(Sir Frycheiniog), also known as the County of Brecknock
, or the County of Brecon
is one of thirteen historic counties
, and a former administrative county.
Brecknockshire was bounded to the north by Radnorshire
, to the east by Herefordshire
, to the south by Monmouthshire
, and west by Carmarthenshire
. The county was predominantly rural and mountainous. The Black Mountains
occupied the southeast of the area, the Brecon Beacons
the central region, Fforest Fawr the southwest and Mynydd Eppynt the north. The highest point is Pen-y-Fan
, 2907 ft (886 m). The River Wye
traced nearly the whole of the northern boundary, and the Usk
flowed in an easterly direction through the central valley. The main towns were Brecon
, Builth Wells
, Llanwrtyd Wells
- For the Kingdom of Brycheiniog, see Brycheiniog.
Kingdom and lordship
The kingdom of Brycheiniog was established in the 5th century and survived until the 10th century when it was subjugated by the Anglo-Saxons
. During the Norman period
, the area was classified as a Lordship
. The Lord of Brycheiniog was subject to the Mortimer family who ruled most of south and east Wales in an area called the Welsh Marches
. During the reign of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd
the homage of the Lord of Brycheiniog was transferred to him from the King of England
) by the Treaty of Montgomery
in 1267. However, it was an attack on Brycheiniog by the Marcher Lords Humphrey de Bohun
and Roger Mortimer
in 1276 which led to the final breakdown of the peace between England
after which Llywelyn's domain was reduced to just his lands in Gwynedd. Brycheiniog was thereafter subject to the King of England.
Creation of county
The Laws in Wales Act 1535
created the County of Brecknock by combining a number of "lordships, towns, parishes, commotes and cantreds" in the "Country or Dominion of Wales''. The areas combined were:
), "Crekehowell" (Crickhowell
) "Tretowre", "Penkelly", "Englisshe Talgarth", "Welsshe Talgarth", "Dynas", "The Haye" (Hay-on-Wye
), "Glynebogh", "Broynlles", "Cantercely", "Llando Blaynllynby", "Estrodewe", "Buelthe" (Builth
), and "Llangors". The town of Brecknock or Brecon
was declared the county town.
The county was divided into six hundreds: Builth, Crickhowell, Devynnock, Merthyr, Penkelly, and Talgarth. Brecknock was the only borough in the county. Other market towns were Builth, Crickhowell and Hay-on-Wye. Under the terms of the 1535 legislation one member of parliament was returned for the borough and one for the county.
Nineteenth and twentieth centuries
Under the Local Government Act 1888
, an elected county council was formed and the area of the county was adjusted, with a number of industrialised areas in the south of the county (Beaufort
) being transferred to Monmouthshire
. The county council was based at the Shire Hall in Brecon.
Under the Public Health Act 1848 and the Local Government Act 1858 a number of towns were created Local Board Districts or Local Government Districts respectively, with local boards to govern their areas. In 1875 these, along with the Borough of Brecknock, became urban sanitary districts. At the same time the remainder of the county was divided into rural sanitary districts, some of which crossed county boundaries. The Local Government Act 1894 redesignated these as urban and rural districts. Two civil parishes were administered by rural district councils in neighbouring counties until 1934.
Coat of arms
On establishment in 1889 the Brecknockshire County Council adopted the attributed arms of Brychan
, fifth century founder of Brycheiniog. The shield was quartered. In the first and fourth quarters were the purported arms of Brychan's father Anlach: sable a fess cotised or between two swords in pale argent hilted gold, the upper sword point-upwards, the lower point-downwards
. In the second and third quarters were arms representing Brychan's mother, Marchell: or, three reremice (bats) 2 and 1 azure
. The motto Undeb Hedd Llywddiant
or "Unity, Peace, Prosperity" was used with the arms. The supposed fifth century arms were invented in the middle ages
, heraldry having not developed until several centuries later. The county council did not obtain an official grant of armorial bearings, although the unofficial arms subsequently became the basis for those granted to the successor Brecknock Borough Council.
Abolition and legacy
Brecknockshire was abolished in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972
. The bulk of its area passed to the new county of Powys
, where it became the Borough of Brecknock
, one of three districts
of the new county. At the same time the parishes of Penderyn
went instead to the Cynon Valley
and Merthyr Tydfil
districts in Mid Glamorgan
, whilst the urban district of Brynmawr
and the parish of Llanelly
from Crickhowell Rural District became part of Blaenau Gwent
In 1996 a further reorganisation of local government took place in Wales, and Powys became a unitary authority. A "Brecknockshire" area was formed under a decentralisation scheme, and a "shire committee" consisting of councillors elected for electoral divisions within the former district of Radnorshire exercises functions delegated by Powys County Council. According to the 2001 census the area of the shire committee had a population of 42,075.
Places of interest