post-Medieval, but some may be earlier. They are sometimes associated with old field systems and sheepfolds. Industrial remains are also present: quarries and tramways. The A4069 road, and old turnpike, crosses the mountain from north to south and links the industrial Amman valley with limestone workings and the Tywi valley. Despite all these remains, the landscape is one of open uninhabited moorland with rough grazing at lower levels and blanket peats at higher elevations. An unusual characteristic of this area is its very well-defined boundary with enclosed farmland to the north. This seems to be old established boundary and is marked on the ground for much of its course by a broken-down dry-stone wall or a stony bank. To the west and east the boundary between the open moorland of this area and enclosed farmland is not as hard-edged - former encroachments have blurred the border.

Recorded archaeology is extensive and relates to the land-use outlined above, including Bronze Age hut platforms, stone circles, summit cairns and field systems, the Roman road and camps, early Post-Medieval longhuts and informal enclosures, contemporary turbaries, pillow-mounds, the tilestone quarries, and 19th- and 20th-century sporting and survey features.

There are no standing buildings.

This is a very distinctive area as it is bordered by enclosed farmland and forestry. Only to the north where it merges with a zone of industrial workings on the mountain are its boundaries indistinct.