Elenydd and the Cambrian Mountains
Extracts about the people who lived and worked on Elenydd
The Elenydd mountains
A sheep-walk belonging to the Great Abbey Farm
Elenydd is the largest and the most remote area in the Cambrian Mountains. The east side of the range runs down into the Wye valley and the English speaking Boarder counties. In contrast, the west facing hills extend out gently into the Welsh speaking heartland of Ceredigion. It is on this side of Elenydd that the village of Pontrhydfendigaid stands – in the foothills, near to the source of the river Teifi and the remains of the celebrated abbey of Strata Florida.
In times gone by, life in this tiny sheltered corner of Ceredigion was inextricably bound and moulded by the closeness of Elenydd’s wild expansive landscape. For centuries, the local inhabitants clung doggedly to long-
“Mountains are the barriers against change. Wherever there are mountains you will find old memories, old beliefs, old habits, and unaltered ways.”
Indeed, when those words were written, change in this small Elenydd enclave was slow and continuous and the past was still a reliable guide to the future. The social structure was essentially long-
However, following the end of World War II, advances in science and technology led, inevitably, to a gradual breakdown in the old established social order. Mountains were no longer a barrier to change and life in this litltle secluded hamlet was transformed for ever. It ceased to be remote and insulated, and bit by bit it became totally absorbed into the wider community – it was the end of generations of geographical and cutural isolationism. Elenydd itself is no longer ‘off-
Pobl mynydd taken from ‘Gwyllt Diroedd Ceredigion’ by D. Davies, Ton, Cymru, 1912
The history of Pontrhydfendigaid is closely interwoven with that of Elenydd and with the people who lived and worked on Elenydd’s isolated moorlands. Before the post-
The typical home for a sheperding family on Elenydd comprised a house (tŷ byw), a few outbuildings (tai allan) and one or two adjacent fields set in a vast tract of an unenclosed moorland sheep-
Life on these mountain farms in the early part of the last century (I.e. within living memory) has been ably described by many authors . Hugh Jones in his book entitled ‘Bugail Olaf y Cwm’ (The Last Shepherd of the Valley) recalls how:
Sixty years ago the Tywi Valley, high above Tregaron, was a thriving community of sheep farmers. Seven farms maintained over two dozen people, and thousands of sheep grazed the mountain slopes.
It is not intended here to add in anyway to what has already been written about life on these farms during that particular period Neither is there any intention to include any in-
Charles Arch, Byw dan y Bwa, Gwasg Gwynedd, Caernarfon (2005)
Erwyd Howells, Good Men and True, Erwyd Howells, Capel Madog, Aberystwyth (2005).
Hugh Jones, Bugail Olaf y Cwm, Gwasg Garreg Gwalch, Llanrwst (2007).
Evan Jones, Cymdogaeth Soar-
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