Hayscastle or Castellhaidd (which translates as barley castle), is a small inland, predominantly agricultural community surrounded by pastureland, overlooked by Plumstone Mountain and with views of the Preseli Hills. It is comprised of the three wards of Hayscastle, St Lawrence and St Edrens, with the main residential areas being Hayscastle Cross and Pont-yr-Hafod and has an overall population of approximately 480.
A good number of residents remain employed by the agricultural industry and its supporting businesses. A number of the major farms may originally have been small mediaeval villages, being distinguished by their names, usually ending in the English ‘ton’ or beginning with the Welsh ‘tre’ e.g. Brimaston (Treowman), Tancredston (Trebwrnallt) and Rhyndaston (Treindeg). Hayscastle Farm is the site of a deserted mediaeval village and was the main settlement in that era, adjacent to St Mary’s Church and the mound where the Norman motte and bailey was positioned.
Like many small communities, the latter part of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st has seen an increase in population and a decrease in services. Recent years have seen the loss of two village stores and petrol stations, as well as a garage and post office and after 130 years the village school closed in 2010. The Cross Inn remains and has been run continuously for 160 years by the Phillips family. St Mary’s and St Lawrence Churches, Noddfa Newton and Blaenllyn Chapels all remain open but hold less frequent services than in previous years.
Welsh is still an important language in the community and a survey in 1999 showed 38% of residents spoke it. Many newcomers are eager to learn and become part of the community.
With many small lanes the area is popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Small wooded areas and public footpaths add interest to these activities whilst natural history enthusiasts will find much to interest them on nearby Plumstone Mountain, the Brandy Brook Valley and Tre-Rhos Common SSSI. The second world war military camp in Hayscastle Cross, much of which still remains, is of interest to military historians.
The relatively new Community Centre and Woodland are well used, where meetings and events take place. There is also a Church Hall next to St Lawrence Church. The annual Hayscastle Pony and Horticultural Show takes place in August where it is possible to meet with many local people. There are several local groups who meet regularly and contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of the small community of Hayscastle. Much may be found and discovered in the following pages of this booklet and will perhaps be the stepping-stone to joining in some of the many activities on offer.