Cardigan, County Of
west miles llyn south
CARDIGAN, COUNTY OF, or CARDIGANSHIRE, a maritime county in South Wales, is bounded on the N. by Merioneth, on the E. by Montgomery, Radnor, and Brecon, on the S. by Carmarthen and Pembroke, and on the W. by the Irish Sea. Its greatest length from south to north is about 30 miles, and its greatest breadth from east to west about 40 miles ; but these dimensions give a very imperfect idea of its size, as it almost exactly represents in figure a " half-boot," the line of the sole being from east to west, with the toe at the extreme west. It possesses an area of 693 square miles, or 443,387 acres, and is, therefore, the fifth in size of the Welsh counties.
The whole area of this county is occupied by the lower Silurian geological formation. It does not, therefore, possess mines of coal, or iron, or limestone ; but, as if to compensate for this want, it is the richest of all the Welsh counties in its metalliferous lodes. Its lead mines have long been famous ; and it was from the profits of his mining speculations, carried on chiefly in this county, that the celebrated Sir Hugh Myddelton was enabled to carry out his gigantic project for supplying London with water, by means of the New River. The Lisburne, Goginan, Own' Ystwith, and other mines still yield largely, and have been sources of great profit to the adventurers. Some of the lead raised is very rich in silver ; and in the 17th century the quantity of silver obtained was so considerable, that, by virtue of letters-patent, a mint existed for coining it on the spot.
Cardiganshire is exceedingly wild and mountainous ; but the mountains generally have little of grandeur in their character, Plinlimmon itself, in spite of its height, being singularly deficient in boldness of outline. There is a considerable tract of flat land lying along the sea coast, especially towards the south-west, the general aspect of which is so dreary and desolate, that it has been called, and with good reason, the desert of Wales. In that district it is almost possible to travel 30 miles in a straight line without seeing a house, or a road, or a human being. The principal mountains are Plinlimmon, just within the county boundary on the north-east, rising to the height of 2469 feet, and Tregaron mountain, near Tregaron, in the southeast, 1778 feet in height. Few of the others exceed 1000 feet in elevation.
The vale of Teifi presents views of great beauty and interest, especially as it approaches the sea. The valleys of the Aeron, the Ystwith, and the Rheidol, also present scenes of great beauty, especially the last, in which is the famous Devil's Bridge, with the falls of the Rheidol, one of the most celebrated pieces of Welsh scenery.
The county abounds in lakes and rivers. The chief of the latter is the Teifi, which rises in a lake of the same name (Llyn Teifi), about 8 miles north-east of Tregaron ; flowing through the centre of the county, in a south-west direction, till it reaches Lampeter, it becomes from that point the county boundary, separating it from Carmarthen and Pembroke, and, after a course of about 50 miles from its source, falls into the sea at Cardigan. The Aeron takes its rise in some lakes in a low range of hills called Mynydd Bach, and first flowing in a southerly direction, and afterwards nearly west•, falls into the sea at Aberaeron. The Ystwith and Rheidol both rise in Plinlimmon, and flowing west, cross the county, falling into the sea at Aberystwith; and the Towy forms the county boundary, separating it from Brecknockshire on the south-east.
Cardiganshire has been called the lake county of Wales, an appellation which it well deserves. The most important are Llyn Teifi, Llyn Fyrddyn Fawr, Llyn Egnant, Llyn Gynon, and Llyn Eiddwen ; but hardly any of them exceeds three-quarters of a mile in length. They abound in trout, and are now a good deal resorted to by anglers.
The climate on the coast is mild and salubrious, but suffers from an excess of rain. The climate of the hill country is cold, wet, and bleak. The cultivated crops consist of wheat, oats, barley, turnips, and potatoes ; and in the lower districts on the coast, especially in the neighbourhood of Aberaeron, Llanrhystyd, and Cardigan, good crops are raised ; and at the last-named, as well as at Lampeter, great improvements are now being effected, by means of the Government Drainage Bill, in draining and improving several large estates. In 1873 there were 2038 holdings of an acre and upwards, and 1278 of less size, - the average extent being 118 acres, while that of all Wales is 741 acres. Seven holdings exceeded 5000 acres, and none extended to 30,000 acres. It is calculated that one-half of the lands are enclosed. The hill district is entirely occupied with wild heathy pastures, which are stocked with the small mountain sheep of the country, and with herds of ponies and cattle, which are annually drafted off by dealers to be fattened in the more fertile districts of Wales or England. Cardiganshire has long been famous for its breed of horses, and for these high prices are obtained from English dealers, who now visit the farms in considerable numbers.
The following tables show the acreage of particular crops, and the numbers of live stock in the years 1872 and 1875 : - Oats. Barley. Wheat. GI een Glass under Crops. rotation.