History

As you breathe in the tranquillity of Elan it can be hard to imagine that this has been a place with such long and varied history. 4,000 years ago Stone Age people made Elan their home within the forests of oak, birch and hazel. Later arrivals included Celts and Romans. More recently Elan's resources have attracted mining interests. Coming up to date of course Elan's dams and reservoirs continue to provide water to significant populations.

TIMELINE

4000BC

Stone age people begin small scale clearance of forests of oak, birch and hazel.

2000BC

Bronze Age settlers erect cairns and standing stones.

500BC

Ordovician Celts arrive from Europe.

87BC-400AD

Roman occupation, temporary military camp is established at Esgair Perfedd.

500AD

Celtic monks start to farm the hills on a permanent basis.

600AD

Monastic settlement at Dôl y Mynach (Monks meadow) was established.

1171

Rhayader Castle was built by the Welsh Prince, Rhys ap Gruffudd.

1184

The lands of Cwmdeuddwr parish, including the Elan and Claerwen area, were given to the Cistercian Abbey of Strata Florida by Rhys ap Gruffudd.

1195

Rhys ap Gruffudd defeated by Mortimer at Painscastle.

1231

Rhayader Castle destroyed by Llywelyn the Great.

1300s

Extensive forest clearance of Elan ordered by Edward I, due to the trees sheltering thieves.

1536

Act of Union brings Wales under English law. All the monastic lands become the property of the Crown of Henry VIII.

1796-1877

Cwm Elan metal mines productive.

1798

William Lisle Bowles (poet) visits Cwm Elan and publishes the poem Coombe-Ellen.

1809

Thomas Grove Jnr. (cousin to Shelley) becomes Master of the Cwm Elan Estate.

1811

The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley visits Cwm Elan between June and August.

1812

In April Shelley returns with his wife Harriet to settle in the Elan Valley, this time residing at Nantgwyllt. Financial and political circumstances force them out of their home by June.

1843-1844

General economic depression and long standing discontent with the tolls charged by the Turnpike Trusts lead to the Rebecca Riots, so named because the attackers disguise themselves by blackening their faces and wearing womens clothes.

Late 1800s

Poach-ins (organised poaching) occur in defiance of attempts to regulate the salmon fisheries.

1883-1899

Nant y Garw lead mine in the Rhiwnant Valley productive.

1892

Act of Parliament passed allowing the purchase of the watershed land, for the building of the dams.

1893

Work begins on the building of the Elan Valley dams.

1904

Elan Valley dams completed and opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

1914-1918

1939-1945

World Wars I and II. Dams are specially guarded against attack.

1946 

Work begins on Claerwen Dam.

1952

Claerwen Dam is opened by Queen Elizabeth II as one of her first duties as monarch.

1965

The first Site of Special Scientific Interest is designated on the Estate.

1974

The individual water companies are designated and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is given responsibility for the Elan Estate, dams and reservoirs.

1985

Elan Valley Visitor Centre opens.

1989

Elan is included in the Cambrian Mountains Environmentally Sensitive Area.

The Elan Valley Trust is established after privatisation of the water companies to protect the wildlife of the Estate and encourage public access and understanding.

1995

Elenydd-Mallaen is designated a Special Protection Area under the European Wild Birds Directive.

1997

New Visitor Centre extension opens.

2002

Claerwen Dam celebrates its half-centenary with the dam being opened for visitors to look inside.

2004

Elan Valley Dams celebrate their centenary, with a series of special events.