Historic Landscape Characterisation

Ardudwy - 32 Morfa Harlech - dunes (PRN 18265)



© Crown copyright. All rights reserved, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, 100017916, 2005

Historic background

In the medieval period, Harlech castle and town (area 18) were built on a rocky promontory above the sea. Over the next centuries, the area below the town, over which Bendigeidfran looked out) silted up and was classed as marsh waste. The enclosure and draining of part of Morfa Harlech after 1789 by the Glyn Cywarch estate (area 31) meant that the burgesses of the town (Harlech, area 18) lost rights of common there. This area of sand dunes is distinct in character from the rest of the morfa (see area 30), and was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserve in 1953.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Sand dunes

This character area is defined by the extent of the sand dune system (see also area 10 for a similar area). Morfa Harlech was first notified as an SSSI in 1953 and has subsequently been revised (CCW ref. 31WNT). It is 1536ha in extent. It was designated as a combined biological and geomorphological site. An extensive area of estuary mudflats, saltmarshes, sand dunes and dune grassland, all of considerable biological value. Morfa Harlech is an important site for geomorphology studies. It comprises a major cuspate foreland in which the alignment of a sand beach and dunes at an acute angle to former cliffs has encouraged extensive sedimentation.

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