Berthlwyd Farm through the ages

Berthlwyd Farmhouse in the Brecon Beacons, Powys

Sitting at the top of the beautiful Neath valley, Berthlwyd is an isolated upland farm in Powys with a history stretching back thousands of years.

Ancient remains

This valley has been farmed for thousands of years, and today is littered with the remains of previous inhabitants from the Bronze and Iron ages to medieval and later.

On the southern boundary of Berthlwyd lies an Iron Age enclosure, listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM). Numerous field boundaries in the form of walls and hedges are evidence of farming activity from the Iron Age right through to the present day, and a circular grain or root crop store on the edge of one of the lower meadows also possibly dates from the Iron Age.

The farmhouse

Records indicate there was a farmhouse at Berthlwyd as far back as 1662, when it was owned by William Beavan Rees. A few years later, a 1690 marriage settlement suggests that by this time the farm belonged to William Lewis of Hepstey.

Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries it’s not clear who owned the farm – except for one reference in the Tithe Schedule of 1840 indicating Berthlwyd belonged to a Leyson Morgan. Most of the farm’s history is unknown.

We bought Berthlwyd in 1992 and today the sixth generation of the same family to farm here are our tenants.

A moving landscape

To the west of Berthlwyd lies the River Nedd. The river runs through a spectacular, dramatic vertical-sided gorge, now largely dry as the Nedd follows an underground channel below the old river bed.

The gorge was created as a result of a collapsed cave system. Underneath Berthlwyd Farm lies the Little Neath River Cave, one of the largest cave systems in the area and now a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Sinkholes where underground caverns have collapsed are dotted throughout the area.

Geologically, the farm sits on carboniferous limestone and remnants of limestone pavement (link to external website) can be found on the highest points, including the craggy outcrops at Garn Fawr and in the woodlands bordering the Nedd gorge. It’s this limestone, combined with a benign farming system that has given rise to such a rich and varied flora that is the hallmark of Berthlwyd Farm.

Can I visit?

If you are a special interest group, such as botany or history, and you would like to visit, please contact the Brecon team. We're sorry, but Berthlwyd is not open to general members of the public.