Historic Landscape Characterisation

Caernarfon /Nantlle – Area 9 Nantlle slate quarries PRN 15708


This aerial view, which looks south, shows Pen-yr-orsedd, the only operational quarry in Dyffryn Nantlle, in the foreground, with part of Dorothea to the right. The village of Nantlle (area 13) lies just beyond, set between the quarries and the valley floor (area 49).



Historical background

An area of extensive slate quarrying, active from at least the medieval period to the late twentieth century. Proprietary constraints meant that the slate had to be worked in many separate quarries rather than in one gigantic site as at Penrhyn and Dinorwic, and geology and topography meant that the dominant method of extraction was from open pits on the side or the floor of the Nantlle valley.


Key historic landscape characteristics

Slate quarries, mills, pyramids, engine houses, tips

An outstanding landscape of relict industrial archaeology, exemplifying the industry's technical development from the mid nineteenth-century to the twentieth. Some of the surviving machines are built on such an impressive scale as to form landscape elements in their own right, such as the Cornish pump-engine at Dorothea Quarry and the blondin rope-systems at Pen yr Orsedd. Reworking of tips and some very limited primary extraction threatens the integrity of these landscapes, and the recent attempt to establish Dorothea as a commercial diving centre has resulted in the destruction of historic features without any recording. The massive slate bastions for the chain inclines at a number of quarries are at risk from progressive dilapidation and possible collapse.



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