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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.

Here is a list of the book's contents and contributors.

Woodlands and highwaymen

Even up to the beginning of the C18, Carmarthenshire had immense tracts of woodland. During that century however, two economic factors combined to threaten the existence of these woodlands. The first was the demand for timber from the coal mining industry in south east CMN, and the establishment of iron and tin works and lead mines which all used timber.The second was that bark and timber had become important items exported from Carmarthen, the timber being needed to build ships  for the Napoleanic Wars. The county was in some places completely denuded of its trees.
Fenton observes that a tremendous amount of timber had been cut down during the last 40 years of the C18 and that about 1780 there had been an extensive wooden tract near Llanybydder which had served as the refuge of highwaymen.

Independent meeting houses

Archbishop Tenison's report of 1710 mentions " the existence of [Independent dissenting] meeting houses in the parishes of Cynwyl Elfed , Cynwyl Gaeo, Llanybydder and Pencarreg but there is doubt whether there  necessarily existed actual chapel buildings as such at that time. There were thought to be about a dozen Independent chapels dotted over the county in 1715.


Daniel Rowland preached at Abergorlech in 1741, the latter was a chapel of ease to the distant church of Llanybydder.In 1744 a Monthly Meeting at Abergorlech is found petitioning the bishop not to carry out his threat to deprive the Methodists of the chapel.

The greater number of Carmarthenshire Methodist Societies were under Daniel Rowland as "Moderator", with William Williams as his coadjutor. Under them, James Williams of Lampeter took a group in the north of the county, including Llanybydder.

Medieval divisions

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 Mawr was divided into the seven commotes of Mallaen, Caeo, Maenor Deilo, Cetheiniog, Widigada, Mabelfyw and Mabudrud.

The commote of Mabelfyw comprised the parishes of Pencarreg and Llanybydder with the hamlet of Fforest in the parish of Llanycrwys.

Ancient battle ground

Lord Rhys [ Rhys ap Gruffydd] dominated South Wales for a great part of the C12 , in the reign of Henry II. In 1159, during the King's absence in France , he made a general attack on the castles of Dyfed , and in particular laid siege to the King's stronghold at Carmarthen.A large force was sent to lift  the siege and drove Rhys into the highlands of Cantref Mawr. Here the Welsh host took up position on the mountain styled in Brut  y Tywysogion " Cefn Rhestr Main" a name which signifies " The Ridge of the Stone Row" so that the battleground is easily identified with the site of the stone alignment which is still traceable on Mynydd Llanybydder.


You are incorrect in locating at Llanybydder the site of Cefn Rhestr Main, the place where Arglwydd Rhys established himself when pursued by the Anglo-Norman army in 1159. In fact the location is to the west of Pencader, on a hillside that has a row of ancient stones (Llanybydder mountain's stones are NOT in such a clear and definite row) and an earthwork known as Caer Rhys, which archeologists believe was a temporary earthwork thrown up in a hurry. Earlier historians have indeed guessed this site to be near Llanybydder, but they did not know about the Pencader site.

[Steve Dubé]

Pennant Forest

Hunting and falconry have their place in the Welsh Laws, which define the royal prerogatives in the chase. They contain no suggestion of the setting apart of certain districts to be preserved as forests .Cantref Mawr, the northern uplands of the county, was the last of the Welsh lordships to be absorbed by the English, and within a few years of its absorption  the uplands of the Cothi Valley  were afforested, and Glyncothi and Pennant Forests were removed from the commote administrations of Mabelfyw and Caeo and placed under forest law, and a forester who held court four times a year.

Pennant Forest was situated in the parishes of Llanfihangel Rhosycorn, Llanybydder and Llanycryws.

The mill of Brechfa comes under the forest in an early record [c 1300] but at later dates the mills mentioned are Glyndachwen near Abergorlech , and Pwll-cymbyd in Llanybydder.

Roman road

It is likely that a road connected the Roman forts at Carmarhen and Llanio, and its line probably that of the present road running northwards through Llanybydder to the vicinity of Lampeter. Parts of this are known as Sarn Elen, and the actual Roman surface is said to have been seen on more than one occasion in Llanybydder parish. A gold coin of Arcadius was found " lying on the pitched surface of the road" in 1912.

Gareth Hicks