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Welsh: Sir Faesyfed
United Kingdom
Glorious Radnor - geograph.org.uk - 1325948.jpg
View to the Radnor Forest
Ewch yn Uwch
(Higher and higher)
[Interactive map]
Area: 470 square miles
Population: 25,821
County town: New Radnor
County flower: Radnor lily [1]

The County of Radnor is an inland shire in mid-Wales. It is a sparsely populated county: the least populous of any county in Wales and the 10th least populous in the United Kingdom.


The county is bounded to the north by Montgomeryshire and Shropshire; to the east by Herefordshire; to the south and south-west by Brecknockshire; and to the west by Cardiganshire. In the east and south are some comparatively level tracts, including the Vale of Radnor, but most of the county is mountainous, with the Cambrian Mountains running through the west. The highest point is at Radnor Forest (2,166 feet). The township of Litton and Cascob forms a detached part of Herefordshire, locally in Radnorshire.

The Elan Valley on the border with Brecknockshire contains several huge man-made reservoirs supplying water to Birmingham. The main rivers are the Wye, the Elan and the Ithon. The main industries are tourism and hill farming.


The hundreds of Radnorshire

The hundreds of Radnorshire are:[1]

Towns and villages

Former Gwalia Hotel, Llandrindod Wells
The Radnorshire Arms, Presteigne

No centre in Radnorshire exceeds a population of 6,000 and only one, Llandrindod Wells, exceeds 5,000:

Civil communities


The county was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542 out of the cantrefs of Maelienydd and Elfael and the commotes of Gwrtheyrnion and Deuddwr (the area formerly known as Rhwng Gwŷ a Hafren). New Radnor and Presteigne compete for the title of county town. Recent administration has shunned both and sat at Llandrindod Wells.

Symbols of Radnorshire

Until 1954 Radnorshire County Council used irregularly a version of the arms of the Mortimers, Earls of March: Barry of six or and azure on a chief of the last two pallets azure between as many gyrons of the first.[2][3] The council received a grant of armorial bearings in 1954:[4] gules a lion regardant or (for Elystan Glodrhydd, Prince of Wales, argent three boars' heads sable (for his son Cadwgan), and around the shield a bordure compony or and azure from the Mortimer arms.

In 1996 the arms were transferred to the newly formed Powys Council, for use by the Radnorshire Shire Committee.[5]

The motto adopted by the county council was Ewch yn Uwch (Go Higher).

History and culture

The geographic territory of the county roughly corresponds with the Welsh territory of Rhwng Gwy a Hafren which fell under the control of the Marcher Lords at the end of the 11th Century. Radnorshire was a poor county and has been an historical backwater but occasionally has drifted to the forefront of history. The most notable historic events are the Battle of Bryn Glas fought on June 22, 1402 during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr, and the founding of Cwmhir Abbey.

The county's poverty compared with neighbouring Shropshire was remarked upon thus in the 17th century by an anonymous visitor:

Poor Radnorsheer, poor Radnorsheer,
Never a park, and never a deer,
Never a squire of five hundred a year,
Save Richard Fowler of Abbey-Cwm-hir

Apart from a handful of parishes along the Shropshire border the Welsh language remained the first language of the county well into the second half of the eighteenth century.[6] By 1850 the language had retreated to the western parishes of Rhayader, Llanyre, Cwmdauddwr, St Harmon and Nantmel.[1] By 1900 Welsh was still spoken by a sizeable minority west of the town of Rhayader, the language disappearing as the century progressed. Of course there were Welsh speakers living in Radnorshire who had come from other parts of Wales and today their number has been swelled by children being educated through the medium of Welsh in school.

The county's position and want of Welsh speakers gave weight to the traditional local expression, "Neither Wales nor England, just Radnorsheer"

Places of interest

Cathedral/Abbey/Priory Cathedral/Abbey/Priory
Accessible open space Accessible open space
Amusement/Theme Park Amusement/Theme Park
Castle Castle
Country Park Country Park
Cadw Cadw
Forestry Commission Forestry Commission
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
Museum (free)
Museum (not free)
Museum (free/not free)
National Trust National Trust
Zoo Zoo

Natural landscape

Built heritage

Cwmhir Abbey


Museum (free)

See also

Flag of Radnorshire


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Radnor - Radnorshire". A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. British history Online. 1849. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=47881. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  2. A C Fox-Davies, The Book of Public Arms, 2nd edition, London 1915
  3. Mary O'Regan, Heraldry of the Old Welsh Counties, Part 2, in Aspects of Heraldry, Vol.9, Yorkshire Heraldry Society, 1995
  4. Geoffrey Briggs, Civic and Corporate Heraldry, London, 1971
  5. "The Local Authorities (Armorial Bearings) (No. 2) (Wales) Order 1996 (S.I. 1996 No. 1930)". Office of Public Sector Information. 1996. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1996/Uksi_19961930_en_2.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  6. F G Payne, Crwydro Sir Faesyfed Vol I (1966) & Vol II (1968), Llandybïe

Further reading

Some leading texts on Radnorshire history are:

  • Donald Gregory (1994). Radnorshire. ISBN 0863812848.  (Amazon)
  • Keith Parker (2000). Radnorshire from Civil War to Restoration. ISBN 1873827865.  (Amazon)
  • Peter J Conradi (2009). At the Bright Hem of God. ISBN 9781854114907. 

Outside links

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