What are vernacular buildings?

The term ‘vernacular’ is used to refer to buildings which were domestic rather than public or monumental. They were constructed for, and by, local people using locally specific building materials and techniques. They fit comfortably within the landscape from which they were built, and of which they are a part. In south-west Wales many date from the 19th century, although some have earlier origins, and/ or have earlier elements incorporated within later buildings. Vernacular buildings can be found in towns as well as the countryside, but the area so far covered by ABC's Historic Landscape Mapping Programme is (still) very rural, and most buildings were built and developed within an agricultural context.

Derelict vernacular buildings are a feature of the Welsh landscape, particularly in rural areas. Most have no protection under current legislation.

These buildings are often the best record we have of the everyday lives of the ordinary people and communities of Wales. Culturally they are just as important as other, grander buildings and monuments.


During 2017 ABC ran a series of community events and workshops as part of our Grass Roots Heritage Project.  These events were focused around Myddfai and Llanddeusant in the north-western corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The many abandoned traditional buildings which came to light during our Historic Landscape Mapping Programme, helped to inform the focus of the workshops and events throughout the year.

The last year has been an amazing opportunity to celebrate and share this very local heritage. It’s been really good to take time to appreciate some of the fascinating hidden histories which are right on our doorsteps, but which are often overshadowed by ‘big heritage’ like castles and stately homes. Our community events meant we met lots of new people and were able to provide support and advice about looking after older buildings that survive in this part of rural Wales, and also hopefully inspire those involved in the project about the rich cultural heritage that these small abandoned buildings represent. Adfer Ban a Chwm worked with over twenty volunteers who helped to record some of the buildings identified through our mapping programme, and talked to many local people throughout the project and at our five key events.

See our news section and project pages for more information

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