Historic Landscape Characterisation - Arfon Historical Themes

Historical Processes and Background


There is evidence for prehistoric settlement and associated field systems in the marginal parts of the area, most notably in the area above Bethesda/Llanllechid, and around the hill slopes towards Aber and beyond (areas 37, 38 and 39). These comprise stone-built walls, usually circular or irregular in pattern and often of orthostatic construction. There are particularly good examples on the unenclosed, eastern slopes of Moel Faban (area 36 - SH635680), where the prehistoric layout has not been overlain by later walls. On the opposite slopes, there is a very extensive area of relict settlement and associated lynchets preserved within improved fields and a more-recent field system. A further (isolated) system is to be found on the northern side of Afon Caseg (area 36 – SH658670), which has been partially re-used as a major sheepfold complex. All of these areas are scheduled, although unfortunately none have been surveyed or recorded in any detail.

The only recent excavations carried out in the area were of a prehistoric hut circle settlement, in advance of the Felinheli by-pass. Here it was clearly demonstrated that the modern field wall (still in use) had its origins in a wall which was actually attached to the hut circle wall, itself of 3rd – 1st century BC date.

It is possible to detect prehistoic origins in some of the enclosed fields at lower altitudes, again distinguished by the characteristic curvilinear shape of the boundaries, many of which appear to radiate out from circular hilltop enclosures. There are examples around Caer (area 25 – SH548645), Bronydd (also area 25 – SH580651) and probably Prysgol (area 47 – SH515616).

There are no areas of recognisable former quillets visible, and indeed none are shown on the relevant tithe maps, even around the farms and houses which preserve the medieval township names (such as Prysgol, Rug, Cororion and Botondreg – but see below).

The earliest estate maps which show parts of the study area are those of the Penrhyn estate carried out in 1768, shortly after Richard Pennant had acquired the moiety. These show a landscape shortly about to change in the hands of an improving landlord; comparison with the estate maps of 1840-1841, which record a network of farms and other holdings largely recognisable in the present landscape, shows just how drastic these changes were. The pattern of tiny, irregular fields which is particularly marked around Penrhyn and Llandygái church and in Cororion in the eighteenth century, has been replaced by an emparked demesne and by much larger, more regularly laid-out, holdings. Only in a few instances do the eighteenth century field boundaries survive, with more recent sub-divisions evident in many places.

These and other maps also show how the Penrhyn estate set about the enclosure of the mountain wastes in Llanllechid and Llandygái parishes. This was the source of a long-running controversy which was to come to a head at the end of the nineteenth century, and prove to be one of the defining moments of Welsh history. Maps of the eighteenth century show ffriddoedd in Llandygái parish on the lower slopes of the Ogwen valley, which later became part of estate farms, but the upland wastes of Moel y Ci are completely unenclosed. However, by 1796, Penrhyn Quarry had already broken through the mountain wall and was being worked on the common, and the estate was soon claiming this entire area as its own. In the Napoleonic period, the Penrhyn estate was encouraging quarrymen to grow potatoes on Mynydd Llandygái, where later a distinctive pattern of estate dwellings was to be established.

The pattern of change on the Vaynol estate was equally profound but took a different form. The earliest maps are the surveys carried out in 1777, which enable a partial reconstruction of the way in which agricultural practices on the estate developed. The estate surveys of 1869 show in some places very regular enclosures which may represent deliberate policy by the estate, elsewhere wandering walls which in some places represent pre-Modern settlement, and in others may be a consequence of squatter-encroachment on the wastes before the parliamentary enclosure of 1808, which benefited the Vaynol estate very considerably. The pattern of small-holdings established by the quarrymen on the commons was to some extent confirmed and continued by Thomas Assheton-Smith III in order to avoid creating nucleated communities of landless men.

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Relict Archaeology

There is a possible neolithic chambered tomb near Bryn (SH510655), but probably the oldest monuments in the study area are the summit cairns which give the Carneddau their name, taken to be bronze age in date.

Mention has already been made of the extensive prehistoric settlements and associated field systems covering large areas of the lower mountain slopes, around the edges of the unenclosed land, especially behind Bethesda, Llanllechid and towards Aber. Unfortunately, none of these has been examined in detail, but they are some of the most extensive and well-preserved remains in north Wales. Several similar settlement sites, usually hut groups but also sometimes single hut circles, exist within both marginal areas (for example on the north-west slopes of Moel Rhiwen, where there are also burnt mounds and presumed medieval hut platforms)as well as areas of improved fields (for example to the south and west of Penisa’r Waun). The only site excavated recently has already been mentioned (section 8.1 above).

The Arfon plateau is dominated by the extensive multi-vallate hillfort of Dinas Dinorwig (SH550653 - Dinorwig is also a medieval township name), and there are a number of smaller, stone-built ‘forts’ on other hills in the area, for example at Llanddeiniolen (SH551665), Caer (SH549649), Dicwm (500m south-east of Caer) and Tyn y Caeau (SH592673). The relationship between the forts (presumably prehistoric in date) and the hut group settlements has not been established, but the potential for future analysis is considerable. A large, unusual, lowland banked enclosure, known as Caerlan Tibot (SH506648), may be prehistoric or even early medieval in date, while another low lying, polygonal enclosure at Ty Mawr (SH555665) has a close parallel with Caer Leb on Anglesey.

The distribution of deserted rural settlement sites coincides largely with the relict prehistoric settlement remains, i.e. in marginal areas around the edges of the unenclosed mountain land, for example, behind Bethesda (SH635665), above Llanllechid (SH630665) and on the slopes of Moel Rhiwen (SH570645)), although sites do occur in improved fields usually as isolated features (for example at Pont Rhythallt (SH545640)). Again, the precise date and nature of these sites has not been examined.

Recent aerial photography has begun to demonstrate the potential for discovering further relict sites within the improved fieldscapes of the Arfon plateau, and it would seem that there is still much to be found.

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Settlement Overview

The only urban settlement from before the modern period is the city of Bangor, established as an ecclesiastical centre in the sixth century, but which had barely developed from its early Christian core by the time of Speed’s map of 1610. Though always important as the seat of the Bishop and of the Dean and Chapter, Bangor only grew in other respects from the eighteenth century onwards, when an increasing number of inns bear witness to its importance as a posting centre. The development of the slate trade and the patronage of the Penrhyn family from the 1780s onwards assisted its prosperity, and in 1884 it became the seat of the new University College of North Wales. The sale of the Bishop’s lands in 1899-1903 released land on the Bangor ridge for building, and it was here that Hare’s new university building was constructed in 1910, soon surrounded by an academic middle class suburb.

Much of Bangor consisted of slum properties owned by the Dean and Chapter, whose inhabitants depended on Church charities. Most of these were swept away in an ambitious programme of social housing in the inter-war period.

Though the church had been a major landowner within the area in the Medieval period, by the eighteenth century their lands had shrunk to the extent that they possessed few properties outside Bangor itself. By contrast, the sixteenth century onwards saw the rise to power and prominence within the area of a number of lay proprietors, who were to dictate its fortunes until the twentieth century.

Above all, the area came to be dominated by two great houses, both of them in the possession of English families, and a number of other estates, not on the same scale but still substantial, whose centres lay outside the study area. Their impact on the historic landscape is considerable, not only in the substantial dwellings they constructed for themselves, and the prevalence of polite architectural styles in their vicinity, but also in the settlement pattern of the study area. Broadly speaking, neither of the two great houses wished to encourage nucleated settlement other than an easily-controlled estate village at the demesne gates, and the new towns of the industrial period within the study area – Bethesda and its satellites, Llanberis, Bethel, Deiniolen – all grew up on lands owned by smaller estates.

Of the two great estates, Penrhyn, owned from 1765 by the Pennant family, and their successors the Dawkins-Pennants and the Douglas Pennants, was the wealthier – indeed, one of the wealthiest in Britain. Its impact on the historic landscape is readily apparent, not only in the huge neo-Norman castle and its demesne, but also in the estate village of Llandygái at its gate, in the buildings they erected within Bangor itself, in the cottages ornées of Dyffryn Ogwen, which contrast markedly with the quarrymen’s dwellings, and in the Penrhyn slate quarry itself, the source of much of this wealth, still in active production.

The other estate was the Vaynol; in the later sixteenth century and the early seventeenth the powerful Williams family ruthlessly consolidated their initial hold on Llanddeiniolen, and established themselves at y Faenol, from which the estate took its name, which stretched from the Llanberis Pass to the Menai Straits.

The estate passed to the crown and was granted by William of Orange to John Smith, Speaker of the House of Commons. From him it passed to his son’s nephew, Thomas Assheton, who assumed the surname Assheton Smith. The estate passed in turn to his second son, Thomas Assheton Smith II (1752-1828), to Thomas Assheton Smith III (1776-1858), and thereafter to the Duff family, who sold most of their interest in the estate in the 1960s.

At Vaynol the old hall and the newer home are screened by the demesne walls. Lacking the wealth of their neighbours, and having no city to patronise, the Assheton-Smith family, and their successors the Duffs, have left less of a mark on the adjacent countryside. However their policy towards their tenants is marked in the dispersed settlements of the Deiniolen area, and the source of the wealth is apparent in the disused Dinorwic slate quarry.

The Wynn family of Glynllifon, south of Caernarfon, ennobled as the Lords Newborough in 1793, held lands in the parish of Llanberis, including strips of land on both sides of Llyn Padarn, a circumstance they were able to exploit when Assheton-Smith wished to export his slates from Dinorwic Quarry.

The small Glascoed estate was carved out in the south-east of Llanddeiniolen parish by Hugh Rhys Wynn of Maelogan and his successors from the sixteenth century onwards. This came to form part of the Coed Helen (also known as Coed Alun) estate, whose centre lay near Caernarfon; Rice Thomas, the founder of the family’s fortunes (d. 1577) was surveyor of Crown lands in North Wales, and Glascoed first appears in the family archive in a marriage settlement of 1678. It became their outright property in 1717, and the old house at Glascoed, from having been a gentleman’s residence, became the home of a yeoman farmer.

In Dyffryn Ogwen, the old estates of Coetmor and Cefnfaes ensured that the Penrhyn family’s dominance of the area was never absolute.

Bryn Bras castle in Llanrug, a neo-Norman castle probably designed by Hopper, who was at work on Penrhyn at the same time, was built for a prosperous local solicitor between 1830 and 1839; unusually, for a time in which social prestige was still a reflection of land-holding, the estate accompanying it was never more than 81 acres.

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Isolated settlements

There are a few examples of churches with medieval origins surviving in now-isolated positions (for example the original Llanberis church is in what is now Nant Peris, Llanddeiniolen (area 43); while Llanfair church is completely isolated on the southern bank of the Menai Straits (area 28).

In a number of places within the study area, isolated farms survive. These are particularly marked on the good farmland of the Arfon plain, on the slopes of Snowdon above Llanberis, and in Nant Ffrancon. Many of those in the former area retain the names of medieval townships (e.g. Bodandreg and Pant-yr-afallen (Bonyrafallen) above Port Dinorwig; Cororion, near Tregarth), while others probably have their origins in earlier temporary, upland hafotai (see area 44).

Often, the lowland holdings are centred around substantial late-nineteenth century farmhouses, which often incorporate distinctive estate features, and are made up of regular enclosures of nineteenth century date.

In Dyffryn Ogwen a series of substantial farms and dwellings built by the Penrhyn estate along the course of the pre-Telford road continue to be inhabited. These combine vernacular and polite features; one, Pen Isa’r Nant, was a major dairy farm, another, Dol Awen, is a substantial ty uncorn, a central chimney house with a pyramidal roof, a style for which there are parallels elsewhere in North Wales as both gentry houses and working class accommodation. Another building within this area is the first Lord Penrhyn’s ornamental lodge of c. 1800, Ogwen Bank, now used as the offices for a caravan park.

On the Vaynol estate, many of the dwellings on the northern slopes of Snowdon have been abandoned and are falling into ruin, their former lands incorporated into extensive sheepwalks.

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Dispersed settlements

The increase in population in the late eighteenth century and the drift to the slate quarries in Dyffryn Ogwen and Llanddeiniolen-Llanberis resulted in a pattern of dispersed settlement in a number of places.

The pattern of population growth in Dyffryn Ogwen in the early capitalist period of Penrhyn Quarry (1768-c. 1820) is obscure; Edmund Hyde Hall, writing in 1809-1811, refers to a dispersed settlement on the west bank of the Afon Ogwen where ‘numerous white cottages are seen, while columns of smoke rising out of dingles and from behind masses of rock betray the latent habitations of a resident people. The cause of this accumulation of houses is soon found in the slate quarry ….’. This suggests a community which has since been quarried away, on the site of the main pit at Penrhyn Quarry. From the 1830s to perhaps as late as the 1870s, the Penrhyn estate established a distinctive form of semi-dispersed settlement nearby, at Mynydd Llandygái, on a part of the common where quarrymen had previously been encouraged to grow potatoes, made up of crog-lofftydd and long gardens on the hillsides set out in regular order. Chapels and a church were also constructed nearby.

In the Llanddeiniolen-Llanberis area the distinctive pattern of dispersed settlements of quarryman-cottagers came about partly as a consequence of encroachment on, and enclosure of, common land by the quarrymen and their families, and partly as a consequence of legally-sanctioned enclosure by local landowners.

Encroachment seems to have been under way from the end of the eighteenth century, and the Llanddeiniolen common was enclosed, not without some resistance, by Assheton-Smith, Rice of Coed Helen and Newborough of Glynllifon, in 1800-8. From the 1820s Thomas Assheton Smith III, as the major beneficiary, began a policy of allocating smallholdings to the quarrymen, believing that this would remove the temptation to visit public houses which a nucleated community might offer. This is reflected in the modern settlement of the area, with its pattern of dispersed farms.

One other distinctive form of dispersed settlement is to be seen in the barracks at Dinorwic Quarry. The quarry accounts record the building of cottages from as early as 1811, and 200 men were accommodated at the quarry at seven different sites as late as 1937. One set of barracks, constructed between 1869 and 1877, is now Scheduled.

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Nucleated - village settlements

Existing nucleated settlements within the study area appear to be of nineteenth century origin. The villages of Llandygái and y Felinheli (Port Dinorwic) were creations of the Penrhyn and Vaynol estates respectively, but otherwise village settlements appear to have been established by speculative builders on the smaller estates and on freehold farms, as perhaps offering a more promising return on investment than agriculture. This ran counter to the wishes of the greater landlords (see 4.3.3. above), and there is some evidence of social tension arising as a consequence, but surviving settlement patterns suggest that once Penrhyn and Vaynol accepted them as faits accomplis, they then set about to civilise them by leasing plots for churches, chapels and schools on their own land, with the result that the community infrastructure is often on the margins of villages.

Of the two estate villages, as late as the 1780s the village of Llandygái consisted of the church, the vicarage, a Medieval dwelling currently inhabited by William Williams, Richard Pennant’s agent and no more; Edmund Hyde-Hall twenty years later speaks of ‘eight or nine houses’. By the time the demesne was emparked and enclosed in the 1820s, an attractive estate village had been formed with typical picturesque dwellings, mainly for senior estate employees and Castle servants. It remains one of the tiny minority of Welsh villages without a nonconformist chapel.

Y Felinheli, in English Port Dinorwic, has its origins, as its name suggests, in a tide mill, whose location is identified on a map of 1693. It became one of the entrepôts for the Vaynol estate’s slate from 1788, and the sole point of export from perhaps 1812. A community grew up around it to service the ships, the foundries and the port itself, and a number of the senior estate staff made their homes here. It is in this respect an unusual example of an estate-built port community with a remarkably genteel architectural character, possessing none of the demotic character, so much more typical of sea-faring communities, that is evident in Caernarfon and Hirael. Local tradition asserts that the houses are built of Aberdeen granite, which arrived as ballast in the slate ships.

In Dyffryn Ogwen, Hyde Hall hints at a community established on the site of the present main pit at Penrhyn Quarry (and as such long since quarried away), and Penrhyn estate maps show small clusters of houses immediately north of the quarry, around the quarrymen’s church (now tipped over) and near y Felin Fawr. However, from the 1820s a straggling village established itself alongside Telford’s new road and - crucially - on the small Cefnfaes estate, though by the 1860s development was beginning to spill over onto Penrhyn land. Its nucleus was the Independent chapel which gave its name to the village.

The earliest settlement here appears to have been a ribbon development along the post road. Later building is more regular. The satellite village of Caellwyngrydd, with its distinctive spinal road up the hillside and radiating contour lanes, appears to be a speculative builder’s development of c. 1838-9. Gerlan, built after the Bethesda Improvement Act of 1854, is far more regular and well laid out, though John Street, which dates from the same period, is a crammed network of tiny lanes. Bethesda’s three surviving chapels, Jerusalem (Calvinistic Methodist), recently restored with grant-aid from Cadw, Bethesda itself (Independent - exterior only), and Seion (Baptist) are built on a substantial scale, and bear witness to the prosperity of the settlement in the nineteenth century. Conversely, the contraction of the slate industry after 1900, has meant that there has been very little new construction since.

The village of Tregarth appears to have been a late creation of the Penrhyn estate, and formed a sanctuary for the quarry strike-breakers when they were driven out of Bethesda itself during the great lock-out of 1900-1903. A map of 1873 shows only a few houses here, but the village had grown up by the time of the 25” Ordnance Survey map of 1889, suggesting that the key factor in its development was the introduction of passenger services on the quarry railway in 1880,

Within the Llanddeiniolen-Llanberis axis, nucleated settlements came into being on the small pockets of land owned by the smaller estates or freehold farms.

The adjacent villages of Clwt y Bont and Deiniolen were constructed on sites owned Rice William Thomas esq. and Robert William Griffith, a local farmer, sandwiched between Assheton-Smith’s slate road of 1812 and his original horse-drawn quarry railway, which opened in 1825. Though the villages reflect and preserve the course of both the road and of the railway, the houses in between are the work of speculators. Clwt y Bont was constructed in the period 1825-1835, partly by a builder from Llanbabo in Anglesey (hence the name Llanbabo by which the village was sometimes known and the gang-name ‘hogiau Llanbabs’ by which the young men of Clwt y Bont still go). Deiniolen grew up around Ebenezer chapel of c. 1824 (hence the old name ‘Ebenezer’ for the village) from around 1830. Unusually for a settlement built in an ad-hoc way, it is based around a grid-pattern of streets, apparently the result of deliberate policy. David Griffith’s Rhes Fawr (New Street), for instance, is known to date from between 1832 and 1838. A remarkable feature of this community is the substantial Anglican church on Vaynol land at some distance from the community itself, evidence perhaps of a failed attempt to win back the people of Deiniolen to the creed of their masters.

The present village of Bethel represents a coalescence in recent times of two tiny settlements, Bethel and Saron, themselves speculative builders’ developments for quarry families on freehold land, and, as their names suggest, centred on chapels. Bethel was conveniently situated on the course of the Dinorwic Quarry Railway of 1843, on which the men could travel to work.

At Pen isa’r Waun on the Waun Wina common, encroachments were already being made here from 1804, and the enclosure act allocated it to the Coed Helen estate in 1808. Brynrefail is noted on the Vaynol survey of 1777. Both lay within walking distance of the quarry railway, and small quarry villages grew up there.

The original focus of the present village of Llanberis appears to have been the cabins and cottages which accommodated the guides who took travellers up Snowdon, and who offered a bed-and-breakfast service. The construction of the Royal Victoria Hotel by the Vaynol estate in 1834 made tourism a slightly more luxurious affair, but the other hotels and guest houses which followed were mostly built on land belonging to the Ruthin Charities to the north.

Other nucleations on the Vaynol estate, or within its sphere of influence, are Llanrug and Pont Rhythallt at the entrance to the valley of the Afon Rhyddallt, which drains Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris, and, in the valley’s throat, a mile higher up, the villages of Cwm y Glo and Brynrefail. These seem to have come about in the early nineteenth century as a consequence of a variety of factors, including the establishment of public houses, of mills on the Afon Caledffrwd. They were able to expand owing to their proximity to stations on both the LNWR branch line to Llanberis and the Dinorwic Quarry Railway, on which the quarrymen could travel to work.

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Nucleated -urban settlements

The only pre-modern nucleated settlement in the study area is Bangor, traditionally ‘the city’, y ddinas. Bangor, however, remained a small settlement until the eighteenth century; Lewis’s map of 1740 and the Penrhyn estate’s survey of c. 1768 both show a small cluster of about 100 houses along the two roads which met at the market cross. However, the decision to re-route the post route over the Porthaethwy ferry rather than across the straits from Abergwyngregyn to Beaumaris in 1718 led to the construction of inns at Bangor, which thereafter began to grow. The establishment of Port Penrhyn at the very end of the eighteenth century as the place of export for Penrhyn slate also gave an impetus to its growth, and by the early nineteenth century shipbuilding yards, foundries and quays lined the sea-front at Hirael. The construction of the post road through the city from 1818, and the arrival of the Chester and Holyhead Railway in 1848, gave the city opportunity and need for further expansion. One consequence of this was the creation of a large slum settlement on land owned by the Dean and Chapter, accommodating individuals who were in many cases dependent on church charities. Much of this was swept away in an ambitious programme of social housing between the wars and post-1945. The foundation of the Normal College, whose permanent accommodation dates from 1862, the foundation of the University College in 1884, and the re-establishment of St Mary’s College at Bangor in 1896 meant that the city came to be dominated by its academic institutions. The sale of the episcopal palace and the estate in 1899-1903 made possible the university’s move from the Penrhyn Arms to its present site, where Hare’s college was completed in 1910, and the creation of an academic and middle-class suburb around it.

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Place-name evidence

Few published studies have explicitly analysed place-name evidence within the study area. Melville Richards’s Enwau Tir a Gwlad39 is a valuable source, and the Ar Draws Gwlad40 series includes a number of Arfon place-names. There are also a number of scattered articles, such as Bob Owen’s ‘Enwau lleoedd plwyf Llanddeiniolen, 1746-1759’ in the Herald Gymraeg in 1933.

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The chief industry of the study area was the quarrying of slate. The area contains both the Penrhyn and the Dinorwic quarries, the two largest slate workings in the world, both of them worked in open stepped galleries. As well as these, there are other smaller quarries in Dyffryn Ogwen - Tan y Bwlch, Bryn Hafod y Wern, Dolgoch and Pant Dreiniog - and a number of middle-rank quarries in the Llanberis area, running from Glynrhonwy to the Cefn Du ridge.

The Penrhyn Quarry, which is still in operation, and Dinorwic, which shut in 1969, contain a wealth of buildings, structures and machines from earlier phases of operation. Dinorwic Quarry’s huge quadrangular workshops at Gilfach Ddu were reopened as Amgueddfa Lechi Cymru/Welsh Slate Museum in the 1980s, before which it had been the North Wales Quarrying Museum (in Cadw’s care and operated by the National Museum of Wales). The site, which has undergone a massive programme of refurbishment recently, is now part of a Country Park which includes restored features at the Vivian department of the quarry and a narrow-gauge railway, constructed along the course of the quarry’s own railway, closed in 1961 and subsequently dismantled.

These two major quarries exemplify the development of the slate industry under direct aristocratic control. In the case of Penrhyn, this process begins in 1765, when Richard Pennant of Liverpool and Hanover Square, London (ennobled as Lord Penrhyn in 1793), married Anna Susannah Warburton, heiress of part of the estate, whereupon her husband began negotiations for the purchase of the remainder. From the 1780s he began re-investing the profits from his Jamaican sugar plantations in general estate improvements but above all, in slate quarrying on the slopes of Cae Braich y Cafn. At Dinorwic, the process was slower; the estate began leasing out some of its pits from 1787, but it was not until the 1820s that Assheton-Smith assumed direct control of what was still a scattered group of workings. Substantial investment in the 1840s, in the form of steam-powered mills and a substantial railway to the port, led to further capitalisation in the period 1869-1870, when the quarry began to rival Penrhyn in terms of size and productivity.

The smaller, peripheral, sites illustrate both the pre-capitalist system of local exploitation and also the stop-go nature of sites which were not for the most part worked directly by their owners, but leased out to limited companies.

As well as the quarries themselves, the slate industry spawned a number of associated sites - a number of independent slab-sawing mills operated in the Llanberis-Fachwen-Pont Rhyddallt area, and at y Felinheli an engineering and boiler-making workshop serviced the needs of the steam vessels and of locomotives on the quarry railways and on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.

Other extractive industries were on a much less substantial scale. They include a hone-stone quarry on the Penrhyn estate at Llyn Ogwen, and a number of metalliferous mines lower down the valley which worked both copper and arsenic, as well as a system of calcining flues at Ceunant, and a more substantial copper mine at Llanberis, latterly part of the Vaynol estate, but for which a Prehistoric origin has been argued.

Other industries in the area were also small-scale. Around Llanrug, the availability of a good flow of water encouraged the establishment of a paper mill and a woollen factory in the Napoleonic period, and water-powered factories and mills were built along the Galedffrwd near Clwt y Bont in the 1830s and ‘40s. Corn mills operated on the Ogwen and the Cegin; Melin Cochwillan near Llandyái village survives intact, as does the building of Melin Coetmor.

The second World War brought a number of defensive sites to the area. The Air Ministry was established at Dinorwic Quarry. For a while and a substantial bomb store, which still survives out of use, was set up in one of the abandoned pits at Glynrhonwy Quarry.

Tourism has been a significant element in the local economy since the late eighteenth century, partly because of the vogue for the sublime and the picturesque, and the difficulties of travelling in revolutionary or Napoleonic Europe. Bangor was well-equipped with inns by the eighteenth century. Richard Pennant, first Lord Penrhyn, built hotels at the upper and lower ends of his road, at Capel Curig (not in the study area) and at Bangor, partly in the hope that this would form part of a through route, and though the Telford road did not follow its predecessor’s course exactly, it became possible for visitors to make their way to North Wales with comparative ease. The publication of successive travel books (Pennant, Bingley, Peter Bailey Williams, amongst others) catered for a growing market, and a hotel was set up at Llanberis to cater for those who wished to make the ascent of Snowdon. Mountaineering has been a popular option from the 1860s to the present day.

The opening of the standard-gauge railway network between 1848 and 1869 increased the holiday trade, though Bangor never developed into a resort as some of its promoters hoped. Over the second half of the twentieth century the area has become increasingly a magnet for visitors, especially the Llanberis area, which now boasts the Slate Museum, the Lake Railway, the Snowdon Mountain Railway, the Padarn Country Park and Electric Mountain.

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The archaeology of communications forms an important component of the historic landscape of the study area. A considerable variety of transport routes, several of them individually of great archaeological importance, is represented.

There is comparatively little evidence for pre-Modern transport routes. The Roman road from Varis (St Asaph) to Segontium (Caernarfon) passed through the study area, and it is possible that its course is represented by the eighteenth century road whose remains are apparent through the Penrhyn Castle demesne. Within the Carneddau the courses of what may Medieval pack-horse trails into the uplands of Arllechwedd Isaf and to Dyffryn Conwy are apparent in a number of places.

Ferries operated from the Medieval period to the 1960s. The Llanfaes ferry is recorded from 1294, and the Beaumaris ferry from 1303, operating at least latterly from Aber on the Caernarvonshire side until closure in 1830. The Porthaethwy ferry is recorded in 1291-2 and operated until 1826, Llanidan from 1296 until, as the Moel y Don ferry, the 1960s, and Porthesgob from 1350 to the 1960s.

The demands of the slate industry, and to a much lesser extent, of the copper mines, led to the construction of dedicated transport routes, reflected in the surviving pattern of pack horse trails and cart-roads. Richard Pennant constructed a cart road for Penrhyn Quarry which became operational in stages from 1788. Thomas Assheton-Smith followed suit in 1812, superseding a route opened in 1788 which involved boating slates along Llyn Padarn to a stockpile at Cwm y Glo. The Llanberis copper mine also boated its produce, loading from chutes at the side of Llyn Peris, and continued to do so until 1836 at least. The historians of Waun Gynfi record the construction of a network of roads within the upper part of Llanddeiniolen and Llandygái in the period 1786-1860.53

However, from the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Penrhyn and the Vaynol estates were making use of iron-edge rails to an approximate gauge of 2’ to move their slates and other products. This form of technology, which came to be typical of Gwynedd, and which came to be copied in modified form world-wide, is first recorded in 1799 on the Penrhyn estate. By the following year internal rails were in use in the quarry, and work was under way on a railway to the sea, completed in 1801. Dinorwic introduced rails in 1811 and constructed its exit railway in 1823-5.

In both cases these lines were replaced by steam routes on a different alignment, at Penrhyn not until the 1870s, in the case of Dinorwic as early as 1843, when a distinctive form of railway involving the piggy-back carriage of small quarry wagons on larger transporters was introduced.

The period 1815-1826 saw the construction also of the Telford road connecting London with Holyhead and ultimately with Dublin. A number of Telford’s most spectacular engineering achievements, such as the Menai bridge and the Nant Ffrancon road, lie within the study area. A further consequence of both the arrival of an adequate trunk route and of economic development at local level was the upgrading of the turnpike roads in the same period, and the network of roads constructed or consolidated in this period underlies the present road system within the area. The road from Llanberis to Pen y Pass, for instance, was commissioned in 1830. Within recent years by-pass roads have been built around Bangor, Llanberis and y Felinheli.

The other main transport corridor is Stephenson’s Chester and Holyhead Railway, opened as far as Bangor in 1848 and as a through route in 1850. Within the study area this also generated branch lines to Port Penrhyn (1852) and Caernarfon (1852), Llanberis (1869) and Bethesda (1884). Stephenson’s tubular bridge of 1850 falls within the study area.

A distinctive and unusual railway within the area is the Snowdon Mountain Railway, the only rack-and-pinion railway in Britain (there are others in the USA and in Switzerland), which continues to use its Swiss-built steam locomotives and carriages. It was the first railway in Wales to be built purely for tourists. Near its lower terminus at Llanberis, two miles of the former Dinorwic Quarry Railway, closed in 1961, was relaid to a narrower gauge as a tourist railway between 1971 and 1972, using former quarry locomotives.

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