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Map ReferenceSN58SE
Grid ReferenceSN5821681622
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCeredigion
Old CountyCardiganshire
Type Of SiteTOWN
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.

The name Aberystwyth (`Mouth of the Ystwyth?) is a misnomer as this coastal town is situated on the Rheidol estuary. However, the origins of Aberystwyth lie in the Mesolithic settlements near the mouth of the Ystwyth, the Iron Age hillfort of Pen Dinas and the first phase of castle building at Tan-y-Castell.

The present site of the town dates from the foundation of the Edwardian castle and walled borough in 1277. In 1404, Owain Glynd'r captured the castle and held it for four years. In subsequent centuries, it served as a Royal mint and a warehouse, before it was destroyed on Oliver Cromwell's orders during the English Civil War.

The town prospered with the growth of herring fishing, and lead and silver mining in the adjacent mountain areas. With the rising popularity of sea side holidays towards the end of the eighteenth century, more and more tourists flocked to this comparatively remote town for the sea-bathing opportunities and picturesque scenery. After a long day of post coach travel on bumpy roads, weary travellers delighted in the scenery of Cardigan Bay. The arrival of the railway in the 1860's completed the development of Aberystwyth into a seaside resort. Many of the seafront hotels first opened their doors in the nineteenth century, alongside the pier, funicular railway and assembly rooms.

In 1844, King Friedrich August II of Saxony and Carl Carus, his physician, arrived here late one night. After a long day's journey from Brecon, they found their hotel of choice completely booked. So many tourists had arrived in Aberystwyth that summer that it took hours before they found new accommodation. The next morning, their breakfast was interrupted as a brass band and mariners? choir gave them a rousing musical welcome.

For those travellers who did not partake of the sea bathing facilities, the area surrounding Aberystwyth was particularly interesting for its connection with picturesque tourism. Uvedale Price, a native of Aberystwyth and one of the founding fathers of the picturesque movement, designed the landscape gardens of the nearby Hafod estate. Most recently, the television programme Y Gwyll / Hinterland, filmed on locations in and around Aberystwyth, attracted a new generation of picturesque tourists to the town.

Record updated as part of the AHRC-funded project 'Journey to the Past: Wales in historic travel writing from France and Germany'.
R. Singer (Bangor University) and S. Fielding (RCAHMW), 2017.
application/mswordETW - European Travellers to Wales ProjectDigital survey archive coversheet relating to Aberystwyth Gigapan Project carried out by Susan Fielding and Rita Singer, July 2017- April 2018. Produced through European Travellers to Wales project.
application/pdfETW - European Travellers to Wales ProjectDescription of a visit to Aberystwyth by Alphonse Esquiros from 'Itin?raire descriptif et historique de la Grande Bretagne' (c. 1850). Text available in Welsh, English, French and German. Produced through the European Travellers to Wales project.
application/pdfGeneral Digital Donations CollectionPictorial 90 year history of Aberystwyth Silver Band Bandroom, 1926-2016 produced by Peter Henley, 2016.