Historic Landscape Characterisation

Vale of Ffestiniog - Area 27 Penrhyn-Garth

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, 100017916, 2005

Historic background

This was a promontory until the draining of the Traeth Mawr in 1813, which was well-situated for trade (open to the sea with sites for harbours on either side), and largely given over to agriculture. At the end of the 13th century, Penrhyndeudraeth parish (of which this was a part), was by far the richest parish in Meirioneth (with a taxeable value of over £7 per thousand acres, it was worth more than twice as much as its nearest 'rival'). It was only one of two parishes which had no high (and mostly useless) moorland, and was a source of supply of lime which was used for repairs at Harlech Castle just down the coast in the early 14th century

The presence of the fort at Aber Ia (a site formerly associated with the Welsh princes) and its strategic importance at the mouth of two major estuaries may provide clues as to the economic and strategic importance of this area at this period.

Much of the land here was owned in the mid-nineteenth century by David Williams, who constructed the neo-baronial Castell Deudraeth (SH 5923 3770) here as his own residence (recently re-opened as an hotel after lying abandoned for many years) and developed the farms. The prominent house Plas yn Penrhyn (SH 5901 3779) at the top of Penrhyn itself was the home of Samuel Holland and later of Bertrand Russell.

Giraldus Cambrensis noted Castell Deudraeth on his journey in 1188, while crossing Traeth Bach and Traeth Mawr.


Key historic landscape characteristics

19th-century agricultural landscape

This peninsula today is an area of largely 19th-century dwellings and farms. The end of the peninsula facing the sea has large, well-laid out field walls and a pattern which clearly says '18th and 19th century estate improvement', while further back towards the town of Penrhyndeudraeth the fields are smaller and more irregular, and set in small hollows and on top of ridges, and the farms appear to be mainly pre-19th century, or at least not estate-improved and are somewhat run-down. Interestingly, these smaller fields are mainly grazed by cattle. There are areas of woodland, both towards the peninsula's end and down below Penrhyndeudraeth.

Castell Deudraeth itself has recently been renovated and reopened as an hotel-restaurant. There is some ribbon development along the roads and buildings associated with the railway which crosses the area. There is in addition some overspill modern suburban dwellings from Penrhyndeudraeth. The area today gives little impression of its former existance as an important promontory.


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