Middle Usk Valley: Brecon and Llangorse
The section of the Usk valley identified here
lies to the east and west of Brecon in southern Powys; an area
confined on the south by eastern flanks of the Brecon Beacons range
and on the north by the southern foothills of Mynydd Epynt. To the
east, the western end of the Black Mountains scarp overlooks the
shallow basin containing Llangorse Lake.
Reference number: HLW (P) 7
OS map: Landranger 160, 161
Unitary authority: Powys
The Usk valley forms a distinctive and easily accessible
corridor across the area. On either side of the valley, the slopes
rise to a gently rolling and dissected landscape of low hills,
ridges and shallow valleys.
The visual impression of the whole area is dominated by small
hedged fields enclosing the rich agricultural land of the valley
bottom, and it is in many ways a typical Mid Wales vista. This rich
pattern of land use is a product of its complex farming and
settlement history, from early Neolithic farmers, through Roman and
Norman ‘invaders’, via the Celtic saints, to the remains of
medieval and later agriculture and commerce.
Each period of land use has moulded the landscape and each in
turn has been overlain and partly obscured by its successors.
Almost in contradiction to this continuity, the Middle Usk Valley
is also a classic example of a Welsh landscape of domination,
conquest and political change, and many of the archaeological and
historic elements visible today result from man’s imposition of his
control on the landscape, not only in the Roman and medieval and
later periods, but also in the prehistoric period.
A full published description for this landscape area is
available as a pdf download within the Related Articles section
Principal area designations:
The area is almost entirely within the Brecon Beacons National
Park. It includes: Llyn Syfaddan (Llangorse Lake) and part of the
River Usk (Upper Usk) Sites of Special Scientific Interest; The
Gaer, Brecon, Guardianship Site; crannog in Llangorse Lake
Scheduled Ancient Monument; Brecon Conservation Area.
Criteria: 3, 5
Contents and significance:
The section of the Middle Usk Valley lying east and west of
Brecon, including Llangorse Lake, in southern Powys, is a classic
example of a Welsh landscape of domination and conquest, for which
there is an important and significant range of diverse and
well-preserved evidence spanning the prehistoric, Roman, medieval
and later periods.
The area includes:
a Neolithic chambered tomb; Bronze Age ritual and funerary
monuments; Iron Age hillforts and enclosures; a well-preserved
Roman auxiliary fort; an early medieval lake dwelling or crannog —
the only one in Wales; Early Christian and medieval ecclesiastical
and monastic sites; a range of medieval defended sites and
settlements, including Brecon town with its later, distinctive and
largely unspoilt Victorian townscape; significant sections of the
Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal; important historic literary and