Historic Landscape Characterisation - Penmon Historical Themes

Historical Themes

Medieval landscape

Britain has kings, pronounced Gildas the cleric in the first half of the sixth century, four or five generations after Roman imperial authority had severed its administrative links with the province of Britannia. The kings of western Britain had developed an infrastructure, but not one to commend itself to Gildas. The kings had churches but, we are told, they rarely sort out the protocols of good judgement. They maintained household companions, the teulu or war band, bloody, proud and murderous men who plundered and terrorised and were rewarded by their spoils. One, amongst a number of these kings and tyrants, was Maelgwn, the island dragon. It is very probable that the core of Maelgwn's kingdom was the island of Anglesey, and its king 'greater in power than many, greater than most of the leaders of Britain'.

Although Gwynedd had its king, however powerful he was reputed to be, he would be the first among equals. Dynastic and territorial lordships emerged within the kingdom, based on patrimonial authority and kinship relationships. These networks within such a lordship would be considered to be a maenol. These were the institutions of power in the kingdom. As a kingdom grew, former independent territories, defined by natural boundaries such as rivers and mountain watersheds were assimilated, under the designation of a cantref, in theory, 100 settlements. By the 12th century the Anglesey cantrefi of which there were three, had been subdivided into six commotes (w. cymydau). The Penmon landscape study area occupies approximately one third of the commote of Dindaethwy. The several commotes of Gwynedd during the 12th and 13th centuries were the effective administrative units of the kingdom. A royal manor, or maerdref, had been established in each commote and this became the focus of administration and the collection or oversight of dues and renders from within the commote. The concept of the tref or rural township had become fixed, with identifiable boundaries, within which several homesteads may have been established, through division and subdivision by partible inheritance. The township and its component subdivisions, the kinship related gwelyau, were seen to be the appropriate units on which tax and renders were levied.

Tenures and tenants
In any one commote there might be several types of township and tenure. Within the landscape study area there are free townships and bond townships held by the king, and others held by the Bishop of Bangor. The royal maerdref at Llanfaes was part of the king's landed estate. It contained a large part of his demesne land in the commote and operated on manorial lines. There were, also, quasi-monastic institutions which owe nothing to the king and were considered to be held by the relevant Saint. In addition to who one's landlord was, there were distinctions in the way in which the land was held. Freeholders were free in that they could travel, or leave their land, and many had bond tenants of their own. Their land was inheritable and divisible between male heirs, a long-standing procedure which pertained into the early 16th century. Free tenants, nevertheless, dues to the Prince. Some freeholders held their land exceptionally freely, usually in respect of a grant from the Prince, as a result of special circumstances or for services rendered. Penhwnllys, Twrgarw, part of Din Sylwy, part of Bodynwy and the hamlets of Bodarddar and Cefn Coch in Crymlyn were freeholds, mostly in an extensive belt across the higher ground above the the coast from Crymlyn and Rhos Llaniestyn to the Din Sylwy limestone ridge. Trecastell, on the east coast north of Llanfaes must once have been bond land that was granted by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, along with certain other townships on Anglesey, to the sons and grandsons of Ednyfed Fychan, Llywelyn's chief administrator.

Bond land held under tir gwelyog tenure was also inheritable. The important distinctions were that bond tenants and their heirs could not leave their land and that the customary renders and dues were more onerous than those of the freeholders. Llangoed and Crafgoed were tir gwelyog bond townships in the hand of the Bishop. Whereas by the late 13th and 14th centuries, many renders had been commuted to shillings and pence, it was still possible to identify the customary basis of those cash payments. For example, measures of wheat, oats, malt at Christmas and oats at Lent were required. Everyone worked for three days mowing in the autumn and the gift of a hen was expected at Christmas. The tenants also made provision for pasturing the stewards' horses.

Another kind of bond tenure, tir cyfrif, was exceptional in the 13th century and was reserved for the Prince's demesne. Tir cyfrif (register land) tenants were tied estate workers. Occasionally, hamlets of tir cyfrif tenants were established away from the demesne and many, perhaps, had specialised functions. At Porthaethwy a handful of tenants were placed on a half-gafael of land on the shoreline to work the ferry in that location. On the uplands above Llanfaes it may be that the tir cyfrif components of Crymlyn and Bancenyn (subsequently granted to Penmon), Bodynwy and Din Sylwy, were there to manage the Prince's interest on the cattle lands of that area.

Mediaeval ploughlands
Everyone had some access to arable land but the scale of a tenant's holding could vary dramatically between bond tenure and free tenure, and one township and another. On average, the bond tenants of the Bishop of Bangor in the township of Llangoed and Crafgoed each held 6.5 acres of arable. In Llangoed there were about 300 acres of ploughland and in Crafgoed, about 100 acres. Less detailed information is available for the freeholders but, as an example, the township and maenol of Llys Dulas (outside of the present character area) occupied almost half the entire commote of Twrcelyn. In Porthamel township in Menai, in the 14th century, there were seven freeholding gwelyau of which one of the seven, the Gwely Iorwerth ap Llywarch, extended over almost 600 acres. The arable acres would be divided in long curving strips. The length and the curvature was determined by the ponderous motion of the ox team which pulls the plough. The strips varied in width and length but were generally smaller than traditional English ploughlands. In the present area strips were about six or seven metres wide. The strips were unfenced and each tenant's strips were dispersed to allow a fair share of good and bad land.


By the 15th century and, more so, by the 16th century a greater and more resilient gentry found ways of circumventing the Welsh law of inalienable patrimonies and purchased free land or acquired leases in bond land in the process of building great estates. Parcels of land were consolidated, enclosed by clawdd banks 'after Devonshire fashion'.


Medieval towns, in the modern sense, were generally unknown in the Middle Ages, in this area of North Wales, but there would be hamlets small clusters of settlement at, for example, Pentir and Caim, in the township of Penmon; perhaps a cluster of settlement near the church at Llangoed and more likely a hamlet near the seashore and the church of St Dona at mediaeval Crafgoed (Llanddona). Notwithstanding, Llanfaes, the royal maerdref of the commote of Dindaethwy, controlled the Lafan sands ferry, had regular fairs and markets, successfully encouraged seaborne trade and, during the 13th century, could be considered to be a mercantile town in the making. The establishment of a mendicant house of Franciscans on the shoreline confirms that status.

It is probable that the nucleus of Llanfaes lay close to the church, a short distance from the Llys to the south-west. 12 years after the conquest of Gwynedd, in the aftermath of Madog ap Llywelyn's rebellion, building work started on the construction of a new castle, Beaumaris, and the layout of a planned town, adjacent. Beaumaris stood 1.5 km to the south of Llanfaes. All future development of Llanfaes was suppressed and the community was removed and resettled at a purpose built location at Rhosyr in the commote of Menai. Beaumaris appropriated the seaborne trade and ferry. It received its charter in 1296 and had its own fairs and markets. During the first quarter of the 14th century over 150 burgages had been taken up in the town. Beaumaris developed into an influential nucleus of influence and trade.

Beaumaris town


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Arable agriculture has been an essential component of the rural economy since the Neolithic period. Traction ploughs are known from late prehistory and certainly during the Roman period. In the early Middle Ages ploughs were drawn by animals except in restricted circumstances of terrain or resources in which case push-ploughs were used. Gildas, the sixth century cleric, is disinclined to the use of push-ploughs where the ground was suitable for traction ploughs, although some communities would not use animals but 'prefer manual labour, dragging ploughs and plunging spades into the ground in presumption and pride'.

Direct evidence for early agriculture in the character area is sparse. There are however clusters of hut-circle settlements of Iron Age or Romano British derivation on the Penmon headland and on, or below, the limestone ridge to the south. The large hillfort, Din Sylwy, rises above the ridge at the north-west end of the character area on the Penmon limestone and may be associated with this early occupation. Quernstones found within the same general area of the hut-circles indicate arable agriculture in that locality.

Penmon hut circle

In the aftermath of the struggle against the Normans, in the first quarter of the 12th century, during the later years of the reign of Gruffudd ap Cynan, 'peace prevailed, woods were sown and planted and orchards and gardens were cultivated and enclosed with fences and ditches'.

Surveys of the 13th and 14th and 16th centuries provide more detailed information, on a royal estate, a township in the hand of the bishop, a friary and a priory. The royal manor (maerdref) of the commote of Dindaethwy at Llanfaes held 13 carucates (about 800 acres or so) within the demesne lands of the prince. These acres would have been ploughland. There was also a meadow and a garden. Llanfaes had two watermills to grind the corn and the corn of the prince's tenants in the commote, although by the 1280s one of the mills was in ruins.

Shortly after the conquest, ministers accounts were able to identify the relative yields of corn at Llanfaes. The demesne provided 250 bushels of wheat, 186 bushels of mixed grain and 1630 bushels of oats. Quantities of oats were set aside for malting and brewing beer. The capacity to put together four large plough teams, of eight oxen each, is a clear indication of the agricultural potential of Llanfaes. The area is now parkland but the broken pattern of freestanding trees, former hedges, remain to delineate the sweeping curves of open-field quillets. At Llanfaes there were tied demesne tenants in hamlets on the higher wet ground behind the maerdref. These extend from Bodgylched, through Llaniestyn to Dinsylwy. It is possible that the Prince maintained cattle ranches in this part of Dindaethwy in comparable, but not exactly similar, situations to the upland pastures, ffriddoedd or hafodydd, of the mainland.

Llangoed quillets

At Llangoed, adjacent on the north-east, the Bishop of Bangor's tenants held their land in eleven family-related groups. There were 47 families the township working a total of around 70 acres of ploughland. Wheat, oats and oat malt were the principal produce.

Penmon Priory, in addition to around 200 acres of ploughland and, in 1291, 53 cows and 44 sheep, the canons had the benefit of rabbit skins and honey. These assets were distributed, not only within the core of the Penmon demesne but over land in Bancenyn and Crymlyn townships, granted by the prince in the 13th century. It is possible that these townships, or part of them, were used for pasturing cattle on these wet lands and this regime continued in the hand of the prior.

A Franciscan priory was established on the shoreline at Llanfaes in 1138. A mendicant order 'the bare footed friars' had acquired significant adjacent lands by the eve of the dissolution, in the 1530s. In addition to cornfields, the friars had a hay close, woods and pastureland and, within or against, the precincts of the Friary, an apple orchard, a kitchen field, garden plots and a vineyard or, more prosaically, a plantation for fruit or vegetables. Among the produce and facilities within the friary buildings were a brew house and racks of cheese. The Friars also kept sheep and, from the field name, Cae Rhwyda, (the net field), an assumption that the Friars had fishing rights.

By the 15th century and, more so, by the 16th century a greater and more resilient gentry found ways of circumventing the Welsh law of inalienable patrimonies and purchased free land or acquired leases in bond land in the process of building great estates. Parcels of land were consolidated, enclosed by clawdd banks 'after Devonshire fashion'. In 1536, at the suppression of Llanfaes friary, arable fields could be described as closes, for example: 'an arable close below the brook; arable closes called Spittell fields.'

Some estates and large houses contributed significant embellishments to their properties. Farm buildings, a barn, a walled garden and a massive showpiece dovecote were installed on the Penmon demesne around 1600 following the acquisition of the property of the late Priory towards the end of the 16th century. Improvements followed by an extensive limestone wall enclosing a deer park. On the limestone ridge the Tan y Marian property of the late 17th and early 18th century included a walled garden with summerhouse, stables, agricultural sheds, a barn and, also, a large dovecot.


Lime, by the early 19th century, had become an essential commodity but by the middle of the 17th century the Revd Thomas Williams of Llansadwrn brought shell sand from Red Wharf Bay as a manure. The late 18th century was a period of improvement and the formation of agricultural societies. 'The Modern Druids of Anglesey' attempted to improve cultivation. 'Instead of assembling in the sacred groves of Menai, around massy cromlechs, they meet in a place more congenial, the inn at Beaumaris' (Davies, 1810, 462).

Walter Davies criticised certain aspects of the agricultural regime on Anglesey (as he did elsewhere). The island was 'in need of plantations and quick fences to improve the quality of soil and climate. The crops of hay and corn are continually subject to the depredations of every species of stock and the inclemency of the weather'. Nevertheless, quick-set hedges, had been a feature of the landscape on many estates, since the 16th century. Davies conceded that on the shores of the Menai, 'timber grows and quick-set hedges flourish but in more exposed parts of the vast expanse of horizon, without any interruption from woods and hedges, fatigue the observing eye' (Davies, 1810, 124).

The constraints of topography, and a range of land use, determine the scale and productivity of agriculture across the character areas. The limestone ridge, from Dinsylwy to Tyddyn Grugor and the southern re-entrant into Penhwnllys and Twr Garw were agriculturally productive in the mid-19th century. There were 25 farms in the Dinsilwy/Penhwnllys character area. Eleven of these worked 50 or more acres. Penhwnllys Mawr and Tros y Marian were the largest operations at 100 and 76 acres respectively. The 10 smallest farms averaged 14 acres. Not all land in this area was cultivable; there were extensive areas of common at Fedw Fawr, Mariandyrus and at the hill fort of Dinsylwy itself. Nevertheless, arable cultivation accounted for around 60% of the cultivable total; the remainder being meadow and pasture. Almost all of the occupation and employment of the Dinsilwy/Penhwnllys landscape character area was farming and farm labouring whether employed or by members of the family. At Ty Du the farmer and his wife had 10 children aged 1 to 19. At Penhwnllys Uchaf farm the family also had 10 children, aged 4 to 30.

Llaniestyn farms, within the landscape character area, were equally productive in the eastern part, from Rhos Llaniestyn to Bodgylched, working 64% of the cultivable land as arable. To the west, where the landscape becomes broken and rocky, the emphasis remained on pasture and meadow. These Llaniestyn farms, including the western area from Glan yr Afon to Hafotty are significantly larger than those to the north-east. The 10 largest average 183 acres. The impact of the improvement movement, however, largely operated over the eastern area of the Llaniestyn character area. This area is illustrated by the field names of the third quarter of the 18th century. These names describe moorland (Rhos, Cae'r Rhos, Rhos Isaf), meadow or plain (gwaun, gweunydd); gorsey (Cae'r Eithin); bracken, ferns (Cae Rhedyn); gravelly (Cae'r Gro), rough (Gwaun Arw); niggardly ground (Cae Crin); wet (Cae'r Gwlyb). Fields with these characteristics occupied over 500 acres of the Llaniestyn character area in the 1770s. The improvements of the following 50 years can be measured by the productivity of the mid-19th-century. The nineteenth century cropping regime, and agricultural potential of Hafoty saw no great change on the past. Of 309 acres accounted for in 1860, forty-three were under plantation. This area had yet to be planted in the 1770s and one small arable field within Rhos, 'the Moor' could once be described as Cae Rhowiog - 'of good quality'. Ninety-one acres were cropped, a comparable figure to that of the previous century, although in 1860 only forty-seven acres grew cereals, the remainder were under turnips and potatoes. With the addition of lime and sand to the fields, a second crop could be achieved. Nevertheless, only one hundred and sixty-eight of Hafotty's 264 farmed acres were under grass.

Penmon lynchets above the Church

Penmon is different. A large part, 400 acres, of the historic landscape character area is parkland, almost half of the total. Tyddyn Crwn, Tan y Fron and Hendy, ranging around the western periphery of the Deer Park, average about 40 acres each. The other properties are four or five acre smallholdings. A cluster of properties along the higher road, on the limestone ridge, to the Park wall, have coalesced into a small village at Caim. Lower down, at Pen y Fron, where there are one or two houses in the mid 19th century, a small terrace of six houses was added on the north side of the road in the late 19th century. A terrace of four houses were built on the north and a further 12 houses on the south side of the road to Pen y Fron, around the turn of the century. This small concentration of houses was later to be called Penmon village.

Penmon continued to be predominantly rural and agricultural but, this character area displayed a more varied range of occupations. Farm labouring remained the staple, together with the essential tailors and dressmakers. In addition there were limestone quarry men, dispersed in houses on the flank of the Park. There were also fishmongers, seamen, signalmen on Puffin Island and Trinity pilots and light keepers at Trwyn Du.

Llanfaes, similarly, encompassed a large area of parkland. Agricultural land was in the minority. The main farms in the character area were Llanfaes farm (70 acres), Tyddyn y Gwynt (47 acres) and Cichle (20 acres). Concentrations of single-storey cottages occur at Ty'n Lôn, on the coastal road to Llangoed and around St Catherine's church. The 10 Ty'n Lôn cottages were all occupied by agricultural labourers in the 1840s. The tenants of the cluster of cottages around Llanfaes church had more diverse occupations: shoemakers, seamstresses, dressmakers a dairy maid, land bailiff, charwoman and labourers, reflecting the needs of the nearby Henllys Hall.


The Llangoed character area is considerably less extensive than the adjacent Llaniestyn/Dinsylwy area. Nevertheless, 22 farms operated there. The farms where relatively small, though. Tros y Gors (50 acres) and Wern(47 acres) were the largest. The 10 biggest averaged 26 acres. The remaining farms averaged five acres. Llangoed, in the first half of the 19th century was beginning to grow as a village, still rather dispersed on the road coming up from Llanfaes. The properties bore names which reveal their origins: Ty Pridd (earth walled house); Ty'n Llain (the cottage in the quillet); Ty Newydd (the new house). A smithy stood on the south side of the stream, at the ford of the Afon Lleiniog. A cluster of three or four houses stood on the northern side. By the 1880s the quillets on the western side of the road, south of the stream, were occupied by houses from the smithy to the Baptist chapel at the south end.

Llanddona, old and new

The present agricultural landscape bears little relationship to that of the middle ages. Estate maps display the pattern and, furthermore by the late 17th century these maps can be seen to have been altered in the process of rationalising irregular closes into larger units. Enclosure banks and hedges which often followed curving lines of arable open fields were, in many cases, removed in the early 19th century to be further consolidated into large fields bounded by ruler straight lines. Nevertheless, it is still possible, in restricted areas, to identify an earlier pattern of former open arable fields in banks and hedge lines. Examples may be found on the west side of the village of Llangoed; on the north side of Llangoed church where, on sloping ground agricultural terraces, 6 to 7 m wide and over 100 m along have been encroached upon on the east side by the gardens of terraced houses; on the north-east and west side of the ancient village of Llanddona, on the coastline of Red wharf Bay.


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Building History

Apart from relict structures of the late IronAge and Romano British centuries, of which good examples of hut circle settlements and the large hillfort, Din Sylwy, may be found on the limestone ridge, no buildings have survived to be recorded before the early 12th century.

Nevertheless, competence in working stone is demonstrable at Penmon where high crosses of the 10th or 11th centuries once stood outside a contemporary church. The significance of the crosses in a liturgical context is great, but there are more prosaic considerations which also lend significance. The Deer Park, or 'St Anthony' cross stands 2.77 m tall, including the pedestal and cross head. All four sides of the square sectioned shaft are decorated. Curvilinear interlace, transforming into fret patterns, occupied both left and right sides of the cross; three-strand on the left, two-strand on the right. There is a small figural scene at the base of the left panel. On the back of the shaft a double-strand rectilinear fret pattern morphs into a Borre style ring-chain. On the front the decoration is different again. There are five panels of decoration, enclosed within panels or separated by broad bands of tramline and pellet motifs. The sequence from top to bottom runs: ribbon interlace; tramline-and-pellet divider; ribbon interlace; figural scene; ribbon interlace; tramline-and-pellet divider; figural scene. The central figural scene depicts St Anthony in the Desert, tempted by two demons, one on either side. This motif is clearly monastic, perhaps eremitical and finds very close parallels in Irish high cross iconography. Moone and Castledermot, both in county Kildare, are good examples.

The cross which now stands in the south transept is almost exclusively geometric and rectilinear in its decorative style. The exceptions are two animal heads terminating fret patterns on the sides of the cross. The cross head, which is of one piece with the shaft, encloses an equal armed cross within a circle. The axes of this cross are projected beyond the circle as short, expanded, protrusions. The stone for this cross, and for two lost crosses, recorded by Lhwyd, has almost certainly been quarried locally, from the outcrop between the priory and Penmon Point. The St Anthony cross is exceptionally eclectic in incorporating Viking Irish and Manx style (Borre ring-chain), Irish monastic (figural panels, in particular, St Anthony) and regional Welsh (interlace patterns). The cross head on the south transept cross finds parallels eastward along the North Wales coast at Maen Achwyfan and, as grave markers, at St John's Chester. In other words, the Penmon headland was in receipt of, and shared, influences from all areas of the Irish Sea basin in the 10th century.

Penmon also provides the earliest standing building within the landscape area. The ancient church was replaced in the 12th century, if not earlier. The current interpretation suggests that the present nave is the earliest surviving component, against which a tower and transepts were built at its east end. There are, however, several difficulties with this sequence. It is, perhaps, more likely that an earlier church (unicameral nave and chancel) stood in the position of the present chancel and that the tower was added at its west end. This is the more usual position and is reflected in the arrangements at Llaneilian. The present nave could then be seen to be an addition, abutting the west side of the tower, a solution which, in large part, reconciles the anomalies of the junction of nave and tower. Finally, transepts were added north and south, to the walls of the nave, and not the tower. The arched opening from nave to tower and from tower to transepts are highly decorated with Romanesque ornament including roll moulding, chevrons and chequerboard billets. The western arch, in two orders, is supported by columns carrying figural decoration and chamfered imposts. The south arch (the north transept was replaced in the 1850s) is supported by columns carrying scalloped capitals and chamfered imposts. Blind arcades extend along two sides of the south transept. Penmon church is the most highly decorated Romanesque church in north-west Wales.

Within the landscape area there are indications of early origins at Llaniestyn and Llangoed. At Llaniestyn there is a round arched doorway, the arch carried on imposts, built into the west wall of the later church and a Romanesque font of chequerboard, arcading and chevron designs. At Llangoed, the earliest surviving fabric is of the 16th century but a 12th century inscribed cross with spirals and a 14th century font is kept within the church.

During the early 13th century radical changes were made to the organisation of the Penmon monastic community. The old clas was suppressed and was replaced by a community of Augustinian canons. At the same time, grants of additional land were made and it is probable that the transition was accompanied by new building works. An extended chancel replaced the earlier one and, to the south of the chancel, a massive refectory and dormitory block was built. This building has been described as one of the best surviving structures of the 13th century on Anglesey. It is terraced into the slope and rises through three storeys, 12 m high, comprising a store room, a refectory and an attic dormitory. The storeroom is accessed through a single door on the south side at ground level. The rising ground on the north side, however, is level with the storeroom roof, making the storeroom semi-subterranean. The lower walls on the south and east sides have a very pronounced batter. There are two windows at storeroom level on the south side, both with wide, splays, inside and out, with a severe constriction midway through the opening.

The first floor level served as a refectory. This floor was reached from the south side by an external stair to a door near the west end of the south side. The stair no longer exists and the door is blocked. There is an opposing door on the north side which led to the cloister space and the chancel of the church. The refectory was lit by five tall, narrow, windows in the south wall and two in the west wall, all splayed on the inside. The attic dormitory was lit by smaller, narrower windows in the south and east sides and by a large tall lancet with a hood mould on the west side. The stone work is of coursed limestone rubble with some gritstone. As with the crosses, the stones were quarried locally and almost certainly within the core of lands of the Priory. Finer gritstone is also used for the dressings.

Beaumaris church is very different to the traditional churches of the landscape area. It is a large church in an English style. The church was petitioned for, soon after the foundation of the town in 1296, to overcome the inconvenience of travelling to the parish church Llandegfan. Building work began very early in the 14th century, comprising a west tower, nave and two side aisles and a chancel. The aisles are accessed through arcades of four, two-centred arches. The round clerestorey windows of quatrefoil openings are original; those on the north side are 17th century replacements. The upper part of the tower was remodelled in the 19th century. The chancel was rebuilt around 1500 and the pitch of the roof of the nave and aisles was altered at about the same time and surmounted by a battlemented parapet. Windows at the east end of each aisle and in the transept are 16th century, four-centred arched windows in perpendicular style, largely restored. There are important monuments in the church, which include a brass of Richard Bulkeley, merchant, his wife Elizabeth and family, of around 1530; a tomb of Rowland Bulkeley and Alice Beaconsall (1537) and a sarcophagus, reputed to be that of Joan, wife of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, (1237) removed, ultimately, from Llanfaes.

Llaniestyn has an exceptional late 14th century, low relief effigy of St Iestyn, which now stands with in the 15th century south chapel. The door on the south side of the nave has an elliptical arch within a square frame with the sunken spandrels of the late 15th century or early 16th century date. Llanddona, although rebuilt in 1873, has retained its late 15th century door, of similar style to Llaniestyn.

The earliest surviving secular building in the landscape area, as far as can be judged, is Hafotty, Llansadwrn. The house was designed as a hall, open to the roof, with a central hearth and cross-passage on the eastern side. Beyond the cross-passage, an eastern wing accommodated service rooms on the ground floor and a private room, or rooms, on the first floor. The house is documented in 1453 in the hand of Thomas Norreys, a West Derby, Lancashire, man who had already established himself in Beaumaris in the 1430s. Hafotty is a rare survival, in this area, of a timber framed hall. The house was a revamped later in the 15th century and clad with stone, preserving evidence for timber wall-posts and demonstrating the transition from timber to stone (uncoursed local rubble). The roof trusses, in the hall and east wing, are tie- beam and king-post types. The surviving hall truss has arched braces springing from the residual wall posts with quarter -round moulding on the underside of the braces and tie-beam. These features and the style of the trusses are uncommon, if not absent, on Anglesey but are more frequently to be found in north-east Wales, the Dee Valley and Lancashire. The possibility remains that the timber framed Hafotty of the mid-15th century is an intrusive style and a product of the influx of settlers in Beaumaris in the 15th century.

At the end of the 15th century or, perhaps, during the early 16th century, a stone built wing was added, or replaced a structure at the west end of the hall at Hafotty. The first floor was roofed by three large collar-beam trusses and heated by a lateral fireplace with external stack. In 1511 the house was acquired by the Bulkeley family who inserted a monumental fireplace in the south wall of the hall, accommodated by a massive external stack and a tall chimney shaft, set diagonally. The earliest lateral fireplaces with external chimney stacks in north-west Wales were built during the last quarter of the 15th century, at Cochwillan, Llanllechid, and Plas Berw, Llanidan. Another possible early fireplace and stack is represented by the southern chimney stack on the west wall of the Prior's House Penmon and, at a smaller scale, on the north wall of the warming house at Penmon. Both structures are likely to have been built in the early 16th century, perhaps as a continuation of building works at the church in the late 15th century.

In Beaumaris, the evidence for timber-framed or half-timbered houses is evident at no. 32 Castle Street (the Tudor Rose) at which, part of the hall and south wing of a 15/16th century building survives. Directly across Church Street is number 34 Castle Street, where collar-beam trusses with raking struts, through-purlins, wind-braces and wattle-panelled infill survives. Both number 32 and number 34 carry Tudor Rose bosses under their respective collars.

Tros y Gors, Llangoed, has been identified as having timber-framed origins, subsequently encased in stone. The surviving element, of possible 15th century date, is the north wing of a lost hall. The wing itself was jettied and a two-light pointed arch window survives.

Hen Blas, Beaumaris, demolished in 1869, was a large winged hall and the sometime home of the Bulkeley family, on Church Street. In its original 15th century manifestation the hall was open to the roof, supported by collar- beam trusses and later ceiled at collar height. A spere truss was used in the east wing and a lateral fireplace inserted at first floor level.

The recent discovery, during development, of significant features within a townhouse on Castle Street highlights a transitional phase from sub- medieval to the introduction of Renaissance styling. The house, on two floors and an attic, retains the layout of a medieval hall, cross-passage and private and service rooms in five bays, with the ceiling beams signalling the status of the separate rooms. The north (back) wall has lateral fireplaces on two floors, served by a massive external stack which rises to the roofline. Both end walls have fireplaces with flues within the thickness of the wall. The chimney stacks are on the apex of both gables, the shafts on the western gable are set diagonally.

The modernising features include false four-centred fireplaces on the first floor and a similar fireplace with a projecting head carried on quarter- round corbels. More particularly, a large external stair tower was added against the north (back) wall and abutting or, just perhaps, integral with the stack. There are two ovolo-moulded mullioned windows, one in stone, the other wood; and a third, similar wooden window in a private room on the first floor.

At about the time when ovolo- moulded stone-mullioned windows were inserted in number 10 Castle Street a new house was erected adjacent to Hen Blas on Church Street. The building no longer survives, but 19th century illustrations of the site show a two-storey and attic house with what appears to be a stair tower on the front corner. The facade is shown with a pedimented door and a full complement of mullion and transomed windows, surmounted by pediments.

In 1612 a new mansion was built at Baron Hill to replace the complex on Church Street. The detail of the first house at Baron Hill is largely lost to us. One stone- mullioned window of the early 17th century house is reported to have survived. The house was remodelled in Italianate style in the 1770s with the insertion, among other modifications, of a tall semicircular bowed frontage on three storeys and an attic. A fire in the 1830s required further rebuilding and the reduction of the facade to two storeys. A particular feature of Baron Hill in the 18th and 19th and early 20th century was the extensive gardens and the landscape setting

On the limestone ridge Tros y Marian is a particularly important house of the late 17th century. It has been described as a double- pile gentry house of that period. However, there are a number of indications, not least the straight- joint abutment of north and south ranges, which suggests that the northern rear range was added later and that the south front range comprised a central hall, entered from the south, flanked by rooms west and east, through the full width of the building, with stairs at the back. As such it may be seen in sequence with other major Anglesey houses of which Plas Berw (Thomas Holland's 1615 house) and, later, Mynachdy, Llanfairynghornwy.

Tros y Marian is of two stories with an attic. The facade rises as a gable above the eaves and above the centrally disposed front entrance. The door has a projecting classical eared architrave and cavetto cornice surmounted by a pediment with cyma reversa moulding. There is a blank window, for balance, and a blanked niche below the apex of the gable directly above the door on the first and attic storeys. There are symmetrically disposed windows on both floors, three above three on either side of the door. These were occupied by hornless sashes (three over three pairs, in each of two sashes) although most of the ground floor openings had been reduced in height by one pane. These openings have now been reinstated. The gables are of local random rubble (mostly limestone). The facade, however, is of coursed limestone with string courses of fine gritstone at lintel level on both floors. The facade opens onto a long walled garden, at the end of which is a classically ornamented summerhouse. The outbuildings include a barn and stable of the late 17th and early 18th century and a large contemporary dovecote, now roofless.

Eirianallt, 525 metres to the south-west of Tros y Marian, is of broadly the same period but in a considerably more vernacular style. The entrance is central to the main (south- east) facade and was originally built as one and a half stories with a probable dormers. A barn stands adjacent, in line with the house. The eaves were subsequently raised to create a full two-storey cottage. There are three windows in the first floor and two, one either side, of the door on the ground floor. Original openings in the ground floor has been reduced to accommodate narrower sliding sash windows beneath large projecting drip stones. The square jambs and part of a lintel is still visible. The doorway is reduced in height beneath a comparable drip stone. The fabric of the building is limestone rubble but gritstone is used for the original window jambs and door. The door and window jambs are chamfered.

The best evidence of diversity of later buildings is to be found in and around Beaumaris. Wexham Street has a particular character of its own, on the old post road out of Beaumaris. The Old Post Office stands alongside the road which includes predominantly single-storey and one and-a-half storey cottages of late 18th or early 19th century date. The post office is dormered with a central gable facade and a central door framed by fluted pilasters, supporting a pediment.

At Tros yr Afon, at the south-west end of Beaumaris there is a cluster of buildings which have coalesced into a terrace of four, early 19th century, two-storey houses, with rendered fronts and symmetrical window and door openings. The group is particularly attractive, not less for the slight variations in scale and roof pitch and the profusion of oriel windows, particularly on no. 1 at the north-east end. Similar oriel windows are to be found on Castle Street, Church Street and Castle Square, where the fashion would seem to date from the mid-nineteenth century.

In 1829 the Corporation of Beaumaris undertook building works to enhance the appearance and image of the town. The terrace at Green Edge comprises six three-storey houses with a news and billiard room (now the Anglesey Yacht Club) at the eastern end. The facade looks towards the Green and the Straits. The central pair of houses are capped by a pedimented gable and fronted on the ground floor, by a slate roofed verandah.

Joseph Hansom built the Beaumaris gaol In 1829 he went on to build Victoria Terrace, adjacent to Green Edge on the south-west side, in the early 1830s. The name was suggested after a visit to Beaumaris by Princess Victoria. The terrace comprises ten houses on three stories and an attic. The classical facade faces the Straits. A central block projects from the frontage and rises a little above the flanking eaves, whereby a row of five pilasters support a plain architrave, cornice and gabled pediment. The window and door openings are completely symmetrical except for the projecting block which has taller pedimented windows on the first floor. The whole is faced with limestone ashlar with the exception of a restrained rusticated effect at the ground floor level of the central block. Joseph Hansom also built the Bulkeley hotel, in a similar classical style with echoes of Victoria Terrace (rusticated blocks on the ground floor, smooth limestone ashlar above). The main frontage here faces Castle Street, although the rear face is clearly visible from the Straits. The openings are symmetrical, the first floor windows are pedimented. The Castle Street entrance is approached up steps, through a slightly incongruous classically derived porch and balcony. The hotel was once styled the Williams Bulkeley Hotel, but has long been known as the Bulkeley.

During the mid-nineteenth century, several properties on either side of the line of the old town wall on the south side of Watergate Street and Castle Street, were demolished and replaced by new housing on land partly reclaimed from the sea. Newly laid-out roads, Alma Street and Raglan Street and, between them Bulkeley Terrace, faced Castle Street. By the 1850s the Straits frontage had been almost entirely transformed by Bulkeley ventures and Joseph Hansom's inspiration.

At the west end, between the Chapel Street and Castle Street, buildings were replaced as were houses in the Townsend row. Porth Hir, a potentially 17th century house, has retained a local character, notwithstanding recent major repairs.


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Roads and communication

Transport and communication must always have been difficult across the Penmon landscape area. The network of lanes and farm tracks developed to serve very local interests and to a large extent, these lanes remain the basis of travel within the area to the present day. The exception is Beaumaris and its precursor, Llanfaes, which has been, for centuries, the hub of communications in the region.

Ffordd Deg, near Sling

Local roads
An indication of some of the inconveniences and difficulties is provided by the petition of the burgesses of Beaumaris in the early 14th century (Carr, 1982, 240). They claimed that, as their church was at Llandegfan, 4.5 km away, they were unable to travel in conditions of bad weather and asked for their own church. As late as 1802 the Skinner brothers, walking from Llaniestyn church to visit the 'old mansion' of Hafotty, found themselves walking a mile and a half across a swampy heath. Both the Skinners and Colt Hoare visited Llanddona and Din Sylwy between 1802 and 1810 and chose to take the route across the sands of Red Wharf Bay rather than any landward route.

At Penmon, two tracks converge on the Priory Church and its clas antecedent. One from the village of Pentir on the limestone ridge and another to the south, at the base of the scarp, from the vicinity of Bryn Mawr. Both routes were signposted by 10th/11th century crosses and both stood at important boundaries: the township boundary at Brynmawr and the boundary of the sanctuary (noddfa) at Pentir.

At the local level, additional roads or road improvements were generated by special circumstances or to facilitate the particular interests of landowners. At Llanfaes arrangements were made in the late 19th century, between Baron Hill and Henllys, to exchange parcels of land and to rationalise and improve the access to the parish church of Llanfaes, at the same time creating a greater degree of privacy for Henllys and for the smaller estate of Fryars. The estate maps of Baron Hill, drawn up in the 1770s, show several pencilled annotations towards better access to the farm lands.

On the limestone ridge in 1816 there were a number of lanes or tracks which ran perpendicular to the steep sided northern shoreline. Each one provides access to a limestone quarry. Where possible, seaborne transport would be the most efficient and convenient method of carriage. Thomas Telford and William Provis walked the coastline in 1818, as far as the Point and beyond, to source a suitable rock for building the Menai Suspension Bridge. Telford's quarry, on the coast below Mariandyrys had no vehicular access: docks were quarried, short tracks of rail were laid, on the flattened rock and boats sailed the limestone into the Straits on the tide. Three centuries earlier, following the suppression of Llanfaes Friary, Richard Kerver, Master of the King's works, took seven boatloads of stone from the Friary to the quay at Beaumaris.

Roads focusing on Beaumaris.
In 1804 to 1805 a new road was built from Beaumaris to just above Bangor ferry, that is, the George-Porth y Wrach Ferry at Porthaethwy. The road was terraced into the steep slope down to the Straits and provided with a parapet wall on the south side. The road was paid for by Lord Bulkeley, to accommodate visitors and guests to Baron Hill and to the town. A later spur, just to the east of the Garth-Borth Wen (Gazelle) ferry, took private traffic past Garth Lodge, off the new Beaumaris Road along a lengthy but direct, drive into Baron Hill, bridging Allt Goch, the western arterial road out of Beaumaris. The route, along the Llandegfan Ridge, past Llandegfan church, was also later improved, especially at the north-east end where the Mile Road joined Allt Goch.

Beaumaris, for a long time, accommodated the post office and post-road en-route between London, Holyhead and Dublin. The Beaumaris ferry brought travellers to Beaumaris from the mainland and the post-road took their riders up Church Street, on through Wexham Street, up Allt Goch, past Pen y Garnedd and on to Llangefni and Holyhead. In 1718 the post office was moved to Bangor and the road lost its status as a Post-Road.

There are two other arterial roads which are important in this area. The first, and earliest, is the ancient route from the 13th century maerdref of Llanfaes, into the commote of Menai and on to the maerdref of Rhosyr, at what became Newborough. The road is difficult to trace, is lost and disjointed in places, but may be pieced together from early map evidence. The road climbs a hill through the woodland of Coed Cadw, from the south-western side of Henllys. It picks up the Llansadwrn road, on to Treffos, Penhesgyn, Llanddaniel and along the north side of the Braint to Rhosyr. The second is Ffordd Deg, a spur from Allt Coch, which continues in a north-westerly direction, providing access to farmland, towards Llanddona Common, before dropping down to the shoreline at Red Wharf Bay

A more local, but no less important road historically, is the ancient Henllys Lane. Its origin is the same as the Henllys road to Rhosyr. Henllys Lane, however, delineates the route to and from the 13th century Llanfaes ferry (at the site which became Beaumaris Green) before the ferry crossing was appropriated by Beaumaris.

The Llanfaes and Beaumaris Ferry
The Llanfaes ferry is attested in documentary sources from 1292, nine years after the conquest of Gwynedd. The ferry (passagium) was worth £12 to the king and there were rent charges on the burgages of the ferrymen, expressed in the following terms: 'from five ferrymen of the port who owe ferrying work in the King's boat at their own charge, for 1 carucate and 2 bovates of land which they hold: 15s.8d.'

These five ferrymen worked the ferry at their own expense as part of the commuted rent they paid for the tenements they held. The king paid the cost of providing the boat and it seems clear that these ferrymen were tied estate workers, albeit specialised, on the demesne of the former Prince. There is good reason to suppose that the Llanfaes ferry plied from the southern end of Llanfaes township where the 'Green' now stands at Beaumaris, some distance from the anchorage in Friars' Bay. Despite the growth of Beaumaris after 1295 and the demise of Llanfaes, the ferry was still referred to as the Llanfaes ferry until the end of 1302. From 1303 the ferry was accounted for with the demesne of Beaumaris and held by the community of the town until 1562 when it passed to the burgesses in perpetuity.

Gallows point
and the channel near Beaumaris

Late, maps show the course of the route or routes across the Lavan Sands to Beaumaris. Greenville Collins' Coasting Pilot of 1693 and John Ogilby's route maps surveyed earlier than 1675, are among the most informative. Ogilby and Collins both show that travellers departed from the landward route and took to the sands as early as Penmaenbach, rather than face the rigours of negotiating the headlands of Penmaenbach and Penmaenmawr. Travellers from Conwy would cross the salt marsh and dunes of Conwy Morfa, seaward of Conwy mountain as far as Penmaenbach before venturing onto the tidal sands, keeping close to the shore until Penmaenmawr. If the sands were dry, travellers continued along the beach, skirting Penmaenmawr. If the tide was in, a route out of Conwy to Dwygyfylchi could be taken, south of Conwy mountain and through the pass at Sychnant and on to Penmaenmawr where the road rose up to round the headland. This route was notoriously dangerous, particularly in bad weather. Beyond Penmaenmawr the route branched out across the open sands to within shouting distance of Beaumaris. The deep channel at Beaumaris was never dry. Ogilby shows the point of arrival on Anglesey at Beaumaris. The road out follows Church Street and west in the direction of Llansadwrn. John Evans, a century later, shows the same point of departure from the mainland at the west end of Penmaenmawr headland. By this time, however, there had been some considerable improvements in the roads between Conwy and Bangor.

At the time of Collins and Ogilby's surveys, a point of departure across the sands from Penmaenmawr was regularly frequented. The crossing could be dangerous, though, in fog and bad weather, and of course, when the tide was in. In which event Ogilby notes that the traveller 'must go by Bangor'. A Postmaster was installed at Beaumaris in 1562, and in 1620 and again four years later the postmaster, Rowland ap Robert, petitioned for mileposts and intermediate stakes to be set in the sands to mark the route (Davies, 1942, 111). Around 1690 the location of the ferry was moved from the Green to Gallows Point (anciently Penrhyn Safnes (Penryn Savynast) John Leland c.1540) or, alternatively, Osmund's Aire (Baron Hill MS. ). The reason for the change of location was probably the result of changes in the channel and in the sands themselves. The channel at the Point is a little narrower and steeper than at the Green and the sands, a little higher, are drier longer.


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The Rise of the Gentry

Traditionally, and in an ancient past, a Welsh uchelwr, or nobleman's, status was determined by his good name and lineage, whereas, in theory, an Anglo-Saxon's status was determined by his hides of land and an Irishman by his cattle. In a Welsh context, freehold land could not be alienated, other than in exceptional conditions, and the process of partible inheritance ensured the fragmentation of larger into smaller units. Even so, patriarchal and patrimonial lords carried significant influence over kinship-related settlement and their lands. These clan-lands could be extensive. The township or maenol of Porthamel occupied half of the commote of Menai, for example. The commote of Twrcelyn was dominated by the freeholding maenolau of Llys Dulas and Bodafon. The north-western part of the commote of Dindaethwy, bordered by the River Nodwydd was an exclusive preserve of the freeholders. In the Penmon landscape area there are two freeholding townships, Penhwnllys and Twrgarw. In 1352 there was one free gwely in Penhwnllys, called Gwely Tudur ap Madog. There are now four farms bearing the name Penhwnllys, in close proximity, indicating a consolidation of former fragmented holdings in the township, and giving an indication of its extent. To the south lies Twrgarw. This township once, also, had a single gwely by the name of Tudur ap Madog. The two townships shared the same mill, Melin Tudur, and it is likely that the progeny of Tudur once extended over both townships. Dafydd ap Rhys (grandson of Tudur ap Madog, the gwely founder) had land in both townships and Gwilym ap Gruffydd of Llaniestyn was his co-heir in Penhwnllys. This family stemmed from the patrimonial lord, Iarddur, in Llanddyfnan and Penhesgyn, one of the leading kindreds on Anglesey.

Gruffydd ap Tudur ap Madog's daughter, Eva, married Gwilym ap Gruffydd ap Heilyn in the mid-14th century. Earlier in the century Gwilym ap Gruffydd ap Tudur ap Madog had lands in Llaniestyn released to him. Those lands and others to came into the possession of Eva's son Gruffydd ap Gwilym ap Gruffydd. His son, Gwilym, married Jonet, daughter of Sir William Stanley. Lands on the mainland which had accrued in the previous generation through Eva' s marriage and from Generys, Gruffydd ap Gwilym's wife, were soon to become the nucleus of the Gruffydds' Penrhyn estate in Cororion and Bodfaeo (Glyn Roberts, DMB, Grifith of Penrhyn).

Gwilym's brother, Robin, had Cochwillan and Robin's grandson, William Griffith was appointed Sheriff of Caernarfon for life after bringing a troop of horse to Bosworth in support of Henry VII in 1485. Gwilym and Jonet's son, William inherited his father's estate and was appointed Chamberlain of North Wales. William's son and grandson were both knighted and both held the position of Chamberlain in succession. The inheritance of large areas of land in Dindaethwy in the mid-14th century, together with holdings in Cororion and Bodfaeo on the mainland, ensured that the Gruffydd dynasty maintained a significant and influential landed interest on both sides of the Straits during the 15th century. The late 16th century saw the apogee of the Penrhyn Griffiths' dynasty, after which came decline . Nevertheless, these circumstances illustrate some of the processes and actions which contribute to the rise of certain families. These include membership of ancient and respected kindreds, judicious marriages and rewards for services rendered.

A particularly important and early example of estate building inconsequence of services rendered is to be seen at Trecastell . It is probable that in the early 13th century, Trecastell was a component of the Prince's bond holdings in the commote of Dindaethwy. In return for faithful service as Llywelyn ap Iorwerth's chief administrator, several townships in Gwynedd were granted, freely, to Ednyfed Fychan and his heirs. Trecastell was one of these. The township was initially in the hand ofGoronwy son of Ednyfed and passed through the generations of that line. In the 14th century Tudur Fychan maintained Trecastell as his principal residence. Trecastell had been granted the exceptional privilege of holding its own court. In a succession of later marriages Tudur's grandson, Ieuan Fychan, married Angharad, an heiress of Mostyn, taking Trecastell into the Mostyn dynasty in the first half of the 15th century.

At about the time when the Penrhyn estate on the mainland was becoming established in the 15th century, Elin, daughter of William ap Gruffydd and Jonet Stanley, married William Bulkeley, around 1440. William was Constable of Beaumaris Castle and about to become the originator of the most powerful and influential family within the commote of Dindaethwy, if not North Wales. The Bulkeley's were not the first, or the last, incomers from Lancashire, Cheshire and further afield, attracted to the Anglicised mercantile Borough of Beaumaris. Administrative office accrued status and power, but land was most important. The very many deeds collected in the Baron Hill archives catalogue the assiduous and successful pursuit of property. Very soon after the arrival of William Bulkeley, his son married Alice, the daughter of Bartholomew Bold and she brought with her extensive lands on the mainland in Arllechwedd.

During the 15th century following the suppression of religious houses, opportunities arose for the acquisition of leases in monastic land. The Bulkeley family claimed to have had a long-standing interest in Penmon, as stewards of the place, and petitioned Thomas Cromwell for the farm of the Priory. Eventually, in 1565, Sir Richard Bulkeley 2nd, acquired the prior's house, the conventual Buildings, the island and the land. By the end of the century, works on the Prior's House, including an external chimney stack, a showcase dovecote, agricultural buildings and, later, an extensive limestone wall to enclose a Deer Park, thereby creating a small gentrified estate on the tip of Dindaethwy.


At Llanfaes, the land and buildings of the Franciscan friary were granted to Elis Wynne in 1563. Shortly after, Richard Whyte, High Sheriff of Anglesey in 1567 to 1568, acquired the lease and, in 1623 Roland White son of Richard, and Constable of Caernarfon Castle, built a house on the site among certain of the ruins of the former Friary. His son, Henry, married Anne Daughter of Sir Richard Bulkeley in the early 17th century and his grandson, another Henry, rebuilt Fryars in 1693. The grounds were extended westward around 1800 to maintain a degree of privacy and a new house, on the site of the old, was rebuilt, in Bulkeley hands, in 1866

William Hampton came to Beaumaris, not long after William Bulkeley. Hampton acquired lands in Llanfaes, including Henllys 'the old llys' at the core of the maerdref at Llanfaes. Here a mansion house was established, with its demesne on an important traditional site and more or less on the doorstep of Baron Hill. The Hall was rebuilt in 1852. Sir Richard Bulkeley 3rd built the first mansion at Baron Hill in 1618, rebuilt it in the 1770s and again in the 1830s and 40s, with terraces and gardens. The approach road from Garth Lodge off the Menai Bridge to Beaumaris Road was once a long and picturesque drive via an ornamental bridge over Allt Goch. On the ridge above Coed Cadw and between Baron Hill and Henllys, there is a memorial obelisk of 1880, 28 m tall. Together, Baron Hill and Henllys, display a continuous gentry landscape across the western flank of Beaumaris and Llanfaes.

The impact of large estates can be seen particularly in the town of Beaumaris where the Bulkeley influence in the early to mid 19th century may be seen to positive effect on Castle Street and the Straits frontage. Green Edge, to the seaward of the castle and courthouse, had been built by the Corporation of Beaumaris in 1829. That development was accompanied to the south-west in a grander, almost monumental, classical style at Victoria Terrace. Further along the shore is the Williams Bulkeley hotel, again a classical facade of 1835 although this facing Castle Street rather than the Straits. A few years later, a new development of the 1850s was built at the south end of Castle Street comprising Alma Street, Raglan Street and Bulkeley Terrace.

By the mid-nineteenth century, across all the parishes which touch on the landscape area, Sir Richard Bulkeley Williams Bulkeley held by far the greatest extent of land, holding 2500 acres in the parishes of Penmon, Llansadwrn, Llanfaes, Llaniestyn and Llangoed. He once also held land in Din Sylwy in the 16th and 17th centuries too, but had transferred it by the 19th century. No representatives of the ancient noble kindreds, so powerful in the middle ages, surfaced or survived to establish a significant landed interest into the modern period. That is not to say that the Bulkeley family were newcomers, having been established in Dindaethwy for four centuries. The same claim could be made for the Hamptons of Henllys. The Beaumaris axis was, and continued to be, the dominant and controlling interest within the landscape area.


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Monastic Landscapes

Although the kings and princes of Gwynedd were benefactors of religious houses and might use the services of their personnel, monasteries stood outside the orbit of royal administration and taxation. This applied to the ancient clas communities, as it did the pan- European orders of the 13th century: on Anglesey, the Cistercians, Augustinians and the mendicant orders represented by the Franciscans.

Clas communities were a feature of the earlier Middle Ages. The nature of their monasticism could vary widely. One way in which a class came into being, involved an agreement among the leaders of the community to donate their land, or parts of it, for the purpose of building and maintaining a church, and for the good of their soul. Although the community were regarded as claswyr (the members of the clas) there need only be one ordained priest in the community and the patrimonial head would acquire the title of abbot. An alternative process could involve a grant of land from a king or a lord with the intention that a church be built and a benefice created, for a younger member of the royal family, perhaps, or some favoured individual. The lands could be extensive and infrastructural support would be provided by an existing bond tenant community.

The catalyst for the creation of a church and its clas community, other than 'the good of their souls' might be the pre-existence of a natural holy place, such as a well, or a shrine or the grave of a recognised holy man or revered ancestor. Within the context of the present landscape study, Penmon provides the best example. There are churches on the mainland at Penmon and on the island, Ynys Lannog. The island, and the holy well close to the mainland church, may, both, have retained a numinous quality from a prehistoric pagan past. Tenth or eleventh century stone crosses stood outside the church and at least two are documented to have stood on, or close to, the important boundaries of the monastic lands. The bond tenants, it would seem, occupied hamlets on the western periphery of the 'noddfa' (sanctuary).

Both churches were remodelled in the 12th century, in stages, to a similar plan which, in their completed form, comprised an eastern chancel, central tower, western nave and north and south transepts. The openings from the nave to the tower and from the tower to the transepts were elaborately decorated in Romanesque style.

In the late 1230s a Franciscan friary was established at Llanfaes, at the expense of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, in memory of his wife Joan, daughter of King John. The friary stood on the shoreline, at the north-eastern limit of the township, within easy reach of the probable nucleus of the maerdref community close to Llanfaes church. Llanfaes was rapidly developing as a mercantile town and the choice of a mendicant order was clearly related to that circumstance. The friary, during its 300 year life, was enclosed within a stone wall. The documented buildings include the friary church, a hall, a kitchen, a brewhouse, various outbuildings and a yard with carts. The friary also owned certain closes of land near the precinct. A clafdy or leper house stood nearby and was also, probably, in the hand of the friars.

At about the time the Franciscans were invited to settle on the maerdref of Llanfaes, changes were being made to the old clas structure. The claswyr of Penmon were replaced by a community of Augustinian canons. Augustinians were often chosen to replace old clas communities as this particular order was not a closed orders and the flexibility of their rule allowed them to take on parochial responsibilities. During the third quarter of the 13th century major building works were initiated which included a new enlarged chancel and a three-storey refectory and dormitory block. Rights in the abadaeth of Penmon were confirmed and additional land was granted on the elevated plateau above the Llanfaes at Crymlyn and Bancenyn.

In 1537 and 1538 Penmon Priory and Llanfair's friary were suppressed, together with every other religious house in England and Wales. In 1539 Thomas Bulkeley of Beaumaris acquired the lease of Llanfaes friary. Boatloads of good building stone were removed from the site and for use in Beaumaris. Subsequently the lease transferred to the Whyte family who built the first secular house on the friary site. Part of the friary church survived into the 19th century, in use as a barn. By the 1860s the remainder of the church had been removed and a new mansion was built on Rowland Whyte's old house, by which time in the land was back in Bulkeley hands. During the 20th century, the entire site was redeveloped as an engineering works. The 1860s mansion house, however, remained as the works' offices and is now a private house again.

The Bulkeley family made strenuous efforts to acquire the lease of the former Priory lands at Penmon. They were not successful, and for a time, the lands passed through a succession of royal favourites. These included John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, and John Moore. In 1565, the second Sir Richard Bulkeley finally obtained the lease, which included the prior's house, the conventual buildings and the island. The church, however, continued to serve the local community as its parish church.

Significant new building works were put in place around 1600. These included work on the prior's house, the addition of a northern, external, chimney stack and, probably, a revamp of the internal arrangements. The dovecote was built at this time. The Deer Park would seem to have been built sometime later, but there are references to ' the stone wall of the hare warren' as early as the 1580s.


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Limestone and Gritstone Quarries

Limestone and a small outcrops of gritstone have been taken from the ridge for centuries.

The gritstone quarry at Trwyn Du provided the stone for 10th/11th century crosses at Penmon.

Penmon limestone and gritstone built the 13th century refectory block at Penmon Priory

Thomas Telford and William Provis sought and used Penmon limestone in building the Menai Suspension Bridge in the early 19th century

There is a gritstone quarry in an elevated position halfway between Penmon Priory and Penmon Point, adjacent to the house of Trwyn Du, now a ruin. It is very probable that the distinctive tenth or eleventh century cross now in the south transept of the church of Penmon, was formed from Trwyn Du gritstone. A second cross, said to have once stood to the south of the church, was recorded by Edward Lhuyd in 1699. He also described this cross as comparable to the stone in the 'millstone quarry'.

In 1610 a complaint had been brought before the Court of Exchequer regarding the quarries at Trwyn Du and the Fedw Fawr quarry, half way along the coastline between Penmon and Llanddona.. The issue turned on whether Crown rights to stone quarries or those of the landowner should prevail. A Crown lease had been granted to an outsider who was expelled by Sir Richard Bulkeley and who then proceeded to dig 200 millstones from his quarries.

Penmon limestone was used extensively in the new works at Penmon Priory in the early thirteenth century. This is particularly well seen in the three-storey refectory building where coursed limestone rubble is used, interspersed with gritstone. In the early sixteenth century a warming-room block was added to the east end of the refectory where gritstone is prominent and is used on quoins, jambs and lintels.

Penmon refectory

Small and ad hoc quarries are likely to have been prevalent for local use. The Penmon Deer Park walls were built of limestone, quarried on the spot. The quarry hollows can still be seen alongside the eighteenth century walls. Quarrying on an industrial scale began during the early nineteenth century.

In the 1820s the limestone quarries near Red Wharf Bay, below Din Sylwy, were in operation. Richard Davies, a Llangefni grocer and father of the Davies Brothers, of Menai Bridge, ship owners, wholesalers and timber merchants, set up shop at the quarry, bringing in goods by sea to a captive market, for cash on the nail. A little further along the coast, below Sinach, at the outfall of the stream, Fargen Wen, another quarry was established, along the shoreline, and another again at Seiriol. It was along this coastline that Thomas Telford and his resident engineer William Provis walked and sought out the most suitable rock for the construction of the Menai Suspension Bridge, completed in 1826.

Quarry at Seiriol

At Parc Dinmor and on the eastern side of the Point, quarries opened but closed with less than an acre or so worked.

The largest quarries in the nineteenth century were those at Din Sylwy near Red Wharf Bay, the Flagstaff quarry at Penmon and the Penmon Quarries at Penmon Park. The Din Sylwy quarry continued in operation until the early part of the twentieth century but closed before 1920. Quarries also opened up on the landward side. Small quarries were worked near Marian and on the slopes of Mariandyrys, from Eirianallt To Hendre Boeth - most had lime kilns associated; there was a smithy near Eirianallt. The quarries at the western end of Mariandyrys, however, had also closed by the early twentieth century.

Penmon Park

The Penmon Park quarry lies 160 m south-west of Penmon Priory. Earlier excavations are visible below the limestone scarp to the north of the church. An inclined plane took the stone from the main quarry through a man-made cutting to a landing stage at shoreline level. The remains of offices and barracks can still be seen at the quarry face and there are further industrial buildings on the shoreline, next to the stone landing stage. At the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth century the lower road to Penmon was improved and a bridge was carried over the incline. The quarry had expanded to around 6 ha. in 1911 but had closed by around 1920.


Flagstaff quarry was working eight acres (3.2 ha) at the end of the nineteenth century with offices, buildings and inclined planes taking the stone to a landing stage on the shoreline at Porth Penmon. By 1911, the network of inclined tramways had been extended significantly. Large kilns had been built and the quarry had expanded to 15 acres (6 ha). By the 1920s the quarry had opened 26 acres (10.7 ha).

At the very end of the nineteenth century, the old quarry at Dinmor began to operate again. By the 1920s it was working 5.8 acres (2.4 ha) with tramways taking the material on to a landing stage on the north coast. By the third quarter of the twentieth century, Dinmor had expanded to an area of 37 acre (15 ha). The quarry closed in the 1970s. A fish farm has now been established on the former industrial site.


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