What is Common Land?
The concept of common land goes back centuries.
‘Commoners’ were given rights by the Lord of the Manor to undertake a number of different activities.
These rights varied from common to common, but included collecting firewood, fishing, grazing animals, peat cutting, gathering of bracken for bedding and other rights subject to local need.
Various pieces of government legislation have formalised these traditions.
Who owns Common Land?
All common land is owned. Owners can be private individuals, organisations or public bodies.
Who are Commoners?
Commoners are usually farmers who hold registered Rights of Common. The most common right for a Commoner to hold is the Right of Pasture (grazing).
This allows Commoners, sometimes called graziers, to graze their animals (mainly sheep but also cattle, pigs, horses and even ducks) on a shared piece of land – the common – without fences or boundaries between them.
This ‘Right of Common’ relates mainly to the property and is why most farms lying close to the common have these rights.
The number and type of livestock each Commoner is allowed to graze is set out in a Commons Register, which allocates a maxi mum number of cattle, sheep, ponies or other livestock to be grazed by each Commoner.
Only registered Commoners have grazing rights, no one else should graze livestock on a common.
South Wales Mountain Sheep
Most of the sheep which you see on the common are a local breed called the South Wales Mountain Sheep, sometimes called a Nelson or a Glamorgan Welsh. They are a hardy breed which have adopted to the harsh conditions of South Wales hills and commons.
Welsh Black Cattle
You will also see many Welsh Black cattle grazing the common. This traditional Welsh breed of cattle is one of the oldest cattle breeds in the UK and is the only native Welsh breed.
This Map shows all the common land across Wales: