Map Reference SN58SE
Grid Reference SN5821681622
Unitary (Local) Authority Ceredigion
Old County Cardiganshire
Type of Site TOWN
Broad Class CIVIL
Site Description The origins of Aberystwyth lie in Mesolithic flint-working sites around the mouth of the river Ystwyth and in later settlement developed within the Iron Age hillfort of Pen Dinas (nprn 92236). A castle (nprn 301795) was established in 1110 AD. When the walled Edwardian borough with its castle (nprn 86) was founded in 1277 by the mouth of the river Rheidol, some 3km to the north, the name of Aberystwyth was adopted.
The borough prospered through the fourteenth century, but declined at the beginning of the fifteenth; few, if any, remains of the medieval town survive. However, the medieval streets can still be traced, fossilised in the modern town along with the track of its vanished town walls. Aberystwyth became renowned for its herring fishing and development of the harbour encouraged export of lead and silver mined in the hinterlands. In the 1720s the town was described as prosperous whilst being a 'very dirty, black, smoky place'; at that time it was still confined within the walls of the thirteenth century borough and to the former Welsh native township of Trefechan across the river to the south. In the later eighteenth century the town became a county centre, a thriving market town and a parliamentary borough where the greater county gentry kept grand town houses.
Encouraged by local landowners, the town developed as a bathing place and resort for seekers of the Picturesque during the early nineteenth century. The town expanded north and eastwards across intervening marsh land towards Penglais Hill and the commercial district shifted from the area outside the castle gate down Great Darkgate Street and along Terrace Road. The great stimulus of the railway arrived in the 1860s from both north and south and Aberystwyth developed into a seaside resort of greater appeal.
The town is generally regarded as the capital of mid Wales and an important cultural centre; several institutions have regional or national offices in Aberystwyth, including the National Library of Wales, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, the University of Wales, the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, and the Welsh Assembly Government, amongst many others.
RCAHMW, 10 December 2009.