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County of Powys
Sir Powys
Arms of Powys County Council.svg
Powys UK location map.svg
Sovereign state Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Country Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales
Preserved county Powys
Established 1 April 1996
Admin HQ County Hall, Llandrindod Wells
Largest town Newtown
  Control Independent
  Total5,200 km2 (2,000 sq mi)
Area rank Ranked 1st
  Rank Ranked 11th
  Density26/km2 (70/sq mi)
  Density rank Ranked 22nd
99.3% White
Welsh language
  Rank Ranked 7th
  Any skills30.1%
Geocode 00NN (ONS)
W06000023 (GSS)
ISO 3166 code GB-POW

Powys ( /ˈpɪs,ˈpɪs/ ; Welsh:  [ˈpowɪs] ) [1] is a principal area and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain.



Powys covers the historic counties of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, most of Brecknockshire (Breconshire), and part of Historic Denbighshire. With an area of about 2,000 square miles (5,200 km2), it is the largest principal area in Wales by land and area. It is bounded to the north by Gwynedd, Denbighshire and Wrexham County Borough; to the west by Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire; to the east by Shropshire and Herefordshire; and to the south by Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough, Caerphilly County Borough, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire and Neath Port Talbot.

The largest towns are Newtown, Ystradgynlais, Brecon, Welshpool, Llandrindod Wells and Knighton. Powys has the lowest population density of all the principal areas of Wales. Most of Powys is mountainous and most roads and railways are relatively slow.

Just under a third of the residents have Welsh linguistic skills: Welsh speakers are concentrated mainly in the rural areas both in and around Machynlleth, Llanfyllin and Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant (where William Morgan first translated the whole Bible into Welsh in 1588) in Montgomeryshire (Welsh : Sir Drefaldwyn), and the industrial area of Ystradgynlais in the southwest of Brecknockshire (Welsh : Sir Frycheiniog). Radnorshire (Welsh : Sir Faesyfed) was almost completely Anglicised by the end of the 18th century. The 2001 census records show 21% of the population of Powys were able to speak Welsh at that time, the same as for the whole of Wales. [2]


The county is named after the ancient Welsh Kingdom of Powys, which in the sixth century AD included the northern two-thirds of the area as well as most of Shropshire and adjacent areas now in England, and came to an end when it was occupied by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd of Gwynedd during the 1260s.

The uplands retain evidence of occupation from long before the Kingdom of Powys, and before the Romans, who built roads and forts across the area. There are 1130 identified burial mounds within the county, of varying styles and ages, dating from 4000BC to 1000BC, most of them belonging to the Bronze Age. [3] Of these, 339 are Scheduled Monuments. Standing stones, most again dating to the Bronze Age, also occur in large numbers, 276 being found across the county, of which 92 are scheduled. From the Iron Age, the county has 90 scheduled Hill forts and a further 54 enclosures and settlement sites.

Powys is served by the Cambrian Line and Heart of Wales line which offer connections to major towns and cities such as Swansea, Wrexham, Shrewsbury, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Cardiff, Aberystwyth, London and Telford. The county used to be served by key railways such as the Mid-Wales Railway, Oswestry and Newtown Railway, Tanat Valley Light Railway, Llanfyllin Branch, Leominster and Kington Railway, Swansea Vale Railway and the Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railway, all of which offered connections to South Wales, Hereford, Oswestry, North Wales and West Wales but have all since closed.[ citation needed ]


Powys from 1974-1996 WalesPowys1974.png
Powys from 1974–1996

The gold in the county coat of arms symbolises the wealth of the area. Black is for both mining and the Black Mountains. The fountain is a medieval heraldic charge displayed as a roundel barry wavy Argent and Azure. It represents water and refers to both the water catchment area and the rivers and lakes. Thus, the arms contain references to the hills and mountains, rivers and lakes, water supply and industry. The crest continues the colouring of the arms. A tower has been used in preference to a mural crown, which alludes to the county's military history and remains. From the tower rises a red kite, a bird almost extinct elsewhere in Britain but thriving in Powys. The bird is a " semé of black lozenges" for the former coal mining industry while the golden fleece it carries is a reference to the importance of sheep rearing in the county. [4]

The county motto is: Powys – the paradise of Wales (Welsh : Powys Paradwys Cymru).


On 1 April 1974, Powys was created under the Local Government Act 1972 and originally had Montgomery and Radnor and Brecknock as districts within it, which were based directly on the former administrative counties. On 1 April 1996, the districts were abolished, and Powys was reconstituted as a unitary authority with a minor border adjustment in the northeastspecifically, the addition of the communities of Llansilin and Llangedwyn from Glyndwr district in Clwyd and with moving the border, so that rather than half of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, all is included.

The first Lord Lieutenant of Powys was previously the Lord Lieutenant of Montgomeryshire. The Lord Lieutenant of Brecknockshire and Lord Lieutenant of Radnorshire were appointed as Lieutenants. The present Lord Lieutenant is The Hon. Mrs Elizabeth Shân Legge-Bourke LVO of Crickhowell.



Lakes, reservoirs and waterfalls


Cave systems

Museums and exhibitions




In December 2007, Powys was awarded Fairtrade County status by the Fairtrade Foundation. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

Brecon Human settlement in Wales

Brecon, archaically known as Brecknock, is a market town in Powys, mid-Wales. In 1841, it had a population of 5,701. The population in 2001 was 7,901, increasing to 8,250 at the 2011 census. Historically it was the county town of Brecknockshire (Breconshire); although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of the County of Powys, it remains an important local centre. Brecon is the third-largest town in Powys, after Newtown and Ystradgynlais. It lies north of the Brecon Beacons mountain range, but is just within the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Montgomeryshire historic county of Wales

Montgomeryshire, also known as Maldwyn is one of thirteen historic counties and a former administrative county of Wales. It is named after its county town, Montgomery, which in turn is named after one of William the Conqueror's main counsellors, Roger de Montgomerie, who was the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

Radnorshire Historic county of Wales

Radnorshire is a sparsely populated area, one of thirteen historic and former administrative counties of Wales. It is represented by the Radnorshire area of Powys, which according to the 2011 census, had a population of 25,821. The historic county was bounded to the north by Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, to the east by Herefordshire, to the south by Brecknockshire and to the west by Cardiganshire.

Mid Wales is the central region of Wales. The Mid Wales Regional Committee of the Senedd covered the unitary authority areas of Ceredigion and Powys and the area of Gwynedd that had previously been the district of Meirionnydd. A similar definition is used by the BBC. The Wales Spatial Plan defines a region known as "Central Wales" which covers Ceredigion and Powys. If Mid Wales is classed as Ceredigion and Powys, the area would be 6,962 square kilometres (2,688 sq mi).

The Cambrian Railways owned 230 miles (370 km) of track over a large area of mid Wales. The system was an amalgamation of a number of railways that were incorporated in 1864, 1865 and 1904. The Cambrian connected with two of the larger railways to give connections to the northwest of England via the London and North Western Railway, and with the Great Western Railway for connections between London and Wales. The Cambrian Railways amalgamated with the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1922 as a result of the Railways Act 1921. The name is continued today in the route known as the Cambrian Line.

Llanymynech Village straddling the England-Wales border

Llanymynech is a village straddling the border between Montgomeryshire/Powys, Wales, and Shropshire, England, about 9 miles (14 km) north of the Welsh town of Welshpool. The name is Welsh for "Church of the Monks". The village is on the banks of the river Vyrnwy, and the Montgomery Canal passes through it.

Railways of Shropshire

The English county of Shropshire has a fairly large railway network, with 19 National Rail stations on various national lines; there are also a small number of heritage and freight lines, including the famous heritage Severn Valley Railway running along its eastern border with Worcestershire.

Brecon and Radnorshire (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1918 onwards

Brecon and Radnorshire is a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Created in 1918, it elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first-past-the-post system of election. The constituency is represented by Fay Jones, of the Conservative Party, who defeated incumbent Jane Dodds of the Liberal Democrats at the 2019 general election.

The Mid Wales Football League is a football league in Wales at tier 4 of the Welsh Football pyramid, run by the Central Wales Football Association. The league consists of two regionally based divisions - an East Division and an West Division. The league offers a promotion route to the Football Association of Wales administered Tier 3 Ardal Leagues. Relegation is possible to the relevant tier 5 level leagues in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Mid Wales South and Powys.

Abermule Human settlement in Wales

Abermule is a village lying on the River Severn 6 km northeast of Newtown in Powys, mid Wales. The A483 Swansea to Chester trunk road, the Cambrian Line railway, connecting Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury, and the Montgomery Canal, close to the river, all pass through Abermule. The village had a population of 900 as of the 2011 census.

District of Montgomeryshire

Montgomeryshire District Council or Montgomeryshire was, from 1974 to 1996, one of three districts of the county of Powys, Wales. The district had an identical area to the previous administrative county of Montgomeryshire.

Thomas Penson

Thomas Penson, or Thomas Penson the younger was the county surveyor of Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire. An innovative architect and designer of a number of masonry arch bridges over the River Severn and elsewhere. He was the son of Thomas Penson the older,, who had been the county surveyor for Flintshire from 1810 to 1814, but had been dismissed when the bridge at Overton-on-Dee collapsed. Thomas Penson the younger, completed its replacement. Thomas Penson the younger had two sons: Thomas Mainwaring Penson and Richard Kyrke Penson, both of whom were architects and both practised in Chester

The office of High Sheriff of Powys was established in 1974 as part of the creation of the county of Powys in Wales, replacing the shrievalties of the amalgamated counties: High Sheriff of Montgomeryshire, High Sheriff of Radnorshire and High Sheriff of Brecknockshire.

The Montgomeryshire Yeomanry was a Welsh auxiliary unit of the British Army first formed in 1803. It provided volunteers to the Imperial Yeomanry during the Second Boer War and formed three regiments for service during World War I. It was broken up and converted to infantry and artillery in 1920.

The Mid Wales South League is an association football league, founded in 1962, currently consisting of 11 clubs, mainly from Mid Wales but some from just over the border in England. It is currently called the Watson Financial Mid Wales League (South) for sponsorship reasons.

Stephen W. Williams

Stephen W Williams or Stephen Williams (1837–1899) was a civil engineer and architect who worked mainly in Radnorshire and Breconshire, Wales. He was county surveyor of Radnorshire from 1864–1899. He had offices at Rhayader and lived at Penralley House, Rhayader, He became a noted authority on the archaeology of the Cistercian Monasteries in Wales and undertook excavations at Strata Florida Abbey in Ceredigion, Abbey Cwm Hir in Radnorshire and Strata Marcella near Welshpool in Montgomeryshire. He was appointed High Sheriff of Radnorshire in 1899.


  1. POH-iss with the vowels of "goat" and "kit" or POW-iss, with the vowels of "mouth" and "kit"
  2. Welsh Language Board, (disbanded 2012), Archived version of the statistics page, 30 March 2012
  3. Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust: Introducing Prehistoric burial and ritual sites. Accessed 6 April 2014
  4. "Powys". Heraldry of the world. (Outdated file.)
  5. "Cambrian Mountain Events Home Welcome to the Sabrina Walk". www.llanidloes.com. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  6. "Severn Way". Long Distance Walkers Association. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  7. Sally Williams. "FairTrade Resource Network" . Retrieved 3 July 2008.

Coordinates: 52°18′N3°25′W / 52.300°N 3.417°W / 52.300; -3.417