Historic Landscape Characterisation

Creuddyn and Arllechwedd – Area 11 Penmaenmawr Quarry PRN 15813


SH 700760 looking south. Showing the galleries, present road and many of the workings of the quarry, some relict and some still in use, in its landscape setting on the edge of unenclosed mountain (north) (area 24) beyond (the site of the Neolithic axe factory is around the too edge of the quarry towards the left of the photograph)



Historical background

The present workings at Penmaenmawr continue a tradition of stone-quarrying which begins in the third millennium BC, when Graiglwyd was worked for stone suitable for axe-making. It was the third most productive of the Prehistoric axe-making sites in Britain, after the factories of Great Langdale and Scafell in the Lake District and around St Ives in Cornwall, whose products vied with each other in Neolithic markets throughout the island.

The first leases which indicate modern exploitation of the Penmaenmawr outcrop for stone are dated 1833. In the first instance operations amounted to extracting suitable material from the unconsolidated scree slopes, flaking them into setts, and transporting them as ballast on ships bound for Liverpool . The early extraction pits were surveyed as part of the detailed survey of the north slopes below the Graiglwyd. Within a decade two independent quarries had been developed, one on the Eastern flank (Graiglwyd) and the other occupying the western extremity (Penmaen). Both quarries concentrated on sett production although loose stone for ballast was of increasing importance. Crushing mills were therefore established from the 1890s onwards and production increasingly concentrated on this commod­ity thus expanding at the expense of the sett making enterprises. The two quarries were amal­gamated under the same management in the early part of this century and the joint operations linked by a quarry railway. In the late 1930s the Graiglwyd quarry ceased as a sett production unit and the eastern workings were accordingly abandoned.

The present quarry at Penmaenmawr occupies the western part of the outcrop and concentrates on producing aggregate for road construction and for railway ballast. A new crushing plant was installed in 1983 and the present output of the quarry is 600, 000 tonnes per annum. The planned reserve of the quarry concession is approx­imately 40 million tonnes, giving an estimated life span for the whole operation of sixty years. Since quarrying has been concentrated on the western Penmaen end of the outcrop the summit of the mountain has been reduced by approximately 400 feet and in the process the whole prehistoric hillfort of Braich y Ddinas was consumed in an operation that paid only minimal attention to archaeological detail.


Key historic landscape characteristics

Inclines, stepped workings, crushing plant, clock

The quarry site is distinguished by a number of features which can be clearly identified from the road and from the town. These include the substantial clock-face mounted on one of the storage bins in the eastern quarry, the remains of the major crushing plant introduced in the latter years of the nineteenth century, and the impressive series of inclines. A number of items of historic machinery survive in the quarry. The eastern quarry was landscaped in the 1980s.


Back to Creuddyn and Arllechwedd Landscape Character Map


Visit our social network sites
Ymwelwch a'n safleoedd rhwydwaith cymdeithasol