Cardiganshire, Wales


Cardiganshire, a maritime county of South Wales, bounded on the west by Cardigan Bay, on the north by Merionethshire, on the north-east by Montgomeryshire, on the east by the counties of Radnor and Brecon, on the south by Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. Its length north-eastward is 45 miles, its greatest breadth is 35 miles, its circumference is about 150 miles, and its area is 440,630 acres. It is the most primitive and the wildest county of South Wales. The coast for the most part is low and rather tame. The interior, except in three valleys, has little level land, includes vast sweeping ranges of hills, and is largely mountainous. The south-western portion may, comparatively speaking, be called low country, while the north-eastern is high, and culminates in Plynlimmon. Some parts contain grand scenery in varieties of the picturesque, but the upland parts generally exhibit a dreary sameness. The river Dyfi or Dovey goes to the sea on the northern boundary, the river Teifi goes to the sea on the southern boundary, and the Rheidol, the Ystwith, the Mynach, the Ayron, the Dothie, the Claerwen, the Elan, the Berwyn, the Gwyrai, the Lery, and other streams water the interior. Lakes are numerous, but none of them are large. Rocks of the lower Silurian series occupy the entire area. Metal mines of high celebrity, yielding great wealth, were worked in the 16th century, were for a long time almost wholly abandoned, and afterwards partially resumed. Lead, zinc, and silver are the chief ores, and copper ore also is found. Slate for roofs and floors is worked.

The soil in much of the valleys is peat or vegetable mould, in the vales among the uplands chiefly stiff clay, with mixture of light loam, on the higher grounds of the lowland tracts generally a light sandy loam, from 4 to 12 inches deep, and on the uplands, for the most part, a coarse, shallow, barren detritus. About one-half of the entire area is waste. Tolerably good farming is practised in the valleys of the Teifi and the Ayron, and in some other parts. Lime is brought from Pembroke, and much used as a manure, but sea-weed and peat-ashes also are much used. Barley and oats are the chief crops, while wheat, rye, pease, beans, potatoes, and turnips also are raised. The arable farms average about 150 acres. Farm buildings have been improved. Butter and pork are produced for the market. The cattle are a small, hardy, black breed ; the sheep also are small, but have begun to be improved by crosses with the Southdowns, the Leicesters, and the Dorsets, and the horses seldom exceed 14 bands in height, but are strong and hardy.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5
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Archives and Libraries

Ceredigion Archives
County Offices
Marine Terrace
SY23 2DE
Tel: 01970 633697 or 633698


Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

List of Registration Districts in Cardiganshire from 1837 to 1974.

Land and Property

A transcript of the Cardiganshire Return of Owners of Land in 1873 is online.

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Cardiganshire is available to browse.


Old map of Cardiganshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Old map of Cardiganshire circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers online:

Parishes and places

The towns and parishes have now been moved to a separate page.