MEDIEVAL CARDIGANSHIRE-A STUDY IN SOCIAL ORIGINS* ALTHOUGH Cardiganshire as a county organised on the English model is little more than six centuries old, the territory which became Cardigan- shire shortly before the year 1300 had, as Ceredigion, a continuous tradition of oneness going back at least a further eight hundred years. Much of the story of this older Ceredigion has already been unravelled, notably the political vicissitudes of the period between the coming of the Normans to south-west Wales in 1093, and 1282, when Edward I subdued native resistance over the rest of Wales.1 This was, moreover, the period when the English succeeded bit by bit in exerting admin- istrative control of this once independent Welsh province, a process which has also been described elsewhere, and which culminated, at the close of this period, in the emergence of the Edwardian shire.2 But little has been written about what was happening meanwhile beneath the surface of events in Ceredigion. The intention here is to consider in a preliminary way the conditions in which the ordinary folk of the district lived between 1093 and 1282, and the influences, if any, produced by extraneous events on their way of living. A brief re- statement of some of those events, stressing those features which we might expect to have social repercussions, will be useful, however, when discussing at a later stage how society in medieval Ceredigion was shaped and organised. With the breakdown in 1093 of the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth (since the eighth century it had included Ceredigion which before that time had a dynasty of her own) Ceredigion became for the next seventy years a battleground of rival interests and a bone of fierce contention among her neighbours causing havoc and devastation on a scale scarcely known in any other locality in Wales during the middle ages. The normal channels of invasion lay across the upper and lower ends of the province rather than over the thickly-wooded mountain routes to the east, although on occasion the latter were used by the men of Arwystli and other parts of mid-Wales and once an English army under royal command negotiated the route between Cwm Ystwyth and Cwm Elan. The real threat came on the one hand from the north where, beyond the marshlands of Dyfi and the forests of Cwm Einion and Cwm Llyfnant, lay the shadow of the men of Gwyn- edd and Powys who were ancient enemies of the men of Deheubarth and, on the other hand, from the Normans in the south where the *The substance of an address delivered to the Society at Aberaeron, 2 November 1959-