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BRECON TOWN, MEDIEVAL AND LATER BOROUGH

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 32994

Map Reference SO02NW

Grid Reference SO04472859

Unitary (Local) Authority Powys

Old County Brecknockshire

Community Brecon

Type of Site TOWN

Broad Class CIVIL

Period General

Site Description Brecon is an historic market town in southern Powys, mid Wales and was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshire. The Welsh name of Brecon, ‘Aberhonddu’ means the mouth of the Honddu, which is derived from the river Honddu, which meets the river Usk near the town centre. In Roman Britain, Brecon was established as a Roman cavalry base for the conquest of Wales. Later, the confluence of the Honddu and the Usk made for a valuable defensive position for the Norman castle (NPRN: 92021) which overlooks the town, built by Bernard de Neufmarche in the late 11th Century. Brecon cathedral (NPRN: 96574) stands less than a mile from the castle, and the cathedral is relatively young due to it being bestowed upon the church in 1923.

Today Brecon is a thriving community, and is popular as a holiday destination, it being on the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The Brecon Jazz festival is held in the town centre annually, with several open air venues and indoor concerts held in several venues, including the town’s market hall and the 400 seat theatre.

M. Lloyd Davies RCAHMW, 07 January 2009.

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This small market town and former capital of the historic county of Brecknockshire is situated on the confluence of the rivers Honddu and Usk. The Romans established a cavalry base here during their occupation of Britain for their onward conquest of Wales. In the eleventh century, the Normans built a castle here, again due to the town’s favourable strategic location on one of the few fords on the river. In the mid thirteenth century a circuit of town walls were built. Little survives of these as they were destroyed in the English Civil War. Brecon Cathedral originated in the eleventh century as a church dedicated to Saint John. It is the newest cathedral in Wales, having become the seat of the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon in 1923 following the disestablishment of the Church in Wales three years earlier.

Brecon’s favourable location to the north of the Brecon Beacons has made it a long-time favourite with tourists. With the gradual improvement of the major roads in Wales during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, it also served as a central stopping point for post coaches. Thanks to this development, many tourists came to visit. In 1844, Carl Carus and Friedrich August II, the King of Saxony, shortly stopped here to change horses and enjoyed the bustling life of the market and beautiful surrounding countryside on their day’s journey from Merthyr Tydfil to Aberystwyth.

Record updated as part of the AHRC-funded project 'Journey to the Past: Wales in historic travel writing from France and Germany'.
R. Singer (Bangor University) and S. Fielding (RCAHMW), 2017.

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