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St. Gwrthwl's Parish Church, Llanwrthwl. - geograph.org.uk - 147764.jpg
St. Gwrthwl's Parish Church
Grid reference: SN9821836445
Location: 52°16’0"N, 3°30’0"W
Population: 201
Post town: Llandrindod Wells
Postcode: LD1
Dialling code: 01597
Local Government
Council: Powys
Brecon & Radnorshire

Llanwrthwl is a village in northern Brecknockshire adjacent to the border with Radnorshire. Llanwrthwl lies off the A470 road, north by road from Builth Wells and Newbridge-on-Wye and south of Rhayader. It lies on the River Wye and River Elan and the village is accessed by a bridge over the Wye.[1][2] In 1833, its population was 517;[3] its population in 1841 was 568.[4]


Llanwrthwl, composed of an Upper and a Lower division, derives its name from the dedication of its church.[5]


St Gwrthwl, a saint whose date is uncertain, founded the church of Llanwrthwl; he is commemorated on March 2.[6] Bronze Age gold work was discovered at Llanwrthwl in the 1950s, including a four-flanged bar torc, a circular sectioned bar torc, a square sectioned bar torc and a twisted ring.[7]

A commemorative stone, from the precincts of the extinct chapel of Llanwrthwl, was found at Llanwrthwl Field with a Paulinus monument and the epitaph: Talorm | Adventvh | MAQVERIGH | FIUIVS. It was in several pieces, and at least one of those pieces was missing. It was later preserved and housed at the residence of the Jones family at Dolau Cothi, Carmarthenshire.[8]

The parish was a prebend in the Collegiate Church of Brecknock. The church, dedicated to St. Wrthwl, or possibly Mwthwl, is an ancient edifice. In 1840s there was a day school in the upper part of the parish, attended by about 30 children. There was also a Sunday School. A sum of £16 was divided among the poor in January of each year, arising partly from a 1648 bequest by Edward ab Evan of the farm Cae'r Llan.[5]


Old Bridge, Elan Valley

The village is situated upon the River Elan, near to its union with the River Wye, about three miles, south by east, from Rhayader.[3] Llanwrthwl parish is situated at the northern extremity of the county, bordering upon Radnorshire, from which it is separated on the north and north-east by the River Wye, and on the west and north-west by the streams of the Claerwen and Elan, which fall into that river, on the northeastern confines of the parish. The rivulets Runnant and Dulas are the principal of the smaller streams that intersect the parish. It comprises about 12,000 acres of extremely irregular surface, rising in some parts into lofty hills, alternated with large tracts of level ground, forming extensive commons and bogs. The soil on the higher grounds is rocky, and in the lower generally of a marshy nature, but on the banks of the Wye and Elan there are some fertile meadows. The surrounding scenery is diversified, and in many parts highly picturesque. Copper ore has been found near the junction of the Elan with the Wye.[5]

On the hills are several cairns, especially on the height named Drygarn, or Derwydd Garn, implying "the Druid's rock, or mount," part of which is in the adjoining parish of Llanvihangel Abergwessin. There are also some cairns on an eminence of less elevation, designated Gemrhiw. On Rhos-Saithmaen, or "the Seven Stone common," which is partly in this parish, and partly in that of Llanafan, are some stones very irregularly placed. Near this common is another, called Rhos-y-Beddau, or "the common of the graves," the name of which would appear to commemorate some great battle, probably that of Llechrhyd.

Notable landmarks

Penuel Congregational Chapel

St. Gwrthwl's Parish Church churchyard has a prehistoric standing stone about 5 ft 9 in high near the south porch. Its upper part appears to have been broken, though it may be the shaft of a cross, or of Druidical origin. On Rhôs Saith-maen, or the "Seven Stone Common", in Llanwrthwl parish, are some very irregularly placed stones, though it has not been determined if they are of military, sepulchral, or Druidical remains.[9]

Penuel Congregational Chapel is located just south of the main village. The chapel was built in 1832 and rebuilt in 1890 in the Vernacular style with a long-wall entry plan. A register of baptisms for the years 1834-1837 is held by the National Archive.[10]

The Living Willow Theatre is at Penlanole near the village. It is an open-air theatre constructed of living willow trees[11] and occasionally outdoor performances of William Shakespeare are staged.[12]

In the early 1800s engineer James Watt retired to Doldowlod House, about a mile south of Llanwrthw on the A470 road, when he left Birmingham. By 1891, the grand Glan-Rhos House had been built to the north of the village with surrounding grounds laid out stretching down to the river.[13]


Alchemilla arvensis, Chrysanthemum segetum, and Galeopsis versicolor, have been found in Llanwrthwl, while Euphorbia helioscopia has been found nearby.[14]


  1. "Marteg to Llanwrthwl, December 2009 onwards". Wye Usk Foundation. http://www.wyeuskfoundation.org/navigation/downloads/Marteg%20to%20Llanwrthwl.pdf. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  2. Storry, Terry (30 July 2004). British White Water. frances lincoln ltd. p. 301. ISBN 978-0-7112-2412-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=jz6QLCa-jQoC&pg=PA301. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gorton, John (1833). A topographical dictionary of Great Britain and Ireland: compiled from local information, and the most recent and official authorities (Now in the public domain. ed.). Chapman and Hall. pp. 653–. http://books.google.com/books?id=Q5BCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA653. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  4. The Literary Rettains of the Rev. Thomas Price, Carnhuanawr. 1855. p. 5. http://books.google.com/books?id=pe0QAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA5. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Lewis, Samuel (1845). A topographical dictionary of Wales,: comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate and market towns, parishes, chapelaries, and townships, with historical and statistical descriptions: embellished with engravings of the arms of the bishoprics, and of the arms and seals of the various cities and municipal corporations: and illustrated by maps of the different counties. S. Lewis. pp. 250–. http://books.google.com/books?id=6XwOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA250. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  6. Williams, Robert (1852). Enwogion Cymru: A biographical dictionary of eminent Welshmen, from the earliest times to the present, and including every name connected with the ancient history of Wales (Now in the public domain. ed.). W. Rees. pp. 202–. http://books.google.com/books?id=_wMGAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA202. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  7. Taylor, Joan J. (1980). Bronze Age Goldwork of the British Isles. CUP Archive. pp. 95–. GGKEY:F3U50W1GGNS. http://books.google.com/books?id=UDI9AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA95. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  8. Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (London) (1904). Y Cymmrodor: The magazine of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (Now in the public domain. ed.). The Society.. pp. 2, 66–. http://books.google.com/books?id=QiczdZHaX6QC&pg=RA1-PA66. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  9. Westwood, John Obadiah (1879). Lapidarium walliae: the early inscribed and sculptured stones of Wales (Now in the public domain. ed.). Printed at the University Press for the Cambrian Archaeological Assoc.. pp. 78–. http://books.google.com/books?id=5DEXAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA78. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  10. [1]
  11. "As You Like It" at shakespearelink.co.uk
  12. "Pericles at the Living Willow Theatre". BBC. 4 September 2007. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/sites/llandrindod_wells/pages/willowtheatre_pericles.shtml. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  13. "Llanwrthwl in 1891". Victorian Powys. http://history.powys.org.uk/school1/rhayader/wrth1891.shtml. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  14. Seemann, Berthold (1885). Journal of botany: British and foreign (Now in the public domain. ed.). West, Newman & Co.. pp. 84, 88, 110, 111. http://books.google.com/books?id=qNlCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA88. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 

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