A History of Carmarthenshire
Lloyd, Sir John E., (Ed.). 2 vols., Cardiff, London Carmarthenshire Society (1935, 1939).
With the kind permission of the publishers sundry extracts from this book have been extracted by Gareth Hicks onto some parish pages, these snippets below are in random order.
Stone circles [New Stone Age]
Stone Circles are scarce in the county, there are two possibilities, these are almost completely destroyed. One is known as " Y Naw Carreg " west of Capel Hendre, Llandybie parish , this was destroyed in 1915.
In the C17 and C18 enclosures and encroachments were made both secretly and openly, usually by the process of squatting on unclaimed waste and common land.
At Llandybie, Phillip Vaughan added five acres of the mountain common called Mynydd Mawr to his tenement.
The Llandyfan Ironworks
The village of Llandyfan is situated a little to the north-east of Llandebie. Here, there were good supplies of timber, coal, iron-ore, and limestone---the essentials of the iron industry. In the old records, the word is variously written as Lannovaine, Llandyfane, and Llandyfaen. The forge is situated about half a mile to the east of Llandyfan. Not far from the forge, to the south-east, the Loughor river has its source in Llygad Llychwr on the western side of the Black Mountains. A small stream, Nant Gwythwch, joins the Loughor just where the forge is located, at an elevation of 500 feet. The general scenery is that of wide moorland, marshy in the higher levels, with numerous springs. Forge Mill farm is nearby, with a ford and a weir. The place-names in the locality suggest certain types of woodland, e.g. Pantymangoed (dingle of stunted trees), and these are above the 700 foot contour. Limestone quarries are numerous in the Gwythwch valley to the north-east, and near Carreg Dwfn Mountain to the north -west. A highland road passes the forge from Llandyfan to Llandilo. The Llandyfan forge produced on a small scale ; in 1750, 100 tons of bar-iron were produced. During the Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the 19th century, large quantities of armaments were produced. The processes of bar-iron manufacture at this forge show that they were similar to those at the other ironworks in the county. The pig-iron was brought from the furnace nearby, and alternately heated and hammered. The heating was done in the finery---an open hearth fed with charcoal, and furnished with bellows. The pig-iron was then placed under a big hammer worked by a water-wheel and beaten into a thick square or half "bloom." The same process was repeated and the result was known as a "bloom"---a square bar with knobs at either end. These knobs were reheated and hammered and were finally turned into bars. The whole process was lengthy and laborious and all the work was done at the forge.
An inventory of stock taken at the forge in 1799 shows the amount of material left over at the end of the year. In addition to these accounts there are references to sacks of charcoal, barrowas, anvils, hammers, bellows, and stocks of timber such as oak, ash, deal, and sycamore.
A Llandybie man
John Fisher [ 1862-1930] was born in Llandybie, educated at Llandovery and St David's College, Lampter, and ordained deacon in 1885. He held various posts st St Asaph , in 1927 he was made chancellor of the diocese.
Apart from his church work and diocesan responsibilities he won eminence as a Welsh scholar and antiquary. He was also secretary of the Cambrian Archaeological Association. His greatest monument is the Lives of the British Saints written in conjunction with S.Baring-Gould.
The Unitarian congregation at Llandyfaen in 1833 numbered 100, of whom 35/40 were "members". They met in a building which was church of England property, probably a chapel of ease. In 1838 the church authorities wanted the building for their own use and the Unitarians had to go a long way off, they built a chapel at Onnen Fawr.
The original leader here , Moses Williams, had reverted to Baptist orthodoxy and was succeeded by John Griffiths, a tailor in Llandybie. After Griffiths there was a succession of preachers, including Titus Evans, but the " congregation died" about 1888, acccording to one witness before the Royal Commission on the Church in Wales, because people " could not be induced to climb the steep hill". The meeting house became a dwelling and there is no burial ground.
Woollen and related industries
A perusal of local records shows that during the C18 there are references to weavers in Llandybie in 1746, 1751 and 1811.
Clothiers also appear in Llandybie in 1760.
Anthracite coal and lime industries
After 1800, anthracite coal was used to a greater extent for lime burning, the canals and tram-roads brought the coal and limestone of the Llandebie and Gwendraeth areas to the ports.
An interesting survival of this practice was the export of Llandebie lime to South Africa via Llanelly for the purpose of sugar refining at the close of the c19.
In the C18 and early C19 lime remained the most popular and cheapest manure, in the words of one visitor " the Welsh seem to know the use and value of lime better than the English "[Mavor]. Carmarthenshire was fortunate in its abundance of lime, there were kilns dotted all over the countryside.........including at Llandybie.
There were "Friends" at Llandybie although not mentioned after c 1790.
Road maintenance/local rates
In the C18, the brunt of the burden of maintaining the roads fell on the shoulders of the inhabitants of the parish. For instance, a rate of £5 was collected in 1735 in Llandebie towards repairing the highway.
In the aftermath of the Blue Book reports of 1846-7 a Mr Longueville Jones, Inspector for Church Schools in Wales , in his report of 1849/50 noted that a new Church school had arisen in Llandybie.
In early medieval terms Carmarthenshire was made up of Ystrad Tywi [without Gower], Emlyn Uch Cuch and Y Cantref Gwarthaf[without Efelffre]. At some point pre the Norman conquest Ystrad Tywi itself was divided into Y Cantref Mawr and Y Cantref Bychan.
About the time of the Norman conquest, Cantref Bychan was divided into three commotes, Hirfryn, Perfedd and Is Cennen. The latter stretched along the south bank of the Towy and was made up of the parishes of Llanddarog, Llanarthney, Llanfihangel Aberbythych, Llandybie and Betws, with the townships of Glyn Aman, Bryn y Beirdd, Pentre Cwn, Trecastell and Tregib, in the parish of Llandilo
Roman coins found in Llandybie parish ;
1. Near Llandyfan ; In a quarry. A hoard of coins "of the Lower Empire".
2.Near Garn ; In a limestone cave. Coin of Maximanius [? 286-305 AD]
Standing Stones and Stone Circles
There is a standing stone at Pen-y-coed Maen Hir, Llandybie
There seem to have been but two monuments in the county that could be classed as megalithic circles, and these are almost completely destroyed. The one known as "Y Naw Carreg" or The Nine Stones is situated about half a mile west of the village of Capel Hendre in Llandybie parish. It was a small circle about 60 feet in diameter, none of the stones are now standing . When the site was examined in 1915 there were found to be fourteen holes although there could only have been nine stones when the site obtained its name. The age of the circle is uncertain.
Folklore and custom centred around this circle, it is said that it was usual for young people to assemble at Y Naw Carreg on a Sunday about midsummer to count the stones , which was supposed to be an impossible task. Similar customs are associated with stone circles in other parts of the country.
The Later Middle Ages
"Near the castle of Carregcennen were the demesne lands of the maerdref of its former arglwydd.........the commote west and south of the demesne and forest lands was divided into maenors. Maenors Vouwen and Gryngar, bordering on Kidwelly commote, corresponded roughly to the ancient ecclesiastical parishes of Llanarthney and Llanddarog; Maenors Llys and Methennich to Llanfihangel Aberbythych and Llandybie; and, 'between Amman River and the lordship of Gower, bounded by Cathau brook and Lle'r Castell' was Maenor Bettws or Stryveland."