erw [Welsh]

In Wales, a unit of land area, at least as early as the 13th century¹ – 19th century, varying with locality. By the middle of the 19th century the word was generally taken to be synonymous with the statute acre.

1. It occurs in the Brut y Tywysogyon.

sources

1

[From the Venedotian Code]

II. Messur [yrJ eru gyureythyaul [yu] petwar troetued yn [hytJ y uerryeu [acJ uyth yn [hytJ yr eyl yeu [aJ deudec yn [hytJ y gesseylyeu [acJ unarbymthec ynyr hyryeu; a gwyalen gyhyt a honno yn llau y geylwat, ar Hau arall [idaoJ ar yr yacur peruet yr [hirJ yeu,' ahyt y kyrhaydo ahonno o bop parth ydau yu llet yr eru ay dec arugeyn yny hyt. Ereyll adyweyt y mae gwyalen gyhyt ar gur huyaw auo yny trew ay lau uch y ben ac [yn] unryu gerdet ar honno ac ary llall.

XII. The Law of Brothers for Land

2. The measure of the legal erw is, four feet in the length of the short yoke, and eight in the length of the second yoke, and twelve in the length of the lateral yoke, and sixteen in the long yoke; and a rod as long as that, in the hand of the driver, with his other hand upon the middle spike of the long yoke, and as far as he can reach with that rod on each side of him, is the breadth of the erw; and thirty times that is the length. Others say, that it is to be a rod as long as the tallest man in the trev, with his hand above his head, and proceeding in a similar manner as in the other.

The Commissioners of the Public Records of the Kingdom.
Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales; Comprising Laws Supposed to be enacted by Howel the Good, Modified by subsequent regulations under the Native Princes Prior to the Conquest by Edward the First: and anomalous Laws, Consisting Principally of Institutions which by the Statute of Ruddlan were admitted to continue in force: With an English Translation of the Welsh Text. to which are added a few Latin transcripts, containing digests of the Welsh laws, principally of the Dimetian Code. With Indexes and Glossary. Volume I.
London: Printed by Command of His Late Majesty King William IV, 1841.
Page 167.

2

[page 185] 236
XVII

5. And that measure Dyvnwal measured by a barley corn: three lengths of a barley corn in the inch; three inches in the palm breadth; three palm breadths in the foot; three feet in the pace; three paces in the leap; three leaps in a land, the land, in modern Welsh, is called a ridge; and a thousand of the lands is a mile. And that measure we still use here. 

6. And then they made the measure of the legal erw by the barley corn: three lengths of a barley corn in an inch; three inches in the palm breadth; three palm breadths in the foot; four feet in the short yoke; and eight in the field yoke; and twelve in the lateral yoke; and sixteen in the long yoke: and a rod, equal in length to that long yoke, in the hand of the driver, with the middle spike of that long yoke in the other hand of the driver, and as far as he can reach with that rod, stretching out his arm, are the two skirts of the erw, that is to say, the breadth of a legal erw; and thirty of that is the length of the erw.

7. Four such envs are to be in every tyddyn.

8. Four tyddyna in every randir.

9. Four randirs in every gavaeI.

10. Four gavaels in every trev.

11. Four trevs in every maenol.

12. And twelve maenols and two treys in every cymwd. The two trevs are for the use of the king; one of them to be mae~trev land for him; and the other to be the king's waste and summer pasture; and as much as we have said above is to be in the other cymwd; that is in number five score trevs; and that is the cantrev rightly: ten times ten is to be in every hundred; and numeration goes no further than ten.

13. This is the number of erws in the cantrev: four legal erws of tillage in every tyddyn; sixteen in every randir; sixty.four in every gavael; two hundred and fifty-six in the trev; one thousand and twenty-four in every maenol; twelve thousand two hundred and eighty-eight in the twelve maenols. In the two trevs which pertain to the court there are to be five hundred and twelve erws: the whole of that, when summed up, is twelve thousand and eight hundred erws in the cymwd; and the same number in the other cymwd: that is, the number of erws in the cantrev is twenty-five thousand and six hundred, neither more nor less.

14. Of the twelve maenols, which are to be in the cymwd, four are assigned to aillts to support dogs and horses, and for progress and dovraeth; and one for canghellor-ship; and one other for maer-ship; and the rest for free uchelwrs.

15. And from those eight the king is to have a gwestva every year; that is, a pound yearly from each of them: three-score pence are charged on each trev of the four that are in a maenol, and so subdivided into quarters in succession, until each erw of the tyddyn be assessed: and that is called the tunc pound; and the silentiary is to collect it annually: and a similar payment in full from the other cymwd: and thus the cantrev is complete.

 3

The material under the next five subheads has been taken from: 

Walter Davies.
General View of the Agriculture and Domestic Economy of South Wales… Volume II.
London: Printed by B. McMillan, Bow-Street, Covent Garden: For Sherwood, Neely & Jones, Paternoster-Row; Tudor and Heath, Monmouth; etc., 1815.
Pages 503 & 504.

Davies is clearly the source for the Second Report of the Commissioners (1820). Here his text has been radically reformatted for easier comprehension. Added text is in square brackets. All figures in the charts are in square yards.

1. The erw of 5760 square yards (about 4816.1 square meters)

erw

stangell

4

quarter

4

16

perch

40

160

640

9

360

1440

5760

This is the customary measure of the hundred of Castle Martin in Pembrokeshire, and of some parts in the west of Glamorgan. This erw is equal to the Cornish acre.

2. The erw of 7840 square yards (about 6555.2 square meters)

erw

stangell

4

llath

40

160

quart

4

160

640

12¼

49

1960

7840

[The quart is the area of a square 10.5 feet on a side.]

This is the customary acre of the hundred of Rhôs (Rowse) in Pembrokeshire; it obtains also, under different denominations in Glamorganshire, in the Vale of Miskin, Llantrisant, &c., where it is thus defined:

10½ troedfedd ir llath, 40 llath, ir cwarter, a 4 cwarter ir cyfar, a 4 cyfar ir erw.

This erw is equal to the Lancashire acre.

3. The erws of 9384 and 11264 square yards (about 7846.2 and 9418.1 square meters)

erw

stang

4

llath

4

16

bat

40

160

640

*

58.65

2346

9384

[The next to last digit in the number of square yards in this erw is badly printed. It looks like a “6”, but that it should be 9384 is shown by the table on page 505 and the clearly printed submultiple “2346.”

*Davies says the bat is the area of a square 11 feet on a side, but the figures he gives are inconsistent with this value and suggest instead a bat of 11½ feet. He says “11 feet to the bat × 40 × 4 = 2346 [square] yards or 1 stang”. But 2346 ÷ 160 = 14.6625, the square root of which is 3.829 yards, or 11.49 feet, or for practical purposes 11½ feet, not 11.

Similarly for the erw of Glamorganshire, for which Davies gives a value of 2 acres, 1 rood, 12 perches and 11 yards. Taking a square perch of 30.25 square yards makes this an area of 11264 square yards. 11264 ÷ 768 = 14.6666..., whose square root is 3.8297, or 11.49 feet. It is also suspicious that the presentation of the data in this section differs from the style of the other five. ]

This is the customary acre of the hundred of Dau-gledden in Pembrokeshire. The perch of 11 feet is that called llath Eglwys Ilan in Glamorganshire, but with the anomaly of computing 48 instead of 40 perches to the rood, by which the erw of Eglwys Ilan amounts to [11264 square yards].

Glamorganshire

erw

stang

4

quarter??

4

16

llath Eglwys Ilan

48

192

768

14 2/3*

704

2816

11264

 

4. The erw of 11,284 square yards (about 9434.9 square meters)

erw

cyvar

4

quarter

4

16

llath

48

192

768

14.69

705¼

2821

11284

 

[The llath is the area of a square 11½ feet on a side. The multiple isn't exact, but the difference is insignificant in the circumstances.]

This is the customary measure of the north of Glamorganshire, and is there called erw Ferthyr Tudful, erw Llan Vabon, &c.

5. The erw of 10240 square yards (about 8561.9 square meters)

erw

stangell

4

llath

40

160

quart

4

160

640

16

64

2560

10240

[The quart is the area of a square 12 feet on a side.]

This is the customary measure in the hundreds of Dewi's Land, Kemmaes, and Kilgaron, in Pembrokeshire; the south of Cardiganshire, parts of Caermarthenshire, and Glamorganshire. In the latter it is called erw Llan Giwg. By parers and burners the rod of this measure is called pren wyth. This erw is the same quantity as the Staffordshire acre.

6. The stang of 3240 square yards (about 2709.1 square meters)

[The quart is an area 13½ feet on a side and the stang is 160 quarts, thus 3240 square yards.]

This stang is three-fourths of the erw of Howel Dda in the Welsh laws published by Dr. Wotton. This rod in paring and burning is called pren naw, for the same reason as the twelve feet rod is called pren wyth. This 'stang of Powys land and the north of Cardiganshire, is the same quantity as the cyvar of Anglesey and Caernarvonshire—the cyvar or plough-acre of Radnorshire—and of Brecknockshire to the southern extremity of the Vale of Usk, where the measures Nos. 2 and 4 are in common use. We are not informed that this 'stang has been quadrupled into an erw measure, like the preceding five minor measures.

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