History

Coity Wallia Commons have a rich history. The earliest signs of human activity on the commons is the ‘burnt mound’ at Cefn Hirgoed Common. This is the hub of a former village where a communal fire would have been situated. All that remains of the burnt mound today is a vegetated heap.

Roman habitation of Mynydd Y Gaer is clear to this day. The fortress of Baer Gaer can be seen from aerial photographs. The place names of the area betray its Roman military past. Cwm Rhydymilwyr (ford of the soldiers) is found to the south east of Mynydd Y Gaer. At Minwent Y Milwyr (soldiers cemetery) it is reputed that no vegetation grows due to the blood of Roman soldiers spilled during a battle fought at this site.

The Medieval ‘pillow mounds’ at Cefn Hirgoed are rabbit warrens constructed by the farming of rabbits which were considered a delicacy by the Norman gentry. Over time, rabbits escaped these warrens and became feral and were poached by peasants. They were therefore no longer desired by the gentry and warrens fell into disuse.

The commons have been subject to coal mining throughout recorded history, but most extensively at the Pant Hirwaun section of the commons which was open cast mined until the 1960s. The commons are now used for recreation and grazing and only clues to its fascinating history remain.