Medieval architecture in Wales

Medieval architecture in Wales is an overview of architecture in Wales from the Medieval period, excluding castles and fortifications, ecclesiastical architecture and industrial architecture. It covers the history of domestic, commercial, and administrative architecture.

Earliest architecture
There is little evidence for domestic architecture in Wales which predates the 14th century. The earliest domestic buildings are the stone tower houses, which may date back to about 1400, and various partially fortified first-floor hall houses such as Candleston Castle and Eastington at Rhoscrowther in Pembrokeshire. Most of the Welsh examples are in the southern coastal border area of Wales and particularly in Pembrokeshire. So far no Welsh timber-framed houses can be securely dated to before 1400, but the description by the poet Iolo Goch of Owain Glyndŵr’s house at Sycharth shows that houses with timber cruck framing were being built well before this date. It has been suggested that the devastation caused following Owain Glyndŵr’s revolt may have caused the destruction of many earlier timber-framed houses in the Welsh Marches

Tower houses and first floor halls
The distribution of tower houses in Wales has been discussed by both Hilling and Smith. Welsh tower houses, most of them built between the early 14th and 15th centuries, were rectangular structures, consisting of two or more storeys, and are closely related to those in Ireland and Scotland. In 1976 Hilling produced a map (with listing) showing 17 examples. Further houses have been added by Suggett and it is possible that new examples will be recognised as being incorporated into existing buildings, as at Sandyhaven House in Pembrokeshire.

A further example is likely to be the prominent East Gate tower of Powis Castle. The East Gate appears to have been a tower house, which had an entrance made through the vaulted undercroft, probably in the 17th century. An extra storey was added to the tower in 1815–1818 when Sir Robert Smirke re-fenestrated the castle and added Gothic Revival battlements. Also on the Welsh border, close to Welshpool is Wattlesburgh. Many of the English tower houses, such as Tattershall Castle or Buckden Palace are slightly later and larger than the Welsh examples, and built of brick.

Apart from tower houses there are a number of stone-built first floor hall buildings, where the hall is mounted over an undercroft. These include Owain Glyndŵr’s Parliament House in Machynlleth. Most examples are found in southern Wales with a cluster of buildings in Pembrokeshire. The distribution of Tower and other houses in Wales with vaulted ceilings have been mapped and listed by Peter Smith.

They also occur as early merchant’s houses in Haverfordwest, Pembroke and Tenby. In some cases the hall is accessed by an outer stair, as is the case at Pentre Ifan Barn at Nevern in Pembrokeshire. Another example is Eastington at Rhoscrowther, Pembrokeshire, which has been called a tower house, but is more correctly a first floor hall house, with an outside stair and crenulations with a side tower. Eastington belonged to the Perrot family in the 15th century. There is a further complex of Medieval stone houses at East Orchard, St Athan, in Glamorgan which belonged to the de Berkerolles family in the 14th century. The group of buildings includes a first floor hall house with outside chimney, which also had a separate kitchen block.

Early stone buildings and transition from castles
From the later part of the 15th century, some of the Welsh castles underwent a transformation into grand houses. Some of these such as Chirk Castle and Powis Castle have remained as houses, but others such as Raglan Castle in Monmouthshire and Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire are ruins which can provide some idea of their grandeur. At Carew Sir Rhys ap Thomas from about 1480 onwards undertook a grand re-modelling including an almost entire re-fenestration with straight headed windows. This was continued after 1558 by Sir John Perrot who replaced the north range with a splendid frontage with a long gallery at the second floor level in the fashion of Robert Smythson.

An even more impressive residence on palatial scale was Raglan Castle. The earliest building is the freestanding hexagonal great tower, which is surrounded by a moat. It was probably built by Sir William ap Thomas before 1445. It would have served the function of a strongly defended tower house. This was followed in 1461–69 by the enlargement of the castle by Sir William Herbert with a gatehouse to the NE and to the SW a range of sumptuously decorated state apartments. Further apartment ranges were built round the SW court. The two sets of apartments were approached by an impressive main staircase. From about 1549 to 1559 these buildings were extended, by William Somerset, 3rd Earl of Worcester, particularly around the Pitched Stone Court and also with the long-gallery with its elaborately decorated Renaissance fireplaces. The slighting of the castle in the English Civil War and its subsequent partial demolition make it hard to appreciate Raglan as one of the major domestic buildings of Wales.

Another early house connected with the Herbert family was Tretower Court in Breconshire. It was here that William Herbert settled his step brother Roger Vaughan who built a house, which was to develop round a courtyard and continued being added to until the 17th century. Recently the arched braced truss roof of the great hall has been dated by Dendrochronology to c. 1455.

Houses associated with Owain Glyndŵr and Edward I.
There are a number of houses in north Wales that have been traditionally associated with Owain Glyndŵr and there is also the Parliament House of Edward I at Ruthin. They may not be certainly associated with these historic figures, but they are important as evidence for early stone buildings in Wales. Best known is Glyndŵr’s Parliament house in Machynlleth. This building has been substantially altered in more recent times, but fortunately Edward Pugh published a fine coloured lithograph of the building in 1816. Recent dendrochronological dating of the felling of a roof timber to 1470, does not necessarily mean that the stone structure of the building in not associated with Glyndŵr. The original building is a hall house with a four-unit plan: storeyed outer room of two bays, open passage (2 bays between partition trusses), open hall (three bays with dais-end partition), and a storeyed inner-room of two bays. The carpentry is refined: purlins and ridge are tenoned into the trusses. The principal rafters of each truss are unusually shaped (‘extruded’) to receive the tenoned collar. In the hall the purlins are moulded with two tiers of wind braces (replaced), and the trusses have shaped feet. The upper-end truss is set forward from the dais partition to form a shallow canopy.

At Carrog near Corwen parts of Owain’s Prison stood, possibly into the 20th century. Thomas Pennant wrote in about 1776 that “The prison where Owen confined his captives was not far from his house, in the parish of Llansantfraid Glyndwrdwy and the place is to this day called ‘Carchardy Owen Glyndwrdwy’. Some remains are still to be seen near the church, which form part of a habitable house. It consists of a room 13 feet square and ten and a half high. The sides consist of three horizontal beams, with upright planks, not four inches asunder, mortised into them. In these are groves in the bottom, as if there had been cross bars, or grates. The roof is exceedingly strong, composed of strong planks almost contiguous. It seems as if there had been two stories; but the upper part at present is evidently modern”. In 1794 John Ingleby was employed to make a watercolour record of the building, which stood just to the SE of the church and overlooked the River Dee. The building which was thatched and has some timber close studding and also a Gothic arched window and Gothic arched doors. There seems to be evidence for an outer stair leading to a first floor hall, which suggests that parts of the building could well have been contemporary with Owain Glyndŵr. The site of the building was on the modern Glyndŵr Terrace.

There was another Parliament House of Glyndŵr in the centre of Dolgellau. It was moved in 1885 to Newtown and re-erected in a much altered form. It may have been first referred to as the Parliament House in 1555. This is building is now known as Plas Cwrt yn Dre. It was an aisled hall house, so is likely to have been a building of considerable importance, but is unlikely to date back to the time of Glyndŵr. Much restored by A B Phipson for Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones as a two-storey three bay house. Largely timber framed with stone end walls with interlocking herring-bone decorative framing to a jettied first floor, which is supported by vine scroll brackets. There is an external stone staircase to a plank door at extreme left and square panelled timber framing to ground floor. The right stone bay incorporates re-used medieval masonry and a two light window with a central stone mullion. Arcade patterns in tile inset to stack may reproduce the arcade designs on the chimney stack shown in a lithograph of 1810 by Cornelius Varley.

Another building that might be of considerable antiquity is the Parliament House of Edward III in Rhuddlan where it was thought that the Statute of Rhuddlan was promulgated. Thomas Pennant remarks in 1778 A piece of antient building called the Parlement is still to be seen in Rhuddlan: probably where the king sat in council. Pennant was to get John Ingleby to provide a watercolour of the building. Today the building still partially stands in Parliament Street, with a late 13th-century doorway and a 14th-century cusped ogee door head. There is no definite evidence that this building is connected with Edward III.

Timber-framed construction
Timber-framed houses in Wales are concentrated particularly in the historic counties of Montgomeryshire and Denbighshire and mainly in areas which lack good building stone but have an abundance of ancient woodland that provided the timber for construction. The Welsh Poets often provide good descriptions of these early houses from the 14th century onwards, when praising their patrons. This is the case of Iolo Goch’s description of Owain Glyndwr’s house at Sycharth in the late 14th century, when the poet mentioned that the house was constructed with crucks and had a slate roof. The earliest timber framed houses are hall houses, which were single storied houses the main room of which was heated by a fire on an open hearth with the smoke escaping through a vent in the roof. In peasant houses the hall would have only consisted of a single bay. These smaller houses are rarely recognised now and where they exist the single bay is likely to form part of the structure of a larger house with more recent additions.

Dendrochronology and the dating of Welsh houses
Since the 1990s the availability of dates provided by tree-ring dating or Dendrochronology has revolutionised the study of early buildings in Wales and is particularly relevant for timber framed buildings. The earliest tree ring date associated with a building in Wales is a date commissioned by CADW for a door at Chepstow Castle which was made from wood felled between 1159 and 1189.

A complete listing of tree ring dates for Wales is maintained by the Vernacular Architecture Group at the Archaeological Dataservice and slightly over 200 samples have been taken, though not all have provided positive results. The scheme has largely been sponsored by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales in conjunction with the Dating Welsh Houses Group (DOWG). The greatest number of dates are available from Merionethshire, Montgomeryshire and Denbighshire, areas which have some of the greatest concentrations of timber framed houses. Other early dates are c. 1250 for timbers from the Chapter House at Brecon Cathedral and 1386 for the bell frame in Tower of St David’s Cathedral. The earliest domestic building to be dated by dendrochronology is Hafodygarreg at Erwood, in Breconshire of 1402. Many dates have been obtained for buildings after this, possibly suggesting that there was a great re-building in Wales after the devastation caused by Owain Glyndŵr’s uprising. The evidence of dendrochronology clearly shows that in the 15th. and first half of the 16th. centuries Hall houses were the standard plan for domestic buildings. The great majority of timber-framed houses were built with cruck trusses, while a few higher status houses were constructed with aisled-trusses. Change came in the mid-16th century when houses became two or more storeyed. Regional forms of house evolve and some are now stone built. The earliest stone built Snowdonia Houses, with an upper storey, is Tyn Llan at Gwyddelwern, which has been shown by dendrochronology to date from 1519 to 1537. The timber framed Glas Hirfryn, on the Montgomeryshire/Denbighshire border, a house with a jettied upper storey and lateral chimney stack, is dated to c.1559. The precision of dendrochronological dating is very useful as it is often possible to suggest, with a considerable degree of certainty, for whom the house was built. At Glas Hirfryn this would have been Morus ap Dafydd and at Great Cefnyberen, built between 1545–66, it would have been John ap Rhys. As the wills and probate inventories may well still exist, it is often possible to establish the status of the builder and how the house was furnished.

Aisled hall houses
Aisled-framed hall houses have one or more rows of interior posts. These interior posts typically carry more structural load than the posts in the exterior walls. Aisled Hall houses are early in the sequence of timber framed houses and were high status dwellings . In his study of these houses Peter Smith recorded 20 examples of this construction, mainly in NE Wales and particularly in Denbighshire. In some cases such as Plas Uchaf at Llangar, which has now been restored by the Landmark Trust the roof was supported by both aisle and cruck trusses. Plas Cadogan at Esclusham near Wrexham survived as the finest example of a Welsh aisled house with an open hall up to roof. Despite being a Grade I listed building it was demolished in 1967. The roof has now been re-erected at the Avoncroft Museum at Bromsgrove.

Aisled hall houses in Wales have been dated by dendrochronology to the 15th century, though examples in England are often earlier. Some of the aisled houses such as the Upper House at Painscastle in Radnorshire or Althrey Hall in Maelor Saesneg had box-framed wings added to provide far greater accommodation and formed an H shaped plan for the building. Althrey Hall was built in the early C16 and was described by John Leland as a fair house in the 1530s. It is thought that it was built for Richard ap Howel. The double portrait wallpainting surviving in the first floor of mid-16th-century date is likely to represent Richard’s son, Elis ap Richard (died 1558), with his bride Jane Hanmer.

An example of an aisled hall house that has been studied in great detail and fully restored is Ty Mawr, Castle Caereinion in Montgomeryshire. This house has been dated to 1460 by dendrochronology and was owned by the Alo ap Rhiwallon family (who had settled there in the 13th century), and the builder of Tŷ Mawr was probably Dafydd ap Gwilym, the great-great-grandson of Alo ap Rhiwallon.

Cruck construction
The Vernacular Architecture Group currently has records of 1002 historic cruck framed buildings in Wales Of these 520 are in Powys and by far the greatest concentration are in the historic county of Radnorshire with 318 examples and Montgomeryshire with 161. The praise poetry of Iolo Goch describing Owain Glyndŵr’s houses at Sycharth indicate that cruck construction was well established in 14th-century Wales. The earliest cruck framed house to be dated so far is Hafodygarreg at Erwood in Breconshire, which has a date of 1402. These cruck buildings are part of the Hall-house tradition with central fireplaces and the smoke escaping through vents in the roof. Some of the cruck framed houses were extended by adding wings, providing an H shaped layout. With the introduction of box framed and jettied houses in the mid-15th century, the use of crucks gradually went out of fashion. At this time many cruck houses were converted into barns and evidence for fireplaces and chimney stacks stripped. A good example of a house that has been converted into a barn, possibly as late as the 18th century is at Ty-coch Llangynhafal, Denbighshire. This has recently been restored by Denbighshire County Council and it has been dated to 1430. There are many instances in Montgomeryshire where more elaborate timber framed farmhouses are associated on the same site with earlier houses which were converted into barns. At Rhyd y Carw in Trefeglwys the original cruck framed hall house dated to about 1525 while nearby stands the impressively decorated box-framed Rhydycarw farmhouse dating from the earlier part of the 17th century.

Regional types of sub-medieval houses
The idea of the Sub-Medieval House in Wales was first developed by Sir Cyril Fox and Lord Raglan in their study of the Vernacular architecture of Monmouthshire, which was published between 1951 and 1954. Fox and Raglan recognised that around 1550 a great change occurred in Welsh House building. While the earlier Medieval traditions of constructing with crucks and timber framing continued, many new features start to appear in domestic architecture. Chimneys start to be inserted into the halls of houses instead of the open fireplaces and chimney stacks may either be built on the gable ends of houses or as lateral chimneys on the side walls. At the same time timber framed and stone houses start to be built with one and even more storeys. Box framing starts to supplant the older timber framing with crucks and in order to gain more floor space at the upper levels these floors were jettied out from the building line. Fox and Raglan considered that in Monmouthshire, the building of Sub-Medieval houses continued until around 1620. In the later part of the 16th century, sub-medieval houses continued to be built in parallel with often grander houses showing Renaissance style or influences.

An excellent example of a Sub Medieval house is Llancaeach-Fawr at Gelligaer in Glamorgan. John Newman comments that in contrast with other buildings of the period it is a delight to find one so nearly perfectly preserved. It is of three storeys and largely of a single build period. It was built by either Richard ap Lewis or his son David ap Richard (Prichard), who was resident here in the 1530s. The windows emphasise the importance of the first floor rooms.

The ideas of Fox and Raglan were developed by Smith in his study of Houses of the Welsh Countryside, first published in 1975 and re-issued as an enlarged addition in 1988. Smith classifies five main types of Sub-Medieval house based on the position of the chimney or chimneys and the position of the main entrance door. These groups are:

Type A, Houses with Lateral Chimney heating the hall of the house or end gable houses. These occur in northern and southern areas of Wales but rarely in the central areas. The end gable houses include the Snowdonia houses of north Wales
Type B. Houses with the chimney backing on the entry. The chimneys are placed centrally in the house and the entrance may lead into a screens passage at the back of the fireplace.
Type C. The Lobby Entrance House where the fireplace is centrally placed and the entrance is by a door into a small lobby area placed against the chimney stack. Those houses are timber framed and occur mainly in Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire and Denbighshire. The Severn Valley houses of Montgomeryshire are within this grouping.
Type D. Similar to the Lobby Entry Houses but lack the double-backed fireplaces and have an additional end gable. There are a few houses of this type in N.E. Wales, but otherwise they occur as stone built houses in Glamorgan.
Type H. This is a gable entry house, similar to type B, but the entry is away from the gable fireplace. This type only occurs in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.
Long houses and the long house controversy

A good example of a long house is Cilewent Farmhouse from Llansanffraid Cwmteuddwr, nr Rhayader, Radnorshire which has been reconstructed at St Fagans. This is a long-house, with cattle being accommodated at one end and humans at the other, with a passageway between the two parts. This type of farmhouse was once common in mid- and south Wales. This cruck and timber-framed house was originally built about 1470 as an open hall house. The original timber walls were rebuilt in stone in 1734, with the date being carved on the head of the entrance door frame. All that remains of the original house are the two cruck trusses in the cow house and the timber-framed partition between the cow house and the dwelling. Another re-construction at St Fagans is Hendre’r-ywydd Uchaf Farmhouse from Llangynhafal in Denbighshire. This a cruck-framed hall-house dendrochronologically dated to 1508 and typical of the better class of Welsh farmhouse in the late Middle Ages. The building is divided into five bays, the lower two used for housing for cattle and horses, the centre bay serving as a work-room and the upper two comprising the open hall and a bedroom. The outside walls are timber-framed, the panels being in-filled with wattle and daubed with clay. Both the daubed panels and the timber work are limewashed as was common in the Middle Ages. The open hearth is placed in the centre of the hall, smoke from the fire escaping through the roof and the unglazed windows. Excavations in 2003 by Bill Britnell at Tŷ Draw at Llanarmon Mynydd Mawr in north Powys have done much to elucidate the relationship of the cow house with the hall of a longhouse. This is a classic three unit hall house of longhouse type. It has an open hall of two bays set between inner and outer rooms, the outer room acting as an cow byre. Dendrochrononology on the roof purlins suggest that Tŷ Draw was completed shortly after 1479/80 and it has been possible to suggest from this dating that the house was built by Hywel ap Rees. In the byre area, which was accessed by door, a series of small post holes were noted, that have been interpreted as wickerwork hurdles. These would have provided stalls for cattle which were overwintered from November to March each year. Similar evidence for stalls for cattle have been found at Tŷ Mawr and Tyddyn Llwydion in Montgomeryshire.

The idea of the “Longhouse or Tŷ-hir was first discussed by Iorwerth Peate in his pioneering book “The Welsh House(1940). This was the description of a house where both people and beasts were housed together under the same roof, as portrayed in the Medieval Welsh poem the Dream of Rhonabwy. Peate thought that the Welsh Longhouse had had a long history and that it occurred in all parts of Wales. This view was challenged by Peter Smith, who had gathered a vast amount of information in his Houses of the Welsh Countryside, published in 1975. This showed that longhouses were rarely one-phase buildings and often the byre had been added onto the house. This showed that longhouses were not an upland phenomenon and are noticeably absent from Gwynedd where Snowdonia Houses are detached from their farm buildings. The longhouses occur particularly in Ceredigion, Radnorshire and North Powys. Suggett uses the example of Nannerth-ganol near Rhayader to illustrate the close connection of with the family who lived in this house with cattle rustling, which was particularly prevalent in mid-Wales in the Elizabethan period.

Box framing
Box framing is a simple timber frame made of straight vertical and horizontal pieces with a common rafter roof. The term box frame is not well defined and has been used for any kind of framing other than cruck framing. The distinction presented here is the roof load is carried by the exterior walls. The timber framework, when exposed will be visible as squares or rectangles panels. and the houses will also show signs of bracing, particularly at the corners. Many of the Welsh houses have decorative features in the panels, such as quatrefoils and lozenge or herringbone deceptive woodwork. The panels may also be filled by Close studding. Box framing was used for the wings of earlier cruck or aisled timber framed houses, but it was not until the mid-16th that it was used as the main construction form for free standing houses in the Sub-Medieval tradition, such as Glas Hirfryn, Llansilin. In the latter part of the 16th century, box framed houses grew larger and more elaborate. They would now be built to three or four storeys with tall gabled projecting wings and decorative porches.

A good example of this is Plas yn Pentre at Trevor near Wrexham. On the dissolution of the abbey in 1536 it came into the possession of the High Sheriff of Denbighshire, Ieuan Edwards. His grandson partially re-built the house in 1634. His initials and the date can be seen carved into the exterior of the west gable. Many of these large timber box framed houses have disappeared, but watercolours and prints record Aberbechan Hall and Garthmyl Hall, Berriew in Montgomeryshire and Bychton in Flintshire.

The largest and most impressive of these houses was Lymore, Montgomery, built by Edward, third Lord Herbert of Chirbury, c. 1675 (date on a gable finial but not finished until 1677, a year before Lord Herbert’s death) The house had a close-studded frontage, with an open three-bay Renaissance loggia on the ground floor, six gables (later reduced to three), and, rising from the centre, a pyramid-roofed look-out tower or Belvedere. While the main house was built in timber, there was extensive use of brick for the inner courtyard and service wings. The hall was not used as the family seat for long, and for most of its existence it was either unoccupied or used by agents of the estate. It was, however, kept in good order and in 1909 the Prince of Wales, who was shooting in the surrounding parkland, was entertained here. In August 1921 the floor collapsed during a Bazaar Sale, and the hall was finally demolished in the 1931. The Welsh gentry continued to build timber framed houses well into the 17th century, and distinctively these houses, such as Maes Mawr in Montgomeryshire, have very wide entry porches. Box-framed timber houses for the working class continued to be built in mid-Wales into the early part of the 19th century. These later houses and cottages are constructed of very much lighter timber work or scantling.

Pembrokeshire houses with round chimney stacks
These form an unusual group of Sub-Medieval Houses which were studied by E.L Barnwell in 1867-8 and by J Romilly Allen in 1902. Characteristically these are a form of Hall house with a lateral chimney stack, which may be either round or conical. Typically these chimneys have a lean to outshoot on either side of the stack with one of these outshoots acting as a porch. Cottages and houses with these chimneys were mapped by Peter Smith and he showed that they form two groups, one around St Davids and the other to the south of Pembroke. There is a good example of one of these chimneys on the Merchants House, Tenby. Houses with very similar plans and lateral outshoot, but with square chimneys, also cluster on the Gower Peninsular.

Lobby entrance and Severn Valley houses
The timber-framed lobby entrance house emerged in the mid-16th century in Mid Wales. The majority of these houses occur in Montgomeryshire with outliers in Radnorshire and Denbighshire. The chimney in these houses is generally in the middle of the house. There is no cross passage, unlike the Longhouses and the Snowdonia houses and instead the main doorway opens into a small lobby on the side of the fireplace. The chimney generally stands between the kitchen and the parlour, and the key feature of these houses is the emphasis placed on the parlour which takes the place of a hall. Many of these houses are earlier cruck framed hall houses, and some are box framed, which have had chimney’s inserted and interior floors. An example of this one the best known of the lobby entrance houses is Penarth (Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn), which stands prominently by the road between Newtown and Welshpool. This originally appears to have had a cruck framing. It has had two cross wings added and is strikingly decorated with close studded and herringbone timber work decoration.

A development of this is Severn Valley Houses which particularly congregate along the Severn Valley in Montgomeryshire especially between Newtown and Welshpool. A typical feature of the Severn Valley houses are the elaborate entry porches to the houses which often have decorative scroll brackets supporting a jettied upper story. These porches often are added features to an earlier timber framed house and lead directly into a lobby entrance. A well known example of the Severn Valley type, which has added timber framed wings to the house is Trewern Hall near Welshpool. A house which has been dated by dendrochronology is Lower Cil on the outskirts of Berriew. This is a well-preserved farmhouse. Its left side is 16th-century (the square framing under the render was felled in 1583), probably a hall-house enlarged when the close-studded taller right end was rebuilt in the early 17th century to provide a new parlour and porch, both slightly jettied. The porch has open sides with turned rails, and the original inner door. The remodelling included the typical Severn Valley lobby-entry central chimney, with its triple-moulded brick stacks.

Snowdonia houses
Snowdonia houses have recently been the subject of considerable study by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the Dating Old Welsh Houses Group. These houses are typical of the Sub Medieval houses appearing in Wales in the earlier part the 16th century, which are a development from the Hall House. Characteristically Snowdonia Houses are now built on a vertical rather than horizontal plan with two or more storeys and lateral chimney stacks set against the end gables. The older cruck construction is now replaced with roofs constructed of trusses and purlins supported on stone walls. The centrally placed doorway may now be set under a massive stone cyclopean arch as at Faenol Fawr, Bodelwyddan or else under a fan arch of stone slabs as at Y Garreg Fawr. Y Garreg Fawr from Waenfawr in Caernarfonshire has been re-constructed at St Fagans and has been dated to 1544 The earliest example of a Snowdonia House dated by dendrochronology is Dugoed at Penmachno. This has been dated to 1516–7. The nearby Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant, known as the birthplace of William Morgan, translator of the bible into Welsh has been dated to 1565, but there is evidence that this was the re-building of an earlier cruck hall house of around 1500. The construction of the typical Snowdonia Houses continued into the 17th century, as at Cymbrychan at Llanfair which is dated 1612.

It should also be noted that the distribution of Snowdonia type houses extends into Aberconway and Caernarfonshire. A good example of this type of house is the smaller house which stands immediately next to the mansion at Faenol Fawr near St Asaph. This is likely earlier 16th century in date. It appears to have been a two storied, hall house, with cruck framing and stone walls. The evidence for the cruck roof is from a photograph by the Rev N W Watson, and this roof may still be in place. Cyclopean doorways have been studied by Peter Smith, who shows that they are distributed mainly in Denbighshire and Merionethshire.

These massive arched stone door lintels were introduced at a time, probably around 1600, when stone walling was replacing timber framing and may encase an earlier timber structure. A much altered post and panel screens passage with three entrances, now in the hall area of the main house, is likely to have been removed from the hall in the older house. This screens passage would have been associated with the finely moulded beams in the older house. These moulded beams can be compared with similar beams at Maesycastell in Caernarvonshire and Perthywig in Denbighshire which are illustrated by Smith

Another example is Gilar in Pentrefoelas, presumably built by Cadwaladr ap Maurice after receiving a substantial grant of land from Henry VIII in 1545-6 His son was the poet Rhys Wyn ap Cadwaladr (fl. c. 1600),

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