Carmarthenshire or Caermarthenshire, a maritime county of South Wales, bounded on the W by Pembrokeshire, on the N by Cardiganshire, on the E by Breconshire, on the SE by Glamorgan, on the S by Carmarthen Bay. It is the largest county in the Principality. Its length, north-eastward, is 53 miles; its greatest breadth, 33 miles; its circuit, about 165 miles; its area, 587,816 acres. A low tract, reclaimed from the sea, lies round Laugharne; another low tract lies along the Towy; a great congeries of hills and uplands fills most of the interior; a range of mountains, striking away to Plynlimmon in Cardiganshire, is in the north; and a loftier range, forming the main part of the Black Mountains or Forest Fawr, culminates in the Carmarthen Van or Beacon (2596 feet), the highest peak of which (2631 feet) is over the border in Breconshire. The chief rivers are the Towy, with the Gwili, the Cothi, the Bran, the Sawdde, and the Cennin; the Taf, with the Gynin and Cywyn; the Teifi, on the boundary with Cardigan; the Llwchwr, on the eastern boundary to the sea; the two Gwendraeths, and the Amman. The Towy has a course of about 50 miles in Carmarthenshire. Several lakes occur, of no great size, yet full of interest either to the angler or to the tourist. Lower Silurian rocks form the northern and the central districts; upper Silurian rocks form narrow belts in the SE; old red sandstone rocks form a considerable belt on the coast, from the western boundary to the east of the Towy, and thence east-north-eastward; and the rocks of the carboniferous series, rich in the coal measures, constituting part of the great coal-field of South Wales, form all the tracts on the SE, both sea-board and inland. Lead ore, copper ore, ironstone, slate, building-stone, fire-stone, and dark blue marble are worked, and there are numerous collieries.
The soils on the higher tracts over all the different kinds of rocks are, for the most part, rather poor, while those in the valleys, especially in the lower parts of those of the Towy and the Taf, are in general very fertile. About one-third of all the land is waste. Peat is the only fuel throughout much of the uplands, and crushed coal, mixed with clay, and formed into balls, is the chief fuel used in the other tracts. The enclosures are chiefly of stone. Oats are the chief grain crop, both for home use and for exportation. Butter and bacon are sent from dairy tracts to market. The cattle are chiefly a small or middle-sized native breed; but in some of the best parts of the valleys are large kinds from other counties. The sheep were formerly small, but have been much improved by crosses with the Southdowns.
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Archives and Libraries
Carmarthenshire Archives Service,
Tel: 01267 228232
Fax: 01267 228237
e mail: Archives@Carmarthenshire.Gov.UK
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
List of Registration Districts in Carmarthenshire from 1837 to 1974.
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Carmarthenshire is available to browse.
Old map of Carmarthenshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)
Old map of Carmarthenshire 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.