Historic Landscape Characterisation

Mawddach - Area 10 Morfa Mawddach(PRN 18340)



Historic background

Much of the area was owned by the Ynysfaig Estate in 1703, and a map of Ynysgyfflog, Fegla Fawr and Fegla Fach drawn by T Roberts in 1804 (NLW 49-18-22) shows a huge area to the south-east of those islands' as being unenclosed and labelled turbary'. This corresponds with the area included in the Mawddach SSSI as Arthog Bog (see below and area 09). From that period, to at least 1836 (Roscoe, 1836), the area was known as Morfa Mannog and in the early 19th century, a vast quantity of peat was cut from here, to be dried out and ferried across to Barmouth for export.

Along the southern flank of the area above the floodplain, Arthog (the name is supposed to be derived from a personal name, although there is no evidence for this) is a small, ribbon settlement alongside the main A493, originating in the mid-19th-century. In 1894, Solomon Andrews (the Cardiff businessman who was also responsible for the development of Pwllheli amongst other holiday resorts at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries) purchased several farms and land at Arthog, including Tyddyn Siefre with its now defunct quarry and tips (see area 15). In 1899 he built a network of tramways to carry quarry waste from the tips to build a sea-wall facing the estuary, where Mawddach Crescent was built over the next three to four years. He had hoped that this would also, in tandem with Fairbourne, develop into a holiday resort but it never really took off, with the Crescent being the only completed part of the development.

Further south, and of similar character, is Friog, also built along the eastern side of the main road (originally a tollgate road built to replace the former main west-east route, Ffordd ddu, which ran over the top the contemporary toll house still exists at the southern end of the village (listed grade II), along with a series of chapels and boarding houses), but is now dominated by detached modern dwellings in their own gardens.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Saltmarsh, raised mire, 19th century terraced housing and ribbon development

The small terraces of houses which characterise the tiny settlement were built principally in the mid-19th century. Arthog Terrace, for example, is an exceptionally-complete (listed) terrace of twelve gabled, rubble-built houses with a single slate roof and its neat gardens actually located across the main road, which was built in 1860s, and Y Bont is a similar mid-19th century terrace. The distinctive National School with its bell tower is dated 1844, and nearby are a single arch stone bridge and St. Catherine's church (also early 19th century and listed grade II), opposite which is a mill. Pencei still exists as a reminder that, before the embankments further out were built, the high tide formerly came up to (and over) the turnpike road.

Part of the area, known as Arthog Bog (lying between Arthog on the mainland and the former island' of Fegla Fawr is designated as a SSSI (CCW ref. 31 WVS - see photograph). This is the only example of an estuarine raised mire in north Wales, a rare peatland type otherwise confined in Wales to the flanks of the Dyfi estuary. Although now reduced in size, it is still floristically and entomologically rich. It is important for breeding birds including redshank and snipe.

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