Anglesey (Welsh: Ynys Môn), is a predominantly Welsh-speaking island and county at the northwestern extremity of Wales. It is separated from the mainland by a narrow stretch of water known as the Menai Strait. It is connected to the mainland by two bridges, the original Menai Suspension Bridge (carrying the A5), built by Thomas Telford in 1826 as a road link, and the newer, twice reconstructed Britannia Bridge (originally the work of Robert Stephenson), which carries the A55 and the North Wales Coast Railway line. The A5025 circles most of its coast. As well as the Isle of Anglesey, the county of Anglesey covers a number of smaller islands, in particular Holy Island.
With an area of 275 square miles, Anglesey is the largest Welsh island, and the fifth largest surrounding Britain.
Historically, Anglesey has long been associated with the Druids. In c. AD 60 the Roman general Suetonius Paullinus, determined to break the power of the druids (dreamers of the time of Boudicca, attacked the island, destroying the shrine and the sacred groves. The Romans called the island Mona. After the Romans, the island was invaded by Vikings, Saxons, and Normans before falling to King Edward I of England, in the 13th century.
Môn is the Welsh name of Anglesey, but its origin is obscure, appearing first during the Roman era as ‘Mona’. The ‘English’ name is in fact dervied from the Old Norse, meaning the ‘Ongull’s Island’. The alternative isle (ey) of the Angles is discredited. Old Welsh names are Ynys Dywyll (“Dark Isle”) and Ynys y Cedairn (cedyrn or kedyrn; “Isle of brave folk”). It is the Mona of Tacitus (Ann. xiv. 29, Agr. xiv. 18), Pliny the Elder (iv. 16) and Dio Cassius (62). It is called Mon Mam Cymru (“Mon, Mother of Wales”) by Giraldus Cambrensis, due to the claimed ability of the fertile land to produce enough food for the whole of Wales. In reality, the claim was probably more directed at an ability to sustain Gwynedd. Clas Merddin, and Y fêl Ynys (honey isle) are other names. According to the Triads (67), Anglesey was once part of the mainland, as geology proves. The island was the seat of the Druids, of whom 28 cromlechs remain on uplands overlooking the sea; e.g. at Plâs Newydd. The Druids were attacked in 61 by Suetonius Paulinus, and again in 78 by Agricola. The present road from Holyhead to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll was originally a Roman road. British and Roman camps, coins and ornaments have been dug up and discussed, especially by the 19th century romantic antiquarian, the Hon. Lord Stanley of Penrhos. The foundations of Holyhead are Caer Gybi Roman.
At the end of the Roman period in the late 4th Century and early 5th Century pirates from Ireland colonised Anglesey and the nearby Llŷn Peninsula. In response to this a Brythonic warlord from the north of Britain called Cunedda came to the area and began the process of driving the Irish out. This process was continued by his son Einion ap Cunedda and grandson Cadwallon Lawhir until the last Irish were defeated in battle in 470. As an island Môn would usually be a good defensive position and because of this it was the site of the court or Llys of the kings and princes of Gwynedd at Aberffraw. Apart from a devastating Danish raid in 853 this was to remain the case until the thirteenth century when improvements to the English navy made it indefensible.
There are numerous Megalithic monuments and Menhirs present on Anglesey testifying to the presence of humankind from pre-history.
Anglesey is a relatively low-lying island with slight risings such as Parys Mountain, Cadair Mynachdy (or Monachdy, i.e., “chair of the monastery”; there is a Nanner, “convent”, not far away), Mynydd Bodafon andHolyhead Mountain.
Anglesey has many small towns scattered all around the island, making it quite evenly populated.Beaumaris (Welsh: Biwmares), to the south of the island, features Beaumaris Castle, built by Edward I as part of his campaign in North Wales. The town of Newborough (Welsh: Niwbwrch), created when the townfolk of Llanfaes were relocated to make way for the building of Beaumaris Castle, includes the site of Llys Rhosyr, another of the courts of the mediaeval Welsh princes and which features one of the oldest courtrooms in the United Kingdom. Beaumaris acts as a yachting centre for the region with many boats moored in the bay or off Gallows point. Llangefni is located in the centre of the island and is also the island’s administrative centre. The town of Menai Bridge (Welsh: Porthaethwy) expanded when the first bridge to the mainland was being built, in order to accommodate workers and construction. Up until that time Porthaethwy had been one of the principal ferry crossing points from the mainland. A short distance from this town lies Bryn Celli Ddu, a Stone Age burial mound. The town of Amlwch is situated in the northeast of the island and was once largely industrialised, having grown during the 18th century supporting the copper mining industry at Parys Mountain.
The island also has the village with the longest official place name in the United Kingdom,Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Other towns and settlements includeCemaes, Benllech, Pentraeth, Gaerwen, Dwyran, Bodedern and Rhosneigr. The Anglesey Sea Zoo is a local tourist attraction, providing a look at and descriptions of local marine wildlife from lobsters to conger eels. All the fish and crustaceans on display are caught around the island and are placed in reconstructions of their natural habitat. They also make salt (evaporated from the local sea water) and commercially breed lobsters, for food, and oysters, for pearls, both from local stocks.
The island’s entire rural coastline had been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and features many sandy beaches, especially along its eastern coast between the towns of Beaumaris and Amlwch and along the western coast from Ynys Llanddwyn through Rhosneigr to the little bays around Carmel Head. The northern coastline is charecterised by dramatic cliffs interspresed with small bays. The Anglesey Coastal Path is a 125-mile path which follows nearly the entire coastine. Tourism is now the most significant economic activity on the island. Agriculture provides the secondary source of income for the island’s economy, with the local dairies being amongst the most productive in the region. There is also a nuclear power station, at Wylfa Head on the north coast.
Major industries are restricted to Holyhead which supports an aluminium smelter and the Amlwch area where the Wylfa nuclear power station is located close to a former bromine extraction plant. The nuclear power station is scheduled to close in or around 2010, and the aluminium smelting operation is likely to close as a consequence of losing its affordable local electricity supply. There are a wide range of smaller industries, mostly located in industrial and business parks especially at Llangefni and Gaerwen. These industries include an abbatoir and fine chemicals manufacture as well as factories for timber production, aluminium smelting, fish farming and food processing.
Wind power is developing on Anglesey with more than 20 commercial wind turbines established near to the north coast. The strong sea currents around the island are also attracting the interest of electricity generation companies interested in exploiting tidal power.
There are a few lakes mostly in the west, such as Cors cerrig y daran, but rivers are few and small. There are two large water supply reservoirs operated by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water. These are Llyn Cefni in the centre of the island, which is fed by the headwaters of the Afon Cefni, and Llyn Alaw to the north of the island. Llyn Llywenan is the largest natural lake on the island.
The climate is humid but generally equable due the effects of the gulf stream bathing the island. The land is of variable quality and it may have been more fertile in the past.
Ecology and conservation
Much of Anglesey is covered with relatively intensive cattle and sheep farming aided by modern agro-chemicals. In these areas there is little of ecological conservation worth. However there are a number of important wet-land sites which have protected status. In addition the several lakes all have significant ecological interest including their support for a wide range of aquatic and semi-aquatic bird species. In the west, the Malltraeth marshes are believed to be supporting an occasional visiting Bittern and the nearby estuary of the Afon Cefni supports a bird population made internationally famous by the paintings of Charles Tunnicliffe.
Three sites on Anglesey are important for breeding terns – see Anglesey tern colonies.
Almost the entire coastline of Anglesey is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Anglesey hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1999.
- Anglesey/Ynys Môn is a member island of the International Island Games Association. The next Island Games will be held in 2007 on Rhodes (Greece). The 2009 Games will be held on the Åland Islands (Finland) and the 2011 Games will be held on the Isle of Wight (UK). In the 2005 Games, held on the Shetland Islands, Anglesey/Ynys Môn came 11th on the medal table with 4 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals. The Isle of Anglesey/Ynys Môn Island Games Association plan to make a bid to host the 2015 Island Games.
- Anglesey has featured in the Channel 4 television archaeology series, ‘Time Team’ (series 14) – programme transmission date 4 February 2007.
- Anglesey has the second highest population of native Welsh language speakers in Wales (70% of the population).
The geology of Anglesey is notably complex and is frequently used for geology field trips by schools and colleges. Younger strata in Anglesey rest upon a foundation of very old pre-Cambrian rocks that appear at the surface in four areas:
1. a western region including Holyhead and Llanfaethlu,
2. a central area about Aberffraw and Trefdraeth,
3. an eastern region which includes Newborough, Caerwen and Pentraeth and
4. a coastal region at Glyn Garth between Menai Bridge and Beaumaris.
These pre-Cambrian rocks are schists and slates, often much contorted and disturbed. The general line of strike of the formations in the island is from north-east to south-west. A belt of granitic rocks lies immediately north-west of the central pre-Cambrian mass, reaching from Llanfaelog near the coast to the vicinity of Llanerchymedd. Between this granite and the pre-Cambrian of Holyhead is a narrow tract of Ordovician slates and grits with Llandovery beds in places; this tract spreads out in the north of the island between Dulas Bay and Carmel Point. A small patch of Ordovician strata lies on the northern side ofBeaumaris. In parts, these Ordovician rocks are much folded, crushed and metamorphosed, and they are associated with schists and altered volcanic rocks which are probably pre-Cambrian. Between the eastern and central pre-Cambrian masses carboniferous rocks are found. The carboniferous limestone occupies a broad area south of Lligwy Bay and Pentraeth, and sends a narrow spur in a south-westerly direction byLlangefni to Malltraeth sands. The limestone is underlain on the north-west by a red basement conglomerate and yellow sandstone (sometimes considered to be of Old Red Sandstone age). Limestone occurs again on the north coast about Llanfihangel and Llangoed; and in the south-west round Llanidan on the border of the Menai Strait. Puffin Island is made of carboniferous limestone. Malltraeth marsh is occupied by coal measures, and a small patch of the same formation appears near Tall-y-foel Ferry on theMenai Strait. A patch of granitic and felsitic rocks form Parys Mountain, where copper and iron ochre have been worked. Serpentine (Mona Marble) is found near Llanfairynneubwll and upon the opposite shore inHolyhead. There are abundant evidences of glaciation, and much boulder clay and drift sand covers the older rocks. Patches of brown sand occur on the south-west coast.
Sons and daughters of Anglesey
Born on Anglesey
- Tony Adams – actor (Anglesey, 1940)
- William Bulkeley – diarist (1691 – 1760 Brynddu, Llanfechell, Anglesey)
- Dic Evans – Seaman and coxswain two-times winner of the RNLI gold medal for bravery – (Moelfre, 1905)
- Dawn French – actress, writer, comedian (Holyhead, 1957)
- Hugh Griffith – Oscar winning actor (Marianglas, 1912)
- Steve Griffiths – writer (Anglesey 1949
- Owain Gwynedd – prince (Anglesey, c1100)
- Wayne Hennessey – footballer – currently goalkeeper with Wolves (Anglesey 1987)
- Captain Owen Jones – volunteer lifeboatman winner of the RNLI gold medal for bravery (Anglesey)
- Mr Thomas William Jones – able seaman on RMS Titanic who took charge of Lifeboat #8 (Anglesey, c1880)
- William Jones – mathematician (Llanfihangel Tre’r Beirdd, 1675)
- John Morris-Jones – Welsh grammarian and poet (Llandrygarn, 1864)
- Glenys Kinnock – politician (Holyhead, 1944)
- Wendy Orme – screenwriter (Anglesey, 1911)
- Edward Roberts – second coxswain winner of the RNLI gold medal for bravery (Anglesey)
- Wilf Roberts – landscape artist (Anglesey, 1941)
- Ifor Owain Thomas – tenor (Pentraeth, 1892)
- Hugh Owen Thomas – pioneering orthopaedic surgeon (Anglesey, 1833)
- Sir Kyffin Williams RA – landscape painter (Anglesey, 1918 – 2006)
Lived on Anglesey
- Henry Austin Dobson – poet and essayist (Plymouth, Devon 1840)
- Tristan Hughes – writer (Canada)
- Aled Jones – singer and television presenter (Bangor, 1970)
- Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister – heavy metal bass player and singer (Stoke-on-Trent, 1945)
- Matthew Maynard – cricketer (Oldham, Lancashire 1966)
- Gwyn Parry – writer (Wales)
- Gary Pritchard – sports journalist & broadcaster (Bangor, 1970)
- Eric Roberts – baritone (Conwy, North Wales)
- Charles Tunnicliffe – wildlife artist (Chester, 1901)
- Naomi Watts – actress (Kent, 1968)
- Rex Whistler – artist (Eltham, Kent 1905)
- Maurice Wilks – car designer
Anglesey (together with Holy Island) is one of the thirteen traditional counties of Wales. In medieval times, before the conquest of Wales in 1283, Môn often had periods of temporary independence as it was frequently bequeathed to the heirs of kings as a sub kingdom of Gwynedd. The last times this occurred were for a few years after 1171 following the death of Owain Gwynedd when the island was inherited by Rhodri ab Owain Gwynedd and again between 1246 – c.1255 when it was given to Owain Goch as his share of the kingdom. Following the conquest of Wales by Edward I it was created a county under the terms of theStatute of Rhuddlan of 1284. Prior to this it had been divided into the cantrefi of:
In 1974 it formed a district of the new large administrative county of Gwynedd, until in the 1996 reform of local government it was restored as an administrative county. The county council is a unitary authority and is named “Isle of Anglesey County Council” (Welsh: Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn). While there is currently a majority of independent councillors, the council is under no overall control, as the members do not generally divide along party lines. The only party group on the council is that of Plaid Cymru. There are five non-partisan groups on the council, containing a mix of party and independent candidates. The largest of these groups is Môn Ymlaen/Anglesey Forward, with 15 members out of the 40 in total. Photographs © Dave Roberts. Click on any image for a larger view.
Anglesey – From ‘A Topographical Dictionary of Wales’ (1849)
ANGLESEY, an insular county of North Wales, surrounded by the Irish sea, except on the south-east, on which side it is separated from the county of Carnarvon by the long, narrow, and rocky strait called the Menai. It extends from 53° 6′ to 53° 23′ (N. Lat.), and from 4° 20′ to 5° 5′ (W. Lon.); and comprises, according to Evans’s Map of North Wales, 173,000 acres, or upwards of 270 square miles. According to the last census, it contains 11,488 inhabited houses, 746 uninhabited, and 135 in progress of erection; and the population amounts to 50,890, of which number 24,369 are males, and 26,521 females. The annual value of real property assessed to the property and income tax for the year ending April, 1843, was as follows: lands, £129,063; houses, £15,232; tithes, £15,114; mines, £5834; quarries, £80: total, £165,323.This island anciently formed part of the territory of the Ordovices, by whom it was variously called Ynys dywell, or “the Shady Island;” Ynys y Cedeirn, from its heroes, or powerful Druids; and Ynys Vôn, or Ynys Môn, afterwards written singly Môn, which the Romans latinized into Mona. From the first of these names, Mr. Rowlands, in his “Mona Antiqua Restaurata,” supposes the Thule of the Romans to have been derived, and considers Anglesey as the “ultima Thule.” The same respectable antiquary thinks that the name Môn is derived from the position of the island with respect to the other parts of Britain; that syllable, with the same sound, being found in the names of other western extremities of this and other countries inhabited by the Celtæ. Thus Cornwall was called by the Romans Danmonium (the furthest point of it being to this day called Penvonlaz, or Wlad); the Isle of Man, Moneda; and the westernmost part of Ireland, Momonia, or in Irish, Mown. The common ancient British appellation of the island, viz., Môn mam Gymru, “Môn, the mother, or nurse, of Wales,” is supposed by some to allude to its productiveness, which afforded so great a supply of food to the other parts of Wales; by others the name is derived from its having been the chief residence of the Druids, whom the primitive Britons considered the parents of science and the guardians of society. This region, from its remote and insular situation, its vicinity to the Isle of Man, and the facility with which a passage might hence be made to that island, or to Ireland, appears to have been chosen by the Druids, as their most secure asylum, during the persecution which they endured from the invading Romans.The first Roman commander who penetrated as far as Mona was Suetonius Paulinus, to whom the supreme authority in Britain was entrusted in the year 58. Having subdued the continental part of North Wales, this general crossed the Menai by means of flat-bottomed boats, and by swimming that arm of the sea at low water; and made an easy conquest of the island, in spite of the opposition of the Druids, many of whom he massacred, cutting down their groves, overturning their altars, and destroying the seminary of that order. He is thought to have made his entrance into Mona at Porthamel ferry, five miles westward from the site of the Menai suspension bridge. Before, however, Suetonius had wholly completed his conquest, his operations were interrupted by a formidable insurrection of the country in his rear, under the celebrated Boadicea; and this diversion of the Roman forces gave the remainder of the Druids a respite from persecution for fifteen years. The next attack which they experienced was under the direction of Julius Agricola, who was sent by the Emperor Vespasian to command the forces in Britain, in the year 78. This commander, on his arrival, found the Ordovices, the inhabitants of North Wales, in revolt; but he soon subdued the continental part of their territory, with great slaughter, and compelled their chieftains to take refuge in Mona. He then advanced to the shore of the Menai, opposite to Moel-y-Don in this county; and the struggling Britons, thus hemmed in, were urged to the necessity of exerting all their energies in defence of their lives, liberty, and sacred institutions. Tacitus describes the British army which lined the shores to resist the landing of the Romans, as accompanied by another army of Druids, of both sexes, and in such confusion, that he designates them as a multitude of viragoes and madmen. The auxiliaries of the Roman army having crossed the Menai on horseback to the great surprise and consternation of the Britons, a desperate struggle ensued, in which the latter were totally defeated; and the Druids, by command of the conqueror, were thrown into their own sacrificial fires. Under the Roman sway, the island is supposed to have contained one station, situated at Caer Gybi, close to the present town of Holyhead.After the dissolution of the Roman power, and during the reign of Einion Urdd, son of Cynedda, who united under his government the kingdom of the Strath-Clyde Britons and the province of North Wales, and resided in his northern territories, the Irish Scots, under the command of Sirigi, or “the Rover,” landed in Mona, and having defeated the natives, took possession of the island. On receiving intelligence of this invasion, Einion Urdd sent his eldest son, Caswallon Law Hîr, to the relief of Mona; and the latter executed his orders by routing the enemy at Holyhead, where their fleet was lying at anchor, and by slaying Sirigi in a personal encounter. About the year 443, Caswallon, having succeeded to his father’s throne, made choice of Mona for his residence; and, being the eldest branch of the Cyneddian family of British princes, he enjoyed a pre-eminence in dignity, and received from the other Cambrian princes homage and obedience, as their superior lord.From this epoch may be dated the establishment of a distinct sovereignty in North Wales, which country, however, was overrun, and for a few years, early in the sixth century, held in subjection, by the Saxon monarch, Edwin of Northumbria. About the year 817, in right of that equal distribution of the property of a deceased person among all his children, by the custom which prevailed among the Welsh, similar to the Saxon gavelkind, Howel, the younger son of Rhodri Molwynog, late sovereign of North Wales, laid claim to the island of Mona, as his share of his father’s inheritance. This claim being denied by his eldest brother, Cynan Tindaethwy, the reigning prince, the contending parties agreed to decide the affair by force of arms, the result of which, in two successive battles, was favourable to Howel, who thus obtained possession of the disputed territory. But Cynan, enraged at these defeats, determined to make a vigorous effort, even at the hazard of his crown and life, to recover the island; he raised a new army, and marched against his brother, who, finding himself unable to rally a sufficient force, withdrew to the Isle of Man, leaving Mona in the possession of Cynan. During the reign of Mervyn Vrych, who had married Esyllt, daughter of Cynan Tindaethwy, Egbert, King of the West Saxons, having desolated a great part of North Wales, advanced to Mona, and overcoming the Welsh in a bloody battle fought at Llanvaes, near Beaumaris, took possession of the island, which, though soon recovered by King Mervyn, at this period lost its ancient name of Mona among the Anglo-Saxons, who henceforward called it Angles-Ey, or, “the Englishmen’s Isle.” Anglesey was again invaded by the Saxons in 846, under the Mercian prince, Burrhed, who perpetrated the most cruel ravages: but the young prince Rhodri, or Roderic (afterwards surnamed Mawr, or, “the Great”), who had but just succeeded to the sovereignty of North Wales, opposed a spirited resistance to the invaders, who, unable to effect the entire subjugation of the island, were soon afterwards compelled to quit it, in order to defend their own territories against the Danish incursions. The Danes, having been repulsed from England by Alfred, made a descent in the year 873 upon Anglesey, where, in two successive battles, one fought at Bryn-goleu, and the other at Menegid, they were vigorously encountered by Roderic. About this period the Welsh prince removed the royal residence from Caer Seiont, now Carnarvon, where it had been fixed by the successors of Caswallon Law Hîr, to Aberfraw, on the south-western coast of the island, where that prince had originally established it. An interval of freedom from the molestations of the Danes afforded the English another opportunity of invading Anglesey with a formidable army. The Welsh sovereign opposed them with his usual spirit, and at length fell in defence of his country, being slain with his brother Gwyriad, in one of the battles fought with the English.According to the late king’s division of the sovereignty among his three sons, the island was included in the kingdom of Gwynedd, or North Wales, the residence of whose sovereigns was at Aberfraw, in the palace which had been erected by Roderic. A large body of Danes landed in the island in the year 900; but this invasion seems only to have been distinguished by a battle fought at Rhôs-meilion, in which fell Mervyn, Prince of Powys. Early in the reign of Edwal Voel, who succeeded to the sovereignty of North Wales in the year 913, the Irish made a descent upon Anglesey, which they laid waste with great cruelty. A party of marauders from the same country made another descent in the year 966, destroyed the royal palace at Aberfraw, and slew Roderic, the youngest son of Edwal Voel. In 969 the island once more suffered from an invasion of the Danes, who ravaged the easternmost part of the county, in the vicinity of Penmon; and in a second enterprise, shortly after, they gained for a time complete possession of it. Constantine the Black, fired with the deepest resentment at the injuries received by his family from his cousin Howel, Prince of North Wales, by whom his father Iago was then held in close confinement, collected an army of Danish pirates, and in the year 979 laid waste the island; but Howel, having assembled his forces, routed the Danes in a battle fought at Gwaith Hîrbarth, in which Constantine was slain. Meredydd, a prince who ruled in Powys by right of his mother, about the year 985, gained possession of the kingdom of North Wales; but the Danes invading Anglesey soon after, took prisoner Llywarch, that sovereign’s brother, with two thousand of his men, and put out his eyes, which so terrified Meredydd, that he fled into Powys, leaving his subjects of Gwynedd without a sovereign, and exposed to the ravages of any invader: in consequence of this, the Danes again landed in Anglesey, and laid waste the whole island. Soon after the accession of Trehaern ab Caradoc to the sovereignty of North Wales, in 1073, Grufydd ab Cynan thought this a favourable opportunity to assert his right to the same throne, to which he had an hereditary claim. This prince, during the late reigns, had sought refuge in Ireland, his mother being a native of that country; and having procured aid from some of the Irish princes, his kinsmen, he landed a body of troops in Anglesey, of which he soon effected the conquest. He then passed the Menai, but was defeated by Trehaern in Merionethshire, and compelled to return to the island, where he soon after received reinforcements from Ireland, enabling him to make himself master of the kingdom for which he contended.In 1096, during the reign of William Rufus in England, and of Grufydd ab Cynan in Gwynedd, a formidable army of English, under the command of Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and Hugh the Red, Earl of Shrewsbury, invaded North Wales, at the secret instigation of several powerful native chieftains; and Grufydd retired to the mountains for safety. The two earls, encountering no resistance, advanced into that part of Carnarvonshire which lies nearest to Anglesey; when Grufydd, anticipating the danger which threatened the seat of his government, crossed the Menai into the island, and receiving a small reinforcement from Ireland, resolved to defend this part of his territory. At this critical moment, however, Owain ab Edwyn, lord of Englefield, one of the secret betrayers of his country, whose daughter was the wife of Grufydd, and who was himself his prime minister and adviser, openly avowed his treachery, and joined the English army with his forces. The Welsh prince, alarmed at the defection of so powerful a chieftain, and unable to oppose the increased numbers of the enemy, withdrew to Ireland. Thus again left unprotected, Anglesey fell an easy prey to the English, who took ample revenge upon its inhabitants, for the cruelties which had a little before been committed by the Welsh on the English border; they massacred many, and barbarously mutilated others. The deliverance of North Wales at this perilous period was brought about by a train of fortuitous circumstances. Magnus, son of Harold, King of Norway, having taken possession of the Orkneys and the Isle of Man, accidentally arrived at this time on the coast of Anglesey, and attempted a descent upon it. In the opposition which the English made to his landing, the impetuous valour of the Earl of Shrewsbury hurrying him into the water, the Norwegian prince levelled an arrow at him, which, through the opening of his helmet, pierced his brain through his right eye, and he fell convulsed in the sea: the Welsh regarded this as a stroke of retributive justice coming immediately from the hand of the Almighty. The death of the Earl of Shrewsbury produced some disorder among the English, and compelled them to abandon the shore: and the Earl of Chester, on this disaster, suddenly withdrew to Bangor, where he for some time fixed his abode, carrying on a desultory warfare with the people of Anglesey, whom he annoyed with frequent aggressions. The latter Earl, in the course of this expedition, erected a castle at a place called Aber-Lleiniog, on the shores of the Menai, near Beaumaris. The Norwegians, finding that the English had left nothing to plunder, immediately re-embarked; and this was the last attempt made by any of the northern nations to ravage or subdue this island.
In the year 1151, Cadwalader, brother of Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, who had long been kept in confinement by his nephew Howel, escaped from prison, and, fleeing to Anglesey, brought a great part of the island under subjection: but a formidable body of troops being sent against him by the Prince of North Wales, he was obliged to seek refuge in England. At the period of the invasion of North Wales by Henry II., in 1157, the English fleet, which, under the conduct of Madoc ab Meredydd, Prince of Powys, sailed from Chester to infest the coasts of North Wales, made a descent on Anglesey, and ravaged a part of the island; but in returning to their ships, the forces which had landed were attacked by the whole strength of the island, and entirely destroyed, and the English fleet immediately weighed anchor, and sailed back to Chester. In 1173, Davydd ab Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, forcibly took Anglesey from his brother Roderic, whom he put into close confinement: upon this occasion the island suffered considerable devastation. On the invasion of Wales by Henry III., in 1245, that monarch’s justiciary in Ireland received orders to make a diversion from that kingdom on the Isle of Anglesey, which was accordingly effected in August, and the whole island laid waste; but not being promptly supported by the English king, the Irish forces were assailed by the inhabitants, when laden with plunder, and driven back to their ships.
Upon the eve of the great invasion of Wales by Edward I., in 1277, that sovereign directed a fleet from the Cinque Ports to cruise on the coast of Wales, one object being the reduction of this island, which it fully effected. Llewelyn ab Grufydd, the reigning prince of North Wales, being shortly after compelled to sue for a treaty of peace, obtained it only upon hard conditions, one of which was, that though he should continue to hold the island of Anglesey, he should pay for that permission the annual sum of 1000 marks, and that, if he died without issue, the island was to be vested in the King of England and his heirs for ever. Edward, however, remitted the yearly tribute of 1000 marks. This treaty was afterwards broken, and Edward, in his next invasion of Wales, while lying in the vicinity of Conway, again, in like manner, ordered a strong detachment of marines and other forces, in the vessels of the Cinque Ports, to take possession of Anglesey, in order not only to deprive the Welsh of the advantage of that fruitful island, as a source of provisions, but also to confine them within narrower limits, and, by dividing their attention, to facilitate his entrance into the inner recesses of their continental territory. The service was performed with complete success; the island was easily taken, as the chief persons in it supported the interests of Edward, in conformance with the oaths which they had taken at the late peace. The English in Anglesey then made preparations for crossing the Menai by a bridge of boats, constructed from the point called Moel-y-Don; but, owing to the imprudence of a part of their forces, which crossed before the completion of the bridge, and was consequently surprised and destroyed by the Welsh, the rest were compelled to remain for a time in Anglesey; nor did they finish the bridge and make good their passage until after the unfortunate death of Llewelyn, in the winter following. On the complete subjugation of the principality in this campaign, Edward allowed its inhabitants to enjoy their estates under the tenures by which they had held them under their native princes; and the rents which the inhabitants of Anglesey had been accustomed to pay were fixed at only £450 a year, although they had yielded 1000 marks annually to Llewelyn.
Though conquered, and reduced in numbers by the long war which they had so bravely maintained, the native spirit of the Welsh remained unsubdued, and was often exasperated into rebellion by the tyranny of their new masters, who found it necessary, for the maintenance of their authority, to fortify themselves in numerous strong castles. The Isle of Anglesey at this time formed the principal rendezvous of all the native chieftains, who, notwithstanding their formal submission to the authority of Edward, were unceasingly engaged in plots to throw off the English yoke, and made this the centre of several important insurrections, which were successively quelled. In 1284, Edward had appointed his favourite, Sir Roger de Puleston, sheriff and keeper of Anglesey; this powerful knight was slain, in 1294, during the insurrection led by Madoc, an illegitimate son of the late Llewelyn, who soon after gained possession of Anglesey. Edward, having quelled the rebellion in the continental part of the principality, crossed the Menai into Anglesey; and the English forces on this occasion destroyed the church, with some part of the other buildings, of Llanvaes Priory, and devastated its lands. The king, seeing the impossibility of preventing the excitement of other rebellions, which might threaten the stability of his dominion in Wales, so long as Anglesey, without an English garrison, afforded such facilities for combination, found it necessary to erect in the island a castle equal in strength and importance to the castles which he had previously founded at Carnarvon and Conway, and to place in it a garrison equally formidable. As the site of this fortress, he selected Port Wgyr, a place of great antiquity near the eastern extremity of the county, which at that time had acquired the name of Bonover, and to which the Anglo-Normans, on account of its situation in a flat on the sea-shore, gave the appellation of Beaumarais, since slightly modernised into Beaumaris. The work was completed in 1296.
The ill-fated Sir Grufydd Llwyd, who was a native of Tregarnedd, in this county, received the honour of knighthood from Edward I., in 1284, on bringing him the intelligence of Queen Eleanor’s being delivered of a son (afterwards Edward II.) at Carnarvon. He subsequently did homage for his estates to this young prince, at Chester. But afterwards, indignant at insults offered to himself, and deeply resenting the wrongs and oppressions heaped upon his duped and suffering fellow-countrymen, he formed a plan for liberating them from the intolerable slavery to which he considered that he had contributed, in accepting, with other chieftains, the young prince Edward as sovereign. In 1322 he took up arms, and for a time overran some parts of North Wales with irresistible impetuosity; but at length being defeated by the English troops, he retired into Anglesey, to his house of Tregarnedd, which he had strongly fortified; and garrisoned with his followers another stronghold, called Ynys Cevni, about three-quarters of a mile distant, in a marshy part of the sands called the Malltraeth, a spot which he contrived to insulate with the waters of the river Cevni. After a desperate struggle, he was at last taken prisoner here by a body of English, and conveyed to Rhuddlan Castle, in Flintshire, where he was executed soon afterwards. In the reign of Henry IV., the custody of the castle of Beaumaris, together with the whole county and dominion of Anglesey, was granted to the renowned Henry Percy, surnamed Hotspur. During the revolt under Owain Glyndwr, in the same reign, the monks of Llanvaes Priory being suspected of favouring his designs, the English monarch, on his first taking the field against the insurgents, put some of the friars to the sword, carried the rest away prisoners, and plundered the convent.
In the great civil war of the seventeenth century, the inhabitants of the island distinguished themselves by their persevering attachment to the royal cause. So early as the year 1642, Beaumaris Castle was garrisoned for the king by command of its constable, the Earl of Dorset. Thomas, the first Lord Bulkeley, afterwards succeeded to the constableship of the fortress; and his son, Colonel Richard Bulkeley, assisted by several other gentlemen of the county, held it for the king, until June 1646, when it was surrendered on honourable terms to General Mytton: it appears, however, to have fallen again into the hands of the royalists. In 1648, the inhabitants of the whole island rose for the purpose of aiding in the restoration of the unfortunate monarch’s affairs, at the time that several diversions were made in different parts of Britain, with a view to the liberation of Charles, then a prisoner in the Isle of Wight. Resolutions were immediately drawn up; and it was decided by a council of war that a general declaration should be published, subscribed by all the inhabitants from the age of sixteen to sixty.
The words of this curious document are as follows: —”We, the inhabitants of the Isle of Anglesey, whose names are hereunto subscribed, after mature consideration, and hearty invocation of the name of God for directions and assistance, do remonstrate and declare to our fellow-subjects and neighbours, whom it may concern, that we, having, according to our bounden duty and allegiance, preserved the said island in due obedience to our most dread sovereign lord, King Charles, during the time of this intestine war and rebellion; and, by God’s blessing upon our careful endeavours, defended the same until the enemy had over-mastered the whole kingdom (a few strongholds excepted), this being the only county of England or Wales for two months together kept entire under his Majesty’s authority and command; and being then, through the vast number of men and horse threatened to be poured in upon us (finding no possible expectance of relief), enforced to submit to the then prevailing power; do now, out of conscience towards God, and loyalty towards his anointed, with all humbleness, prostrate ourselves, our lives and fortunes, at his Majesty’s feet, resolving, with the utmost exposal of all that we are or have, to preserve the said island, together with the castle and holds therein, in due obedience to his sacred Majesty, his heirs and lawful successors, against all rebellious opposers and invaders whatsoever; and do also, with sincerity of heart, profess that we will, according to our several degrees, places, and callings, maintain the true Protestant religion by law established, his Majesty’s royal prerogative, the known laws of the land, just privileges of parliament, together with our own and fellow-subjects’ legal properties and liberties. And we do also further declare and protest, that we shall and will account all those that do, or shall, stand in opposition hereunto, to be enemies and traitors to their king and country, and accordingly to be proceeded against, being most ready to contribute our best abilities for their reducement, and reinstating of our gracious sovereign (who hath long endured the tyranny and oppression of his barbarous and bloody enemies) to his rights, dominions, and dignity, according to the splendour of his most illustrious progenitors. Given under our hands the 14th day of July, 1648.”
This declaration immediately led to an expedition for the reduction of the island, under the command of General Mytton; and, when the parliamentarian forces were descried from Beaumaris green, approaching over the mountain of Penmaen Mawr, on the opposite side of the Menai, great demonstrations of defiance were made at the former place. However, after a slight skirmish near Cadnant with Major Hugh Pennant’s troop of horse, General Mytton’s forces advanced without further opposition to Orsedd Migin, where they held a rendezvous, the morning after their passage across the straits. Hence they marched immediately upon Beaumaris, by way of Red-hill Park, and drew up in order of battle upon the hill; the islanders, commanded in chief by Colonel Bulkeley, and by Colonel Roger Whitely as majorgeneral, drawing up in the fields below. A smart engagement speedily ensued, in which the royalists were defeated and put to flight, with the loss of some slain and four hundred made prisoners. The town was now closely pressed and soon taken, notwithstanding that the church was obstinately defended by a number of men who had been left locked up in it by their commander. Most of the royalist commanders retired into the castle, to which General Mytton sent a summons, demanding the bodies of the two colonels, Bulkeley and Whitely, who immediately surrendered themselves to save the effusion of blood in the slaughter of the prisoners, which was threatened in case of a refusal. Unable successfully to resist the formidable force brought against it, the garrison in the castle also capitulated on honourable terms, on the 2nd of October; and articles of agreement were drawn up and signed by the parliamentarian commissioners and by those appointed for the purpose by the governor of the castle, on behalf of the inhabitants of the whole island. On the 9th of October, instruments were interchanged, in which it was stipulated that the estates of persons within the island should be relieved from sequestration, on condition of paying one twenty-fifth of their value; and that they should be permitted to compound for them at the rate of two years’ income for all estates of inheritance, and for other estates in proportion. This mulct was paid by instalments, and the total amount of the money thus obtained from the island is supposed to have been about £20,000.
Anglesey is in the diocese of Bangor, and province of Canterbury; comprising the deaneries of Llivon, Malltraeth, Menai, Tal-y-bolion, Twrcelyn, and Tyndaethwy, in the archdeaconry of Bangor and Anglesey: the number of parishes is seventy-four, of which twenty-five are rectories, four vicarages, and the rest perpetual curacies. For purposes of civil government it is divided into six hundreds, having the same names as the deaneries. It contains the boroughs, market-towns, and sea-ports of Amlwch, Beaumaris, and Holyhead; the borough and markettown of Llangevni; and the market-town of Llanerchymedd. One knight is returned to parliament for the shire, and one representative for the united boroughs: the county member, and the member for the boroughs, are elected at Beaumaris; the pollingplaces for the county are Beaumaris, Holyhead, and Llangevni. It is in the North Wales circuit: the assizes and sessions are held at Beaumaris, where stands the county gaol and house of correction. There are twenty-two acting magistrates. It comprises the poor-law union of Anglesey, and parts of those of Bangor and Beaumaris, and Carnarvon: see the articles on Bangor and Carnarvon.
The exact form of the island, of which the general outline is somewhat oblong, extending in length nearly from north-west to south-east, is extremely irregular, the rocky barrier of its sea-worn shores being broken in numerous places by small bays, creeks, and other inlets. It is the only county in the principality of which the surface approximates to uniformity of character, the whole gently undulating, and there being few swells that can properly be termed hills, or hollows deserving the name of valleys. The interior being also devoid of wood, nearly all the land is inclosed, and the inclosures being seldom surrounded by the lively green of quickset hedges, the district exhibits a very dreary aspect, and impresses the beholder at first sight with an idea of sterility, which, however, does not predominate, as the land, when under proper management, is in general highly productive. The only part possessing any striking sylvan beauty is that bordering on the Menai. But although the scenery of the island is so little interesting, the traveller, after proceeding a few miles from the shores of the Menai, by looking across that arm of the sea into Carnarvonshire, will obtain a splendid view of the chain of mountains which stretches through that county, and the outline of which is varied at irregular intervals by numerous diversified peaks, above all which rises the majestic Snowdon. As the spectator recedes from the Menai, the connecting links of this magnificent chain are gradually lost, and only the insulated summits of the highest mountains remain visible in the distant horizon. The high table-land called Mynydd-y-Trysclwyn, in the north-western part of the county, is an object of especial interest to travellers, from a part of it forming the far-famed Parys Mountain, distinguished for its mineral treasures, and which has been supposed to derive its name from one Robert Parys, a commissioner in an inquisition, in the 8th of Henry IV., to fine such of the inhabitants of Anglesey as had taken part in Owain Glyndwr’s insurrection. The aspect of this elevation, rising into enormous rugged rocks of coarse aluminous shale and whitish quartz, is naturally very rude; and the romantic grandeur of its outward form has been heightened by the vast mining operations which have penetrated its interior, yet in part lie open to the day like immense quarries. The most extensive tract of marsh land is that of Malldraeth, or Malltraeth, near Newborough, in the southern part of the county. It is situated on the shores of a sandy creek, extending a considerable distance inland, in a northeastern direction; and comprises about three thousand acres. Acts of parliament for inclosing it were obtained in the years 1788 and 1790, and an embankment across the lower part of it, one thousand four hundred yards long, was nearly completed, when the whole work was suddenly abandoned, and on the 23d of January, 1796, an uncommonly high tide added a breach, twenty roods long, to the space of about twenty roods which had been left unfinished. In this neglected state the work remained until early in the present century, when a scheme for erecting another embankment, upon an enlarged scale and more durable plan, was carried into execution, under the provisions of an act obtained in 1815, the work being completed in 1819.
It is probable that Anglesey originally joined the main land; for near Porthaethwy, on the shores of the Menai strait, some rocks called the Swelly rocks jut out nearly across the channel, which are supposed to be the remains of an isthmus. In the rugged openings between these rocks, the sea, for about an hour after the commencement of the floodtide, violently fluctuates and foams, owing to the meeting of two currents, called Pwll Ceris, which renders the passage very dangerous. Across the Menai strait were formerly six ferries, sanctioned by authority; but this number was reduced to five by the erection of the magnificent suspension bridge over the narrowest part of it, at the ferry of Porthaethwy, commonly called Bangor ferry. On the subjugation of North Wales by Edward I., the six ferries became the property of the Crown; but the king soon granted one of them, viz., that of Cadnant, to Einion, Bishop of Bangor, for christening the young prince Edward of Carnarvon: the rest continued in the possession of the Crown until the time of Henry VIII., who granted four of them to Richard Giffard; and Giffard, in the twenty-third year of that monarch’s reign, let them on a term to William Bulkeley, from whose descendants they have since been transferred to different hands. Though the situations of the ferries appear to have been well chosen, according to the nature of the strait, yet, owing to sand-banks, to opposing tides rushing into them from each extremity, and to other natural causes, the passage is not absolutely safe by any one of them, and serious accidents have occurred at each. The most southern of the five remaining ferries is that of Abermenai, opposite to Carnarvon; the next, at a distance of three miles north-eastward, that of Tal-y-Voel. Four miles beyond is that of Moel-y-Don, and, three miles further, the Menai bridge; beyond which is that of Cadnant, now removed to Garth; and lastly, the longest of all the ferries at high water, viz., that between the town of Beaumaris and Aber in Carnarvonshire.
The shores of Anglesey are studded with several islets, of which the principal are the three following. Priestholme, also called Ynys Seiriol, and Puffin Island, is separated from the easternmost extremity of the county by a deep channel, about half a mile broad. It is of an oval form, about a mile long, and half a mile broad, extremely lofty, and has a precipitous shore on every side, except that which faces the promontory of Penmon, where the land is not quite so elevated: it slopes gradually from the summit to the edge of these cliffs, and forms a bold boundary on the west to the broad bay of Beaumaris. The next to this, proceeding along the northern coast of the island, is Ynys y Moelrhoniaid, or “the Isle of Seals,” commonly called the Skerries, situated at its northernmost extremity, in front of the village of Llanrhwydrys, and about half a league from the main land, from which it is separated by a deep and dangerous channel. Its surface is composed chiefly of rocks, half covered with vegetation; and on its highest point is a lighthouse, erected about the year 1730. To this succeeds Ynys Cybi, or Holy Island, at the westernmost point of Anglesey, comprising the parishes of Holyhead and Rhôscolyn, and consisting for the most part of barren rocks and dreary sands. The channel separating the island from the rest of Anglesey is narrow, and fordable in some places at low water; the great Irish road is carried over it by means of a noble embankment, three-quarters of a mile long.
A remarkable phenomenon attends the tides on the shores of this county, more particularly in the Menai straits. It appears that two tides set in from the western sea, which are divided by the isle of Anglesey, one part passing through the Menai straits, and the other through the great channel lying between Holyhead and the Irish coast. The latter tide having to extend its influence round the greater part of the island before it can reach the north-eastern entrance of the Menai, the flow is upwards of an hour earlier at Carnarvon than at Beaumaris; and the water from the main sea begins to pour into the strait at Carnarvon while it is yet ebbing out of it at Beaumaris; consequently the water in the vicinity of Carnarvon continues falling after the direction of the current is changed. In like manner, the ebb commences at Carnarvon before it is high water at Beaumaris; and though the direction of the current in this case is also changed, yet it continues rising at the Menai bridge for a considerable time after it has begun to ebb at Carnarvon. These tides (the one entering the Menai from St. George’s Channel, and the other from the Irish Sea,) meet at a place near Beaumaris, called Taraw Point.
The climate of the county, owing to the seabreezes which constantly blow over it, and the greater uniformity of its surface, is milder and less boisterous, and the snow lies upon the ground a shorter time, than in the neighbouring counties. But, from the same causes, it is incommoded with frequent mists in the autumn, in which season the inhabitants are subject to intermittent fevers: still they are in general healthy.
The soils, though various, are for the most part fertile. They consist chiefly of the following kinds, viz., a friable mould; a shallow soil on light sand; a coarse healthy soil on hard rock; a quick warm soil, invigorated by marl; a reddish and stiffish loam; and a black peaty earth, under which are generally beds of peat, forming useful turbaries. There is also an abundance of marly soils, lying in contiguity with the ranges of limestone hereafter described. The reddish loams are of excellent quality, and lie near the shores of the Menai, in the vicinity of Llanidan. The light soils, consisting of various admixtures of sandy loam, rounded pebbles, gravel, peat, &c., occupy the greater part of the island, and are best adapted for the culture of barley, peas, turnips, &c. Free loams, of a rather better quality than the last-mentioned, are found in different parts of the interior.
The agriculture of the county has very much improved since smuggling, which was formerly carried on by the inhabitants to an amazing extent, was suppressed by the vigilance of the government: within the last fifteen years, especially, the improvements have been great. The larger part of the island, however, still presents a mixed aspect of wildness and cultivation, excepting a few scattered farms, which are managed under superior systems. Of the inclosed lands, which occupy nearly the whole of its surface, about an eleventh part is actually under tillage; and of this quantity, about one-fourth is annually sown with oats, and the remainder with barley and wheat in equal portions. The rotations of crops are various, but the white corn crops of oats and barley are too frequently taken in unvaried succession, or alternately with each other, for five or six years. The average produce of oats is only from four to six times the amount of seed sown, although sometimes, under superior management, as much as from fifteen to sixteen: the produce of barley is very various; and that of wheat averages no more than that of oats, although some farmers obtain from eight to ten times the quantity sown. The cultivation of peas, which used formerly to be considerable, is now greatly diminished, and beans are hardly ever seen; but there is no part of North Wales where potatoes are cultivated so well and so extensively as in this island. Turnips were first introduced as an agricultural crop in 1765, and their culture has been since gradually increasing in extent: in 1797, there were about fifty acres under turnips, of which only seven were drilled. Anglesey is distinguished for a native species of this root, which is a small yellow garden turnip, called in the adjacent county of Carnarvon Maip sîr Von. A few small patches of land are occasionally sown with hemp. The artificial grasses are of the ordinary kinds. Burnet grows naturally on the limestone hills near Llanidan, bordering on the Menai; and the plantago maritima, or narrow-leaved sea plantain, is found wild on different parts of the sea-shore: the latter tastes like samphire, is very succulent, and is eagerly eaten by sheep. Anglesey contains about 150,000 acres of meadows and pastures, of which the natural produce is in general of a fine quality, great quantities of hay seeds being annually conveyed from it as far as the hilly parts of Denbighshire and Merionethshire. The grass lands are almost exclusively devoted to the rearing of cattle, to be sold lean to the graziers of other districts having richer pastures, where they are fattened for different places: lean cattle, therefore, constitute one of its chief articles of export. The dairies are so few, and on so small a scale, as hardly to meet the consumption of the island; nor is the cheese of good quality, for, to supply the want of that richness of which the milk is robbed for the sake of making butter, the curds are so saturated with rennet as to make it quite spongy.
The extraordinary manures are various and valuable. Lime is extensively used within a convenient distance of those parts of the island where it is burned; and sea-weed, or sea-thong, and the fucus of various kinds, are collected on the shores after storms, and either spread on the fields to be immediately ploughed in, or made into composts with various other manures. But that for which Anglesey is more particularly distinguished, is the shell-sand found on different parts of its coasts, but of the best quality in the Traeth Côch, or Red Wharf bay, in the eastern part of its northern shores; what is obtained at this place contains about two-thirds, and from that to four-fifths, of decayed shells. It is carried to every part of the island in carts and wagons, is generally laid upon the land about an inch thick, and if its fertilizing particles are not suddenly washed away by violent rains, it enriches the soil for ten or twelve years. The first time this shell-sand is known to have been used as a manure was in 1645, by the Rev. Thomas Williams, rector of Llansadwrn; at present, besides the extensive consumption of it in the island, great quantities are shipped coastwise to Denbighshire and Flintshire. Both the shell-sand and the sea-weeds are preferred to lime, upon lands that have been for some time under cultivation.
The plough in most common use is the large old kind, which was universally used in North Wales prior to the introduction of the lighter Lummas plough, about the year 1760. The mould-board is a plain plank, which turns the split over by its extreme length; and by the holder pressing much on the left handle, its nether edge forms an acute angle with a line parallel to the surface of the soil, by which means a feather-edged split is formed, which, in ley grounds, does not afford a sufficient depth of mould for the harrow. The surface resting on the ground from the heel to the point of the share is four feet long, and the friction occasioned by this large surface requires great force to overcome it.
In this county, where the rearing of cattle is in most cases the farmer’s principal object, and the dairy is almost entirely neglected, the calves are not weaned until they arrive at double the age at which they are generally weaned in other counties. This partly accounts for the bull-like appearance of the oxen about the head and dewlap; but it is a received opinion that they are hardier in consequence, and may be kept on coarser pasture. The characteristics of the choice Anglesey oxen, commonly called Runts from their small size and peculiar appearance, are (says the Rev. W. Davies, in his View of the Agriculture of North Wales) the same in most points with those of the Roman oxen described by Columella. Their colour is coal-black, with white appendages; they have remarkably broad ribs, high and wide hips, deep chest, large dewlap, flat face, and long horns turning upwards: their average weight, when fat, at three or four years old, is from eight to eleven score lb. per quarter. These deep-chested and short-legged oxen are much esteemed by the graziers for their aptness to fatten; but they are not quite so well adapted for draught. Anglesey is distinguished for its Sheep, which are the largest native breed in North Wales, weighing, according as they are fed, from ten to sixteen lb. a quarter, and sometimes as much as eighteen lb.; they have black legs and faces, and are generally without horns. Whether they were originally from the same stock as the present small sheep of the county of Carnarvon, and attained their superiority in size from a milder climate and better pasturage, or are a foreign species brought over at some remote period from Ireland, cannot now be ascertained. They bear a fleece weighing from one lb. and threequarters to two lb. and a half; and are shorn about the middle of May, or early in June: some are shorn twice a year. Several experimental farmers have introduced other breeds from England. Great numbers of Hogs were formerly bred in the county for the English markets, but after the establishment of steam-boats from Dublin to Liverpool, which caused the importation of large numbers to the latter place from Ireland, this traffic declined. The native breed of Horses is of an inferior description, and their natural awkwardness and want of symmetry are increased by the universal custom of fettering them, as well as the sheep; a practice which is rendered necessary by the want of proper fences. Tender furze, bruised with mallets, or ground in mills erected for the purpose, used to be a chief article of fodder for horses, and the farmers were then accustomed to sow furze, and sometimes to let the crop at a certain price per acre, in which case it was frequently more profitable than a crop of wheat; but this system is now abandoned. Rabbits are very numerous in some places in the vicinity of the sea-coast, where the sandy soil favours their burrowing, more especially near the ruins of the monastery of Llanddwyn. Seals are frequently seen on the shores of the island. The water-rail is a constant visiter early in the spring; and that rare aquatic bird, the shag, sometimes makes its appearance on the shore near Holyhead. The horticulture of the county presents nothing very remarkable; sea-kale, which grows in abundance on the coasts, has in some places been introduced into gardens, and is found an excellent substitute for asparagus, being also somewhat earlier in the spring.
Anglesey is said to have been anciently called “the dark or shady island,” in allusion to its thick groves of wood. At present its woodlands are almost wholly confined to a narrow slip along the Menai; and even here, great numbers of the trees, sinking beneath the force of the western blasts, which sweep over them loaded with saline particles, have a stunted and blighted appearance. Lord Boston, however, has some considerable woods at Lligwy, in the parish of Penrhôs-Lligwy; and a few plantations have been made elsewhere, which have flourished, with the exception of those trees immediately exposed to the westerly winds. Wherever a few trees occur in the hedge-rows, they are invariably much inclined towards the north-east, by the violent winds from the opposite quarter.
At the commencement of the present century the amount of waste land was between 12,000 and 13,000 acres, from which must now be deducted the whole extent of Malltraeth marsh, which has been embanked and inclosed. Of this amount, 9000 acres, including Malltraeth marsh, are level and highly improveable. The principal uninclosed tract on the uplands is Talwrn-Mawr, a dreary and continuous chain of wastes, intermixed with old inclosures, and running through the greater part of the county. The surface of the uninclosed level wastes is continually pared by the poor inhabitants for fuel. Some of the flat lands lying adjacent to the sea are covered with drifting sands, more especially those near the southern extremity of the county. Anglesey being comparatively destitute of coal, peat, and wood, the inhabitants are chiefly supplied with coal brought coastwise from Flintshire and Lancashire, which being sold at a high price, the poor are frequently unable to purchase it, and are thus compelled to collect the dried dung of cattle from the moors and fields, to the great injury of the soil, and the paring of the surface of sound waste land. The Anglesey Agricultural Society was established in the year 1808.
The mineral productions are of great variety and importance; but the geology of the island, which is also interesting, has received very little illustration. Its prevailing rock may be said to be clayslate, but granite occurs in a small spot near its centre; and on its south-eastern and north-eastern sides is an abundance of limestone and gritstone, in some places accompanied by a few thin and poor strata of coal. The immense produce of the island in copper is wholly obtained from the Parys Mountain mine and the Mona mine, which are in fact only portions of the same mine, distinguished under these two names to mark the possessions of two different proprietors. They are situated in the northern part of the island, in the vicinity of Amlwch, a town which entirely owes its elevation from the rank of an inconsiderable fishing-village, to the discovery and extensive working of the mineral treasures of the neighbouring high ground of Trysclwyn, in which these mines are contained. There is abundant reason to suppose that copper-ore was procured and smelted here at a very remote period; but the main stratum, after several unsuccessful attempts, was discovered only on the 2nd of March, 1768, the anniversary of which day was for many years kept as a festival by the miners. This mass was in some places found to be more than 300 feet thick, and lay in vast clusters, called stock works. Both the mines are situated on this grand vein, which has numerous branches, and was formerly worked, not, as now, by means of subterraneous excavations, but open to the day, in the manner of a quarry, the chief substance of the mountain itself consisting of copper-ore. The matrix of the ore is a dark-coloured petrosilex, over which lie strata of aluminous schistus, and a yellow earth containing ores of lead; in many places the ore is immediately covered by a thin stratum of red shale and ochre: the various strata thus bounding the ore, dip in general towards the north, at an angle of about forty-five degrees. The ore consists chiefly of the yellow sulphate of copper, the richest of which generally contains twenty-five per cent. of metal, and the same amount of sulphur. The worst ore yields nearly the same quantity of sulphur, for which it is principally worked, but produces only from one and a quarter to two per cent. of copper. These mines also contain black ore, consisting of copper mixed with galena, calamine, and a little silver; malachite, or green and blue carbonate of copper; native copper, in very small quantities; sulphate of copper, crystallized and in solution; sulphate of lead in considerable quantities, containing a tolerably large portion of silver; and native sulphur. Although the ores are not equal in richness to those obtained in Cornwall, yet they are rendered of immense value by their abundance and the facility with which they are worked. As the greater part of the ore consists of sulphate of copper, the roasting of it for the sake of the sulphur forms a considerable branch of its manufacture. The regulus of copper, which collects itself, during the process of roasting, into a globule in the centre of the ore, is separated from the rest by breaking the latter, and then smelted.
The amount of ore annually raised, and manufactured, at Amlwch, is estimated at about 16,000 tons. Towards the close of the last century, when the Parys and Mona mines were most prosperous, the quantity of available ore annually procured, amounted to no less than 30,000 tons, the raising of which afforded employment to 1500 men. The works afterwards declining, the number of men gradually decreased, so as, in the year 1809, not to exceed 600, the remainder having emigrated to Liverpool and other places; but the concern some years afterwards gradually and materially improving, the number of workmen increased in proportion, and now amounts to upwards of 1500, who are employed in the different departments of these important mining and smelting works.
The finest metal obtained is that from the sulphate of copper held in solution in the vitriolic waters, which, by pumps and other machinery, are raised from the mines into large cisterns, about two feet deep, some square and others oblong, into which are thrown quantities of old iron, brought for the most part from London and Liverpool. On the iron being thrown in, its supposed transmutation into copper, which this mineral water is so remarkable for producing, immediately commences. By the laws of elective attraction, as it is termed by the chemists, the sulphuric acid, having greater affinity with, and stronger attraction to, iron than copper, lets go the latter, which is precipitated to the bottom of the cisterns in the form of a ponderous muddy sediment, of a yellowish colour, and attaches itself to the iron, which it dissolves and retains in solution in the same manner as it at first did the copper. When this change in the circumstances of the two metals is completed, the acid menstruum containing the iron is drawn from the cisterns, and received into other pits on a lower level, leaving behind it the precipitate of copper, which is collected together, dried on the kilns, and smelted. One ton of iron will precipitate from its solution an equal weight of copper mud, which, when smelted, produces twelve hundredweight of the purest copper. The only value of the sulphate of iron in the lower pits, is at present derived from its deposition of yellow ochre, which is refined, dried, and shipped for the use of painters. “Nature,” as Mr. Pennant observes, “has been profuse in bestowing her mineral favours on this spot;” for besides the above, together with an ore of zinc, which, after being properly prepared, is sent off to London, there is found, above the copper-ore, and about three-quarters of a yard beneath the surface soil, a bed of yellowish greasy clay, from one to four yards thick, containing a large proportion of lead. Of this metal one ton of the clay yields from 600 to 1000 lb. weight, containing no less than fifty-seven ounces of silver per ton of metal. The ore used at one time to be wrought, and smelted at extensive works erected for the purpose.
Next to Flintshire and Denbighshire, Anglesey claims the third place among the counties of North Wales possessing coal mines. The coal strata have all the usual accompaniments of that mineral, except ironstone; but hitherto only a small profit has been derived either to the proprietors or the public from working them, which has been attempted only on the borders of the Malltraeth marsh, and between the rivers Braint and Caint. In the former place were found,—first, sand to the depth of five feet; secondly, freestone for the next sixty-six feet; thirdly, black shale, for a further depth of six feet; fourthly, a bed of good coal, three feet and a half thick; fifthly, indurated clunch, two feet deep; and lastly, freestone to an unknown depth. In the latter occurred,—first, peat; then, gravel; next, clay; and lastly, coal metal, as the workmen term it, that is, shaly clunch, having tumblers of coal interspersed with it in irregular masses, some of which were of several tons’ weight: but having reached this, the work became flooded, and was abandoned after being carried, at a great expense, to the depth of 120 feet. It has been stated, as a discouraging symptom in boring for coal in this island, that its strata dip almost perpendicularly; but the inclination of the three feet and a half coal near the Malltraeth, would seem to be only one yard in ten, which is towards the east-by-south; and the concomitants of coal, namely, freestone and limestone, appear in nearly horizontal strata, in several parts of the island.
The vast Limestone ranges of Denbighshire and Flintshire, which also form Great Orme’s Head, in Carnarvonshire, are continued from this latter point, under the bay of Beaumaris, to the easternmost extremity of the island, whence they extend in the same north-western direction, along the sea-coast to Dulas, and thence beyond Amlwch to Cemmaes and the northernmost parts of the county. From several points of this range, ramifications extend quite into the interior of the island, and, in some instances, even entirely across it, as from Lligwy to Llanfinnan and Llangevni, and from Penmon, at its easternmost extremity, along the shores of the Menai, where it appears at Plâs Newydd and Llanidan. From the latter place, a line of insulated limestone rocks is continued in the same direction by Trêvdraeth, Bôdwrog, and Llanvaethlu. Between these two lines are quarries of millstone, and some inferior kinds of gritstone; and between the south-western part of the latter and the bay of Carnarvon is found a much finer freestone: some of the limestone strata are of the kind called terras limestone.
Anglesey contains a great abundance and considerable variety of Marbles, some of which are excellently adapted for sculpture and ornamental architecture. White marble is found at Llangwyvan; blue-veined grey marble and blue-veined white marble at Cemmaes, near Amlwch; black, grey, and mottled brown marbles on the northern coast (between Traeth Côch and Moelvre Point), which are in considerable demand, to be manufactured for sepulchral monuments and architectural ornaments; and asbestine marble near Cemlyn bay, in the parish of Llanvair-ynghornwy. This last kind is intersected by narrow veins of a remarkable, white, incombustible substance, of a silky appearance, which from its brittle nature, renders the stone in which it is inclosed unsusceptible of a very high polish. A green marble is found near Rhôscolyn, in Holy Island, which contains a green amianthus, or brittle asbestos; and unripe asbestos, of a waved schistose appearance, occurs in different parts of the county, more especially on the shores of the Menai, from Bangor bridge to Maes-y-Porth, opposite to Carnarvon. Serpentine is found at Maes-y-Porth, and at Cemmaes. The island also produces different kinds of Potters’-clay, both white and yellow. Fullers’-earth, both white and of a dusky colour, is found in small quantities at Mynydd-y-Twr, near Holyhead; as also is a peculiar kind of saponaceous argil. In the vicinity of Amlwch is found a kind of earth, remarkable for yielding two-thirds of pure magnesia. Steatite, or soap rock, occurs both at Mynydd-y-Twr, and in the vicinity of Llanvair-ynghornwy. Three kinds of Marl are found in the county, adjacent to its limestone rocks; these are distinguished according to their different colours, which are red, grey, and white: pits of the two former are known to be as much as 200 years old; and the white marl, at Llanddyvnan, was discovered about the year 1652, by some of the parliamentarian soldiers then stationed in Anglesey. Barytes, united with vitriolic acid, and tinged with red, occurs at Llangeinwen.
The manufactures in the county, excepting those of the mineral productions of Amlwch, are very inconsiderable. Many of the inhabitants buy quantities of the coarse wool of the mountainous districts of Carnarvonshire, at the fairs of Carnarvon and Bangor, and manufacture it, intermixed with the native wool of the island, into cloths of a deep blue, flannels, blankets, &c., for home consumption; and these manufactures are facilitated by a few carding and spinning machines in different places. Most of the remaining wool is disposed of to the Yorkshire clothiers at Chester fair. It appears that Anglesey was in ancient times a place of much commercial importance; and its exports are still of great value, consisting chiefly of copper, yellow ochre, zinc, and alkali; shell-sand, for manure; barley and oats in productive seasons; and cattle, sheep, and hogs. The number of cattle annually sent to the English market has been variously estimated, but, according to the best authority, it averages about 8000, of which 900 are yearlings, 2100 of two years old, and 5000 of three years old and upwards. Before the erection of the suspension bridge over the Menai, the numerous herds purchased here were compelled to swim in droves across that strait; and although numbers of the weaker sort were sometimes swept down by the force of the current, a distance of several miles, yet losses were seldom experienced. The annual exportation of sheep to the English market is from 5000 to 7000, and of hogs about 1000. The chief imports, besides the ordinary supplies of foreign articles, are corn and coal. An extensive illicit trade was formerly carried on by the inhabitants, more especially in the several narrow sandy coves between the rocks on the southern coast of the island, so well adapted for receiving small vessels unobserved by the revenue officers; but this has long been nearly annihilated by the vigilant measures of the government.
The natural harbours are numerous, and some of them have been much improved by art. Beaumaris, near the eastern extremity of the island, has a good harbour: the custom-house at this place is not only the controlling office to the different ports of the island, but also to others in North Wales. To the north of Beaumaris is Traeth Côch, or Red Wharf bay: this is of considerable extent, and receives the waters of the small river Torryd, but is too much exposed to winds from the north-east; an inconvenience that can only be removed by the erection of a pier. Two leagues further along the northern shore of the county is Dulas Bay, at the mouth of the Dulas river, which is narrow at the entrance, and obstructed by fragments of rock. Proceeding round St. Elian’s Point is Amlwch, where, by excavating a vast rock, a harbour has been formed, about two hundred and fifty yards long and forty wide, capable of containing thirty vessels, of from one hundred to three hundred tons’ burthen each. Cemlyn, or Crooked Pool bay, in the northernmost part of the island, might, at a little expense, be rendered a safe port. Holyhead, which, being only twenty leagues from Dublin, is the station for the Irish packets, had naturally a good port for the reception of small vessels, formed by some cliffs, on the summit of which stands the church of that town, and by a small island called Ynys Cybi, on which stands a lighthouse: this was rendered more commodious at the expense of government. The vast improvements now in progress will be found noticed under the head of Holyhead. Aberfraw has a small harbour, capable of admitting vessels of thirty tons’ burthen, which is susceptible of great improvement; as also is that of Malltraeth, situated between Aberfraw and the south-western entrance to the Menai, at the mouth of the small river Cevenny, or Cevni. Anglesey is wholly devoid of inland navigation, natural or artificial: but it is pleasingly watered by twelve small streams, which flow from the gentle elevations of the interior in various directions to the sea: among the principal of these are the Cevenny, the Alaw, the Fraw, and the Dulas. Beaumaris is a place of considerable resort for the purpose of seabathing.
The waters immediately surrounding the shores abound with various kinds of fish, namely, cod, turbot, soles, plaice, herrings, whitings, crabs, lobsters, and oysters of different kinds. The crabs and oysters are remarkably abundant and excellent; the former are chiefly taken on the rocky coasts in the vicinities of Llanddwyn, Rhôscolyn, Holyhead, and Penmon, where they are found at low water, hidden under stones amongst the sea-weed left by the previous tide. The large kind of oysters found in the channel at the eastern extremity of the county, which separates the little island of Priestholme from the main land of Anglesey, are in great esteem, under the name of “Penmon oysters,” and great quantities are annually pickled, packed in neat small casks, and exported to different parts of the kingdom. This channel is likewise remarkable for some peculiar species of fish, among which the Beaumaris shark, the Anglesey morris, and the trifurcated hake, are most worthy of notice: here are also found several rare species of muscle. Various kinds of beautiful shells are taken by the dredgers for oysters in this channel, and in Red Wharf bay. The cliffs of Priestholme island produce abundance of samphire, the gathering of which, together with the eggs of the sea-fowl, forms a hazardous employment, which is followed by many of the hardy islanders: the southwestern end of the same island abounds with the smyrnium olusatrum, or Alexanders, which, when boiled, afford a salutary repast for sailors just arrived from long voyages.
The island having long been the grand thoroughfare to Ireland, and possessing an abundance of excellent materials for making and mending roads, these mediums of communication received improvement in this county as early as in any other of the principality; and at present the old Irish mail-road, which runs the whole length of the island, from the shores of the Menai to Holyhead, as also the roads connecting the principal towns and villages, are in good repair. Early in the present century, Lord Bulkeley formed an excellent road, at his own expense, along the beautiful shore of the Menai, from Bangor ferry to Beaumaris; and various other important public improvements have since taken place, among which may be noticed the erection of the superb suspension bridge over the Menai, in the vicinity of Bangor. Great alterations were also made, early in the century, in the mail-coach route from Bangor to Holyhead, by which the distance was reduced from twenty-five to twenty-one miles, and several fatiguing ascents avoided.
The mail is now conveyed by the Chester and Holyhead Railway, which was opened in the year 1848. This important line of communication crosses the Menai by a splendid tubular bridge, and, like the old mail-road, runs the whole length of the county, to Holyhead, where superior packets are now stationed. Quitting the bridge, the railway passes along a great embankment, near the end of which rises the Anglesey Column, on the summit of a lofty eminence. It then runs parallel for some miles with the Holyhead road, leaving which, it curves in a south-western direction, and passes through some deep cuttings, and under a substantial stone bridge which forms part of the road leading to Llangafo, on the left. The line proceeds about two miles and a half north of the town of Newborough, and soon after crosses the tidal-river Cevenny by a noble viaduct of nineteen arches, forming one of the greatest ornaments of the railway. It next runs along the Trêvdraeth tunnel, about 550 yards in length, cut through some exceedingly hard rock; then intersects the parish of Llancadwaladr from east to west, and reaches the vicinity of Bôdorgan, about halfway between the Menai strait and Holyhead, and not far from the town of Aberfraw. Hence the line proceeds in a north-western direction, along ordinary cuttings and embankments, passing within a few hundred yards of Llanvaelog Rectory, and over a bleak sandy common called Tywyn Trewyn, where a beautiful view is obtained by the traveller of Cymmerau bay and the headland of Rhôscolyn, on the left. After passing under a number of bridges in rapid succession, the line again approaches the Holyhead road. It crosses the small river Alaw, and afterwards runs parallel with the great Stanley embankment, constructed by government across the sands and an arm of the sea, in order to shorten the line of the road to Holyhead. At the end of the embankment, the railway passes Penrhôs Park, soon after which it arrives at its terminus at Holyhead harbour.
The remains of antiquity are numerous, and of great interest. In ancient times Anglesey formed, as before-mentioned, a chief place of refuge for the Druids, when expelled from their previous abodes by the progress of the Roman arms; and various memorials of that remote period of its history are yet visible. The parishes of Llanedwen, LlanddanielVab, and Llanidan, on the borders of the Menai, include a district abounding with remains indicative of its having been a scene of Druidical worship, and Mr. Rowlands, in his “Mona Antiqua Restaurata,” attempts to prove that this part of Anglesey was the principal seat of the religious rites of the Druids, and the residence of the Arch-druid. Among the monuments now existing are two cromlechs, contiguous to each other, in Plâs Newydd Park, the property of the Marquess of Anglesey, one of which has a table-stone of great weight, about thirteen feet long, eleven broad, and four thick. At a little distance is a carn now overgrown with vegetation, which, on being opened, was found to contain various rude apartments; and at Bôdowyr, in the same vicinity, is a cromlech whose table-stone, resting upon three strong supporters, is seven feet long, six broad, and six thick. At Tre’-vry are some small traces of stone circles. But the most remarkable monument of this period yet existing, and around which these and some smaller remains of Druidical antiquity are scattered, is what has been supposed to be the chief seat of the Druids, at a place called Tre’r Dryw. This, styled by Mr. Rowlands the Brein Gwyn, or royal tribunal, is a circular hollow, one hundred and eighty feet in diameter, surrounded originally by an immense rampart of loose stones, brought hither from a distance. It has only a single entrance: and near it are the remains of a circle of stones, with a cromlech in the midst, and of a gorsedd, or great copped heap of stones, all extremely imperfect: two of the stones of the circle are very large, one, which at present serves for the end of a house, being twelve feet seven inches high, and eight feet broad; while another, yet standing, is eight feet high, and twentythree feet in circumference. Various other cromlechs are to be seen in different parts of the island. A very large one is situated in the grounds of Lligwy, in the parish of Penrhôs-Lligwy, where are also several Druidical circles, nearly contiguous to each other, comprising numerous upright stones: the table-stone of the cromlech is of a rhomboidal form, seventeen feet and a half long, fifteen feet broad, and four feet thick, supported by several upright stones at the height of only two feet from the ground. In a field near the seat called Presaddved, in the western part of the island, are two cromlechs, one yet standing, the other fallen, the table-stones of which are about thirteen feet long, and nine broad. Near Pentraeth are two small stones standing upright, at the distance of about fifty feet from each other; and another similar one lies prostrate at a short distance: the whole are supposed to have formed some Druidical monument.
The remains of roman antiquity discovered in Anglesey are but few and inconsiderable. On the summit of Gwydryn Hill is a semicircular fortification, called Caer Idris, or Castell Idris, consisting of a triple fosse and vallum: this is thought to have been of British origin, but to have been afterwards occupied by the Romans. Various remains of fortifications in which the discriminative peculiarities of Roman workmanship are visible, are yet left standing in the vicinity of Holyhead, among which may be specified the massive walls that nearly surround the churchyard, in the form of a parallelogram, at one corner of which is a circular bastion tower; a long dry wall, twelve feet high, and in many places regularly faced, which runs along the side of the hill called Pen Caer Cybi; and Caer twr, a circular building on the summit of the same elevation, supposed by Mr. Pennant to be the ruins of a pharos, or lighthouse. At Tan-y-Cevn, on the river Braint, and in the neighbourhood of the great assemblage of Druidical remains above-mentioned, are two large quadrangular intrenchments, nearly contiguous to each other; and in the same vicinity is Caerleb, or “the moated intrenchment,” also of quadrilateral form, having a double fosse and vallum, and comprising within its area the foundations of various buildings, both circular and angular. At a place called Castell, between Llanerchymedd and Tregayan, coins of several Roman emperors have been found. In the parish of Llanvlewin were dug up, about the commencement of the present century, three golden bracelets and a Roman bulla of the same metal; and near Aberfraw have been frequently found the amulets called gleiniau nadroedd, or “snake gems,” supposed to have been manufactured by the Romans, and given to the superstitious Britons in exchange for the commodities of their country.
On a precipitous hill called Bwrdd Arthur, or “Arthur’s Round Table,” in the vicinity of Llangoed, are vestiges of an ancient fortification, surrounded by two lofty ramparts of loose stones, and called Din, or Dinas Sylwy: within the area are the foundations of oval buildings. About a mile from the village of Monachtŷ, or Mynachdŷ, are two circular encampments, formed by single ditches and ramparts, and commonly called Castell Crwn; and another British fortification, called Craig-y-Ddinas, is situated on a rocky eminence on the sea-shore of the parish of Llanvair-Pwllgwyngyll. Tregarnedd, a house in the parish of Llangevni, derived its name from an immense carnedd, or piled heap of stones, surrounded by a circle of upright stones: beneath were numerous hollow passages, formed by flat flagstones laid upon others placed edgewise. The stones of this carnedd were almost all removed a few years ago, by the tenant of the land. In a deep gully leading from Llanddona church to the sea-shore are two round tumuli, supposed by Mr. Pennant to have been thrown up by the Danes for the protection of their vessels, which were often moored in Red Wharf bay, on this part of the coast. About a mile from Monachtŷ are three of those large upright stones commonly called meini hîrion, which stand at the distance of about 500 yards from each other, the intermediate space forming nearly an equilateral triangle. Another, called Llêch-gynvarwydd, stands on an eminence near the church of that name. In the centre of Penmon Park, near Beaumaris, is a very ancient British cross, curiously and richly sculptured.
At the period of the Reformation there were, at Penmon a priory of Benedictine monks, and at Holyhead a college of prebendaries: at Llanvaes a house of Franciscan friars was existing in the reign of Henry V. There are yet extensive remains of Penmon Priory, and part of the ancient conventual church now serves as the parochial church: the round arches by which the architecture of this edifice is distinguished, and which in England are regarded as evidences of the Saxon or early Norman erection of the buildings in which they are found, are in this instance thought by some to be of ancient British construction. Near the centre of Priestholme island, or Ynys Seiriol, amidst some faint vestiges of other buildings, is an ancient tower, supposed to have formed part of a religious house, a cell to the neighbouring priory of Penmon. A portion of Llanvaes Priory is now used as an outhouse to the seat of Sir R. B. Williams Bulkeley, Bart. Many of the seventy-four parishes of the island have their churches situated near the sea-shore, and one or two of the buildings are so placed as to oblige the minister to regulate the time of divine service according to the state of the tide, which at high water completely surrounds them. Such is the case with that of Llangwyvan, on the western side of the island. The churches most distinguished for architectural curiosity are, St. Mary’s, at Beaumaris, a handsome edifice; that of Holyhead; and that of Llaniestyn, a very plain building, but containing a remarkably curious font, and a sculptured slab of the fourteenth century, forming one of the most interesting antiquities in Wales. That of Llaneilian is distinguished for a handsome tower and spire, of which appendages nearly all the churches are destitute, having simply at the west end a small turret, with an arched aperture, for a single bell. Parts of some of the buildings are perhaps of the ninth or tenth century, or still earlier. The Anglesey village-church is usually cruciform, the structure small in size, commonly from thirty to sixty feet in extreme length; and low in height, the gable seldom being more than twenty feet from the ground.
Almost the only ruins of any mural fortress at present existing are those of Beaumaris Castle, which are very grand and extensive. Remains of a small fort of Norman erection, called Castell Lleiniog, are yet standing on a conical mound in Penmon parish, in the vicinity of Beaumaris. The most remarkable old mansions are, Bôdychan, about half-way between the Menai bridge and Holyhead, now used as a barn; Penmynedd, in the parish of that name; Plâs Côch, in the parish of Llanedwen, a very interesting building, admirably kept up; and Plâs Côch, in the town of Beaumaris, the ancient manor-house of the Bulkeley family, now tenanted by poor families, but still exhibiting some curious remains of ancient domestic architecture. The seats of more modern date most worthy of notice are, Plâs Newydd, the property of the Marquess of Anglesey; Llanidan, that of Lord Boston; Baron Hill, that of Sir R. B. Williams Bulkeley, Bart.; Penrhôs, that of the Stanley family; Bôdorgan, Cadnant, Carreglwyd, the Friary, HênIlŷs, Llanddyvnan, Llanvawr, Plâs Llangoed, Llwydiarth, Plâs Gwyn, Presaddved, Red Hill, Trêgayan, and Trê-Iorwerth. A few of the farm-houses and their offices are particularly well built and commodious, but the greater number are of an inferior description; and the cottages are generally of the most wretched appearance. Quickset hedges, as well as timber, flourish on the shores of the Menai; but in the interior the vast expanse of horizon, without any interruption from woods or hedges, is wearisome to the eye: there the common fences are banks of sods about four feet and a half high, with a ditch on each side. Dry stone walls are not uncommonly used to form inclosures on the larger estates; and of late years great progress has been made in the raising of quickset hedges, notwithstanding the antiquated opinion of its impracticability. Furze is sometimes sown on the banks, and both hawthorn sets and furze seed are imported from Ireland. The common household bread is made of barley or oats. Servants hired by the year generally commence their term of service on the 1st of May.
Anglesey confers the title of marquess on the noble family of Paget, the present marquess having been raised to that dignity on the 23rd of June, 1815, in acknowledgment of the bravery and heroism which distinguished his military career during the continental war.