Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for RADNORSHIRE, or Radnor

RADNORSHIRE, or Radnor, an inland county of South Wales; bounded, on the N W and the N, by Montgomeryshire; on the N E, by Salop; on the E, by Herefordshire; on the S and the S W, by Breconshire; on the W, by Cardiganshire. Its boundary with Salop is tracedby the river Teme; with Brecon and part of Hereford, by the river Wye. Its greatest length, from E to W, is about 36 miles; its greatest breadth is about 30 miles; it circuit is about 120 miles; and its area is 272, 128acres. The south-eastern parts are comparatively level; but the other parts are prevailingly hilly and mountain-ous. The highest ground is Whimble hill, in Radnorforest, 2, 163 feet high; and other summits are 1,850, 1, 750, 1, 650, and 1, 550 feet high. The scenery includes several very striking spots; but, in general, cannot becalled picturesque: yet, on the whole, exhibits a certainpeculiarity of character. The hills and mountains, for the most part, are massive, rounded, and green; and theycombine with the intersecting vales and the south-easterntracts, to suggest a grand idea of pastoral life. The chief streams, besides the Teme and the Wye, are the Elan, the Ithon, the Edw, the Bachwy, the Arw, the Somergill, the Marteg, and the Clywedog. The chieflakes are Llanbychllyn, Llyn-Gwyn, and Llyn-Glanhillin; and the first is only about 1½ mile in circuit. Mineralsprings are at Llandrindod, Llandegla, Penybont, Llan-anno, Llanbadarn, Fynydd, and Llanbister; and some of them possess high medicinal value, and are supposed toowe it to the decomposition of iron pyrites and otherminerals at intersections of stratified rocks with trap. Silurian rocks occupy much the larger portion of theentire area; old red sandstone occupies a considerabletract in the S E; a very fine mass of altered and crystal-line limestone occurs at Nash Scar; and trap of peculiarand very interesting character forms a ridge of about 3 miles along the Stanner, the Worzel, and the Hanterhills, and another of about 1½ mile in length in Old Radnor hill. Limestone is worked in the vale of Radnor; lead has been found at Cwm-Elan; and traces oflead and copper are at Llandrindod.

The soils, for the most part, are thin and poor; but, in the best tracts, in the vales and on other low grounds, are clayey, with some admixture of loam. Only about one-fourth of the entire area is under tillage; and about two-thirds are mountain, bog, and waste. while nearly two-thirds are unenclosed. The hills are plentifullystocked with game; and, according to Leland, they once abounded with wild deer. Ancient forests covered vasttracts, yet have left scarcely a vestige; but modern plantations now clothe the sides of many of the vales. The crops raised on the arable lands are chiefly barley, oats, rye, pease, and clover; and the live stock fed on the pastures are chiefly small sheep of from 8 to 10 lbs. thequarter, cattle of the Hereford breed, and small, active, hardy ponies. Manufactures embrace little more thanordinary artificerships and the home-spinning of coarsewoollens. The Knighton and Central Wales railway traverses the county by way of Knuckles, Llangunllo, Dolan, Penybont, and Llandrindod; the Mid-Wales railway traverses it through Rhayader; and the Lugg Valley railway, in course of formation in 1868, traversesit from Presteigne to Llangunllo. The aggregate ofpaved streets and turnpike roads, in 1815, was only 76 miles; and of all other highways used for wheeled carriages, 410 miles.

The county contains 48 parishes, and parts of 4 others; and is divided into the hundreds of Cefnllys, Colwyn, Knighton, Painscastle, Radnor, and Rhayader. The act of 1844, for consolidating detached parts of counties, transferred Litton and Cascob township from Hereford to Radnor, and part of Glasbury parish from Radnor to Brecon. The registration county gives off 19 parishes orparochial chapelries to Brecon; takes in 1 parish from Brecon, 4 parishes and part of another from Salop, and 14 and parts of 2 others from Hereford; comprises 307, 987 acres; and is divided into the districts of Presteigne, Knighton, and Rhayader. The market-towns are Presteigne, Knighton, and Rhayader; and the chief seatsare Abbey-cwm-Hir, Boultibrook, Evenjobb, Harpton, Cwm-Elan, Disserth Castle, Hoyadd, Knill Court, Llanelwedd, Maeslough, Norton, Penybont, Penycerig, and Stannage. The county is governed by a lord lieutenant and high sheriff; is in the home military district and the South Wales judicial circuit; and, as to Knighton, Norton, New Radnor, Old Radnor, and part of Presteigne parishes, is in the diocese of Hereford, asto all the rest, is in the diocese of St. Davids. The assizes and the quarter sessions are held at Presteigne. The police force, in 1864, comprised 16 men, at an annualcost of £1, 341. The crimes committed in 1864 were 65; the persons apprehended, 43; the depredators and suspected persons at large, 24; the houses of bad character, 21. The county jail is at Presteigne, and a borough jailis in New Radnor. One member is sent to parliamentby the New Radnor group of boroughs, and one by therest of the county. Electors of the boroughs, in 1833, 529, in 1863, 350; of the rest of the county, in 1833, 1,046, in 1863, 1, 599. Real property in 1815, £99, 717; in 1843, £128, 986; in 1860, £149, 969, of which £163were in quarries, £10 in fisheries, and £30 in gas-works. Pop. in 1801, 19, 135; in 1821, 22, 533; in 1841, 25, 458; in 1861, 25, 382. Inhabited houses, 4, 688; uninhabited, 156; building, 19. Pop. of the registration county in 1851, 31, 425; in 1861, 32, 866. Inhabited houses, 6, 265; uninhabited, 181; building, 22.

The territory now forming Radnorshire was inhabited by the ancient British Silures; was included, by the Romans, in their Britannia Secunda; formed part of Ferregs in the kingdom of Powis; and was not made acounty till the time of Henry VIII. The great families of Mortimer and De Braos gained footing in it soon after the Norman conquest; and Llewelyn the Great figured in it in his last days. British camps are at Gaer, Llan-fihangel-Mellyn, and Wapley; and there are some carneddau. A Roman camp is at Cwm-Collen; and Romanroads went thence to Carmarthen and Brecon. Offa'sdyke enters, from the N, near Knighton; and runs along the E border. Old castles were at Cymaron, New Radnor, Aberedwy, Painscastle, and Boughrood; and anabbey was at Abbey-cwm-Hir.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "an inland county of South Wales"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Radnorshire AncC
Place: Radnorshire

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