Llandovery/Llanymddyfri

First published in Town guides

Llandovery is a market town steeped in history. It has many fine buildings dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

It lies in the basin of the upper Towy valley, right on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. It was once an important centre of the cattle droving trade, with tens of thousands of animals being taken to London from the town each year at the height of the trade.

Llandovery has roman origins, and its castle dates back to medieval times. It is an attractive place with a long and varied history that can be explored at the local heritage centre.

Llandovery means 'The church amidst the water', describing the town's geographic location situated between the River Towy and Afon Bran.

Roman tiles can be found in the fabric of the church, and there are many local legends. Folk figures include the Physicians of Myddfai, William Williams, and Twm Sion Catti, the Welsh equivalent of Robin Hood.

Perhaps most famous of all is the Arthurian legend of the 'Lady of the lake' which the town lays claim to. The town has its own public school, one of the few boarding school left in Wales. It has a long and prestigious history.

The tumble-down remains of Llandovery castle overlook the market square which is the hub of life in the town. Recently erected at the foot of the castle ruins stands a monument to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan. He was a 15th century Welsh martyr executed in 1401 for assisting Owain Glyndwr in his struggle for Welsh independence against King Henry IV.

The local landowner refused to betray his people so Henry had him hung, drawn and quartered in the Market Square. Llandovery is perfectly placed for exploring the Towy Valley, but those who stay in town have plenty to do.

Typically Welsh, Llandovery has several pubs and restaurants to be proud of, providing refreshment for the visitors to the cattle markets that are held every other Tuesday.

At Llandovery Heritage Centre the vast history of this ancient town is documented.

Nearby in Pumpsaint is Dolaucothi Roman Gold Mines. This is the only place in Britain where the Romans mined gold, with at least five open-cast mines. The mine workings can be inspected on an underground tour, and visitors can even have a go at prospecting themselves.

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