bardic name

Gwallter Mechain

WALTER DAVIES (bardic name Gwallter Mechain)

Walter Davies [1] was an antiquary, poet and a respected adjudicator of poetry at eisteddfodau. He was a man of wide interests and in 1797 he embarked on a survey of the agriculture and domestic economy of north Wales. This was published in two volumes in 1810 and 1813. They were followed in 1815 by a second report on south Wales, on which he collaborated with Edward Williams (Iolo Morgannwg). While touring south Wales (in 1802) he kept a detailed diary in which he refers to a serious proposal for 'draining and improving' some sections at the lower end of Cors Caron.

Walter Davies slept on the night of the 25th July 1802 at Penybont, Tregaron and the following morning he wrote :

Somewhat might be done to the river itself – for some length below the Cors to get as quick a draught of water as possible as a preparative for the consequent sinking of the surface of the Cors after it is drained. If the river cannot be sunk about two feet at its mouth, the draining of the cors would, it is very probable, be attended with great difficulty.

'Sinking of the surface of the Cors' - now that is a grim thought.

Cors Caron

A waste land in need of improvement?


Evan Jones refers to some starry-eyed local poets who, in the early part of the last century, wrote about a glorious, romantic future for Cors Caron. It was the time when an attempt was being made (around 1920) to exploit the bog’s peat on a commercial scale. Quite rightly, these people foresaw that when all the peat had been harvested, there would be left a vast bed of impervious clay. This could be the base of a lake filled with the crystal-clear waters of the Teifi and extending from Pont Einon to Strata Florida Station. On the lake there would be boats with colourful sails and the whole place would be a paradise for lovers and, also, a haven for the rich seeking somewhere to escape from the worries of the world.

Yr adeg honno (tua 1920) byddai ambell broffwyd yn rhagweld dyfodol disglair i'r ardal a chanai ambell i fardd lleol yn rhamantus iawn gan weld adeg pan fyddai adnoddau'r gors wedi eu dihysbyddu a'r lle o Bont Einon i orsaf Strata Florida yn un llyn mawr - dyfroedd Teifi wedi gorlifo'r lle ar wely o glai. Ar y llyn byddai cychod di-rif dan hwyliau prydferth a'r lle'n baradwys i gariadon ac yn noddfa i feirdd a chyfoethogion rhag eu gofidiau. Un da yw bardd am freddwydio; efallai y daw y peth i ben rywbryd.

Some years later, Sir David James of Pantyfedwen floated the idea of a lake - and of developing the whole area into a first class fishing resort. However, nearly nine decade on, the peat is still there and it appears that it will remain there for all time or, at least, until the next major climate change.


[1]    Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

[2]    Rosalind Lowe, Sir Samuel Meyrick and Goodrich Court, 2003

[3]    National Biography of Wales


Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick – an antiquarian and a famous historian of 'arms and armour' – was born into a wealthy family and was educated at Queen’s College Oxford. In 1803, while just 20 years of age, he eloped to Wales with a young girl called Mary Parry. Her father, James Parry of Llwyn Hywel, a small farm near Aberystwyth, had fled to London after killing an intruder in his house [1, 2]

Sir Samuel was an exceptional man. At the age of 25, he published the History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan, which was considered then – and still is – an impressive and creditable accomplishment. He was knighted in 1832 in recognition of his work on the history of 'arms and armour' a subject on which he was consulted by the authorities of the Tower of London and by king George IV.

Sir Samuel had both a sharp and fertile mind and he did have some pretty drastic suggestions relating to what should be done with Cors Caron.

There is an extensive plain on the river Teifi extending from Tregarron by Ystrad meyrick to Ystrad flur, where such an improvement would be highly advantageous. At present it is of very little value, producing only some scanty herbage on its margins, and some excellent peat, the only fuel used in the neighbourhood. As it is much on a level with the Teifi, a total drainage may be attained with difficulty. Something might however be done by deepening and widening the river; but a change of course might be of greater advantage. In some places the margin to the sound land may be the lowest situation; which such is the case, an open cut, extending with the river to the south may be of service. A spirited cultivator near Tregarron has done much by open cuts.

I wonder what the Countryside Council for Wales think of these ideas?




Mr Anderson [2] has been viewing it for Mr Johnes – when he intended purchasing the other proprietor’s shares, with an intention of draining and improving it. The Teivy river runs thro’ the middle of it in a meandering course and were the fuel, which is annually cut/raised there by all the neighbourhood, cut in a given direction so as to form a strait channel for the Teivy, a material part of the draining would be effected. Two master drains between the turbary and the hills, one on each side, would also be necessary with intermediate drains discharging themselves into the river.

"The Teifi runs thro' the middle of Cors Caron in a meandering course"

A very rainy morning. Wind nearly south, and whistling a winter time about the buildings . . .

Mr John Jones of Penybont farms above 600 acres under Mr Johnes of Havod ; a great part of which consist of a turbary and mountain sheep walks. Closely adjoining the home is Cors Goch, a turbary of about 3000 acres, private property, the greater part belonging to Lord Lisburne ; Mr Johnes also owns a good share of it.

E.D.Evans, A History of Wales (1660-1815), Cardiff, 1993

Dr James Anderson (1739-1808) - a Scot who was an inventor, agricultural economist and author. He was responsible for developing a small two-horse plough and founded a theory of agricultural rents based on the fertility of the land.. His written work included various books and essays on agriculture and rural affairs.




A short account of these proposed schemes are given below.

Thomas Johnes of Hafod, author of 'A Cardiganshire Landlord's advice to his Tenants' consulted Dr James Anderson [2] about 'draining and improving' a section of Cors Caron, while Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick, in his book on the 'History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan' thought that the only sensible thing to do was to drain it. More recently, in the early part of the last century, there were some suggestions about flooding the bog to produce an artificial lake as a tourist attraction.

In 1955, Cors Caron was declared a National Nature Reserve and is now recognized as an important wildlife habitat. About 14 years ago it was placed on a list of wetland sites of international significance. Looking back 200 years, however, and things were very different ; Cors Caron came very close to being drained as part of land improvement schemes that were very much in vogue at the time.

E.D. Evans [1] refers to an Edward Corbet of Ynysymaengwyn who drained and improved marshland at Towyn which enabled him to let the land at between 30s. and 40s. an acre instead of 9d.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Dr James Anderson (1739-1808) - An eminent Scot who was an inventor, agricultural economist and author. He invented a small two-horse plough, developed a theory which linked agricultural rents with the fertility of the land and wrote extensively on matters relating to agriculture and rural affairs. He was widely consulted on agricultural issues.



The History



of the

County of Cardigan



Ar Ymylon Cors Caron

Cymdeithas Lyfrau Ceredigion


Extracts from a diary kept by

 Walter Davies

 while on a journey through

south Wales

 in 1802

NLW Ms 1730B