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Comparing the tithe system with modern agriculture


Recently the Cynefin project, which is digitising the tithe maps of Wales, has been working with the Farmers’ Union of Wales to compare the tithe system with modern agricultural websites.

Farmers today can record field names on systems such as Rural Payments Wales Online or IACS, whilst in the 1840s field names were recorded on tithe apportionment documents. These documents referred to the tithe maps which were created following the Tithe Commutation Act in 1836. The tithe maps and apportionment documents are available to view on the website.

Tithe maps were created to apportion how much tithe land users had to pay.  Each map also has an apportionment document which lists who lived on the land, who owned the land, and also what use was made of the land.  Looking at these documents and maps you can see evidence of substantial farming across all of Wales, including vast parts of the highlands. Forested areas are shown clearly, and it’s possible to see where there are forests today on formerly agricultural land.

Einion Gruffud, Cynefin’s Project Manager said; “The field names, often in Welsh, tell tales of the past, including references to old methods of farming, or early uses of the land. You can compare historic and contemporary land use on the website. The Cynefin project aims to collect all the information about the names of people and fields and land use in the 1840s and make it easily searchable across all of Wales.”

In partnership with the Farmers’ Union of Wales, Wales’ tithe maps have been on tour through the country, by being showcased at local agricultural shows over the summer. The tithe maps’ journey will end in Usk Show on Saturday 12th September, where the local tithe map will be displayed by the FUW.

For further information contact Einion Gruffudd or Carys Evans
Einion Gruffudd: 01970 632 842
Carys Evans: 01970 632 416 

Notes for editors

  • Images for this article are available upon request
  • The ‘Cynefin: Mapping Wales’ sense of Place’ project is run by a partnership led by Archives Wales, and also includes the National Library of Wales and People’s Collection Wales.  The majority of its funding comes from the Heritage Lottery Fund; the project is also supported by the Welsh Government through the Museums, Archives and Libraries Division, the National Library of Wales and Archives Wales.
  • Cynefin was launched in November 2014 and is due to be completed by the end of September 2016. To find out more visit the website:; follow Cynefin on twitter, @CynefinProject, or contact or 01970 632 416.
  • Further information about the FUW is available at