History

The grand Grade 1 listed Clytha House in autumn sunshine © Will Lewis

The grand Grade 1 listed Clytha House in autumn sunshine

From Greek to Gothic at Clytha Estate

Home of possibly the last 'Greek-style' house in Wales and one of the outstanding 18th-century follies of Wales, Clytha Estate has many fascinating architectural features to see. Look out for its Gothic gateway, railings and Lodge House, grade-listed farms and walled garden.

Coed-y-Bwnydd hill fort

Under the canopy deep in the hill fort at Coed-y-Bwnydd © National Trust

Under the canopy deep in the hill fort at Coed-y-Bwnydd

This is the largest and possibly best-preserved Iron Age hill fort in Monmouthshire. Its circular ramparts, which enclose a circular wooded centre, are typical of forts of this period and can still be easily seen.

Recognised as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, humans have used this site for more than 2,000 years.
 

Medieval Parc Lodge

View of the Sugar loaf from Parc lodge © Joe Daggett

View of the Sugar loaf from Parc lodge

This hill farm was a medieval deer park, probably for the priory of Abergavenny. The boundary bank of the Medieval Park Pale surrounding the farm is one of the most intact in Wales. There are many charcoal platforms scattered across the farm, piles of stones, old boundary walls and trackways. There also appears to be evidence of former medieval dwellings to the north-east of the farm buildings.

Medieval chapel at Clytha

Stones such as this are all that remain of Capel Aedan, founded in 1188 © National Trust

Stones such as this are all that remain of Capel Aedan, founded in 1188

Founded in 1188 by Aedan of Gwaethfoed, today all that remains of this chapel is a small mound and some stones. It still existed in the 14th century, but later fell into ruin.

Surrounding Capel Aedan is the site of a deserted medieval village. It’s believed that the original Klytha Manor once stood here. There are several recorded sites along the river including Weavers Pool and Weavers Cottage and possibly the site of an old ford and quarry.
 

Did you know...?

  • Charcoal burning platforms can be found scattered throughout the woodlands of Parc Lodge and St Mary's Vale
  • Hitler's deputy Fuhrer, Rudolf Hess, was reputedly a regular visitor to the Skirrid while he was a prisoner of war at Maindiff Court, Abergavenny
  • Ha-has part surround the parkland. These are sunken stone wall with a deep ditch on the far side, providing an uninterrupted view from the house and prevent livestock escaping
  • Two Iron Age hill forts, one above the other, surround the summit of Skirrid Fawr and are of the same era as Coed-y-Bwnydd hill fort
  • A large ditch and bank structure stretches for two miles from the summit of the Sugarloaf and is thought to be early medieval or older
  • There are remains of an Iron Age hill fort at Twyn yr Allt on the end of the Deri

St Michael's Chapel

The remains of St Michael's Church with the summit trig point behind © National Trust

The remains of St Michael's Church with the summit trig point behind

The now ruined chapel of St Michael’s perched on the top of the summit of Skirrid Fawr was used by Roman Catholics during and after the Reformation. Services were held at the chapel until at least 1680, when John Arnold of Llanvihangel Court said he had seen ‘a hundred papists meet on top of this hill called St Michael’s Mount where there is frequent meetings, and, eight or ten times in the year, sometimes sermons are preached there’.

The Holy Mountain

The north-west of the Skirrid is prone to rock falls and landslips © Will Lewis

The north-west of the Skirrid is prone to rock falls and landslips

Known locally as the ‘Holy Mountain’, a popular legend tells how the dramatic landslide on the north of the mountain was caused by an earthquake or lightning strike at the moment of the crucifixion of Jesus.

There was a local tradition that earth from the Skirrid was holy and especially fertile, and it was taken away to be scattered on fields, on coffins, and in the foundations of churches. Pilgrimages were made to the summit, especially on Michaelmas Eve.
 

Jack O'Kent the giant

The one-mile stretch across to Skirrid Fawr from the Sugarloaf © National Trust

The one-mile stretch across to Skirrid Fawr from the Sugarloaf

A local story tells of a giant known as Jack O’Kent who had an argument with the Devil over which was bigger, the Sugarloaf or the Malvern Hills across the border. Jack’s argument that the Sugarloaf was bigger proved to be right. In his disgust the Devil collected a huge apron of soil to tip over the Malvern Hills to make them higher. But just as he was crossing the Skirrid the apron strings broke, dumping the soil on the Skirrid and forming the tump at the northern end.

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