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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Uplands Initiative Elenydd (North) Archaeological Survey (Part One)





Uplands Initiative Elenydd (North)
Archaeological Survey (Part One)


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Mae ardal astudiaeth Gogledd Elenydd yn ardal sy’n ymestyn dros 19.51 cilomedr sgwâr ac yn ffurfio tua thraean o ardal ehangach ym mryniau canolbarth Cymru a archwiliwyd gan Trysor yn ystod haf a hydref 2009. Ceir adroddiadau ar wahân ar gyfer ardaloedd Canol Elenydd a De Elenydd. Cariwyd y gwaith allan gyda chymorth ariannol Comisiwn Brenhinol ar Henebion Cymru, fel rhan o brosiect Menter yr Ucheldiroedd.

Gorwedd y rhan fwyaf o ardal astudiaeth Gogledd Elenydd ar ddwy ochr rhan uchaf Dyffryn Elan, rhwng Pont ar Elan a tharddle’r afon yng Nghors Lwyd, yng nghornel gogledd-orllewin hen Sir Faesyfed. Yn ystod y Canol Oesoedd, roedd yr ardal yn rhan o Gwmwd Deuddwr, un o ystadau abaty Ystrad Fflur, Ceredigion. Maes o law, roedd yr hen ystâd fynachaidd wedi dod yn rhan o Ystâd Cwm Elan, yn nwylo preifat. Hyd at y 19eg ganrif, roedd cornel uchaf Gogledd Elenydd yn syrthio fewn plwyf Llangurig, Sir Maldwyn, yr unig ran o hen arglwyddiaeth Arwystli oedd ym meddiant mynachod Ystrad Fflur yn y Canol Oesoedd. Unwyd yr ardal i gyd o fewn Sir Faesyfed, ac yna Sir Powys yn ystod y 20fed ganrif.

Ardal hollol wledig ei naws yw Gogledd Elenydd hyd heddiw, ymhell o drefi a phentrefi’r canolbarth, gyda dim ond ychydig o ffermydd o fewn ei ffiniau. Y pentrefi agosaf yw Llangurig, 4km i’r gogledd, Cwm Elan, 7km i’r de-ddwyrain a Chwmystwyth, tua’r un pellter i’r gorllewin, tra bod tref Rhaeadr Gwy rhyw 8km i’r dwyrain. Er hynny, nid yw Gogledd Elenydd yn anghysbell, oherwydd ei leoliad ym mlaenau Dyffryn Elan. Mae’r ffordd rhwng Rhaeadr Gwy a Chwmystwyth yn rhedeg ar hyd rhannau uchaf y dyffryn tra bod ffordd arall yn cysylltu Pont ar Elan â llynnoedd Elan i’r de, sy’n golygu bod hon yn ardal hynod boblogaidd gydag ymwelwyr ar hyd y flwyddyn.

Daeth y rhan fwyaf o’r ardal yn eiddo i Gorfforaeth Birmingham yn ystod yr 1890au, pan roddwyd hawl iddynt, drwy ddeddf gwlad, i feddiannu dyffrynnoedd Elan a Chlaerwen, a’r tiroedd cyfagos, er mwyn creu Ystâd Elan a llynnoedd enwog Dyffryn Elan. Hyd heddiw mae’r rhan fwyaf o Ogledd Elenydd o dan rheolaeth yr Ystâd, sydd bellach yn cael ei rheoli gan Dŵr Cymru.

Cofnodwyd 238 o safleoedd ac olion archaeolegol gan yr arolwg maes, y rhan fwyaf yn safleoedd a nodwyd am y tro gyntaf. Ymhlith prif ganfyddiadau’r arolwg maes oedd nifer o garneddau claddu sy’n dyddio Oes yr Efydd ac olion cytiau hirion oedd ar un amser yn cael eu defnyddio gan ffermwyr a bugeiliaid wrth warchod eu preiddiau ar fryniau’r ardal. Mae’r cofnod archaeolegol, fodd bynnag, yn cael ei dominyddu gan safleoedd sy’n dyddio i’r cyfnodau ôl-ganoloesol a modern. Mae hyn yn cynnyws olion o’r diwydiant torri mawn; rhaid cofio mai mawn oedd y prif danwydd a ddefnyddid yn yr fro hyd at diwedd y 19eg ganrif. Mae cyfres niferus o bostiau concrît yn brawf o ddylanwad Ystâd Elan yn ystod y 20fed ganrif, a gwelir olion maes tanio milwrol ar y bryniau uwchben Pont ar Elan yn ogystal.

Er bod yr ardal yn hynod atyniadol, ychydig iawn o gerddwyr sy’n mentro allan i’r bryniau. Mae’r ardal yn cael ei gyfrif fel un o’r ardaloedd mwyaf anghysbell a thawel yng Nghymru. Y llynnoedd sydd yn denu ymwelwyr i’r fro yn anad dim, ond fe all hynny newid yn y dyfodol, gyda’r cynnydd parhaol mewn poblogrwydd cerdded a beicio mynydd. Felly, bydd y cofnod cyflawn o olion archaeolegol yr ardal a grëwyd gan y prosiect hwn yn gymorth i ddiogelu’r olion archaeolegol brau sy’n cynrychioli miloedd o flynyddoedd o weithgarwch dynol ym mynyddoedd Elenydd.


Summary
The Elenydd (North) study area extends across some 19.51km2 and forms about one third of a larger area surveyed in the Cambrian Mountains by Trysor during the summer and autumn of 2009. Separate reports have been prepared for the surveys of Elenydd (South) and Elenydd (Central). The projects were undertaken with grant-aid from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales, as part of their Uplands Initiative project.

The study area is focused on the hills flanking the upper reaches of the Elan Valley, between Pont ar Elan and the source of the river at Gors Lwyd, in the northwestern corner of the historic county of Radnorshire. During medieval times, the area was part of Cwmwd Cwmdeuddwr, one of the granges of Strata Florida abbey, Ceredigion. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the old monastic grange was transformed into the private Cwm Elan estate. Until the 19th century, the most north-westerly corner of Elenydd (North) fell within Llangurig parish, in the historic county of Montgomeryshire, which had been the only part of the medieval lordship of Arwystli possessed by the monks of Strata Florida. The whole area was united into the old county of Radnorshire, and later Powys, during the 20th century.

Elenydd (North) has remained wholly agricultural in character to the present day, far from the villages and towns of mid-Wales and with only a small number of farmsteads within its boundaries. The nearest villages are Llangurig, 4km to the north, Elan Village, 7km to the southeast, and Cwmystwyth, a similar distance to the west. The town of Rhayader lies 8km to the east. Despite this, Elenydd (North) is not remote, due to its location in the upper Elan Valley. The main road from Rhayader to Cwmystwyth passes along the valley, and a second road connects Pont ar Elan with the area of the Elan reservoirs to the south, which means that the area is popular with visitors throughout the year. Most of the area came into the ownership of the Birmingham Corporation during the 1890s, when they were granted permission, by Act of Parliament, to purchase the Elan and Claerwen valleys and adjacent lands to create the Elan Estate and the famous Elan Valley reservoirs. Over a century later, most of Elenydd (North) is still managed by the Elan Estate, which is now under the control of Welsh Water.

The field survey recorded 238 archaeological sites in the area, most of which were noted for the first time. Amongst the most significant discoveries were a number of Bronze Age funerary cairns and the remains of huts, which were once used by shepherds tending their flocks on the mountain pastures of the area. The record is dominated by post medieval and modern archaeology, including evidence for the once important peat cutting industry; peat was of course the main source of domestic fuel in the district until the end of the 19th century. Features such as a large number of boundary posts show the influence of the Elan Estate during the 20th century, whilst the target area of an early 20th century artillery range can be seen on the hills above Pont ar Elan.

Elenydd (North) is an outstandingly beautiful area but, surprisingly, is rarely frequented by walkers; most visitors to the area keep to the road. The area is considered to be amongst the most remote and undisturbed in Wales. The Elan Valley lakes, more than anything, ensure that many visitors do pass through the area, and it is not impossible that the continuing rise in popularity for outdoor pursuits such as walking and mountain biking may yet have an impact on Elenydd (North). It is hoped that the complete record of archaeological features created by this project will help protect the fragile evidence of human activity in the area and enable an increased understanding of the history and development of this special landscape.

Related Uplands Archaeology Links:
Read in full: Uplands Initiative Elenydd (North) Archaeological Survey (Part One) (PDF file, 6.4MB)
The Uplands Archaeology Initiative Royal Commission Website
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