AN OUTLINE HISTORY OF THE UPPER REACHES OF THE TAWE RIVER up to THE EARLY PERIOD OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, and of the LOCAL INDUSTRIAL PIONEERS By D. WATKIN MORGAN, B.SC. (Abercrave and Cardiff) I. THE OUTLINE UP TO 1800 PRIOR to the advent of industry the upper reaches of the Tawe river were practically undiscovered. There are no records of any traveller having ex- plored this part until Benjamin Malkin visited it in 1801. Apparently the area had always been by-passed. Gerallt Gymro's itinerary through Wales in 1198 did not come nearer than Neath. Rhys ap Thomas in his march to join Henry Tudor at Shrewsbury in August 1485 took the Carmarthen-Llandovery road. John Leland, one of the earliest anti- quarians who toured Wales between 1536 and 1339, skirted the region by crossing the mountains from Aberdare to Ystradgynlais which he re- ferred to as 'YstradeGenles a lordship in Cairmardinshire. Genles a little ryver.' In fact the upper reaches formed a kind of 'no man's land.' Yet, the district was not entirely divorced from history, for it is well established that man lived here in prehistoric times, that the area was known to the Romans and that the Normans with their descendants surveyed and occupied the territory. Indeed, its story is closely interwoven with that of Wales and fits into its pattern of events. Ancient landmarks, old maps and records, and derelict buildings unfold the past, and when pieced to- gether disclose an interesting account of the days gone by. Consider the evidence for the existence of early man. Archaeologists have unearthed relics of the Bronze Age (c. 1600-400 B.C.) during their excavations at the Dan yr Ogof caves. One of these caves, Ogof yr Esgyrn, yielded evidence of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1400-800 B.C.). The famous Pen-wyllt hoard, now preserved at the National Museum of Wales, confirms the Late Bronze Age (c. 800-400 B.C.), while the 'Saith Maen,' the seven relatively large stones, aligned SSW.-NNW., on the Cribarth, Craig-y-nos, introduce us to the religious life of prehistoric man. In this connection, we have in Cerrig Duon, Glyntawe, the most complete example of a stone circle in Breconshire. (See Brycheiniog, Vol. I).