RHAYADER (Rhaiadr-Gwy), a market town of Radnorshire, Wales, situated amid wild and beautiful scenery on the left bank of the Wye, about '1 m. above its confluence with the Elan. Pop. (1901) 1215. Rhayader is a station on the Cambrian railway. A stone bridge over the Wye connects the town with the village and parish church of Cwmdauddwr. Rhayader has for some centuries been an important centre for Welsh mutton and wool, and its sheep fairs are largely attended by drovers and buyers from all parts. Near Rhayader are the large reservoirs constructed (1895) by the corporation of Birmingham in the Elan and Claerwen valleys.
Rhayader, built close to the Falls of the Wye (whence its name), owes its early importance to the castle erected here by Prince Rhys ap Griffith of South Wales, c. 1178, in order to check the English advance up the Wye Valley. Seized by the invaders, castle and town were later retaken in 1231 by Prince Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, who burned the fortress and slew its garrison. Scarcely a trace of the castle exists, although its site near St Clement's church is locally known as Tower Hill. With the erection of Maesyfed into the shire of Radnor in 1536 Rhayader was named as assize-town for the newly formed county in conjunction with New Radnor; but in 1542, on account of a local riot, the town was deprived of this privilege in favour of Presteign. Rhayader constituted one of the group of boroughs comprising the Radnor parliamentary district until the Redistribution Act of 1885.
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