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Deep within the recesses of the Denbighshire Archives is an unassuming little map, only 20cm square, which is nevertheless in its own way a fairly remarkable document. It is, in fact, the oldest surviving enclosure map in Wales, having been drawn up in 1768 with respect to a 5 acre fragment of land in Minera going by the odd name of “The Beg”. This was part of a larger common then called Waen John ap Hugh Kenrick, “waen” being the local form, via a lost definite article, of a word sometimes written elsewhere as “gwaun”, and translating as something like “unenclosed mountain pasture”; a good description of what the area would have looked like at the time. The name is quite interesting in itself, as a person called John ap Hugh Kenrick, gent, appears on local records a century and more earlier, where he seems to have occupied the farm now known as Cae Adar sitting on the border of Minera and Brymbo.

It may therefore be significant that the man carrying out the 1768 enclosure on John ap Hugh Kenrick’s old pasture was also, at some point, an occupier of Cae Adar. His name was Thomas Smith, and though he has been barely mentioned alongside such better-known local industrial magnates as Robert Burton and John Wilkinson, it appears as if he was once an influential figure in mining in the district.

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Stones, along with hills, valleys and springs, provide some of the most persistent place names we have; trees and people come lower down the scale of permanence. Both naturally-occurring rocks and deliberately placed ones were also often used as boundary markers for parishes and townships, their status underlined by a yearly walk around the boundary points by a group of residents (along with their children, who would have to perform the same duties themselves one day). As disputes over boundaries and land rights were a regular feature of rural life, it was helpful to know exactly who was responsible for what.

The boundaries of Brymbo township mostly follow natural watercourses, so that was simple and uncontroversial enough. Things were slightly less certain on the common moor above Bwlchgwyn, but the responses of the local freeholders to Norden’s Survey, in 1620, shows that they had not really bothered to find out the boundaries there, which would not become a serious consideration until the land began to be enclosed. In adjacent townships, various markers appear: Norden describes the boundary of the township of Burton, where it met the parish of Hope, as running to “a place where the hoare wythen did grow neere the common Moore“. Boundary stones might also have been used, as he notes the boundary of Esclusham as proceeding “through certaine ffeildes with certaine markes knowne“. Even if not used as boundary markers, there were, however, a number of named stones or rocks dotted about Brymbo township – some natural and some perhaps set there by human agency in the distant past.

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This is site about Brymbo, a township once part of Denbighshire, and its history. You can read more about the site in general, start with the most recent posts or with the archives listed below.
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