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Penmaen Dewi



Historic Background
A small area of modern Pembrokeshire, just south of St David's Head itself. It lay within the medieval Cantref Pebidiog, or 'Dewisland', which was held directly by the Bishops of St David's, having represented the core of the bishopric from 1082 when it was granted (or confirmed) by Rhys ap Tewdwr, king of pre-Conquest Dyfed, to Bishop Sulien. The character area lies within the parish of St David's, which had a number of subordinate chapels, and even today preserves a remarkable ecclesiastical topography, in addition to a distinct architectural signature in the form of its sub-medieval cottages. The ritual landscape has early origins. Cist burials have been recorded at Ty Gwyn, a site proposed by Baring Gould and Fisher to have been the early monastery of 'Rosnat' - the precursor to St David's itself - while Ffynnon Faiddog is named after the Irish St Aedan, a follower of St David. From 1115, when Bernard was appointed Bishop of St David's, Anglo-Norman systems of feudal government and ecclesiastical administration were introduced into Pebidiog, which was coterminous with the later Hundred of Dewsland, created in 1536. However, Welsh tenurial systems appear to have persisted, though variously adapted, and have given rise to the present landscape of dispersed settlement. Many feudal rights and obligations continued even into the early 20th-century. The character area was assessed within the manors of Welsh Hundred and Crughely in the Black Book of St David's of 1326, which listed the holding of Porthmawr with its later, sub-medieval house, and Llaethdy, with a similar house, as 2 acres held by Philip ap Jevan by deed, worth 4s annually, and 4 bovates held by co-tenants worth 13s annually. The third major landholding in the area, Trefelly, was not recorded before 1544. The present pattern of small, narrow, rather irregular fields is characteristic of early enclosure but here it appears to be post-medieval, as former boundaries near Porthmawr Farm clearly represent enclosed medieval strip fields, confirming the arable regime suggested in the Black Book. The present field pattern had certainly been established by the time of the tithe survey of 1840, when the former strips were enclosed, but not all were fully engrossed, i.e. they were still in multiple ownership. Not all of the area was cultivated and there are two areas of recorded common land at Carnedd Lleithr and Waun Llaethdy.

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
Porthmawr historic landscape character area lies on the south-facing slopes of Carn Llidi lying between sea level at Whitesands Bay and a maximum of about 80m. The enclosed land of this area gives way to open moorland on Carn Llidi as the slope steepens and becomes craggy. The small irregular fields at the western end of the area close to the sea gradually become slightly larger and more regular towards the east. Some have the appearance of enclosed strip fields. In a saddle between Carn Llidi and Carn Llethr rectangular fields have a north-south trend, maintaining the alignment of the prehistoric fields in the neighbouring character area, Penmaen Dewi. Several boundary types are present, with dry-stone walls the dominant type. Also present are stony banks, stone and earth banks, and earth banks. Some banks run along the crests of lynchets. Hedges are not common, and where present consist of low and windswept straggling lines of bushes. Wire fences supplement most historic boundaries. It is a treeless landscape. Agricultural land use is predominantly improved pasture with some arable land. There is very little rough pasture. The settlement pattern is one of dispersed farms, with paired farms a feature of the landscape. Most farms are situated along the 50m contour on south-facing slopes, and have wide, dry-stone wall lined lanes leading from them to common land which lies to the north. Farmhouses take a variety of forms, but most are relatively small of 19th century date, stone-built, two-storey and three-bays, with examples in the polite Georgian style and the vernacular tradition. Earlier structures, such as the houses at Porthmawr and Llaethdy are present; both classic examples of the sub-medieval north Pembrokeshire house, each with a round chimney and lateral outshut, and internal aisled recesses at the latter. Neither is listed. The only listed building is Ffynnon Faiddog, a good-quality house from the mid 19th century. Some 20th century dwellings are also present in the area. Old farm buildings are stone-built and relatively small, and generally consist of one or two ranges. Some of the slate roofs of have a cement skim, a feature distinctive to the western coastal fringe of north Pembrokeshire. Modern farm buildings are also relatively slight, and come in a variety of materials. Several camp sites and caravan sites lie within this area, and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path runs along the top of the sea cliffs.

Recorded archaeology is fairly diverse within such a small area and features a number of possible early medieval sites. Prehistoric sites comprise three findspots including neolithic finds on the foreshore, Maen Sigl, which is scheduled, a neolithic chambered tomb, and an iron age defended enclosure. A bronze age cist cemetery, with some early medieval cists, is associated with an early Christian inscribed stone and the possible early medieval monastery site of Ty Gwyn, and there is also a holy well at Ffynnon Faiddog. Landscape features include a medieval strip-field system, two areas of recorded common land at Carnedd Lleithr and Waun Llaethdy, and a post-medieval quarry.

Porthmawr historic landscape character area is sandwiched between and distinct from open moorland to the north and windblown sand to the south. To the west lies the sea. Only to the east is the boundary of this area and its neighbour difficult to define, as the two exhibit many similar characteristics, though the dry-stone walls and general lack of modern buildings define Porthmawr and distinguish it from Treleddydd-Tretio-Caerfarchell historic landscape character area.

Sources: Charles 1992; Fenton 1811; Fox 1937; Howell 1993; Howells 1987; James 1981; James 1993; Jones and Freeman 1856; Lewis 1833; Manby 1801; Rees 1932; Romilly Allen 1902; St David's tithe map and apportionment 1840; Willis-Bund 1902