Recommended self-catering cottages near Hay-on-Wye

Local History


LOCAL history

The place name is pronounced ‘Pen-yr-wr-lodd’ (peny-wer-lod). Like many place names in old Welsh, the precise meaning is lost in time. The closest translation is ‘the head [top] of the meadow’.

Hay-on-Wye and the Welsh Marches are rich in local history and legend. From Neolithic times to the Romans, and from King Arthur to the Norman invasion, the area bears witness to the history of the British Isles. Discover more…



The town of Hay-on-Wye nestles in the Wye Valley in a bend of the River Wye, on its southern bank, and sits exactly on the border between England and Wales. It is situated in some of the most varied and stunningly beautiful countryside in Britain; with the glorious range of the Black Mountains marching away to the west, the rolling green hills of Radnorshire to the north, the Golden Valley and Herefordshire to the east and the wild, rugged beauty of the Brecon Beacons National Park stretching away to the south and west.




The village of Llanigon is in the Brecon Beacons National Park to the north-west of the Black Mountains. St Eigon’s Church is Grade II listed, being mostly 15th–17th century, with some Norman remnants. The 14th century south porch now housing the bells was once used as living quarters for the priest. The church was extensively restored after the Second World War, having been bombed by the Germans in 1941.



offa’s dyke

Offa’s Dyke is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the current border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa, the Anglo Saxon King of Mercia from AD 757 until AD 796, who is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction. Although its precise original purpose is debated, it delineated the border between Anglian Mercia and the Welsh Kingdom of Powys.



lollards of olchon valley

One of the commonest features of early Celtic Christian sites is the presence of holy wells, used by the missionary saints for conducting baptisms. This was certainly a distinctive feature among the missionaries in the neighbouring small Welsh kingdoms of Brycheiniog and Ewyas. Brycheiniog was the stronghold of the dynasty of Brychan, the early Christian king of Irish descent, who ruled from Talgarth to the South, probably from the nearby massive hillfort of Castell Dinas, the highest castle in England and Wales.


Baptist Chapel at Capel-y-ffin

Baptist Chapel at Capel-y-ffin

llanigon dissenters

From 1609 the idea that the established church could not be reformed and that a separate church institution was needed began to take root. The first act towards this was by John Smyth, a Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge and dissenting Anglican, who moved to Amsterdam to set up a free Baptist church there. Reared in the Church of England, he became “Puritan, English Separatist, and then a Baptist Separatist”, and ended his days working with the Mennonites. The idea rapidly spread among the growing congregation of dissident protestants gathering in England to shelter from persecution abroad. The term ‘Puritan’ was born to reflect the need to establish a true ‘pure’ church based on faith alone.