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About Talgarth

Talgarth is a small market town and community in southern Powys, mid Wales, with a population of 1,645. Notable buildings in the town include its 14th-century parish church and 13th century Pele Tower, located in the town centre, now home to the Tourist Information and Resource Centre. According to traditional accounts Talgarth was the capital of the early medieval Welsh Kingdom of Brycheiniog.

History of the name of the town

Earliest names on record: Talgar c. 1163–74, Talgard c.100, 1204–14, Talgarth c1100, kwmwd talgarth [note: printed as shown in reference book in lower case letters]c.1566, Talgarth Ughporthe 1569, Talgarth hewchporth 1541-3, English Talgarthe 1575, Englysshe Talgarth 1331. Inglisshe Talgarth 1520[3] The meaning of the name is in the Welsh for tal-forehead or brow of a hill and garth – mountain ridge or promontory. The church of Talgarth in 1488 was dedicated to Sce Wenne Virginis, explained as Gwen (granddaughter of Brychan), and have said to have been murdered by Saxons.

Culture and community

In August, the Talgarth Festival of the Black Mountains is held, a popular event attracting thousands of people each year. The town also has a Christmas lights display each year, organised by Talgarth Town Council and a team of volunteers.

Buildings and other sites of note

  • Talgarth Mill
  • Talgarth’s Victorian Town Hall with its memorial clock tower overlooks the Square.
  • The Medieval Tower House, also overlooking the Square.
  • The Tower Hotel was built in 1873 for the gentleman farmers to attend the livestock market, which still exists.
  • St. Gwendoline’s Church, a grade II* listed building. (Saint Wenna (born ca. 463) was a princess and a daughter of Brychan who founded the church of Talgarth and then evangelised parts of north Cornwall. She founded the church of St Wenn and chapels at St Kew and Cheristowe (in Stoke-by-Hartland, Devon). She died on 18 October, year unknown. Saint Gwendoline is a saint from the 8th century.)
  • Nearby Bronllys Castle.

Chambered tombs – Penywyrlod

A Neolithic chambered tomb at Penywyrlod, Talgarth (c. 4000 BC) was discovered in June 1972 by a farmer when clearing a stone mound from a field for use as hard-standing in the farmyard. The discovery led to archaeological excavation of the site by Dr. Savory of the National Museum of Wales. During the excavation a number of human remains were found along with a bone flute, a human rib and some worked flints and stone. The bone flute was made from a sheep metapodial bone. It has three holes and may either have been a simple flute or whistle.[5] The larger hole may have been the blow-hole. This is the oldest dated musical instrument found from Wales.

Outdoor activities

The Black Mountains Gliding Club is based on the hillside to the southeast of the town. It attracts many visitors from all of the UK, due to the year-round ability to remain airborne by means of mountain lift, both ridge lift and wave lift.
Pony trekking

There are a number of riding operators in the area who hire out horses for both experienced and novice riders. The mountains and moorland are very suitable for relaxed ascents with some opportunities to canter and gallop on the commons near the town.

The Black Mountains above the town are very good for upland hiking and hill-walking. The mountain ridges are around 2000 feet high with the highest point called Waun Fach at 811 metres (2,660 feet).
Landscape and natural history
Pwll-y-Wrach waterfall, near Talgarth

There is an ancient woodland along the banks of the River Ennig just 1 km from the town centre. There are a series of waterfalls within the wood. The largest is called Pwll-y-wrach, which means[8] ‘Witches Pool’. Local legend suggests that witches may have been ducked in this pool in medieval times. There is a geology trail, explaining the environment of 400 million years ago. A large part of Pwllwrach wood is a nature reserve, owned and managed by the Brecknock Wildlife Trust.
Site of Special Scientific Interest

Pwll-y-wrach wood is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) because of its special habitat values and the existence of some quite rare plants, including the small leaved Lime tree and the Lesser butterfly-orchid. These are regarded as indicator plants of Ancient Woodland. That is an area that has retained a continuous cover of trees for thousands of years.

The fossil remains of ancient armoured fishes have been found in rocks within the late Silurian/early Devonian-age Lower Old Red Sandstone rocks exposed in local streamsides. Microscopic analysis has found fish scales and fin spines of these ancient fish some 410 million years old. The research carried out by a local man, Roderick Williams. The remains were then sent to Australia to a fossil fish expert Dr Sue Turner for photographing and finally a scientific paper was published on these findings. Within the area of Talgarth the geology requires more long term research as a rare spider like fossil was found at Tredomen quarry and remains of very ancient plants from the same age rocks.

There is evidence of volcanic activity in the formation of air fall tuffs in the layers of rocks, blown out from a distant volcano. The nature of these tuffs infer an explosive type of eruption from volcanoes sited on the edge of a continental subduction zone. The whole area was probably tectonically unstable at the time.

There is some barytes present in rocks at Pwll-y-Wrach. There is a small source of lead ore at the Gospel Pass in the uppermost reaches of the River Honddu where strings of galena were found circa 1800. There was also an unsuccessful trial mine for copper at Felin Fach nearer Brecon in the 17th century. Some rather interesting ore mixture was found. There was further exploration in the 19th century when speculation was running high; a fallen-in shaft and tunnel still exists. Copper in the form of small green patches of malachite has been found in rocks at the base of a large mountain gully above Velindre. It is not known if this was exploited but the area has been referred to as the ‘copper works’ in a manuscript on beating the boundary of Llanigon parish. Limestone in the form of ‘calcrete’ within the local sandstone rocks has been burnt for lime in many places across the Black Mountains for both lime mortar and agricultural uses.

Some years ago a local man interested in geology (R. B. Williams) had found a thick tuff bed (20 cm or so thick) in the banks of the River Ennig not far above Penbont Bridge in the vicinity of Talgarth. It was instantly recognised as probably being part of the so-called Townsend Tuff Bed which has three distinct beds or layers in close proximity. Known as layers A,B and C. A is the lowest bed and is recognised by coprolites on its upper surface; these may be the droppings of a some unidentified crustacean. The finder had seen these beds at Cusop and Merbach Hill (Herefordshire) and are widely known throughout the Old Red Sandstone of the Anglo Welsh area by geologists. Recently concern was shown that this bed middle bed was at risk from the building of Talgarth’s flood defences in the upper River Ennig. The British Geological Survey team was contacted by the finder tuff bed B and they were very interested in its location because recently the BGS (2011) had been working on the same rocks on the Epynt hills (artillery range). On visiting they decided that this thick tuff bed at Penbont was probably Bed B. Mr Williams then showed them another known tuff bed which had been found by another local geologist Mr Hawley placed at ‘The Rocks’ Talgarth just upstream of the mill. This was instantly recognised as Bed A. Bed C has yet to be found but the two geologists from the BGS are now considering resurveying the geology of Talgarth.
Flora and fauna

In spring the wood is carpeted with a succession of wildflowers leading to a mass display of bluebells in mid-spring followed by ramsons in late spring. Animals found in the wood include Tawny owls, badgers, foxes and otters with some uncommon birds such as dippers and Pied Flycatchers.

The wood is also home to the most important colony of dormice in the region and some uncommon bats, including the lesser horseshoe bat.

Talgarth is also becoming a place for artists and writers.

Our thanks to Wikipedia for this information as extracts from this document

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