Aberllynfi Settlement to 1750
Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust Historic Settlements
Survey - Brecknock
Aberllynfi is an elongated linear settlement sited within the
flood plain of the Wye valley adjacent to its tributary, the Afon
Llynfi. The modern settlement lies at the junction of the A438
and A4079 roads.
This brief report examines its emergence and development up to
1750. For the more recent history of the settlement, it will be
necessary to look at other sources of information and particularly
at the origins and nature of the buildings within it.
The accompanying map is offered as an indicative guide to the
historic settlement. The continuous line defining the historic
core offers a visual interpretation of the area within which the
settlement developed, based on our interpretation of the evidence
currently to hand. It is not an immutable boundary line, and may
need to be modified as new discoveries are made. The map does
not show those areas or buildings that are statutorily designated,
nor does it pick out those sites or features that are specifically
mentioned in the text.
We have not referenced the sources that have been examined to
produce this report, but that information will be available in
the Historic Environment Record (HER) maintained by the Clwyd-Powys
Archaeological Trust. Numbers in brackets are primary record numbers
used in the HER to provide information that is specific to individual
sites and features. These can be accessed on-line through the
Archwilio website (www.archwilio.org.uk).
Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey®
on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2009.
All rights reserved. Welsh Assembly Government. Licence number
History of development
There is evidence for both Iron Age and Roman settlement at
Aberllynfi (centred on the hillfort of Aberllynfi Gaer), though
neither is necessarily connected with the presumed area ofmedieval
settlement (examined here) nor the modern village at Three Cocks.
The presence of medieval settlement here has yet to be established
but could have been centred on the castle and church to the north-west
of the present village, although both sites have long been abandoned
and there is now no surviving evidence of habitation from that
The earliest reference is from 1234 when it is recorded as Abberlenevy,
with the straightforward meaning of ‘the mouth of the river
Llynfi’. It was regularly mentioned in medieval documents
with minor variations in the form of the name, and has been identified
as one of the English knights fees during the 14th century. The
post-medieval focus of the settlement appears to have shifted
slightly to the south-east to Three Cocks on the main A438 road.
This was presumably during the 18th century, once Aberllynfi church
fell into disuse, and as the Hay to Brecon road grew in importance.
The first mention of the Three Cocks Inn was in 1754, and it is
quite possible that this was the earliest building on the main
The Heritage to 1750
Aberllynfi Gaer, a scheduled ancient monument (494; SAM B159)
is a small multivallateearthwork enclosure; typical of Iron Age
hillforts in the region. Small-scale excavations in 1951 indicated
that this site had had a long use, with evidence of Neolithic
activity (which Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust Historic Settlements
Survey - Brecknock www.cpat.org.uk pre-dated the hillfort), and
also Roman reuse of the site. Other signs of Roman activity have
come from Gwernyfed Park to the south of the Gaer. Aberllynfi
castle, also a scheduled ancient monument (513; SAM B80), is a
typical medieval motte and bailey, though the bailey has been
all but destroyed. Aberllynfi is generally assumed to be the castle
that changed hands several times in 1233. The site of St Eigon's
church (527) stands some 50m south-east of the castle and is now
barely visible in an area of open low lying riverside pasture.
The precise nature and plan of the building is not entirely clear,
but it is a reasonable assumption that the stone-walled ruin
(some 20m by 8m) standing on the traditional site is the church.
If this is the case then the church was probably a simple, two-celled
building, perhaps originally a chapel to the castle, and has subsequently
assumed the role of a village church though there is no churchyard.
Glasbury church register records marriages and baptisms at Aberllynfi
up until 1695 and it appears to have gone out of use soon afterwards,
though a date as late as 1731 has been proposed. There are antiquarian
stories of monuments to the Williams’ family of Gwernyfed
in the church. Possibly the area around the church and the castle
contained some form of medieval settlement, although no obvious
remains now survive. The most likely areas are probably to the
south and west of the castle. Whether there was such settlement
here, however, has yet to be determined.
Great House Farm (9266) is a ruinous building, lying south of
the castle, which probably dates from the 18th century and is
of considerable local architectural interest. It is sited within
semi-landscaped grounds (now comprising neglected orchard and
woodland), and it is possible that any trace of medieval settlement
in this area may have been removed by these features.
The Three Cocks Hotel (20815) is stated to be a 16th or 17th-century
coaching inn. Otherwise there are no buildings at Three Cocks
obviously earlier than the 18th century, while the mill buildings
(2988) and a barn (2989) adjacent to that building probably date
from that century. These support the general contention that this
part of Aberllynfi is merely the post-medieval re-location of