views updated May 21 2018

Breconshire. Border county of south Wales taking its name from the Welsh kingdom of Brycheiniog which can be identified from the 8th cent. Its Norman successor was the lordship of Brecon, one of the lordships of the march. At the Act of Union with England in 1536 the lordships of Brecon and of Builth to the north, together with the smaller lordships of Blaenllynfi and Hay, were merged to form the county which was sometimes called Brecknockshire. In 1974 it became a district of the new county of Powys and remained part of that county after the revision of 1996.

Breconshire is dominated by highland, including the Brecon Beacons (Pen-y-Fan 2,906 feet), one of the country's national parks, the Black Mountains, and Fforest Fawr. Only some 6 per cent of the county is below 500 feet, the lower land being formed by the valleys of the rivers Wye and Usk.

Breconshire is predominantly agricultural with the Old Red Sandstone rocks giving the soil a distinctive red character in the south. Livestock farming includes cattle and sheep on the lower land, but extensive sheep runs on the higher ground. The southernmost fringe overlaps with the South Wales Coalfield where, although mining has ceased, some light industry has replaced it.

The county retains its distinctive border character, highly Anglicized in the east, less so in the west. Welsh speakers constitute only 5.7 per cent in the vale of Grwney on the English border but 40.7 per cent in Llywel on the western fringe. The percentage for the county was 23.0 in 1991. The total population is 41,488.

Harold Carter

About this article


All Sources -
Updated Aug 24 2016 About content Print Topic