CPAT Regional Historic Environment Record
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Glasbury (Radnor)

Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 16144
Trust : Clwyd Powys
Community : Glasbury
Unitary authority : Powys
NGR : SO176391
Site Type (preferred type first) : Multiperiod Settlement
Status :

Description :
1 Location

1.1 Linked by Glasbury Bridge, the settlement has two parts. The historic core is in Radnor District, with a more modern extension on the south bank of the Wye in Brecknock Borough.

1.2 The north bank settlement lies against the river, a stone wall on the south side and an earthwork flood barrier in fields on the west protecting the village. This said Glasbury is unusual in that it is located on the valley floor, with the hills nearly one kilometre to the north-west.

1.3 Glasbury now lies just off the A438 Hereford to Brecon road, while the B4350 passes through the village. Hay-on-Wye (Brecknock) is 6km to the north-east.

2 History

2.1 The earliest form of the name is 'Clastbyrig', recorded in 1056. In the 16th century, its Welsh name was 'Y Clas ar Wy', meaning the 'clas on the Wye'. The Welsh element 'clas' signifies an early medieval religious centre, while the English 'burh' refers to a defended site.

2.2 The 'clas' foundation (PAR 516), dedicated to St Cynidr, is reputed to have been established in the 7th century AD, probably on Fynnon Gynydd common some 2.5km north-north-west of the village (q.v.). The 'burh' suffix has not been satisfactorily explained, but Sylvester speculated that a defensible nucleated village may have been established here by Mercians after the battle of 'Clastbirig' in 1056 which reputedly took place in the vicinity. The manor of Glasbury was granted to St Peter's, Gloucester at that time, thus providing an explanation for the church's dedication.

2.3 Soon after the Norman Conquest in 1090 a new church was built on the north bank of the River Wye and dedicated to St Peter. This in turn was abandoned during the 17th century when a shift in the course of the river left it on the south bank. Stonework of this medieval structure still lies on the Brecknock side (PAR 519), and its immediate replacement, built further away from the river, was also in Brecknock.

2.4 This is one of only a handful of genuine nucleated villages in Radnor District which probably go back to the Middle Ages. An estate map of 1753 depicts a village with well spaced out dwellings and a large green, encroached on by three cottages in the centre. This pattern was disrupted by the construction of Glasbury House in the second half of the 18th century, although The Green is an appellation still attached to a rather smaller area within the village. With the construction of the house and the layout of its grounds, the configuration of the village was altered. At least two houses were removed to make way for Glasbury House, others may have disappeared in the landscaping and a road leading to the river was abandoned.

2.5 A century later, the Tithe survey reveals the infilling of open spaces within the village and some expansion north-west towards Cwmbach.

2.6 A medieval open-field system of English type functioned at Glasbury. The existence of common ploughland is implicit in a document of 1311 and a survey of 1561 referred to enclosure adjacent to the great 'Broad Field' together with 'the meares and bounds'. Strip fields or quillets, the relics of the system were still visible on the north bank of the Wye in the mid-19th century.

3 Buildings and Archaeology

3.1 A motte and probable bailey (PAR 517) lay on the north side of the Wye. Its slight remains - a low mound and traces of a ditch - were apparently levelled and destroyed during housing construction between 1975 and 1979, though it is possible that sub-surface features survive in the plots not yet developed.

3.2 The present church of All Saints was built in Cwmbach in 1882 (q.v.), on the formation of the ecclesiastical parish of Glasbury in Radnorshire.

3.3 Glasbury Old Vicarage (PAR 524; Grade II* listing) originated as a medieval stone dwelling, sometime after 1400, and has been identified as a pre-Reformation priest's house. Though modernised, some Tudor work is preserved on the north-west and there is an inscription of 1611 on the chimney.

3.4 Next to the Old Vicarage is its tithe barn of cruck construction (16017; Grade II* listing), also thought to be of 15th-century origin.

3.5 Other listed buildings are largely of the early 19th century, except for Glasbury House (PAR 16212) which is of the previous century.

3.6 There are no deserted settlement traces in Glasbury, apart from some enigmatic earthworks in the field south-east of Glasbury House (OS plot 8017), but below-ground features may survive particularly in the grounds around the house.

Dorothy Sylvester records common meadows in
Glasbury (Silvester & Hankinson, 2013)

1) History of development
The earliest form of the name is Clastbyrig, recorded in 1056 incorporating the Old Welsh
clas meaning a monastic community and Old English burh, signifying a defended enclosure.
In the 16th century, its Welsh name was y Klas ar Wy, or the clas on the Wye. In the absence
of any evidence to the contrary, it has to be assumed that the clas community occupied a site
that gave them some protection, perhaps from human aggressors though possibly from the
river.

The 'clas' foundation (516) is reputed to have been established in the 7th century AD by St
Cynidr, and a tradition evolved that this was on Ffynnon Gynydd common some 2.5km northnorth-
west of the village, largely because this is the location for St Cynidr’s well, and this
tradition then became fact. In fact the clas was almost certainly on the valley floor where the
earthworks of it or its successor can still be observed, though the shifting course of the river
means the site is now on the south of the river and divorced from Glasbury itself.
The manor of Glasbury was granted to St Peter's, Gloucester in 1056, providing the
explanation for the church's dedication. Soon after the Norman Conquest in 1090 a new
church was built on the site of the clas beside the River Wye. During the Middle Ages a
nucleated settlement emerged at Glasbury, more perhaps because there was a crossing point
of the river here than because of the long ecclesiastical history. An estate map of 1753 depicts
a village with well-spaced dwellings, nearly a dozen in all, and a green, encroached on by
three cottages in the centre. Some elements of this pattern are certainly medieval. By this date
a stone bridge had replaced the wooden one which was destroyed in 1738.

The church was abandoned during the 17th century when the river’s course changed and more
than a century later the configuration was disrupted by the construction of Glasbury House.
At least two houses were removed to make way for the house, others may have disappeared in
the landscaping, and a road leading to the river was abandoned. The Green is an appellation
still attached to an area within the village, rather smaller than its medieval predecessor.
A century later, the Tithe survey reveals the infilling of open spaces within the village and
some expansion north-west towards Cwmbach.

In summary, Glasbury could have developed as a common or green-side settlement in the
Middle Ages. Although only two pre-18th-century dwellings remain, others are likely to have
existed around the open common and on the lanes approaching it.

2)The heritage to 1750
The site of the early church, now in Brecknock and lying at the confluence of the Wye and the
Llynfi shows as earthworks; a raised platform with the foundations of the medieval church on
it has a curvilinear enclosure attached to it. A full survey was undertaken by CPAT and is
published in the county society transactions for 2003. The present church of All Saints was
built in Cwmbach less than a mile to the north-west in 1882, upon the establishment of the
ecclesiastical parish of Glasbury in Radnorshire.

A motte and probable bailey (517) lay a little but further back from the river. Nothing is
known of its history and several different dates have been suggested for its construction,
perhaps prior to 1088, or around 144 when the land was acquired by the Cliffords. Its remains
- a low mound and traces of a ditch - were apparently levelled and destroyed during housing
construction between 1975 and 1979, though it is conceivable that sub-surface features
survive in the plots not yet developed.

Glasbury Old Vicarage (524; Grade II* listing) originated as a medieval stone dwelling,
sometime after 1400, and has been identified as a pre-Reformation priest's house. Though
modernised, some Tudor work is preserved on the north-west and there is an inscription of
1611 on the chimney. Next to the Old Vicarage is a barn of cruck construction (16017; Grade
II* listing), perhaps for vicarial tithes and considered to be of 15th-century origin. The Forge
is a stone-built cross-passage house of c.1600. No other listed buildings in the village are
known to pre-date the late 18th century, though Grangeton (36567) is thought to have had
earlier origins because of its gable-end position to the lane.

There are no deserted settlement traces in Glasbury, apart from some enigmatic earthworks in
the field south-east of Glasbury House (OS plot 8017), but below-ground features may
survive particularly in the grounds around the house.

A medieval open-field system of English type functioned at Glasbury. The existence of
common fields is implicit in a document of 1311 and a survey of 1561 referred to enclosure
adjacent to the great 'Broad Field' together with 'the meares and bounds'. Strip fields or
quillets, the relics of the system, were still visible on the north bank of the Wye in the mid-
19th century. (Silvester, S J and Martin, C H R, 2010)


Sources :
Charles, B G , 1938 , Non Celtic Placenames in Wales
Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust , 1993 , Site visit record - PRN16144
Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust , 1994 , CPAT Project Archive
Haslam, R , 1979 , Buildings of Wales: Powys
Howse, W H , 1949 , Radnorshire, corrections and additions by the author , The Transactions of the Radnorshire Society : 19 : 3-11
Silvester, R J , 1994 , Radnorshire Historic Settlements ( © CPAT)
Silvester, R J & Hankinson, R , 2003 , Clas, Church and Village at Glasbury , The Transactions of the Radnorshire Society : 73 : 113-126
Silvester, R J and Hankinson, R , 2013 , Farms and Farming SEP ( © CPAT)
Silvester, R J and Martin, C H R , 2011 , Historic settlements in Radnorshire ( © CPAT)
Sylvester, D , 1967 , Glasbury, Norton and the problem of the nucleated village in Radnorshire , The Transactions of the Radnorshire Society : 37 : 17-26
Sylvester, D , 1969 , The rural landscape of the welsh borderland
Tithe Commissioners , 1846 , Tithe Map
Unknown , 1753 , title unknown - Glasbury (Radnor)
Yewlett, Hilary , 2012 , Walter Meredith (c.1558-1607): Scrivener of Radnorshire and London , The Transactions of the Radnorshire Society : 82 : 113-132

Events :
123100 : Historic Settlements Survey, Radnorshire, desk-based assessment 2011 (year : 2011)
123099 : Historic Settlements Survey, Radnorshire, assessment project 2011 (year : 2011)
129654 : Farms and Farming. Scheduling Enhancement Programme 2012-13 (year : 2012-13)
129655 : Farms and Farming. Scheduling Enhancement Programme, desk based assessment 2012-13 (year : 2012-13)

Related PRNs :

Compiled date : 31-12-1995


Images :



Archaeological data, from the Historic Environment Record, supplied by The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust in partnership with Local Authorities, Cadw and the partners of ENDEX © CPAT, 2019 (and in part © Crown, 2019). It is intended to be used for private research only and is not for use as part of commercial projects. If you wish to use this information for publication in printed or multimedia form or to compile resources for commercial use, prior permission must be obtained in writing. Use of this information is subject to the terms and conditions of access to HER data published on CPAT's website. Please contact the HER if you have any further questions regarding this information. Please quote the Primary Reference Numbers (PRNs) in any correspondence.

January 23, 2019, 3:05 am - File produced for Archwilio from CPAT's Regional HER.
Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, 41 Broad Street, Welshpool, Powys SY21 7RR.
tel (01938) 553670, fax (01938) 552179, website www.cpat.org.uk

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