Radnorshire, Wales


Radnorshire or Radnor, an inland county of South Wales, bounded on the NW and the N by Montgomeryshire, on the NE by Salop, on the E by Herefordshire, on the S and the SW by Brecknockshire, and on the W by Cardiganshire. Its boundary with Salop is traced by the river Teme, with Brecknockshire and part of Herefordshire by the river Wye. Its greatest length from E to W is about 36 miles, its greatest breadth is about 30 miles, its circuit is about 120 miles, and its area is 301,164 acres. The south-eastern parts are comparatively level, but the other parts are prevailingly hilly and mountainous. The highest ground is Whimble Hill, in Radnor Forest, 2163 feet high, and other summits are 1850,1750, 1650, and 1550 feet high. The scenery includes several very striking spots, but in general cannot be called picturesque; yet, on the whole, exhibits a certain peculiarity of character. The hills and mountains for the most part are massive, rounded, and green, and they combine with the intersecting vales and the south-eastern tracts to suggest a grand idea of pastoral life. The chief streams, besides the Teme and the Wye, are the Elan, the Ithon, the Edw, the Bachwy, the Arw, the Somergill, the Marteg, and the Clywedog. The chief lakes are Llanby-chllyn, Llyn Gwyn, and Llyn Glanhillin, and the first is only about 1 1/2 mile in circuit. Mineral springs are at Llandrindod, Llandegia, Penybont, Llananno, Llanbadarn, Fynydd, and Llanbister, and some of them possess high medicinal value, and are supposed to owe it to the decomposition of iron pyrites and other minerals at intersections of stratified rooks with trap. Silurian rocks occupy much the larger portion of the entire area, old red sandstone occupies a considerable tract in the SE, a very fine mass of altered and crystalline limestone occurs at Nash Scar, and trap of peculiar and very interesting character forms a ridge of about 3 miles along the Stanner, the Worzel, and the Hanter Hills, and another of about 1 1/2 mile in length in Old Radnor Hill. Limestone is worked in the vale of Radnor, lead has been found at Cwm Elan, and traces of lead and copper are at Llandrindod.

The soils for the most part are thin and poor, but in the best tracts, in the vales and on other low grounds, are clayey, with some admixture of loam. Only about one-fourth of the entire area is under tillage, and about two-thirds are mountain, bog, and waste, while nearly two-thirds are un-enclosed. The hills are plentifully stocked with game, and according to Leland they once abounded with wild deer. Ancient forests covered vast tracts, yet have left scarcely a vestige, but modern plantations now clothe the sides of many of the vales. The crops raised on the arable lands are chiefly barley, oats, rye, pease, and clover, and the live stock fed on the pastures are chiefly small sheep of from 8 to 10 Ibs. the quarter, cattle of the Hereford breed, and small, active, hardy ponies.

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

Radnorshire Record Office,
County Hall,
Llandrindod Wells,
LD1 5LG.
phone: 01597 826088.
Fax: 01597 827162.
email: archives@powys.gov.uk

Civil Registration

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

List of Registration Districts in Radnorshire

Land and Property

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


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

Old map of Radnorshire 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.