Key historic landscape characteristics
The area occupies predominantly south-facing, gently
undulating low hills to the north of the Wye, between a height of
between 100-210m above Ordnance Datum, and broken by occasional
steep-sided stream valleys. There are remnants of ancient semi-natural
broad-leaved woodland on steep banks at Sgylas Wood and along steep-sided
streams near Lower Skynlais and Cilgwyn, and in the valley north
of Cwmbach, as well as several small modern conifer plantations.
The soils are mostly well-drained fine reddish loams (Milford Series)
overlying the sandstone bedrock. Modern land-use is largely pasture,
with some fodder crops. A strip of Common Land north of Cwmbach
links the lowlands with the upland grazing on Ffynnon Gynydd Common
to the north.
Settlement within the area is characterized by
dispersed medium-sized farms up to about 1.5m apart on hilltops.
Several of these have their origins in the medieval and later medieval
period, such as Upper Skynlais farmhouse which originated as a medieval
timber winged hall-house remodelled and given stone rubble walls
in the 17th century. There are a number of late 19th- to earlier
20th-century smallholdings in the area, with brick farmhouses and
small corrugated iron barns.
The agricultural landscape is dominated by small
to medium-sized irregularly-shaped fields, often with boundaries
set out along or across the contour. Many of the field boundaries
on steeper ground have low banks and lynchets, indicating the greater
prevalence of ploughing in the past. Most of the field boundaries
are accompanied by robust, low-cut and occasionally laid multi-species
hedges including hazel, ash and elder. Many of the farms, houses
and cottages in the area were associated with orchards in the 19th
century, of which some traces survive. The possible remains of fishponds
of uncertain date are represented by earthworks north of Cwmbach,
near Fishpond Wood.
The straighter road between Glasbury and Boughrood
which forms the southern boundary of the area is a turnpike road
of the later 18th and earlier 19th centuries. The twisting roads
and green lanes on the hills are probably mostly of medieval origin,
some forming distinct hollow-ways up to 2m deep, formed by erosion
before the introduction of metalled road surfaces, some of which
are revetted with drystone walling.
Few traces of former industry are represented within the character
area, though there are a number of small scattered stone quarries
for building stone.
Powys Sites and Monuments Record;
Soil Survey 1983;
Sothern & Drewett 1991
For further information please contact the Clwyd-Powys
Archaeological Trust at this address,
or link to the Countryside Council for Wales'
web site at www.ccw.gov.uk.