Hafodau above Llyn Brenig

Hafodau

Hafodau above Llyn Brenig

The Welsh practised a modified form of transhumance, pasturing their cattle on the sheltered lower ground in the winter and driving them up to the mountains in the summer. In some cases, summer and winter pastures were close enough for both to be accessible from the farmstead. Where they were further apart, rough shelters were built for the herdsmen to stay with the animals. They were built of turf or rough local stone, probably thatched with heather or rushes. The furniture would have been simple - rough stone benches and a central hearth - as most everyday activities were done out of doors.

Some indication of these activities is given by the rubbish left outside the huts at Llyn Brenig. The broken knives and bits of pot were probably involved in cooking and eating, though the larger pots could have been used in making butter and cheese. Spindle whorls suggest that the sheep were sheared and the wool spun here. The young women of the community would stay there, making butter and cheese and spinning, and in some cases the whole household would move to the uplands for the summer. The traditional date for their return was early in August, so that they could help with the grain harvest.

Some of the huts at Llyn Brenig had been enlarged and even rebuilt. They were used over a long period of time: similar huts were being used in north Wales until the middle of the nineteenth century. It is also possible that some of the larger huts were used as permanent homes for a while. Pressure on land in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries meant that many of these hafodau were converted into permanent farmsteads. Their names often begin with the prefix ‘Hafod’. To the south of Strata Florida are Hafod-y-rhyd, the summer dwelling on the ford, and Hafod Newydd, the new summer dwelling. South of Conwy, on the upland route from Conwy to Basingwerk, you pass Hafod y Garreg, ‘the summer farmstead of the stone’; Hafodty Hafod y Dre, ‘the farmstead at the summer farm of the township’, Hafod Dinbych and Hafotty Sion Llwyd.

Places to hafodau

Places

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