Llandeilo Past and Present

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Llandeilo Archaeology & History

Medieval Llandeilo Fawr (PRN10557)

Llandeilo Fawr was given its borough charter by Edward 1 st in 1280, with the right to hold annual fairs and weekly markets. The town was a possession of the Lordship of St Davids and The Black Book of St Davids, a description of the estates of the Lord Bishop compiled in 1326, gives a rare insight into the life of the medieval town. It tells us that the burgesses of Llandeilo had certain rents and duties to pay to the Lord Bishop. These included the duty of carrying goods and leading the Lord's beasts when passing through their lands, as far as Llangadog and Llanegwad (which were also borough towns). A toll had to be paid on all corn grown on the Lord's land. For each brewing of beer, 4 gallons was to be given to the Lord Bishop. Burgesses had a duty to serve on the Hundred Court and also make use of the Lord's corn mill. They were also expected to guard prisoners arrested within the borough and escort them to Llanegwad, unless they were hung at Llandeilo. The Lord Bishop was also keen to promote the commercial life of the town and held an annual fair, for three days, to celebrate the Feast of St Barnabas (later known as the Barnaby Fair). Every Saturday was market day and the tolls from the market and fair went to the Lord.

This information is more than enough to show that Llandeilo in the 14 th century was a busy market town, although a small one. It is not known where the burgesses lived, but it is thought likely that the settlement was close to the parish church and churchyard. Possibly, the area between the modern Tywi bridge and the church, on and below Bridge Street, was the focus of the town at that time. Early 19 th century maps show that there were many small garden plots and enclosures in that area, which may have been echoes of the burgage plots of the medieval period. It is also thought that the fair and market were held in the area of Market Street, to the north of the churchyard, which was probably an open area in medieval times. One local place name probably recalls the medieval link between Talley Abbey and Llandeilo. Ysgubor yr Abad (Abbot's Barn) is a lane that runs towards the river on the east side of the town and in the 19 th century it was thought that a ruined building nearby was a barn that was once owned by Talley Abbey.