Ni wn paham, ond amarch,
Ydd awn i’r pwll mawn â’m march.
However, when Leland passed by the bog, it was around the time of Strata Florida’s demise and, more than likely, what he saw was, simply, local inhabitants ‘digge turfes’ for their own domestic use, a practice which continued for centuries, up until the 1950s. After World War II, however, coal and oil became much more affordable, and more readily available, making peat a less attractive form of fuel – and not really worth the physical effort involved in cutting, drying and carting it home. Also, around that time, there was mounting international concern that peat-
John Leyland (c1503-
For a more detailed account of Leland’s life and works, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
David H. Williams, The Welsh Cistercians, Caldey Island, Tenby
Further short accounts of peat cutting on Cors Caron (in the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century) are given below.
Peat and Peat Cutting
Select and click one of the following :
The observations and comments of four authors
John Leland  was the first to refer to peat digging on Cors Caron. Nearly 500 years ago, he was on his way to Ystrad Fflur, and while travelling along the edge of the bog he saw people digging peat. He wrote in his own inimitable style :
. . . under a hy Hillside, I saw hard by on the lift honde a great Fenny More, owt of the wich the inhabitantes therabout digge turfes for fier.
Peat was one of the main sources of fuel for the Cistercians of Ystrad Fflur. The abbey owned much of Cors Caron and when it came to leasing out parcels of land to local tenants, the abbey would retain the ‘turbary rights’ (i.e. exclude those parts where peat was cut). D.H. Williams  noted that :
. . . a lease of ‘Tydyn-
It could be that Dafydd ap Gwilym (1320-
in or about
Lucy Toulmin Smith
At that time, the peat-
I have ascertained that in 1870 the day’s work started at seven a.m. and finished at 6 p.m. First of all the workman removed all live vegetation to a width of four feet and a length of thirty yards. Then he cut the peat into sections of one foot square and sixteen inches deep, which had to be stacked vertically in rows on the uncleared part of the surface so that the wind and the sun could dry and make them fit for combustion. This was no light job, considering that a foot cube weighs sixty pounds. The pay for a day’s peat work was three shillings.
Women were responsible for carrying the peat off the bog :
The peat was carried from the bog in deep D-
Women carrying peat
Copyright Ceredigion Museum
He supped on ‘llymru’ , slept in the heather, and woke at dawn to dig more peat until he started his
farm work at seven a.m.
Llymru or Sucan was a mixture of oat flour and butter milk that was allowed to go sour. The liquid and heavier matter were allowed to separate; the liquid was poured off and the remainder carefully boiled. It was eaten in bowls with wooden spoons with milk or skimmed milk (see S. M. Tibbott, Domestic Life in Wales, 2002).
Emile T Evans
Journal Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society
Vol 1, No 1,
Evan Evans from Berth near Tregaron, recalls peat cutting on Cors Caron in the early part of the twentieth century. For local people peat was, he says, the bog’s most important produce – rather than anything that grew on it :
Daear fawnog heb dir fwynion, ei gwedd
Sydd fel gwg ellyllon;
Garw erch grug hagr yw hon,
Cwrs yw cyrrau Cors Caron.
D.C. Rees claims that Cors Caron’s peat beds were the deepest in Wales and that it was possible to cut strips
Yn union ar ôl y Rhyfel Cyntaf daeth rhyw estroniaid i edrych ansawdd y gors gan fwriadu datglygu’r lle ac elwa’n fawr ar yr anturiaeth. Codwyd adeiladau yn ymtl y ffordd fawr nepell o fferm y Camer-
The general tone of Evan Jones’ account suggests that this was an un-
Evan Jones referred to three types of peat on Cors Caron which gave three different cuts (i.e. peat blocks or briquets) – one which was bran-
Fe geid ar y gors dri math o fawn, un frannog, un goch ac un ddu. Yr un frannog a’r un goch sydd agosaf i’r wyneba rhaid torri’r rhain cyn dod o hyd i’r un orau, yr un ddu. Byddai’n werth ymdrechu a mynd yn ddyfnach i gael gafael ar hon. ‘Roedd mwy o wres ynddi a llosgai heb adael cymmaint o ludw a’r lleill.
He makes no reference to anyone being paid to cut peat. For families living around Berth and Swyddffynnon at that time, this was not an option; money was scarce, and each household took it upon itself to ensure it had enough fuel to last the winter. Even when the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway was opened in 1867 and coal became available, peat cutting continued in the area well into the 20th century. Peat was relatively cheap, while coal cost money.
Evan Jones recalls an attempt being made (around 1920) to exploit the bog’s peat on a commercial scale. Some buildings were erected near Camer-
. . . a future generation may see ‘peat bricklets’ being despatched from Tregaron station to compete with the patent fuel manufactured in Glamorgan.
In fact, what ‘the future generation’ actually witnessed was peat cutting being declared illegal on the bog and Tregaron station being forced to ‘shut up shop’ in the early 1960s – radical changes in a very short span of time.
The man behind the failed ventures was T.W. Jones (the station-
. . . Mr T.W. Jones, Caron-
The Western Mail, on the 4th October 1928, refers to one of the above ‘peat experts. In 1898, it seems that experiments were carried out by:
. . . two German chemists, Messrs. Cantley and Springborn
The results indicated that a variety of chemicals could be produced from peat by distillation. These were:
. . . lubricating oil, naphtha, ammonia, camphor, paraffin, wax and tar . . . gas for lighting . . . (that) gave a whiter light than coal gas.
However, in the end, all the efforts came to nothing. Cors Caron remains, to this day, a bird and animal sanctuary ; the peat is still there, but there are no signs of peat-
Tregaron : Historical
. . . about 20 inches long, by six inches wide
Two attempts were made early in the twentieth century to exploit the bog’s huge natural resource – to create a local peat industry. These were unsuccessful, but D.C Rees foresaw: