Archaeology and History

Adeiladau, ffyrdd a thirweddau hanesyddol


Following the end of the last glaciation about 12,000 years ago, broadleaved (deciduous) woodland became established over all except the higher peaks of the Cambrian Mountains. Today’s predominantly grassy heathland was created by woodland clearance from the earlier prehistoric period onwards, combined with climatic change which, at high altitude, gave rise to blanket peat formation.

The large numbers of cairns, individual megaliths (standing stones), stone rows and stone circles in the region may well be associated with the early exploitation of upland pastures during the Bronze Age, 5500-3500 years ago. The fact that many are sited high on horizons indicates that they were meant to be seen from long distances, possibly for territorial marking, for commemoration of special individuals or for use as foresights for astronomical alignments. Note, however, that the current form of the prominent Beehive Cairns on Drygarn Fawr is much more recent, suspected to have been an ‘enhancement’ of earlier cairns carried out in the Victorian era.

One-third of the Cambrian Mountains area is registered in the historic landscape register for Wales (Register of Landscapes of Special Historic Interest in Wales, Part 2.2: Landscapes of Special Historic Interest ). In addition, the Cambrian Mountains contain 80 individual Scheduled Ancient Monuments.