CEREDIGION CYLCHGRAWN CYMDEITHAS HYNAFIAETHWYR CEREDTCtON JOURNAL OF THE CEREDIGION ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY CYFROL/VOLUME X 1985 RHIFYN (NUMBER) 2 WHEAT, PEAT AND LEAD: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS IN WEST WALES, 1500-1800 The study of post-mediaeval settlement patterns is complicated not by lack of information but by the reverse. There are innumerable records, documents, maps and lists, but the majority touch on settlement only incidentally, and even those which seem the most informative need to be treated with considerable care. There are plenty of descriptions of the various counties of Wales: but while they mention actual settlements, they are actually quite reticent about patterns of settlement. Walter Davies, for instance, is excessively rude about the cottages of the landless poor- a great part of the counties of Anglesey, Caernarfonshire, Merioneth and Montgomeryshire is disgraced by a species of cottages, which are truly the habitation of wretchedness. One smoky hearth, for it should not be styled a kitchen: and one damp litter-cell, for it cannot be called a bedroom, are frequently all the space allotted to a labourer, his wife and four or five children But he does not say whether such cottages were in villages or scattered, in the lowlands or in the highlands. Maps on the whole are more useful, but (with the exception of the Tithe Award series of the mid-nine- teenth century) there is no systematic overall coverage. In certain areas surveys for estates provide detailed information, as do enclosure awards. Hearth Tax lists, census books and acreage returns all provide inform- ation with wide geographical spread, but each one needs to be examined carefully so that useful information can be extracted. The development of settlement is conditioned by a large number of constraints, some natural, some artificial. Underlying everything are the primary natural determinants of topography and climate. In certain areas