When you think about Anglesey, what are the first thoughts that come into your mind?
Gorgeous beaches? The South Stack Lighthouse? William and Kate?
Well, Anglesey may have earned a reputation as a holiday haven in recent times. But it has a fascinating history that stretches back thousands of years – all the way back to the Iron Age when small communities dotted the Welsh landscape.
That’s why Anglesey is the perfect destination for people who love history, or just those who like the idea of packing a picnic and strolling around the great outdoors.
With this in mind, we’ve created this blog for anyone that wants to learn more about Anglesey history. Especially if you fancy popping over soon and visiting these amazing sites.
1. Caer y Twr
Open: 10am – 4.00pm
This Roman lookout tower is the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with Anglesey history.
Located on the summit of Holyhead, this hillfort top was used by Iron Age settlers and Romans alike as a strategic vantage point in Anglesey. There has even been speculation that a beacon tower (or lighthouse) was located here to alert neighbouring villages to potential threats from across the Irish Sea.
Today, Caer y Twr offers a lovely and pleasant walk along the Holyhead coastline. Although all that remains today is rubble, it is still one of the most interesting and popular sites situated within western Anglesey.
External area open: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Internal chamber: available by appointment
Barclodiad y Gawres may look unassuming, but don’t let the outside fool you.
The large stones located within Barclodiad y Gawres offer a fascinating insight into the lives of Anglesey’s ancient inhabitants. Adorned with diamond carvings, serpentine hooves, and spiral engravings, these stones were perhaps lovingly created to decorate the burial chamber.
In fact, following excavation in 1953, Barclodiad y Gawres was discovered to have had two cremated youths locked within its stone walls. There was also a number of small animal bones and remnants found alongside the remains.
If you would like to visit Barclodiad y Gawres, you will be able to visit the surrounding area throughout the day at your own convenience. To go inside, however, you will need to book an appointment in advance.
Llanbadrig Church, also known as St. Patrick’s Church, is one of the most idyllic locations in all of Anglesey.
Once you’ve decided to venture inside this quaint church, you might be surprised to learn that it actually dates back to the 5th century CE. According to legend, Middle Mouse island (Ynys Badrig) was where St. Patrick was shipwrecked and went on to find Anglesey’s Christian community.
The stone church that you see today was built in the 14th century, and has a beautiful interior that is one of the oldest in all of Wales. Interestingly, there is also a prominent Moorish influence in Llanbadrig’s artwork – as evident in its beautiful iconography and blue tiles that adorn the walls. This unusual flare was first introduced by 3rd Lord Stanley of Alderley, who married a Muslim lady from the Moorish region of southern Spain.
With its stunning interiors, and charming surrounding gardens, we thoroughly recommend that you visit Llanbadrig Church on your trip to Anglesey.
Anyone who knows Anglesey well is bound to recognise Beaumaris Castle. But what about our other famous castle?
Aberlleiniog is one of the best kept secrets in Anglesey, offering a wonderful selection of natural beauty and Anglesey history to charm any traveller. It actually predates Beaumaris by 200 years – and was built by a Norman henchman, Robert of Rhuddlan, under command of the Earl of Chester, Hugh D’Avranches. This was in the late 11th century and Aberlleiniog was successfully used a strategic entrance to Menai Strait for hundreds of years.
If you are interested in visiting the site today, there is a lovely woodland walk that meanders around the castle and is a perfect opportunity for little ones to stretch their legs.
Did we mention that pirates may have occupied Aberlleiniog too?
From the ancient and early modern, straight through to the imperial glory of the Victorian period – Anglesey has seen its share of history.
One of its most famous landmarks dates from 1815 – the Marquess of Anglesey’s Column – and was erected two years after the Battle of Waterloo. The statue on top wasn’t added until 1860, when its namesake, Henry William Paget, died and was chosen to commemorate the site. But Henry was certainly well-deserving. He was second in command to Wellington at this world-changing battle.
Unfortunately, visitors can no longer go inside the column due to safety concerns – however, that doesn’t make the Marquess of Anglesey’s Column any less impressive. We thoroughly recommend a trip to this iconic landmark, as part of your Anglesey history tour. Especially if you’re in the mood for a picnic.
Also known as Llanddwyn Island, this narrow corridor of land is a fantastic location for some of Anglesey’s most special history.
Named after St. Dwynwen, the welsh equivalent of St. Valentine, this island is a pilgrim spot for the love-struck and love-sick alike. As the story goes, Dwynwen was a 5th-century princess who was the daughter of St. Brychan. The story of her life differs from legend to legend – but the ending is unanimous. Dwynwen, heart-broken after the loss of her lover, retreated to Llanddwyn Island for a life of solitude.
During the Tudor period, her shrine became a major pilgrimage spot for young romantics who would travel from across Britain to marry and exchange vows at Llanddwyn.
Today, the site is still very popular – although St. Dwynwen’s Church fell into disrepair following the Reformation. There is still plenty to see, however, and the island offers a beautifully scenic walk during the warm summer months.
Anglesey history and heritage
There are few areas of Wales with as much history and incredible cultural heritage than Anglesey.
From the Roman remnants of Caer y Twr, to Barclodiad y Gawres, and the Moorish influences of Llanbadrig Church, Anglesey is full of surprises. That’s why we think it’s the perfect destination for history buffs and people who just fancy exploring the beautiful outdoors with some culture to match.
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