Home > Historic Landscape Characterisation > Preseli >

Penmaen Dewi



Historic Background
A small area of modern Pembrokeshire, on the southern edge of Mynydd Preseli, within the medieval Cantref Cemaes. Cemaes was brought under Anglo-Norman control in c.1100 by the Fitzmartins who 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. The Maenclochog character area belonged to the mesne lordship or manor of Maenclochog, held from the Barony of Cemaes by the Roche lords of Llangwm in the 13th- and 14th-century, when it was assessed at one knight's fee, but unlike most of the manor, this character area - which comprises the settlement at Maenclochog itself - was held under Anglo-Norman manorial tenure. The medieval history of the manor is known only in outline. It had been obtained by the Roche lords of Llangwm by the mid 13th-century, along with knight's fees at Monington and Llanychaer, and their tenure continued into the 14th century. In a later Extent, from 1594, the manor of Maenclochog was, like others in Cemaes, held on an annual lease from the Barony, this one being assessed at 3s 8d. A castle had been founded by 1215 when it is mentioned in the Chronicles as having been destroyed in a Welsh raid. It was 'destroyed' again in 1257 while a reference in an Inquisition of 1376 may imply that it was still in use. The location of the castle has yet to be demonstrably proved, but the rocky knoll with its accompanying enclosure at the southern end of the village is a strong candidate. North of the site is a large, square green containing the church, which leads into an axial main street - now the B4313 - which is lined by tofts. All are classic features of Anglo-Norman planted settlement in Pembrokeshire and Maenclochog forms part of a chain of such plantations along the southern foothills of Mynydd Preseli (cf. New Moat, Henry's Moat, Hayscastle etc.). However, there is no evidence that Maenclochog ever achieved, or aspired to borough status. The church has been entirely rebuilt but it was a medieval foundation, with a 'Mary' dedication which may imply that it is has post-Conquest origins. The vicarage, with its chapelries of Llandeilo Llwydarth and Llangolman, were granted to St Dogmael's Abbey by David de la Roche in c.1320. The long, narrow fields that surround the village are characteristic of the enclosure of medieval field-strips, probably divided along Anglo-Norman manorial lines, but the later history of the village has, in contrast, been predominantly Welsh, and pastoral. It was also comparatively poor, no holding being assessed for more than two hearths in 1670. By the 19th century, it was a drovers' centre and a large annual cattle fair was being held on the green. A map of 1773 shows the green with 15 dwellings around it, while the remainder of the landscape was much as today. The area was crossed by the Maenclochog Railway which was opened in 1876 to serve the quarries at Rosebush in Mynydd Bach character area. It was later extended to Fishguard, but closed in 1949.

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.
All rights reserved. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Licence Number: GD272221

Description and essential historic landscape components
Maenclochog historic landscape character area lies on gentle south-facing, southern slopes of Mynydd Preseli between 200m and 260m. It is centred on Maenclochog village. Agricultural land comprises a system of long narrow fields; this is clearly an open field system which has been enclosed. The enclosed strips are best preserved to the east and north of the village. Field boundaries consist of earth banks and stony banks topped with hedges. Apart from alongside roads and tracks, hedges are not generally well maintained. Many have gaps in them and others are overgrown. Other than a small 20th century coniferous plantation and trees in some of the overgrown hedges, woods do not form a characteristic element of this landscape. Maenclochog retains the character of a working agricultural village with farms, a church, chapels, garage, village hall, public houses, workshops, houses and shops. The village is planned around a rectangular green on which the parish church is located. Houses and other buildings are located around the outside edge of this green. Dwellings are in a variety of styles and materials. The older examples date to the early- to mid- 19th-century, with both detached farmhouses, other detached houses and terraces present. All are stone-built (cement rendered and bare stone) and most are two storey with three bays. Examples in the vernacular and polite Georgian tradition are present. Mid 20th-century construction includes houses, bungalows and cottages, including a good single storey timber-framed corrugated-iron example. Later 20th-century linear development is present alongside the roads to the north, west and east. There is a small, 21st century housing estate on the northern fringes of the village. Dispersed settlement outside the village comprises farms, the houses of which are generally 19th century in the vernacular tradition. Farm buildings of the village- and dispersed-farms are a mixture consisting of: one or two ranges of 19th century stone-built structures; mid 20th-century corrugated tin barns and other buildings; and late 20th-century steel, concrete and brick structures. The only listed building is St Mary's Church, which was entirely rebuilt in c.1790, in the same location as its predecessor but retaining none of the earlier fabric. Other buildings include the early 19th-century Hen Gapel in the centre of the village, and Tabernacle, built as an independent chapel in the mid 19th-century after a dispute between the congregation at Hen Gapel. Transport elements of the historic landscape comprise the B4313 which runs north-south through the village, minor roads and lanes, and an abandoned railway line.

There is a wealth of prehistoric archaeology within this small area, including a neolithic/bronze age ritual complex at Eithbed, with a number of chambered tombs and possible standing stones, another group of two standing stones and two more isolated standing stones. The context of the 'bell-stones' mentioned by Fenton - two stones said to ring like a bell when struck - is unknown and they are now gone. There is an iron age hillfort and a smaller defended enclosure.

The Early Christian Monuments in St Mary's Church are from Llandeilo Llwydarth, but there is a holy well site. The location of the castle has yet to be demonstrably proved, but the rocky knoll with its accompanying enclosure at the southern end of the village is a strong candidate. Maenclochog is a distinctive historic landscape character area. It contrasts with Mynydd Bach Parliamentary enclosure to the east and with the undefined areas of larger, more regularly enclosed land to the south and west.

Sources: Dyfed Archaeological Trust 1997; Fenton 1811; Gale 1992; Green 1924; Howells 1977; Jones 1952; King 1988; Ludlow 1998; Maenclochog tithe map and apportionment, 1841; National Library of Wales, Picton Castle 1; Owen 1897