A medieval Welsh kingdom named after its founder Ceredig, which pursued an independent existence until the late ninth century after which was at various times incorporated into Gwynedd, Deheubarth and Powys.

The Kingdom of Ceredigion

From the Welsh Genealogies is derived a list of the rulers of independent Ceredigion which begins with Ceredig the alleged founder and fifth son of Cunedda and proceeds as follows;

We can fairly reasonably place Seisyll ap Clydog in the mid to late eighth century, as the genealogy given, extends forwards to his descendants Arthgen and Gwrgan who can be dated with a reasonable accuracy.

The real problem with this list is that it is too short; seven generations back from that is some 210 years, which would place Ceredig ap Cunedda some time in the mid sixth century about a 100 to 150 years to late for a supposed son of Cunedda. The comparable genealogy for the line of Gwynedd whose descent was similarly traced from Einion Yrth the seventh son of Cunedda, is three generations longer. Some seek to resolve this inconsistency by postulating a 'gap' in the sequence of the kings of Cerdigion somewhere or other, but the more obvious and sensible conclusion is that the claimed descent from Cunedda is a later invention to designed to strengthen the claims of the line of Merfyn Frych over Ceredigion.

The Kingdom of Seisyllwg

It was during the reign of Seisyll that Ceredigion conquered Ystrad Tywi and the newly enlarged kingdom re-named as Seisyllwg, although how prevalent was the comtemporary use of this new label is unclear as the Annales Cambriae continued to refer to kings of Ceredigion.

Ceredigion/Seisyllwg lost its independence in the late ninth century; Gwrgan ap Meurig, the great-grandson of Seisyll ap Clydog, died very probably at the hands of Rhodri Fawr of Gwynedd in 862, and Rhodri's son Cadell had the kingdom firmly in his grasp a generation later.

It was Cadell's son Hywel Dda who took control of both Dyfed and Seisyllwg and forged the new identity of Deheubarth in around 950.

The Sub-Kingdom of Ceredigion

Ceredigion remained firmly part of Deheubarth until the after the death of Rhys ap Tewdwr in 1093 when it fell under the control of the Normans (as did most of Wales at the time.) In 1099 after the conclusion of the First Anti-Norman rebellion, Ceredigion passed under the control of Cadwgan ap Bleddyn of Powys, but after his death and the subsequent decline and eventual fragmentation of Powys, his successors were unable to exercise any authority over the region.

In any event Cadwgan's determined resitance to Norman authority, led Henry I in 1110 to authorise Gilbert Fitz Richard of Clare to take control of Ceredigion if he could. By this time the Normans had firmly entrenched themselves in southern Dyfed and an extension of their control into northern Dyfed and Ceredigion was the next logical step.

Gilbert Fitz Richard built castles at Cardigan and Aberystwyth but Owain Gwynedd brought Ceredigion under the control of Gwynedd only to see it slip back again into the hands of the grandsons of Rhys ap Tewdwr and more specifically Rhys ap Gruffudd. For most of the twelfth century control switched between Deheubarth and the Norman de Clare family until Deheubarth faded from the picture after the death of Rhys ap Gruffudd, the Lord Rhys in 1196.

Thereafter it remained a territory disputed between the kings of England and the Venedotian Princes of Wales until the final conquest of Wales by Edward I in 1283.

Modern Ceredigion

Ceredigion was transformed into the shire county of Cardiganshire after the Acts of Union 1536-1543, although it continued to be known in the Welsh as 'sir Ceredigion' or sometimes 'sir Aberteifi'.

In 1974 Cardiganshire disappeared into the super-county of Dyfed, only to re-emerge once more following the local government re-organisation of 1996. Cardiganshire however remains one of the more Welsh speaking parts of the country and the new county council therefore re-named itself as the county of Ceredigion.

The modern county of Ceredigion is bounded to the west by Cardigan Bay, north by Merionethshire (now part of Gwynedd), east by Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire and Brecknockshire (that is the modern county of Powys), and to the south by Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.


The east of Ceredigion is dominated by the Cambrian Mountains whose main peaks are Plynlimmon at 2,486 feet and Tregaron Mountain at 1778 ft. Plynlimmon is famous for being the source for five rivers; the Severn, the Wye, the Dulas, the Llyfnant and the Rheidol. The south and west remain hilly but comparatively less so than the east although there are two famous bogland areas at Cors Coch Fochno and Cors Caron.

The principal rivers, which all generally flow from east to west, are the Teifi which largely defines the southern border with Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire; the Dyfi which serves a similar function in the north seperates from Merionethshire to the north, the Aeron which has its source in Llyn Eiddwen, in Mynydd Bach and reaches the coast at Aberaeron, and the Rheidol and the Ystwyth which both reach the sea at Aberystwyth.


The modern county of Ceredigion is one of the fastest growing counties in Wales, its population having grown 19.5% from 63,094 in 1991 to 75,400 in 2001, largely due to inward migration particularly in the south of the county. As a result only 64% of the population were actually born in Wales, the lowest percentage for any county in Wales.

Around 28% of the county's resident population live in the three main towns of Aberystwyth, Cardigan and Lampeter. Other towns include Aberaeron, Llandysul, New Quay, Tregaron, Aberporth and Borth. The qualification of 'resident population' is necessary as the county experiences a regular influx of students attending the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and the University of Wales, Lampeter which add around 7,000 and 1,000 to the population of the respective towns.


Ceredigion is regarded as one of the heartlands of the Welsh language. 59% of the county speak Welsh and Welsh speakers are in the majority in 47 out of the 51 local community and town council areas. This position is however threatened by the influx of non-Welsh immigrants as noted above which is changing the character of the area.


Ceredigion has remained largely unaffected by industrialisation although there have been some scattered mining operations. Lead mining was carried out in the north of the county at Lisburne, Goginan and Cwm Ystwyth where silver was also present in sufficient quantities to make it worthwhile establishing a mint at Aberystwyth in the 17th century. Copper and zinc was also mined in the county and there were slate workings near Devil's Bridge and at Corris, Strata Florida and Goginan. All of these mining operations have long since closed and tourism and agriculture are now the most important industries; although the presence of two university colleges and the National Library at Aberystwyth also provide employment.

Places of interest

In Aberystwyth you will find the Ceredigion Museum, the Aberystwyth ELectric Cliff Railway, the remains of Aberystwyth Castle as well as the Vale of Rheidol Railway whose line leads to the scenic charms of Devil's Bridge. Nearby there is the Hafod Estate with its 18th century 'picturesque landscape' and the Llywernog Silver-Lead Mine museum at Ponterwyd. Near Aberaeron there is Llanerchaeron a small Welsh gentry estate built by John Nash and the Derwen International Cob Centre. I the south Cardigan has its own castle and the Teifi valley is noted for Cenarth falls and the Teifi Valley Railway.

Table of References

  • http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk
  • http://homepage.ntlworld.com/geogdata/ngw/counties.htm
  • http://tourism.ceredigion.gov.uk/
  • encyclopedia.jrank.org/CAR_CAU/ CARDIGANSHIRE_Ceredigion_Sir_A.html

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