Brixtarw, near Laugharne

Brixtarw, near Laugharne

Here the Wales Coast Path passes Brixtarw farm. Unusually for these parts, the name is believed to be of Anglo-Saxon origin, from Brick starrow (or similar), meaning ‘oak grove’ – an apt description of the woodland here. The woods were still named as The Grove on the 1842 tithe map.

In 1898 Brixtarw farmer David Jones was fined for failing to provide education for his offspring. He was fined again in 1899, for allowing a sow to stray on the highway!

Photo of Laugharne Common Walk at the crossThe track past the farmhouse forms part of Laugharne’s Common Walk, a circuit of c.37km (c.23 miles) still walked every three years. It is led by Laugharne Corporation’s portreeve, constables and jurymen and is followed by upwards of 300 residents. The photo, courtesy of Peter Stopp, shows walkers circling Laugharne’s cross at the start of the Common Walk.

This is a 700-year-long tradition, derived from ‘Beating the Bounds’. It reinforced the boundary of Laugharne lordship and taught people the names of key locations along the route. One of those locations, a well and field named Blinds Well, lies just above Brixtarw farmhouse.

The locations are known as ‘hoisting places’ after the custom, still practised, of selecting someone from the crowd (often a young lady!); if they cannot name the place, they are bent over the constable’s halberd pole and tapped lightly on the backside while the name is recited!

In 1891 it was still traditional for the unfortunate person to be held upside down. That year’s Common Walk was led by the town’s drum and fife band, and at Brixtarw Cwm the walkers received ginger beer, ale and cakes.

Below Brixtarw is an old river-ferry crossing with the remains of a boathouse and ferryman’s cottage. As recently as 1910, a boat departed from “under Brixtarw” at 9am each day of the Trefenty livestock sale (on the far side of the Taf). The “ferryman” would return with his passengers after each day’s sale.

Hidden among trees on the far side are the remains of two ancient churches, separated by the river Cywyn. In mediaeval times, churches were built by points of embarkation for people to pray for safe passage by boat. This ferry was a key crossing for pilgrims travelling from Chepstow to St David’s, where two pilgrimages were said to equal one to Rome.             

This area of the Taf is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and abounds with estuarine and sea birds as well as kingfishers, otters and the occasional seal. On the very highest few tides of the year there is a mini bore (tidal surge) at the narrowest point, where the ferry crossed.                         

With thanks to Peter Stopp, of Talacharn Community History

Postcode: SA33 4QP    View Location Map

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