Page images

so well furnished with perch, tench, and eels, as to be one-third fish to two-thirds water.

In the neighbourhood of the lake northeastward, and near the head of the Llevený brook, which empties itself into the pool, I find described the ruins of BLAEN LLEVENY CASTLE. It was fortified by Peter FitzHerbert, descended of Bernard de Newmarch, lord of Brecon, according to the opinion of some antiquaries, upon the site of the Roman Loventium,

The road soon descends to the fine vale of Brecon, grandly accompanied by a semicircular range of mountains; where, proudly rising in superior majesty, the Van rears its furrowed and bipartite summit high above the clouds. Advancing,

Advancing, cultivation takes a more extensive sweep, and picturesque disposition becomes frequent. The Usk flowing round the foot of the Bwlch, cloathed with the extensive plantations of Buckland-house, salutes the beholder with renewed attractions; and farther up the vale laves the charming woody eminence of Peterstone in its sinuous career.

On the left of the road, about five miles from Brecon, is a stone pillar, six feet in


height, and nearly cylindrical; on which is an inscription that Camden read, NFILIUS VICTORINI, but which is now almost obliterated.

He supposes it a monument of later ages than the Romans, although inscribed with their characters, and wearing the general appearance of a Roman cippus. In the parish of Llahn Hamwalch, standing on the summit of a hill near the church, (which is to the left of the road a little beyond the former monument) I find described St. Iltut's hermitage, composed of four large flat stones; three of which, standing upright, are surmounted by the fourth, so as to form a sort of hut, eight feet long, four wide, and nearly the same in height. This kind of monument is called a Kist-vaen, a variety of the Cromlech order, and supposed to have been applied to the same purposes.

BRECON is delightfully situated upon a gentle swell above the Usk, overlooking a fertile highly-cultivated valley enlivened with numerous seats, and enriched with several sylvan knolls. On one side of the town, beneath the majestic hanging groves of the priory, the impetuous Hondy loudly mur

Y 4


murs, and unites with the Usk : a small distance beyond its handsome bridge. Though the town boasts many capital residences, yet, encumbered by a number of mean hovels even in its principal situations, and deficient in regulations of cleanliness, it fails to create any idea of importance. Its once magnificent castle is now curtailed to a very insignificant ruin; and that little is so choaked up with miserable habitations, as to exhibit no token of antique grandeur: some broken walls and a solitary tower compose its remains.

BRECON CASTLE was founded by Bernard de Newmarch in the reign of William Rufus. Llewelyn prince of Wales besieged it when asserting the rights of his ancestry and friends, but without success. Passing through the hands of the Braoses and Bohuns, it fell to the king-making Buckingham, when it became the seat of chivalric splendour. To his care Dr. Morton, bishop of Ely, was committed by Richard the Third; and the remaining turret is still called Ely tower by the natives, and described to have been his prison. Buckingham, fired with resentment

by by the ingratitude of Richard, whom lie had raised to power, contrived, with his prisoner, in this place, the means of his overthrow. The plot succeeded, but the duke was betrayed and taken before its completion, and lost his head : the more wary priest retired in secresy during its operation, and preserved his to wear the metropolitan mitre in the ensuing reign. Bernard also founded a Benedictine priory for six monks westward of the town; it was dedicated to St. John, subordinate to Battle abbey in Sussex, and became collegiate under Henry the Eighth. The church is a grand cruciform building, 200 feet in length by 60 in width, and has an embattled tower 90 feet high rising from the centre of the building. A cloister extends from the church to the priory-house; where the tourist, as he paces the refectory, or great dining-room, may speculate on monkish carousals, where blue-eyed nuns were jovially toasted, and secret confessions anticipated.

But the most fascinating attraction of the town is its two delightful walks: the one traced on the margin of the noble Usk; the other, called the priory walk, a luxuriant grove impendent over the brawling Hondy, once assigned to the meditations of monkish fraud, but now more happily applied to the use of the townspeople, and enlivened on fine evenings by a brilliant promenade of Cambrian beauties.

This town, built on the site of a Roman station *, was originally called Aber-Hondy. After the departure of the Romans, the lordship of Brecon remained in the hands of the Britons till the reign of William Rufus; when Bernard de Newmarch, a Norman baron of great skill and prowess, having assembled a large body of troops, made a successful inroad into the country, killed the British chief Bledljyn ap Maenyrch, and retained his son prisoner in Brecon castle during his life; though he, at the same time, allowed him a nominal share of his father's territories. He then fortified the town with a castle, and an encircling wall, having three gates; and fur

* There is an oblong camp in the neighbourhood of the town called Y Gaer; where Roman bricks, bearing the inscription LEG. II. AUG. are frequently ploughed up. Near this camp is a rude pillar, about six feet high, called the maiden stone ; on one side of which are the figures of a man and woman coarsely carved in relief.


« PreviousContinue »