Begwyns is a large upland area and encompasses a wild and rolling
landscape of common land situated north of Ffynnon-Gynydd and south
of Painscastle. It rises to 415 m at the Begwyns Round Barrow (
contained in the summit Roundabout ) and falls away to a low point
of some 270 m to the NW. The whole area of 1292.98 acres had been
owned for a long period by the Maesllwch Estate before being gifted
to the National Trust by Major G. W. F. De Winton on the 7th July
1992. Since this time the National Trust has been overseeing and
surveying the area on a continuing basis. Alongside this both the
farmers and the National Trust have been and are developing a working
relationship regarding the management and preservation of the Begwyns
The underlying rocks are silurian shales and mudstones to the north,
merging to old red sandstones in the south and the area is complicated
with some latterday glacial drifts due to the ice sheets overspilling
from the main Wye Glacier. There are a few natural mawn pools which
can dry up during the summer months and some small recently created
pools which cater for the animals grazing the common. There is one
large pond, the Monks Pond, which has been enlarged in recent times
to provide a reliable year long water supply for the Perthiduon
farm. The vegetation is mainly rough grassland and bracken, with
a fair scattering of cotton grass, gorse and some resilient hawthorn
trees. There are also some heather patches in the more peaty area
by the two mawn pools to the west of the Roundabout.
The farms surrounding the Begwyns have possessed
varying common rights since medieval times depending on their deeds.
These are in the main pasturage, estovers and common in the soil
and the farmers themselves have mutually exercised and managed these
rights over the ensuing period. At a practicing level the rights
refer to the grazing of sheep, ponies and cattle, along with the
cutting and gathering of bracken for winter bedding on the surrounding
farms. There has also been selective quarrying of rock and the shales
over a long period, some of this being used for building purposes
and some to improve the various trackways where necessary. It is
worth noting that both the farmers and the National Trust have been
and are developing a working relationship regarding the management
and preservation of the area.
There is abundant physical evidence that the
Begwyns have been occupied by man during prehistoric times and
some indications for the medieval period, although at present
nothing has been discovered to suggest an occupation by the Romans.
There is also post medieval evidence of agricultural and wartime
activities, latterday quarrying and the creation / improvement
of access tracks and footpaths.
Within the Roundabout lies the Begwyns Round
Cairn, probably of the Bronze Age and a burial mounds of some
11m in diameter which has been much abused over the years by grazing
animals, human traffic and tree planting. It is now a Scheduled
Ancient Monument (S.A.M.) with a protected area of 22m in diameter.
Other S.A.M.'s of note are as follows : -
The Maesgwyn Round Barrow - GR 164 436
This is a grass covered barrow of some 19.5m in diameter and 1.6m
high. The protected area is 26m in diameter
The Bailey Bedw Ring Cairn - GR 165 442
This is a well constructed ring and possibly a
burial cairn. It is 7m across and encircled by a stony bank up to
3m wide and 1m high. The protected area is a circle of 15m radius.
The Begwyns Standing Stone - GR 153 450
( Possible Prehistoric standing stone )
This is a large split stone of just over a metre
high and a metre wide. It is nearly 0.5m thick and has a 8m diameter
Along with 11 other lesser sites the four above
are considered to be of the Bronze Age and all but one, the Maesgwyn
Round Cairn, are located in the northern half of the Begwyns.
The reason(s) for this are not fully understood and could be topographical,
geological or to do with the climate at the time, which was decidedly
During the surveying of these sites a number
of flint artefacts were found, these being four flint scrapers
and three small fragments of flake debris. The size and knapping
on the scrappers would suggest an early Bronze Age date
This site is an extensive one with several earth
platforms. There are supporting stone foundations, of rectangular
long huts and a number of small attached enclosures. There is
also a series of larger enclosures defined by earth banks.
The protected area for the site is 400 x 600 mtrs.
There are a few other possible medieval sites as yet unconfirmed
( 2014 ) and they all occur in the northern half of the Begwyns.
This may be due to climate or topography or a combination of these
and other factors.
Post Medieval to Contemporary
The common rights ( mainly pasturage, estovers and common in
the soil ) have been in use since medieval times on the Begwyns
and during this period there have been improvements to existing
roads and trackways, a particular example being the road from
Ffynnon-Gynydd over to Painscastle, once a well worn ancient trackway
- as witnessed by the very high roadside hedges - and now a fully
metalled 'C' class road.
Other well used grassland tracks have been modified and consolidated
with the quarried shales and some ditches have been crossed by
'Clapper Bridges' as the one at GR 149443. This ditch was possibly
used to drain the area of the two mawn pools above the bridge
in order to improve the grazing. This .area is shown on the 1832/33
OS map as being one large lake ( similar in size to the Monks
pond ) and is still quite boggy during the winter months when
water egresses out of the now shallower ditch.
December 3rd 2014
Amended October 23rd 2017
" Wales ", A
Physical, Historical and Regional Geography. Edited by E.
G. Bowen, M. A. F.S.A.
National Trust archival material and reports.
Mr Paul Greenow
Mr Fred Lloyd
Mr A A Nicholls of Croesfeilliog
Mr Aubrey Price of Llwynpenderi
Other local farmers
Photographs - B. Bowker