Some Captured History of Glanamman and Garnant
The Hanging Tree
The Hanging Tree on Llandeilo Road.
On Llandeilo Road, Garnant, there are two dwellings which are firmly embedded in the mythological fabric of the Amman Valley. Cynghordy is said to have been the location of a court house, the word itself translating into English as "House of Council." At a junction of Llandeilo Road, where it meets with the lane leading to Cynghordy, is a tree with a macabre reputation.
Looking at the "Hanging Tree" today, it is difficult to connect it with its reputation. Its broad but hollow trunk supports few branches and to the wayfarer, its sight seems rather pitiful. In comparison, how foreboding it must have appeared to the poor souls taken to the location to pay the most severe of all penalties, for the crime that they may have committed.
The Hanging Tree, May 2008
The Hanging Tree still stands, supported by the farm building that it leans upon. The tree, once covered with Ivy, was shown mercy by the landowner, who removed the parasite which choked it.
On the opposite side of the road is a dwelling which has undergone extensive renovation, hiding the true age of the original part of the building. Trecynllaeth, or Tregynlaeth, is reputed to have taken its name from its own macabre history. The front patio was once the location of another hanging tree, which was eventually removed by the modern owners of the property. The place is said to have obtained its name from when three men were hanged there for rustling livestock. The Welsh form of the sentence: "Three were killed", may be "Tri, Cael ei Ladd" and this may have been mutated over the centuries to form the place name "Tregynlaeth"
A more palitable explanation of the place name, however, may be found on Terry Norman's Ammanford website, where he explains that the word "Cynllaeth" is given in the Dictionary as "first milk.". Yet another interpretation of the abode's name may be "Tri Cant Llath" which translates as "Three Hundred Yards", which perhaps again hints at the tree's approximate distance from Cynghordy!
The wide hollow trunk of the dying tree
Whether the reputations of Cynghordy, Trecynllaeth, or the tree, are founded in fact or whether they are purely myths, we may never know. It is, however, worth recording on this site for its place amongst the folklore of Cwmamman. There is evidence, however, of the rather dubious reputation of the Amman Valley in the 1700's and 1800's.
In a meeting of the Cambrian Archaeological Association in 1852, mention was made of a remote valley not far from Llandybie (probably the Amman Valley), where until the 1800's the people were regarded as being of a "lawless character".
In a publication printed in Welsh in 1872, entitled
"Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru", the chapter on the history
of Ebenezer Chapel in Swansea, tells of the bad reputation of the
butchers of the Amman Valley. After closing their stalls in Swansea
on a Saturday night, some of them would binge drink until the following
morning and many of the older inhabitants of Swansea claimed that
the "many drunken and malicious louts" were a menace, as
they would "set about" anyone who went near them.
Thanks to Tony Vobe for permission to take photographs and for the information. Other sources include "Sin Eating in the Amman Valley" by Huw Walters, printed in "The Carmarthenshire Historian", Vol XV, in 1978.