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Cardiganshire

Cardiganshire. A west-coast county of Wales bordering the Irish Sea. In 1974 it became the district of Ceredigion in the county of Dyfed, but in 1996 was reconstituted as a county, retaining the name Ceredigion. That name, from which Cardigan is derived, is supposedly after Ceredig, founder of a post-Roman Celtic chiefdom (gwlad) and the son of Cunedda, a leader of the Votadini, who moved or were moved from Strathclyde in the 5th cent. Its territorial extent was confirmed under Norman occupation and, after its conquest by Edward I in 1277, it was created one of the shires of the principality by the statute of Rhuddlan in 1284. At the Act of Union with England in 1536 it was retained as a county virtually within its ancient limits and has remained as such to the present, apart from the period 1974–96.

Cardiganshire is the land between the sea and the Plynlimon (Pumlumon) range and between the Teifi and Dyfi rivers. It consists of an interior high plateau (1,700–2,000 feet) falling in a series of lower plateaux, seamed by deeply incised rivers, to the coast. Economically there are three dominant activities, livestock farming, tourism, and education. Two of the institutes of the University of Wales are located in the county at Aberystwyth and Lampeter.

The population, which was 69,000 in 2000, has been growing after 100 years of rural depopulation. Its western location has meant that it has been a bastion of the Welsh language. But although it was spoken by 93 per cent in 1901, with 50.4 monoglot, the proportion had declined to 59.1 per cent in 1991.

Cardiganshire constitutes a parliamentary constituency and, in line with Welsh radicalism, its political representation was predominantly Liberal, but more recently Plaid Cymru has taken the seat.

Harold Carter

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Cardiganshire

Cardiganshire, former county, W Wales: see Ceredigion.

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