Historic Landscape Characterisation

Creuddyn and Arllechwedd – Area 1 Great Orme PRN 15823

SH 765840 looking south-west. Showing the open nature of the headland, with the well-preserved remains of relict (medieval?) fields and ridges, and a series of trackways in the centre, with the former golf course at the top of the picture



Historical background

Evidence of human settlement from the Upper Palaeolithic period is evident from the remains discovered in Kendrick's cave at SH77988281 in 1879-80, including four human skeletons together with animal bones, a polished stone axe and a knife and fragments of flint. Neolithic remains include a burial chamber at Llety's Filiast. Kendrick's Upper Cave at SH78008284 showed evidence of settlement in the Bronze Age, when it is clear that exploitation of the copper ores on the Great Orme was under way, on a scale which bears comparison with any of the other European prehistoric copper mines whose sites have so far been confirmed. Pen y Dinas hillfort, which stands immediately above the Happy Valley at SH77908295, is an Iron Age site which contains numerous hut circles, and has been described as an excellent example of a promontory fort, making use of the formation of the hill, a natural fastness that needed little strengthening, except at the neck of the promontory.

There is some evidence for a Roman presence in the area, such as the discovery of Roman copper cakes at Bryn Euryn, suggesting that the copper mines were being worked in this period. Some of the hut circles on the Orme may date from this period as well as from the pre-Roman Iron Age.

A Norse presence is indicated by the modern English name for Pen y Gogarth, which derives from Horma Heva, "the Great Serpent". The manor of Gogarth was granted by the English crown to the Bishop of Bangor in 1277, and it was here that a substantial hall house was constructed. The Bishops of Bangor only finally relinquished ownership of Gogarth in 1891. The earliest part of the fabric of the church of St Tudno may date from the twelfth century, and the remains of the ridge and furrow cultivation nearby constitute a fine example of the type.

The fourteenth century surveys collectively known as The Record of Caernarvon indicate that the episcopal manor of Gogarth included three townships on the Orme - Gogarth itself, Cyngreawdr to the north, and Yr Wyddfid to the east, overlooking the present Happy Valley site. However, consolidation of landholdings in the area by the Mostyn family is already marked by the mid-fifteenth century and by the 1680s the Bishop of Bangor was complaining about their enclosing activities. Both lay and ecclesiastical impropriators demonstrated a hard-headed and entrepreneurial approach to their lands, based on the exploitation of mineral ores as well as on agriculture. The Mostyns were at work at least as early as 1692, and mine sites were already prominent enough to be marked on the Lewis Morris map of 1748, designed to assist coastal mariners.

Copper mining continued at Llandudno into the late nineteenth-century, but was always an uncertain means of generating wealth, being dependent on world-wide fluctuations in prices which could easily make marginal operations uneconomic. Drainage was a particular problem for the miners, tackled by a variety of means - a "Tom and Jerry" pump-rod system, which extended across the Orme from near Haulfre to Gogarth, the driving of a drainage level, and the construction of a steam pump-engine in 1835, from which Water Street near the Happy Valley takes its name.


Key historic landscape characteristics

Bell pits, ridge and furrow, relict settlement remains, limestone walls, tramway

A limestone headland, exceptionally rich in relict archaeology but also a very popular tourist haunt, accessed by road, tramcar and cable-car. There is abundant surface evidence of mining from the Modern period, in particular the long sequence of rocker-base pits for the flatrods which connected the ‘Tom and Jerry' engine to the mine. The Bronze Age Mines have recently been untopped as part of the visitor enhancement. The Great Orme Tram is a popular attraction which preserves much of its late-Victorian character.

The landscape is also rich in other forms of communications system, which include a lighthouse and the site of a telegraph station.




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