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Penmaen Dewi



Historic Background
A small compact character area in modern Pembrokeshire comprising the isolated hill Foel Dyrch, on the southeast flank of Mynydd Preseli. It lay within the medieval Cantref Cemaes which was brought under Anglo-Norman control by the Fitzmartins in c.1100. The Fitzmartins retained it, as the Barony of Cemaes, until 1326 when they were succeeded by the Audleys. The Barony was conterminous with the later Hundred of Cemais, which was created in 1536, but many feudal rights and obligations persisted, some until as late as 1922. Like most of the southeastern part of the Barony within Mynydd Preseli, the Foel Dyrch area continued to be held under Welsh systems of tenure. In 1118, William Fitzmartin granted this area, as part of the grange of Nigra Grangia, to the Tironians of St Dogmaels Abbey. Its assessment at only half a knight's fee suggests that the grange was probably mainly unenclosed moorland pasture during the medieval period. At the Dissolution, it was acquired by John Bradshaw of Presteigne, along with St Dogmaels Abbey, and was thereafter held distinct from the Barony of Cemaes. Foel Dyrch was part of unenclosed moorland, held of the Barony with common rights to pasture and turbary, and is still unenclosed. It has been subject to other use; the slate quarry of Upper Tyrch on the southern edge of the area - from which County Hall, Carmarthen was roofed - was operational from the late 18th-century until 1939, and two further small quarry site lie on the flanks of the area. During world war two, Upper Tyrch quarry was apparently used by American Forces as a practice gun emplacement.

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
Foel Dyrch is a distinctive outlying rounded hill on the southeastern side of Mynydd Preseli that rises from the surrounding enclosed farmland at about 250m to achieve a maximum height of 368m. It is unenclosed. Rough grazing - heather and bracken - constitutes the main land-use. Abandoned pits and spoil heaps of Upper Tyrch and other smaller quarries are a distinctive element of the historic landscape. There are no extant settlements. However, small clumps of trees stand on and around abandoned farms and cottages on the eastern flank of the hill. Apart from these, this is a treeless landscape. There are no roads or tracks.

Recorded archaeology is limited to a possible standing stone, and a possible round barrow at the summit of Foel Dyrch, both from the bronze age. In addition there is a post-medieval sheepfold, Upper Tyrch slate quarry and two other minor workings, and military features from world war two.

There are no standing buildings.

Foel Dyrch is a discrete historic landscape character area, with a hard-edged boundary to the north, west and south against the enclosed land of Mynachlog-ddu. To the east boundary definition is less good against the semi-open land of Crugiau Dwy.

Sources: Dyfed Archaeological Trust 1997; Lewis 1969; Monachlogddu tithe map and apportionment 1846; Rees 1932; Richards 1998 .