Historic Landscape Characterisation - Creuddyn and Arllechwedd Historical Themes


A distinctive feature of the uplands parts of the study area is the contrast between the meandering walls of earlier enclosures, some of which may be prehistoric or medieval in origin (see area 16), and the straight lines of the walls laid out during the period of estate improvement, for example under the Caerhun Enclosure act of 1858 (see area 9). One of the major historic landscape features of this area is the extensive relict remains of prehistoric fields and settlements, especially in the areas around Pen-y-Gaer hillfort and Maen-y-Bardd. Whilst these have long been known about, detailed survey has not yet taken place and we do not fully understand the ways in which the fields related to the settlements which lie dotted amongst them, the funerary and ritual sites which survive within the fabric of the stone walls and fields, and the routes which cross them.

The process by which the uplands have come to be enclosed has been traced by R. Elwyn Hughes (1939) and, more recently and specifically relating to the parishes of Llanbedr y Cennin and Caerhun, by Dr Della Hooke (1997), who describes successive stages of encroachment on open pasture beginning with seasonal settlement which is documented from the sixteenth century, but probably older in origin, for already by 1468 the upland settlement of Maeneira may have been in permanent occupation. There is documentary evidence for permanent occupation in the uplands and for these the encroachments being walled and fenced.

The tithe maps of a number of parishes (including Llandudno, Eglwys-Rhos, Llangwstenin, Dwygyfylchi and Gyffin) show a hitherto-unsuspected large number of areas of relict (presumably fossilised) strip fields, in lowland areas around farms or scattered settlements which have retained medieval townships in their names. Unfortunately, all of these have since been removed by either settlement development (most notably under Llandudno Junction) or agricultural improvements (Gyffin). Open fields were obviously part of the medieval landscape of the area.

Some smaller areas were enclosed much later; the hillside slopes of the Alltwyllt (area 21) were settled by the 1770s, and by the nineteenth century these tiny houses and their associated plots of land were home to a population made up partly of sulphur miners, partly of paupers on parish relief, stocking-knitters, people who worked on the boats that plied up and down the Conwy river. The limestone ridge of Bryn Pydew (area 22) similarly was common land which was enclosed in the nineteenth century. Both areas still retain the irregular, small field patterning which testifies to these events.

The mid-nineteenth century enclosure awaits its historian. The Newborough estate letters record the hostility that the apportionment aroused, with local farmers demolishing the walls at night, and policemen carrying guns.


Relict archaeology

The area has a rich variety of well-preserved and significant archaeological monuments demonstrating in its historical depth the development of the landscape from the earliest times to the present. Some landscape areas (e.g. Great Orme (area 1); enclosed uplands (area 9), enclosed intermediary hillslopes (area 16)), have particularly extensive and important sequences of relict remains.

The Great Orme (area 1) has a sequence beginning with Kendrick's Cave, with its Upper Palaeolithic deposits, the Neolithic burial chamber of Llety'r Filiast, bronze age cairns and extensive underground copper mines which are among the earliest in Europe, as well as late prehistoric settlement, including a major hillfort (Pen y Dinas). The Little Orme (area 3) also has significant Upper Palaeolithic sites, including Pant y Wennol cave.

In addition to the Bronze Age copper mining on the Orme, prehistoric industry has left its mark on the area in the form of a Neolithic axe factory at Graiglwyd, remains of which are to be found around the margins of the present quarry (area 24). The rough-outs from this ‘factory' have been found as far afield as southern Britain , Scotland and Ireland . The location of this resource may, in part at least, account for the concentration of funerary and ritual monuments around Druid's Circle, where a complex of sites (including cairns of various forms, stone circles, cists, standing stones and so on) has been described as one of the most important in western Britain .

Further south, the south-facing slopes from Bwlch y Ddeufaen to Craig Celynin (area 9) contain several Neolithic and bronze age funerary and ritual monuments, including the cairns and standing stones in Bwlch y Ddeufaen, Barclodiad y Gawres cairn, Cerrig Pryfaid stone circle and the Maen y Bardd burial chamber.

The area contains a significant concentration of major late prehistoric hillforts, including Pen y Dinas (the only hillfort with a cheveau de frise in north Wales ) and Castell Caer Lleion (with its smaller citadel, possibly a Dark Age refortification). It also formerly contained the fort of Braich y Ddinas, now quarried away (area 11). Perhaps more significant are the extensive remains of prehistoric fields systems and settlements, some of the most important such survivals in Britain: for example, around Maen y Bardd (area 9) is an area over 100ha in extent containing relic, late prehistoric hut circles, hut groups, enclosures, field walls, cultivation banks and terraces and internal trackways. Medieval ‘long huts' are also a feature of the archaeology of this area. It is possible that these might have their origins in the Neolithic period, as the burial chamber at Maen y Bardd is so obviously incorporated into one of the field walls.

Evidence of prehistoric settlement, in the form of huts circles, burnt mounds, elliptical enclosures and curvilinear field walls, has survived in an almost unbroken pattern across the uplands (area 24) from the Conwy valley to Anafon in the west (beyond the limits of the study area). However, another notable concentration is to be found in an area centred on Pen y Gaer hillfort where there are concentrations of hut circles and long huts, often associated with field systems. Like Maen y Bardd, these are overlain in parts by enclosures and settlements of the 16th and 17th centuries, and by Parliamentary enclosures of the 19th century, which all add to the considerable historical depth of these upland landscapes.

Many of the trackways in the area are presumed to have prehistoric origins, most notably the one which runs over Bwlch y Ddeufaen (area 9), from Conwy valley to the coastal plain, which was used by the Romans and remained, until the 18th century, the only way of avoiding the treacherous coast around Penmaenmawr.

Known monuments from the Roman period in the area are restricted to the fort (and ancillary vicus settlement which covers several hectares around it) on the west bank of the river at Caerhun, and the road which leads over Bwlch y Ddeufaen. The fort lies below the hillfort of Pen y Gaer, and south of the motte at Tal y Cafn, and the shift of centres of power across the centuries is a possible fruitful area of future study (the location of the early llys at either Castell or Gronant is a further factor).

Arguably the most significant monument from the medieval period is the castle and bastide town of Conwy , built by Edward I between 1283-6) on the site of an earlier Cistercian monastery, as one of a series in his conquest of north Wales . However, much more of the medieval landscape remains preserved, especially in the upland and marginal areas on the west side of the Conwy valley (areas 9, 16 and 24), as well as on the Great Orme (area 1), where numbers of platform houses and long huts testify to the ebb and flow of human settlement over centuries. This aspect of the archaeology of the area is amplified below in the section on settlement.

Further north, Deganwy (area 6) played an important role in Welsh history throughout the post-Roman period, controlling the mouth of the river before the arrival of Edward. Tradition makes it the llys of Maelgwn Gwynedd, and it is mentioned as Arx Decantorum in AD 822, with a castle being built around 1080 by Robert of Rhuddlan, before it was passed to Llywelyn Fawr in 1200. In the 13th century, Gogarth Grange, a palace of the bishops of Bangor , was built on the south side of the Orme (area 1), and the area contains a number of medieval churches including St. Tudno's (area 3) and Llangelynin (area 16).



The variety of landscapes within the study area is reflected in the different patterns of existing settlement. The basis of some of the present towns, villages, hamlets and isolated farms of Creuddyn and Arllechwedd were in some cases already in existence when limited written records begin in the twelfth century, but their growth, change, and in some cases abandonment, also reflect the change in agricultural practices in later periods, whereas others evolved or were created anew according to the demands of the Industrial economy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Conwy river is the most significant element of the natural landscape. Flowing south to north, its mouth is guarded by the Edwardian castle and planted town of Conwy . This formed the only urban nuclei in the area before the nineteenth century, though many of the smaller settlements which still survive are already evident in medieval documentation, starting with the 1352 Record of Caernarvon.

The pattern of administration as it had evolved in Gwynedd by the thirteenth century involved territorial divisions into cantrefi (hundreds), subdivided into commotes, in Welsh cymydau. Deganwy came to be the commotal centre for Creuddyn, which lay within the cantref of Rhos; Abergwyngregyn, just beyond the western part of the study area, formed the commotal centre for Arllechwedd Uchaf, the north-eastern part of which lies within the study area, and Arllechwedd Isaf would also have had its own commotal centre, possibly at Castell on the eastern bank of the Conwy near the shallow crossing at Tal y Cafn.

As well as its llys and maerdref, each commote contained a number of townships, trefi in Welsh, villae in the Latin documents, which might be either bond or free, and tribal or extended family holdings might extend through several townships. Within Arllechwedd Uchaf, the townships of Bodsilin, Gorddinog, Llanfair and Dwygyfylchi fall into the study area, as well as the parish churches of Aber, Llanfair and Dwygyfylchi. The commote of Arllechwedd Isaf comprised four bond vills and one free vill, each with its own fixed boundaries. The bond vills were situated in the north of the commote, at Llechan, Eirianws, Tremorfa, and Glyn and Gronant. The free vill of Castell was the most extensive, being subdivided into the hamlets of Penfro, Merchlyn, and, separated from the others by the bond vills, Cymryd and Bodidda.

Arllechwedd Isaf also included three ecclesiastical vills or townships; Aberconwy was given to the Cistercian order by Llywelyn Fawr, and later made into the borough lands of Conwy by Edward I; the others were Gwrhydros, which lay next to Aberconwy, and the vill of Ardda and Dar Lâs, in the far south. Granted to the Cistercians by Llywelyn Fawr, it formed one substantial land-holding, effectively an estate in much the same sense as the gentry estates of the modern period, initially worked directly by the monks as a grange, later leased out to tenant-farmers (Hays 1963).

The survival of a remarkable document, the Bolde rental of the period 1420 to 1453, has enabled a partial reconstruction of the way in which the Welsh land-tenure systems in this commote were replaced by holdings which were to form the basis of the great estates which dominated the region from the sixteenth century into the nineteenth.

Within the commote of Creuddyn, the manor of Gogarth was amongst the lands sequestered by the English crown in 1277 and presented to the see of Bangor , who only relinquished ownership in 1891; this comprised three townships, Gogarth, Cyngreawdr and yr Wyddfid. Other townships were Penlasog, Bodafon, Rhiwledin, Penrhyn, Gloddaith, Bodysgallen, Trefwarth and Llanwyddan, and the area was divided between the parishes of Llandudno, Eglwys Rhos and Llangystennin.

As well as the secular land-divisions, by the later medieval period Arllechwedd Isaf was divided into the parishes of Gyffin, Llangelynin, Caerhun and Llanbedr y Cennin, the last of which also came to include the township of Ardda and Dar Lâs after the dissolution. Conwy became a parish when the monastery was removed to Maenan after the Conquest.

The topography of the study-area, which varies from both low-lying meadowland and pasture to bleak sheepwalks, has led historically to a varied agriculture characterised by farms which are often made up of both upland and lowland holdings, though within this pattern there are considerable variations from place to place and within time. The lowland hendrefi of the Conwy valley are apparent as well-built farmhouses, such as Farchwel, often reconstructed in the nineteenth century, as at Maes y Castell, Llwydfaen and Gorswen, and elsewhere names such as Hendy or Hendre Fawr indicate the former presence of medieval settlement. Isolated upland settlements have functioned variously as seasonal dwellings connected to these lowland holdings and as permanent farm-houses

A number of isolated farmhouses stand on the sites of what were once dispersed settlements; the farmhouse at Ardda in Dolgarrog is now abandoned, but the farm itself contains a number of ruined dwellings of possibly late seventeenth or early eighteenth century date, and the area itself formed one of the most prosperous granges of Aberconwy Abbey (RCAHMW 1956, p75-6, UWB Bangor Ms 2383, Hays 1963).

Along the coastal strip between Dwygyfylchi and Llanfairfechan, houses of sixteenth and century date survive, though the topography of the area is different from the Conwy valley, being situated on a far narrower lowland strip, at the foot of precipitous hillsides leading up to sheepwalks. Sources such as Lewis Morris' map of 1748 (Morris 1748) show these as the isolated dwellings of yeoman farmers, but their situation has been changed by the pace of development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Industrialisation brought about changes in the settlement pattern of the whole area. While in a number of places - Penmaenmawr, Llandudno Junction, Dolgarrog - significant nucleated settlements arose, the patchy nature of development elsewhere meant that some isolated dwellings housed incoming quarrymen and miners. A row of cottages at Trecastell appear to have been built for miners.

The census from 1841 to 1871 reveal that many farms accommodated a miner or a quarryman, whether a lodger or one of the sons, and possibly the existence of a dual economy enabled some of these settlements to survive a little longer than otherwise they might. Certainly, by the end of the nineteenth century the farmhouses themselves were becoming deserted, and the lands reverting to upland holdings for farms in the valley itself. The development of water-catchment schemes in the twentieth century did something to arrest the depopulation of the uplands in Dolgarrog, Llanbedr and Caerhun, and by the 1970s some of these farms were being run on a part-time basis by families where the husband also worked in the aluminium works.

The social changes brought about by the coming of the railway substantially altered the nature of lowland settlement. Apart from the development of the area between Llanfairfechan and Dwygyfylchi as tourist settlements, the area's proximity to Manchester and Liverpool brought in a number of wealthy businessmen who set themselves up in the area.

A number of dispersed settlements, without any infrastructure, survive within the study area. One of these is on the Alltwyllt, above Dolgarrog, legendarily supposed to have been founded by surviving members of the Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy in the sixteenth century, whose descendants practised a garden type of agriculture, keeping cows on the common, mining and fishing (Hughes 1940, 24).

Nucleated village settlements dating from at least the Medieval period survive at a number of locations. The village of Bryn Pydew is situated on the central part of the limestone ridge that forms area 22. A settlement here is visible on the tithe map of 1839, centred around cross roads, and has since extended to include a linear development along the road to Llandudno Junction at Esgyryn. The present village includes a post office and a chapel. Glanwydden is a small village situated between the Pydew ridge and the Little Orme, and includes a chapel and a public house. The village of Llanbedr y Cennin is centred on St Peter's Church, and includes a pub, a chapel and a shop. Ro Wen is a linear development alongside a road which may be Prehistoric in origin, leading from Tal y Cafn to Bwlch y Ddeufaen and Aber. The village is dignified by a number of chapels, public houses, a school, post office and shops.

The town of Conwy represents the oldest nucleated urban settlement in the study area, and has been described as an outstanding example of the planted town, which typically embodies the most recent thinking on urban planning at the time of its construction, and thereafter fossilises. In 1292, Edward I chose it as the place to build his new borough town, designed to plant an English settlement in Gwynedd and thereby subdue a potentially lawless population.

Llanfairfechan contains a considerable number of dwellings by Herbert Luck North (1871-1941), an outstanding locally-based Arts-and-Crafts architect (Hughes 1989). Penmaenmawr is one of the classic industrial towns of North Wales , but was also developed as a tourist resort. The construction of Sylvester's road around the bluff of Penmaenmawr may have had the effect of causing one of the major landholdings in the area to change hands, and the community of Penmaenmawr is almost entirely a creation of the Victorian age, and reflects not only the development of the quarrying industry, but also the attempts to develop it as a tourist resort.

A sign of the impending change in the Creuddyn peninsula in the early nineteenth century was the draining of the land at the base of the Orme to create the modern resort of Llandudno (area 2). The enclosure act of 1843, implemented in 1847, apportioned 832 acres out of 955 acres of parish common to Edward Mostyn of Gloddaeth, who resolved upon the creation of a seaside resort. Henceforth Llandudno's future lay not with mining or agriculture but with holidaymakers.

The terrain immediately to the east of the Conwy lent itself to the creation of a junction station between the main Chester to Holyhead line and the important double-track branch to Llandudno, as well as the later branch line up the Conwy valley. The station here was opened in 1860, and was upgraded around 1883 and again in 1897 (Anderson and Fox 1984). Housing is already evident in photographs taken pre-1897 (see front cover), but the expansion of Llandudno Junction as a settlement only came in the twentieth century.

Only one study has explicitly analysed place-name evidence within the study area, by Ifor E. Davies in 1984 (Davies 1984, 125-127), though place-names are treated as evidence in a number of other studies (Hughes 1940, Hooke 1997, Jones Pierce 1939, Withers 1995).



From prehistoric times the area has been extensively worked for minerals and has been an important transport focus. Archaeological evidence exists for industrial activity as early as 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 (Cummins and Clough 1988).

Copper was extensively mined on Creuddyn in the Bronze Age, a fact first recognised in 1831 and 1849 with the discovery of stone and bone tools in the Great Orme copper mines (area 1) (Stanley 1850). The possible calibrated age-ranges for sample materials are 1410 BC to 1070 (Ambers 1990). The mines were exploited in horizontal galleries up to 50m in length and at vertical depths of approximately 30m in which firesetting had been used to extend the workings (Dutton 1994). The Great Orme mines were a major supplier of copper ore in prehistory, along with Mynydd Parys, Cwmystwyth and a number of other sites elsewhere in Britain and beyond.

The mines themselves were revived in 1692, and continued working until 1877, latterly on a very small scale, as Llandudno was already developed as a tourist resort. They were equipped with steam and hydraulic prime movers to operate the pumps, and the trace of the long flatrod system (jointed wooden rods) which connected a water-engine at Ffynnon Gogarth with pumps at the Old Mine, remain one of the most distinctive landscape features of the Orme (Williams 1995).

Lead was extensively worked at Trecastell Mine, near Henryd (area 16). A Prehistoric origin has also been suggested for this site, but not until 1753 is there documentary evidence for mining in the area. Trecastell remained at work as late as 1955, but the site was landscaped after closure, and little landscape evidence remains (Bennett 1997). There are iron trial workings above Aber, Gorddinog mine and elsewhere.

Smaller and shorter-lived ventures were the Ardda sulphide mine on the uplands (area 9) above Dolgarrog, operational from 1853 to 1864, connected to the main road by a contour railway and two counter-balanced inclines, as well as other unsuccessful trials at a number of other locations.

Quarrying for stone and slate has taken place at a number of locations within the study area. The modern workings in the igneous rocks of Penmaenmawr (area 11) are of considerable size. Modern exploitation was under way in the 1820s, when suitable material was worked from the unconsolidated scree slopes, flaked into setts, and transported by ship to Liverpool . 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 initially concentrated on sett production, though as loose stone for railway ballast became increasingly important from the 1890s, crushing mills were established. 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 producing setts and was abandoned (Davies 1974). The present quarry at Penmaenmawr occupies the western part of the outcrop and concentrates on producing aggregate for road construction and railway ballast. A new crushing plant was installed in 1983 and the present output of the quarry is 600 000 tonnes per annum..

The extensive workings of both the old and the modern quarry contain abundant industrial relics that document past phases of development. The installation of a conveyor system from the Penmaen quarry to the coast during the 1950s also made redundant a whole system of major inclines and as a consequence of recent landscaping a number of installations, such as the large Penmarian crushing plant, were dismantled (Lee 1994).

Less commercially successful was the sett quarry on the northern slopes of Conwy Mountain (area 9), operational by 1874 until the Second World War. In the quarry's early days the stone was shipped from a pier on the Morfa (area 9), later replaced by exchange sidings with the London and North Western Railway (Bradley 1992, 226-7). This site was equipped with inclines, whose traces are evident. The dyorite which makes up the mountain had earlier been quarried for millstones, at a time when the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars had prevented imports from La Ferté sous Jouarre in France . A number of separate quarry faces have been identified, but the industry does not seem to have been developed locally on any great scale.

On the Little Orme (area 3), limestone was quarried from before 1862 until 1931, shipping directly from a pier below the quarry (Bradley 1992, 299-300). Limestone has been worked on a number of sites on the Great Orme, such as at the Bishop's Quarry, as well as at around the Marine Drive , where the remains of a chute to load vessels survive, and below Pen y Ddinas, where the rock has been extracted from a pillar-and-stall underground working.

Slate and slate-tuffite have been worked commercially at six quarries within the area, though small-scale trials and quarries of convenience were opened at a considerable number of other locations. The tiny Tal y Fan quarry (area 9) appears to have been worked intermittently from at least 1555 to 1913. Another early site is at Llechan, known to have been exploited in 1686, but probably of medieval origin, since the name (Llechan = ‘fissile stone') is attested in the fourteenth century (Ellis 1838). Operations certainly went on here until the late eighteenth century, attested in the characteristically small slates from Llechan quarry at Melin Gwenddar, on which there is a date-stone of 1783.

More conventional in their fortunes were the two quarries in the uplands to the west of Llyn Eigiau (area 9), Cwm Eigiau and Cedryn. Both were opened in the 1820s, and worked on a small scale until the 1850s, when a mill driven by a water-wheel and a barracks were erected at Cwm Eigiau. In the boom years of the 1860s both quarries were equipped with state-of-the-art machinery and a seven-mile-long railway was constructed to give access to the Conwy. Neither one was worked after 1874.

In the valley to the north, a small slate quarry was opened in the 1860s, equipped with a water-driven mill in 1869-1870, and later went over to exploiting a hone-stone vein. This remained in use until 1908. A tiny quarry was also worked in Coed Dolgarrog (area 19) from the 1820s to the 1880s. At Melynllyn (area 20) a vein of slate tuffite was quarried to make hone-stones from the 1860s to 1910 (Davies 1976).

The area's rich arable land required, and its topography made possible, a number of water-powered corn mills. These are known to have been built on the Gyffin, the Ro, at Llanfairfechan and at Aber. A number of examples survive, converted to dwellings, including the seventeenth century Melin Bulkeley. Other water-driven mills have left less trace, though a pandy was in existence at Dolgarrog by the sixteenth century (NLW Wynnstay Mss.), and a paper mill was established on the Porth Llwyd in 1810 (UWB Baron Hill Mss.). Only foundations are visible of the two windmills known to have been constructed on the Creuddyn peninsula, one on the Orme itself (area 1), the other above Deganwy (area 6).

Water-power was also a vital component of the major modern industrial development of the area, the aluminium works at Dolgarrog. This was established in 1907 as a reduction works for the conversion of alumina and bauxite to aluminium, a process which consumes vast amounts of electricity, and which has therefore always been established where there is abundant water, rather than near the sources of the raw material. The works was subsequently developed to include a carbon factory and a rolling mill., and now functions as a specialist rolling plant. A purpose-built village was established at Dolgarrog between 1907 and 1926 (Jones and Gwyn 1989).

An early gas works at Madryn Farm supplied Llanfairfechan.



The archaeology of communications forms an important component of the historic landscape of the study area. A prehistoric route from east to west crossed the Conwy at the ford of Tal y Cafn and passed through Bwlch y Ddeufaen. The Roman road from Canovium (Caerhun) westwards to Segontium (Caernarfon) follows the same route as its purported bronze age predecessor from Ro Wen to Bwlch y Ddeufaen. Near the east end of Bwlch y Ddeufaen a Roman milestone was discovered in 1954 which is attributed to the reign of Constantine the Great (305-337 AD). It records a distance of five miles from Canovium.

From Bwlch y Ddeufaen it is uncertain whether the road continued west through the Anafon and Aber Valleys or descended directly to Llanfairfechan along the Gorddinog valley. The latter route is more likely, since three Roman milestones have been found near its likely course. Two were discovered on separate occasions in 1883, lying within a few metres of each other in a field on Rhiwgoch farm. One is dated to the reign of Hadrian (AD 117-138) and records a distance of eight miles from Canovium; the other dates from the reign of the Emperor Severus (193-211 AD) and does not record any set mileage since the inscription is incomplete. Finally, a third milestone was recovered from a field on Madryn Farm in 1959 on the coastal plain due west of Llanfairfechan. It carried post-Roman as well as an imperial inscription, the latter ascribing it to the reign of Postumus (258-268 AD) (Jones 1985). A possible Roman dock has been identified on the banks of the Conwy immediately north of the fort at Caerhun (area 15), whence a further Roman road ran south to Caer Llugwy and ultimately to South Wales .

The Conwy itself formed a communications artery, carrying timber, lead, iron sulphide and slate from the upper reaches of the valley, from at least the Conquest, although until the early nineteenth century loads had to be transhipped across a reef at Tal y Cafn (Williams 1979). The Caerhun tithe map shows a jetty at this point with road access. From the 1820s to 1864 slate was shipped from Cwm Eigiau at a wharf on the west bank of the Conwy slightly to the north, and for a while in the mid-century Cwm Machno quarry also exported slate from a wharf on the opposite bank. The wharf facilities at Conwy, medieval in origin, were extended by W.A. Provis in 1831 ( CRO XB2/16; Davidson 1997, 4-5), and quays were also built by the London and North Western Railway at Llandudno Junction and at Deganwy.

The river also carried agricultural material; in the early nineteenth century one farmer near Tal y Cafn constructed canals across the alluvial plain to carry lime to his fields; no trace of these has been observed. As with other tidal rivers and estuaries in North-west Wales, mineral traffic declined from the 1860s, and ceased altogether in 1878, only to be revived after the establishment of the aluminium works at Dolgarrog in 1907. A canal and a tramway connected the works to the river, and barges continued to ply the river until the 1930s. Steamer trips from Conwy to Trefriw were introduced on the river in 1847, and continued until 1940.

The river also formed a natural barrier to east-west travel, though ferries are recorded at Conwy from 1188 and Tal y Cafn from 1301 (Davies 1966, 1, 11). The Bwlch y Ddeufaen route remained in common use until the eighteenth century, when in 1769 both the London and the Dublin parliaments made substantial investment in a road over the headland at Penmaenmawr, previously a notorious obstacle to travel – until well within living memory, people in the Conwy valley would refer to ‘Penmaenmawr a'r gwledydd pell' – ‘Penmaenmawr and the distant lands beyond'. A road of sorts existed here in the time of Charles I, but it was not until the construction of Telford 's road in the 1820s that it ceased to be a perilous undertaking to travel from Conwy west. Telford 's road was itself replaced by a new road constructed by Boswell of Wolverhampton between 1930 and 1936, which was the first to tunnel through the rock. This road is carried on substantial arched embankments; additional lanes and a further tunnel were constructed in the 1980s.

The creation of the Telford post road in the 1820s led to the building of a suspension bridge over the mouth of the river, after various proposals for stone bridges proved abortive, Telford's Conwy bridge spans 327' between its two ashlar towers. Plans to demolish it in 1958 led to an outcry. It has recently been renovated to near-original condition, and is still in use as a footbridge.

The construction of the post road and the bridge formed part of a general improvement of the local road system. The Conwy to Pwllheli road was taken over by a turnpike trust, and the Conwy to Tal y Cafn length by the new Caernarvonshire Trust, and the new road was complete by 1772 (Davies 1966, 203).

The second bridge to be built at Conwy was built for the Chester and Holyhead Railway in 1848, one of Robert Stephenson's two tubular bridges. Only at Conwy are the two tubes are still intact and carrying trains. Its castellated arches were intended to blend in with the castle. The railway was designed to connect London with the main port for Ireland , and was opened all the way through in 1850); in 1857 the first water-troughs were installed at Mochdre, later moved to Aber, making non-stop locomotive running a possibility (Cragg 1997, 13-17). At Penmaenmawr, the railway is carried on an open viaduct 182 yards long.

A branch was constructed to Llandudno in 1858, and the line was doubled after 1875 (Bradley 1992, 90.). Another branch opened to Llanrwst in 1863, subsequently extended to Betws y Coed (1866) and Blaenau Ffestiniog (1878). Rail-connected quays were built at Ynys (near the Stephenson bridge) and at Deganwy. These developments made the junction station into an important railway centre, around which a community began to grow in the late nineteenth century.

The river is bridged at two other locations within the study area, at Tal y Cafn, opened in 1897 ( CRO X/RD/?, Davies 1966, 229), a road bridge which replaced the ferry, and at Dolgarrog in 1916, when a roadway and a siding were constructed from the branch line to the aluminium works. This bridge is one of two in the United Kingdom , with the Forth bridge, to use a cantilever girder construction.


Culture, society and language.

Traditional evaluations of the Welsh landscape have tended to see a polarisation into industrial and rural types, each with its strong sense of identity, each distinctively Welsh in outlook, and frequently in language also. Though the landscape of the present study area is predominantly rural, traditional in outlook and Welsh in speech, much of the population nevertheless has no long-standing roots in the area, and the common language for most of the larger communities is English.

The town of Conwy, founded by Edward I, was traditionally an English-speaking enclave in a Welsh-speaking area, which has only recently started to lose this character. Industrial and tourist developments of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have also altered the linguistic and cultural complexion of the area considerably.

Llandudno has typically catered for holidaymakers from the north-west of England , and ease of transport along the North Wales coast road has resulted in the whole of Creuddyn and to some extent the Penmaenmawr-Dwygyfylchi area effectively serving and forming part of, an extended Anglicised or English conurbation.

Though the language of the granite quarries at Penmaenmawr was always commonly Welsh, some of the workmen and under-managers came from quarries elsewhere in the world, unlike the neighbouring slate quarries which drew their workers almost exclusively from the Welsh-speaking hinterland.

The aluminium works at Dolgarrog contained a strange ethnic mix in its hey-day in the 1920s, when English, Scots, Irish and others worked alongside native Welshmen and Welshwomen - but as in the case of Conwy, this community is now becoming more Welsh in speech rather than less.

The study area is not, therefore, exclusively the cradle of a traditional Welsh society: the sense of bro remains strong for many, and local eisteddfodau remain popular and well-supported, but for others loyalties and attachments to the area will be founded on a different set of values and assumptions.



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