A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1849.
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CARNARVON (CAER-YN-ARFON), a sea-port, borough, and market-town (having separate jurisdiction), and the head of a union, in the parish of Llanbeblig, locally in the hundred of Isgorvai, county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 250 miles (N. W. by W.) from London; containing 8001 inhabitants. This place, which is the county town of Carnarvonshire, and may be regarded as the metropolis of North Wales, owes its origin, according to a recent writer, to the Britons, who are thought to have carried on considerable commerce here before the invasion of the Romans. Writers generally have ascribed its origin to the Roman station Segontium, so named from its situation at the mouth of the river Seiont, which, rising in the lake of Llyn Peris, falls into the Menai strait, contiguous to Carnarvon Castle. Segontium was the most important post occupied by the Romans within the limits of North Wales; it communicated with the station Deva, now Chester, by the ancient Watlingstreet, and with South Wales by the road since called the Via Occidentalis. This station is by Nennius, in his catalogue of British cities, called Caer Cystenin, or "the castle of Constantine;" and the writer of the life of Grufydd ab Cynan states that Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, built a castle at Hên Gaer Cystenni, which the Latin translator has rendered "in antiquâ urbe Constantini Imperatoris." From the position of Segontium, opposite to Mona, or Anglesey, it obtained the British name of Caer-yn-Arfon, signifying the stronghold in the county opposite to the isle of Mona; and this appellation, with a very trifling change, was transferred to the present town, which subsequently rose from the ruins, and was partly built with the materials of the ancient city.
After the departure of the Romans from Britain, Segontium was frequently the residence of the British Princes of North Wales, who assumed and exercised supreme authority over the petty states into which the Roman province of Britannia Secunda was now divided. Cadwallon, son of Cadvan, who distinguished himself by his valour in opposing the inroads of the Saxons into North Wales, and who was killed while fighting against them in Northumbria, in the year 676, was the first of those princes that held his court in this place, which was probably selected, on account of the strength of its fortifications and the security of its situation, as a residence for their families, while they themselves were employed in the prosecution of the wars in which they were almost incessantly engaged, not only with the Saxons, but also with the Irish and Picts, and at a later period with the Danes, who were continually making predatory incursions into their territories. Carnarvon continued to be the residence of the native princes till about the year 873, when Roderic the Great transferred, or rather restored, the seat of government to Aberfraw, on the southern shores of the Isle of Mona, or Anglesey, where it had been originally established, in the fourth century, by Caswallon Law Hîr, the first native sovereign, and where it afterwards remained for several centuries.
Soon after the Norman conquest of England, Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, having nearly subdued the whole of North Wales, in which he committed the most frightful ravages, erected several fortresses in different parts of the principality, in order to secure his conquests, and among them a castle at this place. The castle was probably the first building of any importance near the site, and was perhaps the origin of the present town, which, though it is supposed to have been first styled Carnarvon in the time of Edward I., to whom its foundation has been attributed, is mentioned under that name at a much earlier period. Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, having banished his brother Cadwaladr, the latter engaged in his service several Irish chieftains and a large body of troops, and landed at Abermenai, a few miles to the southwest of Carnarvon, where he was opposed by Owain, with a powerful army. On this occasion the two brothers having amicably adjusted their differences, without further recourse to arms, the Irish were so incensed, that they detained Cadwaladr a prisoner, until they received their stipulated remuneration. That prince, however, giving them 2000 head of cattle, was set at liberty; and Owain, being apprised of this, suddenly attacked the Irish, and, having slain great numbers of them, carried off not only the cattle given by Cadwaladr, but other spoils and prisoners captured by them in the adjacent country. Giraldus Cambrensis, who accompanied Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, on his route through Wales, to preach the crusades, in 1188, mentions this place in his Itinerary; and a charter granted by Llewelyn ab Iorwerth to the priory of Penmon is dated from Carnarvon, in the year 1221.
On the conquest of Wales by Edward I., that monarch experienced much difficulty in repressing the free spirit of his new subjects, and in 1283 the Welsh chieftains firmly refused either to yield obedience to him as sovereign, unless he would consent to reside in Wales, or to any other person who was not a native of their country. The English king, with a view to reconcile them to his government, immediately despatched a messenger to his consort Eleanor, at that time near her confinement, requiring her presence at Carnarvon. She forthwith set out, though in the depth of winter, and, performing the journey on horseback, along the almost impassable roads of the country, arrived in safety at the town, which the king himself appears to have entered for the first time on the 1st April, 1284. Here, on the 25th of that month, the queen was delivered of a son, who, from the premature death of his elder brother, succeeded to the throne by the title of Edward II., and from the place of his birth was called Edward of Carnarvon. This prince, immediately after his birth, was presented to the Welsh chieftains, as their future sovereign, by his father, who, while he held the royal infant to the gaze of the Welsh, said in their own language "Eich Dyn," this is your man, which, corrupted to "Ich Dien," is the motto of the Prince of Wales to the present day. Edward I. now commenced the erection of a magnificent castle in this place, to keep the native chieftains in awe, and render himself master of his newly acquired dominions, more especially of the districts in the vicinity of Snowdon, which had been the safe retreat of numbers who set his power at defiance. In this castle, or rather in the portion of it first erected, he placed some troops, while engaged in completing the conquest which he had achieved; and, if not the original founder of the present town, he certainly laid the basis of its subsequent importance and prosperity. The first governor of the fortress was John de Havering, under whom, with a chaplain, surgeon, and smith, was a garrison of forty armed men, of whom fifteen were cross-bowmen, and the remainder performed the duty of watch and ward. The establishment, according to Sir John Doddridge's historical account of North Wales, published about the commencement of the seventeenth century, was afterwards differently constituted, and consisted of a constable of the castle, a captain of the town (whose office was occasionally held with that of constable), twenty-four soldiers, for the safe custody both of the castle and the town, and a porter of the town gates.
This splendid fortress, which for its extent and architectural beauty was the admiration of the country, and of which the remains strikingly display its original grandeur and magnificence, occupies the summit of a compact schistose rock, boldly projecting into the bay of Carnarvon, and bounded on one side by the Menai, on another by the estuary of the Seiont, and on the third, and partly on the fourth, by a creek, or inlet, from the strait. It was commenced in November 1284, and Edward seems to have compelled the native chieftains not only to procure artisans and labourers, but also to contribute large sums of money towards the expenses of its erection, to which also he appropriated the revenues of the archiepiscopal see of York. The walls of the ancient Segontium furnished a portion of the materials; limestone was brought from Anglesey, and breccia, or gritstone, from the vicinity of Vaenol near Bangor, for the conveyance of both which heavy substances the Menai afforded every facility. In the year 1286, some portion of the castle was covered in with lead, and extensive works were carried on in the fosse; the walls round the town, also, were raised in this year. In 1291 the castle seems to have been still in progress.
In the year 1285, Edward, who was then at Bristol, issued from that place a writ tending to conciliate his Welsh subjects, and declaring certain places in the principality, including Carnarvon, to be for ever free from the payment of the tax called talliage. In 1289, Adam de Wetenhall was constable of the castle, which office Edward probably conferred afterwards upon his distinguished favourite, Sir Roger de Puleston, whom, in 1284, he had appointed sheriff and "keeper" of Anglesey, and who resided in a mansion at Carnarvon, called after his name, Plâs Puleston. Sir Roger being commanded, in 1294, to levy a subsidy in certain parts of North Wales, towards defraying the expenses of the war with France, the inhabitants had recourse to arms, to resist this novel imposition, and succeeded in putting that officer to death. The insurgents, headed by Madoc, an illegitimate son of Prince Llewelyn, afterwards made a sudden attack upon Carnarvon, at that time crowded with Englishmen, who had assembled at the great fair held here; and having surprised the castle and the town, they massacred the unarmed and defenceless English, and, plundering the town, set it on fire; nor were they subdued until King Edward himself led an army into the Welsh territory. Madoc's insurrection rendered useless all that had been previously erected of the castle, and the works were commenced afresh, beginning at the north-east angle, whence, proceeding along the southern side, the works were carried on without interruption: the north side is of two or three different ages, the earliest being assignable to some year between the insurrection and 1301. The young prince Edward, in his 16th year, received the homage of his Welsh subjects at Chester, being invested, as symbols of his authority, with a chaplet of gold round his head, and a silver sceptre in his hand. It has been generally supposed that the prince was made Prince of Wales immediately after his birth; but he was not actually elevated to the dignity until the year in which homage was paid to him at Chester. After the accession of this prince to the throne of England, Carnarvon was for a short time the retreat of Piers Gaveston, the imperious favourite of that monarch, who landed here on his return from Ireland, whither he had been banished. The Eagle tower of the castle was the work of Edward II.; it was roofed in the month of November 1316, floored in the course of February 1317, and the eagle placed on the battlements in March: the upper portion of the north side of the castle, the gate of entrance, &c., were finished in 1320; the royal effigy, over the gateway, being fixed there in April of that year. These particulars, together with the dates of the works carried on by the first Edward, were brought forward for the first time by the Rev. C. H. Hartshorne in a valuable paper read by him at the second annual meeting of the Cambrian Archæological Association, which was held at Carnarvon in September 1848.
In 1402, the town was assaulted by the troops of Owain Glyndwr, but was valiantly and successfully defended for Henry IV., by Ievan ab Meredydd, and Meredydd ab Hwlkin Llywd of Glynllivon, to whom, under the command of an English captain, the custody of the castle had been entrusted. So closely was the place besieged on this occasion, that it was found necessary to convey the corpse of Ievan, who died during the siege, by sea, round the peninsular part of the county, for interment at Penmorva. During the parliamentary war, the castle and town, which were garrisoned for the king, were besieged and taken, in 1644, by Captain Swanley, who captured 400 prisoners, and obtained a large quantity of arms, ammunition, and plunder. The royalists, however, recovered possession of the place, and Lord Byron was appointed governor; but in 1646 it was again besieged by the parliamentary forces, under Major-Gen. Mytton, to whom the garrison surrendered on honourable terms. In 1648, Sir John Owen, with a party of royalists, besieged in the town General Mytton and Colonel Mason, who held it for the parliament; but Sir John withdrawing a part of his forces, to intercept Colonels Carter and Twisselton, who had been sent by the parliament to its relief, and were advancing towards Carnarvon, was defeated and taken prisoner near Aber, on the road to Conway. The siege was consequently raised, and soon after the whole of North Wales submitted to the parliament.
The town is delightfully situated at the mouth of the river Seiont, which here falls into the Menai strait, and within four miles of Abermenai, where that strait unites with the sea in St. George's Channel. It is surrounded with lofty and massive walls continued from the castle, which are defended by circular bastions at convenient intervals. On the embattled parapets was formerly a fine walk, carried along the whole circuit of the walls, in which were originally only two gates, both defended by two massive towers; the one on the east, looking towards the mountains, and communicating with the new town by means of a bridge thrown over the moat by which the walls are surrounded; and the other on the west, towards the Menai strait, communicating with the Anglesey ferry. Other entrances have been subsequently opened from the suburbs, and the extensive ranges of new buildings which are situated without the walls. The plan of the town is regular: the streets, though narrow, intersect each other at right angles, and are paved and lighted; the houses are in general neat and well built, and the inhabitants are supplied with water conveyed by pipes from springs and streams close to the town.
The salubrity of the air, the convenience of its situation for sea-bathing, and the beautiful scenery in the neighbourhood, have made Carnarvon the permanent residence of numerous respectable families, and the frequent resort of visiters. There are spacious and elegant baths, built by the Marquess of Anglesey, within the walls, and close upon the shore of the Menai: in this establishment are hot, cold, and shower baths, supplied with sea-water by an engine, and furnished with every requisite appendage, as news-room, museum, billiard-room, &c. The museum comprises a number of coins and other remains found at Segontium, some British antiquities, various curiosities, and specimens of natural history. The town has excellent hotels, and several respectable lodging-houses have been built for the reception of the increasing number of visiters, whom the advantages of its situation, and the many interesting and pleasing excursions which the vicinity affords, attract to this place during the summer season. The suburbs of the town have become interspersed with neat villas and cottages; and under the wall extending from the Eagle tower of the castle, along the shore of the Menai, is a broad terrace, forming a pleasant promenade, and commanding, at high water, a very interesting view of the Isle of Anglesey and St. George's Channel.
The port, which was for a long time merely a creek to that of Beaumaris, but is now independent, carries on an extensive coasting-trade with Liverpool, Bristol, and Dublin. The principal exports are, slates, of which about 30,000 tons are annually shipped from this place, and copper-ore; the principal imports are, timber from the American colonies, and coal and other commodities from the neighbouring coasts: the coal is deposited on wharfs for the supply of the town and the adjacent country. About twenty vessels are employed in the foreign trade, having an aggregate burthen of 1857 tons, and employing 110 men; and in the coasting-trade about 1100 vessels are engaged, of the aggregate burthen of 51,226 tons, navigated by 3500 men. Great quantities of fish are taken off this part of the coast, for the supply of the town and neighbourhood, and the fishery affords employment to a considerable number of the inhabitants. The harbour has been much improved under the provisions of two successive acts of parliament, carried into operation by trustees empowered to levy certain rates and duties on the tonnage of all vessels entering the port. Buoys have been laid down on the bar, to mark the entrance; and a breakwater has been constructed at Llanddwyn Point, seven miles to the north-west, forming a secure station for vessels: to point out these and to facilitate the entrance, two beacons have been erected on the high land at Llanddwyn, in one of which a red light is displayed at night. Very elegant harbour-offices and a machine-house were opened a few years ago, built of chiselled limestone, and ornamented with a handsome clock of superior workmanship; they are situated on the middle of the slatequay, and form a conspicuous object. A station, also, has been established for pilots commissioned by the corporation of the Trinity House, and comfortable residences provided for them at Llanddwyn by the trustees under the act for the improvement of the port, who also pay them an annual stipend for the care and management of a life-boat, the property of the Anglesey Society for preserving Lives from Shipwreck. There is another life-boat stationed at Carnarvon, which was presented to the port by Admiral Crawley. A patent-slip, constructed in the harbour, has been in use for some years, to facilitate the repairing of vessels, and extensive and commodious quays and wharfs have been formed under the provisions of the local acts before noticed. There is a tramroad from the town to the slate-quarries in the Vale of Nantlle, extending for nine miles into the parishes of Llandwrog and Llanllyvni; the slates and copper-ore are conveyed in wagons, and deposited in wharfs built on the banks of the river Seiont. In 1845 an act was passed for the construction of a railway from Bangor, by Carnarvon, and through Llandwrog and Llanllyvni, to Porth-Dinllaen, near the town of Nevin; but this design has been altogether abandoned. The custom-house is situated within the town walls, close to the entrance or gateway called Porth yr aur, or "Golden Gate." The principal market is on Saturday, but others are held almost daily, which are well supplied with provisions of all kinds, particularly with butchers' meat, fish, and vegetables. The fairs, principally for cattle, are on March 12th, May 16th, August 12th, September 20th, and December 5th. A new market-house was built in 1831, at the expense of the corporation, in which corn, poultry, eggs, butter, and light wares are sold: there are also shambles for the sale of butchers' meat.
This town was constituted a free borough by Edward I., in 1284, on his conquest of Wales. The burgesses were allowed by the charter to have a prison for misdemeanants, independently of the sheriff of the county; they were permitted to form a mercantile guild, and were invested with divers privileges. If any villein, or bondman, lived within the precincts of the town for a year and a day, either possessing lands, or paying scot and lot, he could not be reclaimed by his lord, but became enfranchised, and entitled to all the immunities of the borough. The burgesses were exempted, in every part of the kingdom, from the payment of talliage, lastage, passage, murage, pontage, and every other local imposition and tax. Jews were not permitted to reside in the borough; nor could the burgesses be convicted of any crime committed between the rivers Conway and Dovey, which district included nearly the whole of the counties of Carnarvon and Merioneth, except by a jury of their own townsmen.
By the act 5th and 6th of William IV. c. 76, the corporation is styled the "Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses," and consists of a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors, forming the council of the borough, which is divided into two wards, and of which the municipal and parliamentary boundaries are the same. The mayor is elected by the council annually on November 9th, out of the aldermen or councillors; and the aldermen triennially, from among the councillors, or persons qualified as such, one-half going out of office every three years, but being re-eligible: the councillors are chosen annually on November 1st, by and out of the enrolled burgesses, one-third going out of office every year. The aldermen and councillors must have a property qualification of £500, and the mayor one of £1000; or be rated at £15 annual value. Occupiers of houses and shops rated for three years to the relief of the poor are entitled to be burgesses. Two auditors, and two assessors for each ward, are elected annually on March 1st, by and out of the burgesses; and a townclerk, treasurer, and other officers are appointed by the council on the 9th of November.
Carnarvon, with the contributory boroughs of Conway, Criccieth, Nevin, and Pwllheli, to which Bangor was added in 1832, returns one member to parliament. The elective franchise was granted in the 37th of Henry VIII., and the right of election was formerly in the burgesses at large, but is now, by the act passed in 1832, for "Amending the Representation of the People," vested in the old resident burgesses only, if duly registered agreeably to the provisions of the act, and in every male person of full age occupying, either as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises, of the annual value of not less than £10, provided he be capable of registering as the act directs. The number of voters under the ancient municipal regulations of the borough, at the time of passing the act, was 480; and the number of houses of the yearly value of £10 and upwards, situated within its limits, which comprise from two-thirds to three-fourths of the parish of Llanbeblig, and were not altered by the late Boundary act, is more than 400. There are 427 electors in Carnarvon, including 119 scot and lot voters; and 877 electors in the whole of the boroughs, including 180 scot and lot voters. The mayor of Carnarvon, where the election is always held, is the returning officer.
The corporation, the magistrates of which are four in number, formerly held courts for the trial of all offenders not accused of capital crimes, but have discontinued to exercise that privilege for many years, and prisoners are now committed to the county gaol, for trial at the assizes and general quarter-sessions. Courts leet and baron were also formerly held, as well as a court for the recovery of debts under 40s., of which the jurisdiction was co-extensive with the borough. The assizes and sessions for the county, and the election of a knight of the shire, are held at Carnarvon, as the county town. A county debtcourt is also fixed here; it was established in 1847, under the general small-debts' act, and its powers extend over the registration-district of Carnarvon. The guildhall is composed of two of the ancient towers upon the wall, which have been fitted up and accommodated to the purpose. The county hall is an appropriate building, but not distinguished by any architectural features of importance; and the county prison, and the house of correction, are not entitled to particular notice, either as regards their arrangements or structure.
The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, and situated within the walls, appears to have been originally erected for the use of the garrison only: it has been elegantly fitted up as a chapel of ease to the parish church, which is about half a mile distant; and contains a beautiful organ, the gift of the Marquess of Anglesey, to whom it was presented by his Majesty George IV. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. The present National school, a large and handsome building, in the outskirts of the town, on the Llanberis road, was erected in 1843, at a cost of nearly £3000, raised by subscription, and by grants from the Committee of Council and the National Society: the rooms are capable of containing more than 1000 boys and girls. In connexion with the school, and superintended by the master of the boys' department, is a Normal school, established in 1846, for training young men as schoolmasters. There is an infants' school in connexion with the Church; a British school is supported by the children's pence, and several Sunday schools are kept in the town. Certain lands and tenements in the parish of Llanrûg, producing annually £58. 9. 10., were bequeathed by John Morris, for apprenticing poor children of the borough, and the parish of Llanrûg. The poor-law union of which this town is the head, was formed June 1st, 1837, and comprises the sixteen parishes and townships of Bettws-Garmon, Clynnog, Llanbeblig, Llanberis, Llandeiniolen, Llandwrog, Llanllyvni, Llanrûg, Llanvagdalen, Llanvair-Isgaer, and Llanwnda, in the county of Carnarvon; and Llangafo, Llangeinwen, Llanidan, Llanvair-y-Cwmmwd, and St. Peter's Newborough, in the county of Anglesey. It is under the superintendence of twenty-seven guardians, and contains a population of 28,511, of whom 25,125 are in Carnarvonshire, and 3386 in Anglesey.
The Roman Segontium occupied a quadrangular area of about seven acres, on the summit of an eminence gradually sloping on every side, and was defended with strong walls of masonry, of which there are extensive portions on the south side in an almost perfect state. A gold coin, inscribed t. divi. avg. fil. avgvstvs., was found within the area of the station, which is intersected by the road from Carnarvon to the parish church of Llanbeblig; and in digging the foundations of Cevn Hendrê, on part of the site, in 1827, several Roman coins and valuable relics were discovered. Among the latter was found a very thin plate of gold, four inches long and one inch broad, inscribed with characters, principally Greek, which, from their form, appear to be of the second century, and by the import of the names and epithets, some of which are Hebrew, shew it to be a Basilidian talisman: after the inscription in Greek letters, follows one in astral or magical characters. The Basilidian heresy, according to Irenæus, prevailed in Gaul immediately after the Apostolic age, and the discovery of this curious relic, which is now in the Carnarvon museum, proves how rapidly that doctrine spread through the remotest provinces of the Roman empire. In the year 1845 and 1846, when a new vicarage-house was being erected on part of the site of the station, some further and very interesting discoveries were made. A suite of apartments was brought to light, supposed to be a villa, or baths; with the foundations, &c., of other buildings; and a singular stone shaft, thought by some to have formed a granary for the use of the garrison. Coins, rings, fibulæ, fragments of inscriptions, pieces of painted stucco, and other relics were also dug up; the coins being of the reigns of Vespasian, Severus, Domitian, Maximianus, Constantine, Carausius, Valens, &c. In 1848, at the time of the meeting of the Cambrian Archæological Association in the town, some other remains were found. A portion of a Roman house, and the internal facing of the Roman wall of the station, were laid bare for the inspection of the members; and a few coins, fragments of Samian ware, some glass, bones, &c., were discovered, comprising, however, nothing different from what had been before met with. Between Segontium and the present town of Carnarvon, on the steep bank of the river Seiont, was an ancient Roman fortress, one of the out-posts belonging to the station. The walls of this out-post, measuring from eleven to twelve feet in height, and six feet in thickness, inclosed a quadrangular area, seventy-four yards in length, and sixty-four in breadth. At one of the angles is (or was) a heap of stones, probably the ruins of a tower, or circular bastion, the base of which was discovered by digging some years ago, and found to contain the horn of a deer, and skeletons of smaller animals. Upon removing the earth, there appeared to have been a similar bastion at each of the angles of the fort, which seems to have been intended to protect the landing from this part of the river at high water. On the opposite side of the Seiont are also vestiges of fortifications, other out-posts connected with the principal station, of which the chief was the strong post called Dinas Dinlle, a British work adopted by the Romans, on the summit of a circular, artificial mount on the shore of the Menai strait, and on the verge of an extensive marsh to the south-west of the present town. Constantius, father of the Emperor Constantine, is said to have been interred at Segontium; and it has also been supposed that Constantine himself resided, or was born, here. The remains of a chapel, founded during the continuance of the Roman empire in Britain, by Helena, mother of Constantine, are said to have been visible little more than a century ago; and a well in the vicinity, which was formerly in repute for the efficacy of its water, still bears the name of that princess. Some, however, contend that clear proof is wanting that either Constantius or Constantine was ever at Segontium; the chapel and well, also, may have derived their names from Helen, daughter of a Duke of Cornwall, and wife of Maximus, first cousin of Constantine.
The remains of the once important castle of Carnarvon occupy a spacious quadrangular area on the west side of the town. The external walls are very extensive, and in many parts almost entire; they are from eight to ten feet in thickness, and within them runs a corridor, forming a communication with every part of the castle, and opening into the numerous towers which at intervals rise from the battlements of the walls to a very considerable height. A portion of this corridor, nearly seventy yards in length, is still entire, and is lighted by narrow apertures, through which arrows might be discharged with security against an assailing enemy. Of the towers, thirteen in number, and from the battlements of which rise slender embattled turrets, some are pentagonal, some hexagonal, and others octagonal. Two are loftier than the rest, and one of these, which is singularly beautiful, is called the Eagle Tower, from the sculptured devices with which it is ornamented, and in particular from an eagle finely sculptured in stone by a Roman artist, and brought from the ancient Segontium: the tower is pentagonal, and surmounted by three slender octagonal embattled turrets. The principal entrance to the castle is on the north side, through a handsome gateway, under a massive tower, the front of which contains a statue of the founder; the gateway was defended by four portcullises, the grooves of which are remaining, and also the ponderous hinges on which the gates were hung. The smaller entrance, called the Queen's Gate, and through which Queen Eleanor is incorrectly supposed to have entered the castle before the birth of Edward II., is on the south-east, and considerably above the level of the ground on the outside; it is defended by two portcullises, and at the time of its erection was probably to be approached only by the drawbridge over the moat. This entrance leads into the Eagle Tower, in a small apartment in which Edward II. is erroneously said to have been born. In the castle area, which was anciently divided into an outer and an inner ward, the buildings are in a less perfect state than might be expected from the external appearance of the castle: many of them are, or, before the recent repairs, were, almost indiscriminate heaps of ruins; and in several of the towers the rooms are merely skeletons of what they were originally. The state apartments appear to have been extensive and commodious:- they were lighted by ranges of windows of elegant design, enriched with tracery; and, from the numerous remains of ornamental detail of beautiful character, seem to have been as well adapted to the purposes of a magnificent palace, as the other parts of the building were to those of an impregnable fortress. The staircase of the Eagle Tower is still entire; and from the summit a wide prospect is obtained over the neighbouring parts of Carnarvonshire and the Isle of Anglesey. The prevailing character of the castle, especially in the state apartments, is the decorated style of English architecture; and in the construction of the towers, and those parts of the building which were intended for defence, a combination of elegance with security, and of ornament with strength, appears to have been pre-eminently regarded. This stupendous and beautiful structure has just been repaired with very good taste and judgment, at an expense, it is understood, of about £2000, by the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Woods and Forests; the architect employed being Anthony Salvin, Esq. The repairs are such as to prevent further decay and danger, and the character of the building as a magnificent ruin has been well preserved. It possesses an air of majestic grandeur, and is a most striking object, towering proudly above the rocks which line the coast, and forming a prominent feature in the scenery of the surrounding district. Carnarvon gives the title of earl to the Herbert family.
CARNARVONSHIRE, a maritime county of North Wales, bounded on the east by Denbighshire; on the south by the north-westernmost part of Merionethshire, and by that portion of St. George's Channel called Cardigan bay; on the west by that portion of St. George's Channel included in the right angle formed by the promontory of Lleyn and the southern shore of Anglesey, and commonly called Carnarvon bay; on the north-west by the long, narrow, and rocky strait of the Menai, which separates it from Anglesey; and on the north, by the broad expanse of the Irish Sea. It extends from 52° 45' to 53° 18' (N. Lat.), and from 3° 58' to 5° 12' (W. Lon.); and comprises an area, according to Evans' Map of North Wales, of 319,520 statute acres, or nearly 500 square miles. The number of houses inhabited is 16,845, uninhabited 769, and in course of erection 133; and the population amounts to 81,093, of whom 39,624 are males, and 41,468 females. The annual value of real property assessed to the property and income tax, for the year ending April 1843, was as follows: lands, £150,047; houses, £32,980; tithes, £12,319; manors, £80; quarries, £51,735; mines, £1454; tramways, £2309; other property, £120: total, £251,044.
The patriotic exploits of the ancient inhabitants of this county, to whom, during the various successive attacks which they experienced from the Romans, Saxons, Normans, and English, its mountain fastnesses frequently afforded refuge, and the other events of importance in the Welsh annals of which it has been the scene, render its early history peculiarly interesting. It derives its name from the ancient province of Arvon, so called from its situation opposite to Môn, or Mona, the Isle of Anglesey, that name signifying "adjacent to Mona:" its principal town, from having been a fortified station of the Romans, obtained the British appellation of Caer-yn-Arvon, of which the present name of the town of Carnarvon is a contraction. On the conquest of Wales by Edward I., this name was also appropriated to the shire, then created, which comprises the whole of the ancient province of Arvon (excepting only the comot of Ardudwy, in the county of Merioneth), with the addition of the comot of Creuddyn, taken from the province of Perveddwlad.
The ancient British inhabitants were the Ordovices, who occupied the whole of North Wales; and it has been supposed by a writer in the Archæologia Cambrensis, that considerable commerce was carried on here, prior to the Roman invasion, in subserviency to the trading communities of Greece and Carthage. The same writer contends that the Segontiaci, a British state who solicited an alliance with Rome, should be placed here, and not in the south of England, as has commonly been done. After the Roman conquest of South Britain, which was first extended into this part of it by Suetonius Paulinus, soon after the year 58, the district was included in Venedotia, forming part of the great province of Britannia Secunda. Under the Roman dominion, the territory forming the present county of Carnarvon contained the station Segontium, situated close to the modern town of Carnarvon; and that of Conovium, at Caerhên, or Caerhun, near Conway; besides being traversed by two considerable roads, viz., the Via Occidentalis, which entered it from the station Heriri Mons at Tommen-y-Mûr in the parish of Festiniog, in Merionethshire, and proceeded to Segontium; and a branch of the northern Watling-street, which entered it from the northwestern parts of Denbighshire, and passed by Conovium, also to Segontium. The latter place, called by the Welsh Caer Segont; and Deganwy, on the eastern bank of the Conway river, at its mouth; were for a long period the residences of the Princes of North Wales, affording greater safety for their families than any other places in their dominions, during the almost perpetual warfare in which they were engaged. Caswallon, the first Prince of North Wales of whom we find any authentic account, had his seat of government at Aberfraw, in Anglesey; but his son and successor, Maelgwyn, usually resided at Deganwy; and it was he who, in the year 552, endowed the see of Bangor with lands and franchises, and built the town of that name near the shores of the Menai. Maelgwyn was succeeded by his son Rhun, who carried on a long and sanguinary war against the Saxons of Northumbria, and, on his return into Wales, bestowed great and peculiar privileges on the men of Arvon, as a recompense for having detained them so long from their families on that northern expedition: these are called in the Welsh Chronicles Breinniau Gwŷr Arvon. Deganwy, being destroyed by lightning in the year 809, thenceforward ceased to be a royal residence. About the year 819, Egbert, King of the West Saxons, invaded North Wales, desolating the whole country as far as the mountains of Snowdon, and then proceeded to attack the island of Mona, afterwards called Anglesey. Carnarvonshire was subsequently, in 853, entered by the hostile forces of the Mercian King Burrhed, who advanced through it into Anglesey.
In the division of Wales into three principalities, by Rhodri Mawr, or Roderic the Great, sovereign of all Wales, who left one of them to each of his three sons, the territory now forming this county was included in the principality of Gwynedd, or North Wales, the seat of the government of which he had fixed at Aberfraw, and which was inherited by his eldest son Anarawd, who also succeeded to the title of Brenhin Cymru Oll, or "King of all Wales." At this period the Snowdonian range of mountains, in the county, guarded by two rivers, the Conway on the north, and that which discharges itself through the Traeth Mawr on the south, and extending completely from the northern extremity of the bay of Cardigan to the bay of Beaumaris, formed a natural barrier, over which the Welsh usually retreated when pressed by the English forces, and the principal defiles of which were defended by strong fortifications. Thus the passage of the Conway was guarded by the castle of Deganwy, and the pass of Bwlch-yDdauvaen by that of Caerhên; a fort was constructed at Aber, Dôlwyddelan Castle and a watch-tower in the valley of Nant-Francon, and Dôlbadarn Castle in that of Nant-Peris; while the passage over the Traeth Mawr, or "great sands," was defended on one side by the strong castle of Harlech, in Merionethshire, and on the other by that of Criccieth, with a watch-tower at Castell Gyvarch, and a fort at Dôlbenmaen; the disposition of the whole displaying in that rude age considerable military skill.
About the middle of the tenth century, the sons of Hywel Dda, princes of South Wales, in their invasion of North Wales, then governed by two princes named Ievav and Iago, laid waste the whole country as far as the Conway; on the banks of which river, at Llanrwst, they were opposed by Ievav and Iago, who completely defeated them, and pursued them into their own dominions. About the year 1055, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, the Saxon leader Harold invaded North Wales, by command of that monarch, to inflict punishment for the ravages committed by the Welsh on the border, and advanced to the mountains of Snowdon without opposition; but soon after, having entered into terms of peace with Grufydd, Prince of North Wales, and his ally, Algar, Earl of Chester, he returned into England without proceeding further. Edward, however, soon received fresh provocation from the Welsh, in the conquest of whose country he determined to employ the whole force of his kingdom, entrusting the execution of the important enterprise to Harold. This leader, having first made a partial invasion of North Wales, and retired, fitted out a fleet at Bristol, with which he sailed round the Welsh coast, while his brother Tostig penetrated with a strong body of horse through the northern part of the principality, the Welsh fleeing to their accustomed retreat, the mountains of Snowdon. Harold, on receiving intelligence of the advance of his brother, landed, and joined him with his infantry; and with these united forces he made himself master of all the more level tracts. Sensible that, in a mountainous region, broken by rivers, defiles, and forests, his soldiers ought to feel as little encumbrance from their arms as possible, he provided his infantry with targets made of hides, and other lighter kinds of armour; and, leaving his cavalry on the plains, under the command of his brother (excepting only a few horse, which, supported by small parties of heavy-armed infantry, he ordered to follow as a body of reserve), he himself advanced at the head of his troops into the mountains. Here, having driven the Welsh with great slaughter out of their inmost recesses, he at length compelled them to sue for peace; thus subduing those who had never before yielded to the Saxon arms.
In the year 1073, Grufydd ab Cynan, son of Iago ab Edwal, a competitor for the sovereignty of North Wales, who had made a descent in the Isle of Anglesey with a body of Irish troops, crossed the Menai straits into Carnarvonshire. Trahaern, the reigning prince, upon this unexpected invasion, collected as many troops as he could, and marched to attack his rival, whom he encountered on Bron-yr-Erw, just beyond the south-eastern border of the county, near Harlech, in Merionethshire, when the latter was defeated, and compelled to recross the Menai in haste. The territory shared, with the rest of the northern parts of the principality, in the dreadful ravages committed upon them by Hugh, Earl of Chester, about the year 1079: this powerful Norman, in order to preserve the conquests that he had made in North Wales, erected different castles, among which was one situated near Bangor. In 1096, at the secret instigation of Owain ab Edwyn, lord of Englefield, and other chieftains of North Wales, a formidable army of English invaded this country, under the command of the Earls of Chester and Shrewsbury; and Grufydd, the reigning prince, unable in time to collect a force sufficient to oppose them, retired to the mountains. The two earls, meeting with no opposition, continued their march through Carnarvonshire to the shores of the Menai, and crossed that strait into Anglesey, into which Grufydd had further retreated: this county soon after, however, witnessed their retreat; but the Earl of Chester, in the course of the expedition, rebuilt the castle of Deganwy, the ancient seat of the Welsh princes. In 1115, Grufydd ab Cynan, Prince of North Wales, having agreed to deliver up to Henry I. Grufydd, the son of Rhŷs ab Tewdwr, Prince of South Wales, who had taken refuge in his court at Aberfraw, the latter, obtaining intelligence of his design, suddenly withdrew. Grufydd ab Cynan, discovering the place of his retreat, sent out a body of horsemen to take him prisoner and conduct him back; but fortunately for the young prince, he had just time to obtain sanctuary in the church of Aberdaron, a privileged place at the southern extremity of the county, from which the Prince of North Wales in vain commanded him to be taken out by force. The clergy, obstinate in defence of their immunities, so effectually resisted the efforts of his soldiers, that they were unable to complete his orders; and in the night the partisans of the young prince secretly carried him into South Wales, where he subsequently experienced a series of romantic adventures.
In 1210, the Earl of Chester made an inroad into North Wales, and rebuilt the castle of Deganwy, at the mouth of the Conway, which, a little before, had been destroyed by Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, the reigning Prince of North Wales, who, in return, invaded the earl's territories, and desolated a great part of them. This proceeding greatly irritated the English monarch, John, who, in revenge for it, invaded North Wales with a powerful army. Llewelyn, thinking it prudent to retire before the storm, ordered the inhabitants of the most exposed districts to remove with their goods and cattle to the mountains of Snowdon. The English army advanced along the sea-coast to Deganwy, lying opposite to these mountains on the other side of the Conway river, where it remained for some time. But Llewelyn so infested the road with light parties, as, by cutting off their supplies of provisions from England, to reduce John and his forces to the greatest distress: the soldiers, whenever they stirred from their camp, were exposed to massacre; the Welsh, from their knowledge of the country, and their being posted on the heights, having the advantage in almost every skirmish. From this situation, after considerable loss, the king thought it prudent to retreat into England; but, recruiting his forces, he repeated his invasion a few months after, and, crossing the Conway into this county, encamped on the banks of that river. Thence he sent a detachment of his army, with proper guides, to burn the town of Bangor, which they effected, at the same time seizing Rotpert, bishop of the diocese, before the high altar. After this, Llewelyn entered into negotiations for peace, through the medium of Joan, his wife, who was John's illegitimate daughter; but he obtained it only on hard conditions. Davydd, son of Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, taking advantage of the infirmities of his father's old age, seized on a great part of the territories belonging to his brother Grufydd, leaving him in possession only of the cantrêv of Lleyn, forming the southernmost part of the county. To allay the ferment that was at once produced by the division of interests, the Bishop of Bangor proposed a conference between the two princes. Grufydd, in consequence of this mediation, began his journey from Lleyn, in company with that prelate, to meet his brother; but the latter caused him to be seized on the road, and confined in Criccieth Castle, on the shore of Cardigan bay, in this county, a circumstance that gave rise to a long and bloody civil war.
On the invasion of North Wales by Henry III., in 1245, Davydd, the reigning prince, being unable to oppose him in the open country, retired to the Snowdon mountains, leaving the march of the English monarch unimpeded as far as the estuary of the Conway, where Henry halted, not venturing to pass that river and enter the mountain defiles, while the native forces were hovering about him in detached parties. Here he employed himself in rebuilding the castle of Deganwy; but the Welsh did not remain inactive spectators of a work of so hostile a nature, and which, if suffered to be completed, was likely to give a deadly blow to their independence. During the ten weeks that Henry was occupied in erecting this fortress, his army, which lay encamped in the open field, endured numberless hardships, being but thinly clad and ill-sheltered during the cold weather, which set in towards the close of the summer. They also suffered from a frequent scarcity of provisions, receiving only a precarious supply from Chester and Ireland; and were greatly harassed, and their numbers reduced, by the incessant attempts which the Welsh made to cut off their straggling parties, and, in the night to storm their camp: after one of these conflicts, however, in which the English had the advantage, the latter brought in triumph to their camp the heads of nearly a hundred Welshmen. While in this perilous condition, a vessel laden with provisions for their supply arrived from Ireland, but, owing to the mariners' want of caution, was stranded, on the ebb of the tide, on the shore westward from the mouth of the Conway, towards the mountains. The Welsh hastened to take possession of the prize, but received a check from its commander, Sir Walter Bisset, who with great spirit and ability defended the vessel until a reinforcement of Welshmen, the English sovereign's vassals in the Marches, had succeeded in crossing the river Conway to his assistance. Having repulsed the assailants, the English party pursued them with great slaughter up into the mountains, a distance of six miles; and on their return, flushed with success, pillaged of its books and plate the abbey of Conway, and set fire to its offices. With a rage bordering on phrenzy, the native forces rushed down the mountains to preserve this venerable pile, the object of their deepest reverence, and which had lately become the mausoleum of their princes. Finding the English loaded with plunder, they the more easily slew great numbers of them, wounded others, and made many prisoners, while the remainder, plunging into the river to escape the fury of their assailants, perished in the water: several gentlemen of rank, and about one hundred others of the English, fell by the sword. The prisoners were at first only placed in confinement; but the Welsh, being informed that their enemies had lately put to death some chieftains of their nation, subsequently hanged them all, and then, with barbarous rage, cut off their heads, and, tearing their dead bodies in pieces, threw the mutilated limbs into the Conway: many of these prisoners were Welshmen, under the command of the lords of Powys, who had joined the enemies of their country. The vessel, which was still aground, was again attacked with great violence, and as bravely defended until midnight, when, on the flowing of the tide, the Welsh were obliged to retire, and during the night the party commanded by Sir Walter Bisset, leaving the ship, escaped to the English camp. In the morning, it being then low water, the Welsh returned to the vessel, and, finding it quite deserted, carried away nearly the whole of the cargo, much of which consisted of wine; they then fired the ship, and effected their retreat: the only part saved by the English was seven tuns of wine, which they obtained by drawing them out of a part of the vessel not consumed by the fire. Henry, having at length completed the important fortress of Deganwy, in spite of all the efforts of the Welsh to prevent him, placed in it a numerous garrison, well supplied with provisions and all kinds of military stores, and then withdrew into England, with the harassed remains of his army, at the end of October.
The territories of the Welsh prince were now reduced to the present counties of Carnarvon and Merioneth, with the barren parts of the adjoining districts; and, sinking under the weight of his misfortunes, Davydd died at his usual residence at Aber, on the sea-coast near Bangor, and was buried in Conway Abbey. During the more prosperous course which the affairs of the Welsh took, in the first years of the reign of his successor, Llewelyn ab Grufydd, the latter, in 1257, laid siege to the newlyerected castle of Deganwy, on the possession of which he well knew the fate of his country in a great measure depended. Alarmed for the safety of this important fortress, Henry hastened to its relief; and, on the advance of the English army, Llewelyn raised the siege and retired across the Conway to the Snowdonian mountains, taking care to break down the bridges, obstruct the roads, plough up the meadows, render the fords impassable, and remove the women and children, with all the cattle and provisions, out of the adjacent country. Henry did not venture to advance further than on the former occasion, but was enabled to maintain his position at Deganwy until Michaelmas, by the aid of a fleet belonging to the Cinque-Ports, which supplied his army with provisions. The winter, however, coming on, and having suffered severely from a furious attack made by the Welsh from the mountains, he was at last compelled to abandon the field to Llewelyn, and, with the remnant of his army, to make a precipitate and inglorious retreat to Chester. Some time after, Llewelyn succeeded in capturing the fortress of Deganwy, which he immediately destroyed; but, in 1263, he was once more obliged to take refuge in the mountains of Snowdon, by the advance of an English army under Prince Edward, afterwards Edward I., who, however, was called from the campaign by other important affairs.
On his invasion of Wales, in 1277, after his accession to the crown, Edward advanced to Conway, and Llewelyn again sought refuge in the mountains of Snowdon, where the vigilance of the English monarch prevented him from receiving supplies of provisions from Anglesey and other places, whence he had formerly been accustomed to obtain them. Thus the Welsh prince was at length compelled by famine to implore the mercy of the king, with whom he concluded a peace on the most humiliating conditions; one of which was, that all the barons in Wales should hold their territories immediately of the king of England, excepting only the five barons in Snowdonia, who should acknowledge Llewelyn as their lord during his life, but after his death should likewise hold their estates of the king. Another condition was, that the cantrêv of Rhôs, in which stood the castle of Deganwy, with four others, should be given up to the English sovereign.
On the second invasion of Wales by Edward I., during the ineffectual negotiations which were carried on between the king and the Prince of North Wales, the latter was remaining at his palace at Aber, between Bangor and Conway, while the Welsh army was most probably stationed on the heights above Penmaen Mawr, where was the strongest fortification possessed by the Welsh in the Snowdonian mountains. Edward, about the first of November, advanced to Conway, near which town he stationed his army in advantageous situations, his horse being encamped on the plains at the foot of the mountains, while the infantry were posted on the sides of the hills, under cover of the woods. Being unable to bring the enemy to action, he despatched a fleet and a strong body of forces, which secured for him the Isle of Anglesey; and, with a view of gaining possession of the mountains in the rear of the Welsh army, or of opening a communication with the other part of the English army, he constructed a bridge of boats over the narrowest part of the Menai strait, from a point called Moel-y-Don, between Bangor and Carnarvon: the boats were fastened to each other by a chain, and a platform of boards was formed over them, broad enough for sixty men to march abreast. To counteract this design, the Welsh threw up intrenchments at some distance on the Carnarvonshire side of the Menai, to check the advance of the enemy from this quarter, and to secure the passes into their mountains. Before the bridge was entirely finished, a party of English, attended by the Gascon lords who, with a body of Spanish troops, were then in the service of Edward, despising the Welsh for the easy conquest which they had allowed them to make of Anglesey, imprudently passed over the Menai at low water in considerable force, to reconnoitre the enemy's works, or to display their own valour. Richard ab Walwyn, who commanded the Welsh forces on this side, knowing that the tide would soon flow, and cut off the retreat of the English to their unfinished bridge, remained quiet within his intrenchments, and offered no hindrance to their passage over, or to their advance into the country; but as soon as the water had risen so high as to prevent any communication with Anglesey, the Welsh rushed down from the mountains in multitudes, attacked their enemies with loud cries, and pursued them with great slaughter into the waves, in which many were drowned, encumbered with the weight of their armour. In this action fifteen knights, thirty-two esquires, and a thousand common soldiers, were either slain, or perished in the waters of the Menai. Lord Latimer, who commanded the English, had the good fortune to recover the bridge by the swiftness of his horse.
The situation of Edward became daily more critical. Besides the loss he had sustained, the winter was approaching, his two armies were unable to communicate with each other by land, and the design of a diversion was become impracticable; while the Welsh were strongly intrenched upon the mountains, and possessed abundance of provisions: so that the English monarch at length deemed it prudent to retreat to Rhuddlan, in the county of Flint. But the unfortunate and premature death of Llewelyn, immediately after, in South Wales, completely obscured the brightening prospects of the Welsh, whose forces in the mountains of Snowdon the king proceeded to press more closely, himself on the side of Conway, while his troops in Anglesey made good their passage across the Menai strait, and penetrated into the country on the side of Carnarvon. Davydd, Llewelyn's brother, who now regarded himself as the rightful Prince of North Wales, not choosing to risk a general engagement, at first contented himself with maintaining possession of all the strongholds of the mountains, but soon afterwards renewed active hostilities, though unsuccessfully. A fortress near the village of Llanberis, in the county, the ruins of which now bear the name of Castell Dôlbadarn, strong both by nature and art, standing near a morass the only approach through which was by a single causeway, and to attain the vicinity of which it was necessary to pass along narrow and rugged defiles, had been provided by Davydd with a strong garrison; but so sunk in spirit were the Welsh, that the castle was surrendered to the English king, after being closely invested for some time, and every other fortress in the district was immediately given up. The Welsh fled in dismay on every side; and the passes of the mountains being left wholly unguarded, Edward, stationing his mounted forces at the foot of the hills, and leaving in each defile a body of troops to intercept all who should attempt to escape, penetrated in person, with the remainder of his army, into the inmost recesses of the Snowdonian mountains, setting fire to the houses and slaying great numbers of the Welsh, who were discovered in the most retired solitudes, or intercepted in fleeing thither. Having subdued the whole of the mountainous districts, Edward collected his scattered forces, and proceeded to the easy subjugation of the more level tracts, slaughtering more than three thousand of their inhabitants.
The country being thus finally subdued, as a check to any future risings among the natives, Edward commenced the two vast and magnificent castles of Conway and Carnarvon, supplying each place with a suitable garrison; and in the latter town was born, about the same time, the first Prince of Wales of English blood, afterwards Edward II. Edward I. also incorporated Carnarvon and other towns in North Wales; redressed the grievances of the Welsh clergy; and, having settled the other affairs of his newly acquired territories, gave orders that a tournament should be held at Nevin, on the western coast of the promontory of Lleyn, which was attended by a great number of English and foreign knights. On the 2nd of January, 1285, Edward issued a writ from Bristol, where he was then staying, by which the inhabitants of Carnarvon and Conway, in common with those of some other towns, were declared to be for ever free from the payment of the tax called talliage, which Carnarvon, at least, had been freed from at its incorporation. But having engaged in a war against the French monarch, he, in 1294, made an experiment of taxation on his new subjects, the Welsh, which proved the immediate cause of three insurrections in different parts of the principality, these breaking out nearly at the same time, and apparently not directed by any unity of design. Carnarvonshire was the principal scene of one of these revolts, which was headed by Madoc, an illegitimate son of the late gallant Llewelyn, and who himself assumed the title of Prince. The insurgents seized on Sir Roger de Puleston, a man of great power in this quarter, who stood high in Edward's favour, had been commissioned by him to exact a fourteenth of the people's moveables, and possessed a mansion in the town of Carnarvon, called, after his name, Plâs Puleston: they at once caused him to be hanged, and afterwards cut off his head, which fate was shared by all his associates in the collection of this odious tax. About the middle of July, Madoc proceeded against Carnarvon, at that time crowded with English assembled there at a great fair, and, taking possession of the place, slaughtered them all in cold blood, plundered and fired the town, and took the castle: the strongest fortress in Snowdon also fell into the hands of Madoc, who soon after gained full possession of Anglesey.
A revolt so daring and so widely spread, determined Edward to suspend his intended expedition to the Continent, and to recall the forces that were ready to embark. Advancing to the Conway river, he crossed with a part of his troops, to the town of Conway, and, retiring into the castle, waited for the remainder of his army to follow; having lost, in the passage, many wagons and other carriages laden with provisions, which were intercepted by the Welsh, who descended in great multitudes from the mountains, and invested the castle on the land side. A sudden rise of the waters likewise prevented Edward's troops from passing the river, or affording him any assistance, thus rendering his situation very perilous. The Conway, however, subsiding as suddenly as it had risen, his forces were enabled to cross to his assistance, and the Welsh, abandoning the siege, retired to the Snowdon mountains, leaving the king to spend his Christmas at Conway without molestation. While the English forces were lying here, the Earl of Warwick, receiving intelligence that a large body of the enemy was encamped in a valley inclosed on each side by a wood, at no very great distance, determined to attack them unawares. For this service he selected a squadron of horse, with a detachment of cross-bowmen and archers; and with this force, marching silently in the night, he suddenly surrounded the Welsh, who, although little expecting such an assault, fixed their spears in the ground, and, presenting a formidable front, maintained for some time their position, and kept off the English horse. Unable to make any impression, Warwick placed a cross-bowman, or archer, alternately with the horsemen, in the ranks of the latter; and these, fighting at a distance, slew great numbers with their arrows: then charging the remaining body with his horse, the Welsh phalanx was broken, and soon routed with much slaughter. After this action, Edward, finding no enemy to resist him, advanced to the shore of the Menai, which he crossed into Anglesey. Then, after laying the Carnarvonshire territory more open by cutting roads through the woods, and severely punishing some of the persons concerned in the murder of Roger Puleston, he returned with his army into England, without having reduced to obedience the insurgent Madoc, who, however, was soon after taken prisoner, while engaged in a predatory incursion on the English border.
In 1402, Carnarvon was besieged by an army of insurgents, under the celebrated Welsh leader, Owain Glyndwr, but was bravely defended for the English king, Henry IV., by Ievan ab Meredydd, to whom, with Meredydd ab Hwlkin Llwyd, of Glynllivon, under the command of an English captain, the custody of the castle had been entrusted. In the same year the cathedral of Bangor was pillaged and laid in ruins by the revolters. Dôlbadarn Castle, near Llanberis, was occasionally in the power of each party during this protracted warfare, and the possession of it was often warmly contested as the master key to the Snowdon mountains.
On the breaking out of the civil war of the seventeenth century, Conway Castle was garrisoned for King Charles by Dr. John Williams, Archbishop of York; while on the other hand Carnarvon was seized on behalf of the parliament, in 1644, by Captain Swanley, who took in it four hundred prisoners and a considerable store of arms and ammunition. In May, 1645, Prince Rupert superseded the archbishop in the command of North Wales, under circumstances injurious and offensive to that prelate, who thereupon, having received an offer of protection from General Mytton, joined the party to which he had before been opposed, and assisted Mytton in the reduction of Conway. This town was taken by storm on the 15th of August, 1646; and the castle surrendered on the 10th of November following. In the same year Carnarvon was besieged by the parliament's troops under Generals Mytton and Laugharne, to whom it was surrendered on honourable conditions by the governor, Lord Byron. In 1648, General Mytton was in turn besieged here by a small force under that zealous royalist, Sir John Owen, who, however, receiving intelligence that Colonels Carter and Twisselton, with a superior force, were marching to its relief, raised the siege and advanced to meet them. The encounter took place on some ground called Talar hîr, in the vicinity of Aber-Gwyngregyn, near the foot of the mountain of Penmaen Mawr; and in the furious battle that ensued, Sir John was defeated and made prisoner; after which, the whole of North Wales submitted to the authority of the parliament.
This county is ecclesiastically in the diocese of Bangor, except only the parishes of Eglwys-Rhôs, Llancystenyn, and Llŷsvaen, which are in the archdeaconry and diocese of St. Asaph. The parishes in the diocese of Bangor are comprised in the deaneries of Arlêchwedd and Arvon, archdeaconry of Merioneth; and in the deaneries of Eivonydd and Lleyn, archdeaconry of Bangor and Anglesey. Both dioceses are included in the province of Canterbury. The number of parishes in Carnarvonshire is sixtysix, of which twenty-four are rectories, twelve vicarages, and the rest perpetual curacies. For purposes of civil government the county is divided into the ten hundreds of Commitmaen, Creuddyn, Dinllaen, Evionydd, Gaflogion, Isgorvai, Llêchwedd Isâv, Llêchwedd Uchâv, Nantconway, and Uchgorvai. It contains the city and newly-created borough of Bangor; the borough, market, and sea-port towns of Carnarvon, Conway, and Pwllheli; the borough and market towns of Criccieth and Nevin; and the market-town of Trêmadoc, with its harbour, Port-Madoc. One knight is returned to Parliament for the shire, and one representative for the rest of the boroughs collectively: both the county member and the member for the boroughs are elected at Carnarvon: the polling-places for county elections are Carnarvon, Conway, Capel-Curig, and Pwllheli. The county is in the North Wales circuit; the assizes and quarter-sessions are held at Carnarvon, where stands the county gaol and house of correction. There are about thirty acting magistrates. It comprises the poor-law union of Pwllheli; parts of the unions of Bangor and Beaumaris, Carnarvon, Conway, and Llanrwst; and a few parishes in Festiniog union.
The aspect of the county is for the most part wild and mountainous, and its scenery throughout remarkably various and striking. The principal of the MOUNTAINS constitute the Snowdonian range (so called from its central and loftiest summit, Snowdon), whose elevated peaks, from their height and shape, form characteristic features in the scenery of the surrounding districts to a great distance. This range, the loftiest and most remarkable in the principality, commences in a tremendous precipice overhanging the sea, a few miles west of Conway, called Penmaen Mawr, and thence extends south-westward in the same direction as the other great mountain ridges of Wales. It includes the mountain called Carnedd Llewelyn, the Peak of Snowdon, and a long tract of mountains to the south of Llanllvyni; and terminates in the lofty and triple-peaked Reivel (in Welsh called Yr Eivl, in allusion to its furcated outline), whose base is washed by the waves of Carnarvon bay, to the south-west of Clynnog. The length of this mountainous range, following the zigzag direction of its summit, is forty-six miles, but the distance between its extreme points, in a straight line, is only twenty-five miles. Upon this chain, Yr Wyddva, commonly called the Peak of Snowdon, is the highest summit, and the most elevated point in South Britain, rising to the height of 3571 feet above the level of the sea. The second in height is Carnedd Llewelyn, which attains an elevation of 3469 feet above the same level. Carnedd Davydd rises to the height of 3427 feet, while the two extremities of the range are of far less elevation, Penmaen Mawr being only 1540 feet high, but remarkable as forming its abrupt termination; and the Yr Eivl mountain, 1866 feet high. Other mountains, connected with this chain, are Trevaen, Moel Ogwen, Moel Siabod, the two Glyders, the two Llyders, Moel Llyvni, Moel Mynydd y Nant; Gerwyn Gôch, 1723 feet high; Bwlch-Mawr, 1673 feet high; and Rhiw, 1013 feet high; over all of which tower the three pre-eminent summits of Snowdon, called Yr Wyddva, or "the conspicuous summit," Crib-y-Distyll, or "the dripping peak," and Crib Gôch, or "the red summit." This mountain, called by the English in modern times Snowdon, from its summit being frequently covered with snow for a long period, when the plains beneath are entirely free from it, was anciently called by the Welsh Creigiau'r Eryri, by some translated to signify "the snow-clad rocks," while others consider the latter part of the name to be derived from eryr, an eagle, and the whole to signify "the eagle rocks," from the number of those birds that here fixed their alpine abode. To a spectator looking from the summit of Yr Wyddva it has the appearance of being propped by five immense rocks, as buttresses; namely, Crib-y-Distyll and Crib Gôch, between Llanberis and Capel-Curig; Lliwedd, towards Nant-Gwynant; Clawdd Côch, towards Bethgelart; and Llêchog, the mountain that forms the southern side of the vale of Llanberis, towards Dôlbadarn. These nearly impassable heights for centuries formed an almost unassailable refuge for the overpowered but unsubdued Britons, when obliged to retreat before the Roman, Saxon, or English forces. Many of the mountains extend in length from north to south, while others take a line from east to west, and nearly all range in one of these directions. The precipitous declivities of the summits of the Snowdonian chain for the most part face towards the Menai strait; but the declivities in every other direction vary with the inclinations of the strata. The vegetation of these elevated regions, in the multifarious variety of plants of which it is composed, presents a rich field for the botanist: it peculiarly abounds with that species of herbaceous plants called by Linnæus ethereæ, as being found only towards the summits of mountains; and numerous other genera display their beauties in these wilds, of which many are rarely found in any other situation. Amidst the mountains are very deep hollows, and narrow dells and valleys called cwms, along which the streams that issue from the various lakes above rush with impetuous violence to a lower level, forming the most romantic cataracts, and then pursuing a calmer and more meandering course to the ocean.
The lakes, though generally small, are upwards of fifty in number; and many of them abound with fish of different species, of which some are peculiar to alpine waters, and others are of extraordinary conformation. Those most distinguished for their extent, or the beauty of the surrounding scenery, are the following: viz., the two that nearly fill the narrow valley of Llanberis, called Llynau Llanberis, the upper of which, about a mile long and half a mile broad, though the smaller in extent, is the finer piece of water, and has a depth in some places of no less than one hundred and forty yards; the other is about a mile and a half long, but so narrow as to have the appearance of a river rather than a lake: Llyn Cawellyn, forming a fine expanse of water at the foot of Mynydd Mawr, a vast precipice that recedes in a semilunar form from the shores of the lake, which is more than a mile and a half long, and nearly three-quarters of a mile broad; Llynau Nanlle, two fine sheets of water adjacent to each other, and situated in the same part of the county as the last-mentioned; and Llyn Ogwen, Llyn Idwal, &c.
Westward from the mountains, and between them and the Menai, lies an extensive plain, almost a perfect level, but not low. It is thickly strewed with large rounded fragments of rock, of the same kind as the rocks of the mountains. Indeed, over nearly all the lands adjacent to the mountains are scattered immense masses of stone, the removal of which, a process that can only be effected with the aid of gunpowder, is an essential step towards the improvement of the estates which they encumber. The scenery on the rocky shores of the Menai is particularly bold and pleasing.
The Vale of the Conway, on the eastern border of the county, and to the east of the Snowdonian chain, abounds with interesting prospects. It is watered by a river whose natural beauties and historic interest have often made it a theme for poetry, and presents all the diversity of prospect afforded by a wellwooded and highly cultivated country, strikingly contrasting with the bare and rugged aspect of the cloud-capped mountains which rise in frowning grandeur to the west of it, and down the declivities of which, through innumerable chasms, fissures, and gullies, rush the superfluous waters of the elevated mountain lakes, to swell the more pacific stream of the Conway. The scenery in this part of the county is most varied in the vicinity of Pont Dôlgarrog and Pont Porth Llwyd, which are simply alpine bridges thrown across the streams that respectively issue out of Llyn Cowlyd and Llyn Geirionydd. This vale, though stretching parallel with the Vale of Clwyd, from south-east to north-west, is inferior to it in extent and fertility, having only the sloping argillaceous hills of Denbighshire on the east, while on the west it receives deposits of soil only from the hard, steep, primitive rocks of Carnarvonshire. The peninsula on the eastern side of the mouth of the Conway forms the hundred of Creuddyn, and terminates in the promontory of Great Orme's Head, or Llandudno rocks. The cliffs at this extremity are of limestone, very lofty, and almost perpendicular: during the summer months they are frequented by countless flocks of various sea-birds of passage, such as peregrine falcons, cormorants, razor-bills, guillemots, oyster-catchers, stormy peterels, divers, terns, curlews, gulls, and puffin-auks, or coulternebs.
The Promontory of Lleyn is so called from the ancient cantrêv which comprised the greater part of it, while that of Evionydd contained the rest. This district, forming the southernmost part of Carnarvonshire, and beyond the south-western extremity of which is situated Bardsey Island, is almost the only continental part of North Wales that bears any remarkable similarity to the Isle of Anglesey; a similarity, in this instance, extending to the various particulars of surface, soil, climate, course of tillage, agricultural implements, live stock, &c. Its surface, though varied, is no where mountainous; nor does it contain any of those deep glens which form so striking a feature in the scenery of most other parts of the county. It consists chiefly of what in England would be denominated upland pasture, here and there intersected by narrow marshy valleys, and interspersed with conical hills, isolated or in small groups. The fences, as in most other inclosed districts in Carnarvonshire, are formed of stone walls or earthen mounds: the small valleys are watered, as Mr. Pennant observes, "by a thousand little rills;" and the coast consists of a rocky boundary, the regularity of which is broken by several small creeks, affording safe shelter during storms to boats and inferior vessels employed in fishing. The small and once distinguished Island of Bardsey is separated from the termination of this promontory (which is composed of the vast piles of rock forming the bold headland of Braich-y-Pwll, the Canganorum Promontorium of the Roman geographer) by the "Race of Bardsey," a strait about a mile broad, through which is a rapid current. From this natural circumstance it originally received the British name of Ynys Enlli; but the Saxons afterwards called it Bardsey, probably from its having formed a place of refuge for the British bards. It is upwards of two miles long and one broad, and comprises 370 acres of land, of which nearly one-third is a mountainous ridge affording food only for a few sheep and rabbits. On the south-east and south-west it is much exposed to violent blasts from the ocean, but on the north and north-east is sheltered by the abovementioned elevation of Braich-y-Pwll, which on its sea front presents high, perpendicular, and rocky cliffs, resorted to by numerous flocks of various kinds of sea-fowl, the eggs of which are taken from their nests on the face of the cliff by some of the adventurous islanders, who descend from the summit by means of ropes carefully secured.
The innermost creek of the northern part of Cardigan bay forms extensive sands, called the Traeth Mawr, formerly overflowed by the tides, and through which the river Glâslyn pours its waters into the ocean. The late W. A. Madocks, Esq., of Tan-yrAllt, in the immediate vicinity, having, about the commencement of the present century, succeeded in securing an extent of nearly 2000 acres of rich land, called Penmorva Marsh, on the western side of the Traeth Mawr, was induced to attempt the more arduous task of reclaiming the whole, by forming an embankment from side to side across its mouth. This gentleman, in the year 1808, obtained an act of parliament vesting in him and his heirs, or assigns, the whole of these sands, reaching from Pont Aberglâslyn, at their head, to the point at Gêst, at their lower extremity; and he shortly afterwards proceeded to execute the bold design that he had formed, in spite of great and unforeseen difficulties. He thus secured from the flow of the tides a tract of about 2700 acres, previously subject to periodical overflow, besides the great extent of land adjoining, which will in consequence be drained or secured from the injuries of floods. Of the land so drained and secured, Mr. Madocks was to have 2000 acres in fee, and one-fifth of the rent of 1500 more, or one-fifth of the land, the remainder to go to the freeholders who claim right of common upon the adjoining marshes. On a part of the tract first secured stands the modern town of Trêmadoc.
The northern shore of the county, from the mouth of the Conway westward, borders on Beaumaris Bay, a fine expanse of sea, which is so completely sheltered on one side by the promontory of Creuddyn, terminated by Great Orme's Head, as above described, and on the other by the easternmost extremity of Anglesey and the little island of Priestholme, that it forms a fine roadstead for ships navigating the Irish Sea, and one in which they may ride in safety during the most violent tempests. The greater part of the bay is left dry on the reflux of the tide, for several miles adjoining the shore, forming a tract called the Lavan Sands. These sands are supposed to have once constituted a habitable hundred belonging to the territory of Arvon, and are said to have received their ancient name of Wylovain, or "the place of weeping," from the shrieks and lamentations of the inhabitants on the district being suddenly overwhelmed by the sea in the sixth century. Lavan is thought to be an abbreviation of Traeth Trelaven, or "the fermenting sand," from the advancing tide boiling up through the quicksands; nor is the tradition of the inundation of this tract unsupported by natural circumstances, one of the most remarkable of which is, that trunks of oak-trees, nearly entire, have been discovered in it at low water, lying in an extensive tract of hard loam, far below the present high-water mark.
The climate, owing to the maritime situation of the county, and the great variety of elevation in its surface, has many peculiarities. In some years the winter's snow remains on the highest summits of the Snowdonian chain until the month of June, though in the more immediate vicinity of the sea, and especially in the great promontory of Lleyn, it seldom continues long upon the ground, even in the depth of winter. The rains among the mountains are frequent, generally sudden, and often very heavy, swelling the otherwise insignificant streams which descend from them into powerful torrents. Grain, on the lighter soils and in the lower vales, ripens early in August; and it is remarkable that this county, so great a portion of which is occupied by the loftiest and most rugged mountains of South Britain, should also contain the ground which of all in North Wales is the earliest in its seasons, viz., Talar hîr, a piece of sandy soil with some gravel, on a substratum of sea-beach pebbles, at the foot of the mountain of Penmaen Mawr. But corn sown in elevated situations approaching the mountains, although it may for some time give promise of a good crop, frequently never ripens, or, if at all, only very late in the season; in which latter case the sudden gusts of wind and tornadoes, so often bursting from the dells and hollows of the mountains at this season, sometimes beat off the ears, and leave little but the bare straw. The climate of the promontory of Lleyn is the driest and warmest of any district in the county, and consequently the most favourable to the success of agriculture. All attempts to introduce the profitable culture of fruit-trees have hitherto proved unsuccessful; the spring, even in the vales, owing to the contiguity of the mountains, being seldom mild enough to preserve the blossoms from the destructive effects of frost, while the wetness and coldness of the summer, from the same causes, should the trees escape the first danger, vitiate the flavour of the most delicious fruits. The westerly winds prevail three-fourths of the year, and are experienced in their utmost fury about the equinoxes. The inhabitants of the county are remarkable for their longevity, numerous gravestones in the churchyards being inscribed with ages exceeding ninety years: this circumstance is ascribed to the frugality of their fare, and the bracing effects of a cold, sharp, oxygenated atmosphere.
The soils are extremely various. The best are the strong loams, excellently adapted for the culture of wheat and for permanent pasture, which are found on the banks of the Conway near Marl, and thence upwards towards Maenan and Trêvriw, as also on the shores of the Menai near Llanvair-is-Gaer, &c. The soil of Bardsey Island is also chiefly argillaceous, and of considerable fertility, producing excellent wheat and barley, and having a small quantity of good grass land; whilst the whole hundred of Creuddyn, lying on the eastern side of the mouth of the Conway, is occupied by strong cohesive loams, forming some of the best wheat soils in North Wales, and being perhaps not inferior to any in Britain. Next to these rank the dry, free, and rather stony soils, adapted for the general purposes of tillage, which occupy the middle parts of the larger vales, the lower parts of the smaller valleys, and the interior of the promontory of Lleyn. The greater part of Lleyn has also a still lighter soil, consisting of various admixtures of sandy loam, rounded pebbles, shivery gravel, peat, &c., peculiarly suited for the culture of barley, peas, turnips, &c.; as have also the valleys of the other parts of the county in their upper levels, and the slopes of vales having a southern aspect. The substratum of the soils near the Menai consists of limestone, and hence the soil towards and amidst the mountains is of two kinds. First, where the ground is dry, it consists of a reddish loam, much intermixed with pebbles and stony fragments, but which, when well manured, is very productive in corn, or almost any other agricultural crop: ascending higher, this surface soil becomes gradually shallower, and less promising for culture. The soil of the great levels lying between the Snowdonian chain and the Menai is alluvial, consisting of gravel and sand, or shingle. The other soils in the county are peaty, and are widely spread over many of the meadows and heathy wastes and commons, which, being generally wet and boggy, produce in wet summers nothing of value either as pasturage or for hay: this peat is found even on the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn, but is of the greatest depth in the flats and hollows favourable to its production, and of less depth upon moderate slopes, where the substrata will not readily admit the filtration of water. In this latter situation it is generally covered with a coarse matted herbage, characterizing what is provincially called rhôsydd, the surface of which, when the elevation is not too great, is sometimes pared and burned for a crop of rye, and then laid down again with grass seeds. Most of the cwms, or narrow valleys among the hills and mountains, have also a peaty soil, producing an abundance of the kind of hay here called gwair y rhôsydd, which is composed of several kinds of alpine grasses, thickly intermingled with various species of rushes, and frequently besprinkled with a few varieties of sedges: the hay produced in the bottoms and lower meadows, is particularly fine and soft, consisting chiefly of bent and fescue grasses. Till, a hungry light mould, tinged by the orange oxyde of iron, is occasionally found on the uplands having a slaty substratum; and a ferny soil, or hazel loam, occurs in various upland situations among the soils above described. The most extensive tract of entirely sandy soils is that of the Traeth Mawr, already mentioned, on the south-eastern confines of the county.
Of the whole extent of Carnarvonshire, little more than 7000 acres are actually under tillage, and these are almost entirely in the hundred of Creuddyn, the Vale of Conway, the promontory of Lleyn, and the vicinity of the Menai. Wheat is grown on the stronger soils above described; oats are seldom sown upon them, and a dry spring makes them quite unfit for barley. On the lighter soils oats and barley are chiefly cultivated, frequently in very impoverishing rotations, in which the same grain is sometimes sown for two or three years successively, and with the last crop are always sown grass seeds: oats are the principal crop on the poorer lands. The average return of wheat in the hundred of Creuddyn, near Conway, is nine or ten times the quantity of the seed sown; that of barley, on warm soils, somewhat more; but of oats in the uplands, not more than from three to five times the quantity. In Lleyn the naked scythe is the only instrument used to cut all kinds of corn; in other parts of the county the reaping-hook is most commonly used to cut wheat, though the scythe is used to cut the barley and oats. Rye is sometimes grown by some of the small farmers on patches of the wastes, which they pare and burn for the purpose, and afterwards throw open again. Peas and beans are seldom cultivated as agricultural crops; but potatoes are grown to a considerable extent in different parts of the county, and Carnarvonshire ranks next to Anglesey in the neatness of its potato culture: the inhabitants of the Vale of Conway and the vicinity of Carnarvon formerly imported this useful root from Lancashire, but at present they grow more than is required for their own consumption, and the surplus is exported for the partial supply of Liverpool, where the Welsh potatoes obtain a preference in the market, on account of their superior flavour. Turnips are frequently cultivated on the soils best adapted for the purpose: a few small patches of hemp are seen scattered in different places. Artificial grasses are a common agricultural crop: the most ordinary kind is the common red clover, with which other grasses are often intermingled, such as white clover, trefoil, and rye-grass.
Rather more than one-half the surface of the county, besides the amount of land under tillage, is inclosed, and constitutes meadows and pastures of very various quality: the rest, forming its waste lands, is also for the most part depastured during the summer. Indeed the farmers are chiefly herdsmen, who pay their rents out of the profits of their butter, wool, and lambs, their stock consisting of small cows, and numerous herds of diminutive sheep. During the summer months these are taken to pasture on the hills and mountains; and such has been the opinion entertained of the extent of pasturage on the mountains of the county, that, according to an old proverb, "As Mona could supply corn for all the inhabitants of Wales, so could the Eryri mountains afford sufficient pasture for all its herds, if gathered together." The purpose to which the grass lands are more peculiarly applied is the rearing of great numbers of cattle and sheep, which are sold lean to the graziers of districts having richer pastures. The landowners of the county introduced into it, about the commencement of the present century, professed improvers of land, who advertised an offer of their services in draining, irrigating, &c.; and much land has since been brought under irrigation in some of the valleys. As fattening cattle forms no part of the rural economy of Carnarvonshire, and as the whole stock of the farm, both cattle and sheep, during the spring and summer, feed on the open commons and the cow-lights on the sides of the mountains, the inclosed meadows are regularly hained up and reserved for crops of hay. These, where the land is occasionally manured, are tolerably good; but in numerous instances the crops are scanty, and the hay of a poor quality.
Owing to the general coldness of the atmosphere among the mountains and in their vicinity, the hay harvest is usually late, and the frequency of the rains, that fall from the clouds attracted by their elevated summits, renders it highly precarious, the hay being often spoiled before it can be got in. Even should the weather continue dry, liability to damage arises from another quarter; whirlwinds or tornadoes are not unusual, the approach of which is first indicated by a distant rumbling noise, which becoming louder and louder, they are perceived advancing up the narrow valleys and hollow ravines, whirling in a circular direction, and carrying in their vortices the light and loose objects that lie within their influence. It is also necessary to secure the hay with great care in the stacks, which are thatched, first, by spreading thinly over them straw, coarse hay, or rushes, which covering is fastened down, not, as in most parts of England, with hazel rods pegged down by spars or double splinters, but with hay-ropes stretched horizontally at small distances from each other, and the intervals crossed by similar bands, the whole having the appearance of net-work, and exhibiting a peculiar degree of neatness.
The extraordinary manures employed in the county are various. The following are the principal, viz., shell-sand, which is found on different parts of the coast, and is carried many miles inland in carts and wagons, and coastwise in sloops; sea-weed, which is collected on the coast in large quantities after storms, more particularly on the shores of Bardsey Island, and is commonly spread on the fields to be immediately ploughed in, though sometimes made into various composts; and lime, in the vicinity of the limestone rocks, hereafter described. Carnarvonshire has also some marl on the coast of the Menai. The old Welsh plough is still the most common implement of the kind used in the county; but the Lummas and Scotch ploughs, of a lighter construction, have been introduced in a few instances.
Most of the farmers, by the aid of the mountain and other commonable pastures, are enabled to keep a greater quantity of cattle and sheep, during the summer half of the year, than the produce of the farm will maintain through the winter; consequently, on the approach of the latter season, they sell off a considerable portion of stock, in order that they may have sufficient winter food for the remainder. The promontory of Lleyn and Evionydd, having the same kind of undulating surface, though not altogether so good a soil, as Anglesey, has likewise a breed of cattle similar in most respects to those of that island, and annually supplies for the consumption of England about 1500 yearlings, and 4500 cattle of two years old and upwards. The cattle of the rest of Carnarvonshire, with the exception of a few select stocks, seem to be diminutives of the above breeds of Anglesey, Lleyn, and Evionydd, and have little to recommend them except that they are extremely hardy and may be reared with little expense. These, though not in high esteem with the graziers or carcass-butchers, exhibit a pleasing symmetry of form, being compact, short-legged, and deep-bodied; their colour is chiefly black, and the cows are in considerable esteem for the dairy. For the improvement of this breed, various importations of the best kinds of cattle from England have been made at different times.
The sheep are of the ancient diminutive alpine breed, which also occupies the mountainous tracts of the other counties of North Wales, but is here found in its purest state, unchanged by any foreign mixture. In proportion to their size they have long legs, with slender bodies, and handsome necks and faces, some of them in symmetry resembling the Spanish Merino breed. Like these also they are migratory, though not to so boundless a degree; ranging the mountains during the summer months, and at the approach of winter descending to the lowland pastures. Their faces and legs are generally white, and some of the sheep are horned. The smaller sort weigh from seven to nine Ib. per quarter, and bear a fleece weighing from three-quarters of a pound to a pound and a half; the larger weigh from nine to twelve Ib. per quarter, and yield from a pound and a half to two pounds and a half of wool. This wool is generally coarse and of a short staple, though in many instances that of the neck and shoulders possesses a considerable degree of fineness; it is chiefly used in the flannel manufacture of North Wales, for which it is peculiarly adapted. From their mode of existence, these sheep are of a very different character from those of an inclosed country. Roaming wherever inclination leads them, confined by no fences, and frequently unattended by a shepherd, they are in the first instance obliged to use their own exertions against the attacks of their formidable enemies, the foxes, so numerous among the mountains of the county; as also for their defence from the ravens and large birds of prey. Instead of assembling in large flocks, they form parties, generally consisting of ten or twelve, and if one of the number perceives any thing advancing towards the little flock, he turns and faces the object, which he permits to approach within about a hundred yards, when, if its appearance be hostile and it continues to advance, he warns the party by a shrill whistling noise, which he continues until they have taken the alarm, when the whole scamper off to the more inaccessible parts of the mountains. The instinctive powers of the shepherds' dogs employed in collecting these flocks are no less remarkable. Some few minor crosses have been introduced among the sheep in the more inclosed districts.
Formerly numerous goats were bred amongst the mountains of the county, many of which were so far domesticated as to be regularly milked. They are now no longer considered as forming part of the farmers' stock, their value having been greatly lessened, on account of their destructiveness to young plantations, and of the general disuse of the bushy wigs that were usually made from the hair of these shaggy animals, which was distinguished for its length and fineness. The few remaining in Carnarvonshire are principally confined to the mountain of Moel Siabod, where they run entirely wild. The native breed of hogs much resembles that of several districts in Ireland; they are thin-bodied, tall, and ill-shaped, with long heads and large ears: more valuable kinds, however, have been introduced from England, chiefly the Berkshire breed, which is now become very common. Three thousand hogs are annually sent to the English markets from the promontory of Lleyn and Evionydd, and great numbers are sold in the autumn from other parts of the county. The horses are of mixed breeds; the best bred in the county are those of the promontory of Lleyn. Tender furze bruised with mallets armed with iron, or ground in mills erected for the purpose, was formerly a common article of fodder for the horses, but it is now seldom given. Little corn being raised, few domestic fowls are kept; the county is supplied with poultry from Anglesey, as it is also for the most part with rabbits from the extensive warrens between Llanveirian and Llanvaelog, in that island, although there are considerable numbers in some places in this county near the sea-coast, where the sandiness of the soil favours their burrowing, more especially on Morva Dinlle, near Carnarvon.
Of such animals, being feræ naturâ, as formerly inhabited the grand Snowdonian chain of mountains, the principal were the wolves, deer, goats, and foxes: the wolves were exterminated several ages ago, and the deer, which in Leland's time appear to have prevented the growth of corn, were extirpated about the year 1626. Numerous foxes still find shelter in the holes and clefts of the rocks and crags so abundant in the district, and by their nocturnal depredations on the poultry, lambs, and sheep, are a great annoyance to the farmers. Among the rare and curious birds, the golden eagle is known to have bred among the Snowdonian mountains; those, however, which are generally seen there, are occasional visiters in quest of prey. The ring, or rock, ouzel, though in most places a migratory bird, here takes up its constant abode. Seals are native on the coast of Carnarvonshire, and are seen most frequently between Lleyn and the shores of Anglesey; many are found about Carreg-y-Moelrhon, to the west of Bardsey Island, moelrhon being the Welsh name for a seal.
This county, owing to the general unfavourableness of its climate and aspect, is not distinguished for its horticultural productions, and great numbers of the cottages are entirely without gardens. One circumstance, however, is worthy of notice, viz., that sea-kale grows wild on its coasts, being found in the greatest abundance from the mountain of Penmaen Mawr westward to Bangor, and thence along the whole western coast to Nevin and Aberdaron. It has, in various instances, been transplanted into gardens, where it is found to be an excellent substitute for asparagus, which it also precedes in the spring.
In Leland's time the sides of the Snowdonian mountains were covered with timber, but at present they are almost entirely bare, excepting the woods above Gwydir, on the eastern side of them, which add greatly to the picturesque beauty of the Vale of Llanrwst; and those of Thomas Assheton Smith, Esq., in a very high situation at Talmignedd, near Bethgelart. To these may be added the woods belonging to the latter gentleman at Vaenol, near Bangor, occupying about 200 acres; and the plantations on the Pant Glâs estate, on the south-eastern side of the county. Very extensive plantations were also made in the county, towards the close of the last century, by Lord Penrhyn; and more recently, large tracts have been planted in different parts. In the promontory of Lleyn and Evionydd, the principal plantations are those in the vicinities of Llanystyndwy, Gwynvryn, and Plâs Hên. The hundred of Creuddyn, forming the north-easternmost division of the county, from the rest of which it is separated by the river Conway, is well wooded in the vicinities of Marl, Bôdyscallen, and Gloddaeth. The trees are of various kinds, consisting of oak, ash, beech, &c., with several species of fir.
The whole of the extensive region formed by the Snowdonian mountains was, on the conquest of Wales by Edward I., studiously depopulated by the policy of that monarch, who well knew the asylum it might afford to any of the native malcontents, and who therefore converted the chief part of it into a royal forest. In consequence of this, much of the mountainous part of the county still belongs to the crown; and numerous warrants, issued at different periods, for killing and appropriating the deer, are yet extant. One of these, signed by Henry Sidney, in 1561, arbitrarily extended the boundaries of the forest of Snowdon into Anglesey and Merionethshire, with the view of gratifying Queen Elizabeth's favourite, the Earl of Leicester, who had been appointed chief ranger; although, in the reign of Henry VIII., it had been ascertained to be wholly included within the county of Carnarvon. Presuming on this authority, the Earl of Leicester, as ranger, proceeded to tyrannise over the three counties, which he pretended were included in his commission, with the most rapacious injustice and insufferable insolence. It having been suggested to him that by constructive evidence nearly the whole of the surrounding freehold property might be brought within the boundaries of the forest, commissioners were appointed, and juries impanelled, to inquire into the numerous encroachments made on the royal property; but the integrity of both caused them to come to a decision contrary to the ranger's wishes. After this disappointment, a special commission was appointed, in 1578, composed of persons immediately dependent on the earl; and a jury equally subservient to his views, was subpœnaed to attend at Beaumaris, and directed to survey the Malltraeth marsh, in Anglesey, after which they delivered their verdict, declaring that they found that tract to lie within the verge of Snowdon forest, notwithstanding its being in the county of Anglesey, and separated from the county in which that forest was situated by an arm of the sea. This decision was chiefly obtained from the jury by the instruction of the commissioners, who told them that in the Exchequer of Carnarvon they had found a document, stating that a stag had been roused in the forest of Snowdon, in Carnarvonshire, which, being pursued to the banks of the Menai, swam over that strait, and was killed at Malltraeth, "infra forestam nostram de Snowdon." Sir Richard Bulkeley, who had been one of the former commissioners, conscious of the rectitude of their resistance, and relying on the justice of the cause he had espoused, personally laid before the queen, on behalf of the landholders of the three counties, a representation of the unparalleled oppressions inflicted upon the Welsh by the power exercised under the commission; and at length prevailed upon the queen to recall the commission grant, which was done by public proclamation at Westminster, in the year 1579. The remonstrance, however, caused Leicester to pursue Sir Richard with an inveterate animosity, which ceased only with the life of the former.
Although numerous large and small freeholds escaped the grasp of despotism on the subjugation of the principality by Edward I., and the transfer of property has, in few instances, received any disturbance from the crown for many years, yet several of the estates in Carnarvonshire are at the present day held by regal grant, and most of its vast extent of waste lands is still the property of the queen, is enumerated among the sources of her ordinary revenue, and is subject to inquisition from the Exchequer. The county, as before described, the promontory of Lleyn excepted, seems for the most part to be one vast assemblage of huge rocky mountains, some of which, including Snowdon itself, are common, while others, by grants from the Welsh princes, are claimed as private property up to their very summits. No less than 100,000 acres of land are not only unfit for cultivation, but are wholly incapable of receiving it, consisting of rugged mountains and moors, deep rocky dells, and horrid chasms. There are few farms without a common right on some of these wastes, and the right attached to those in the vicinity of the mountains is almost unlimited; but the rocks of which the mountains consist not being decomposable by the action of the atmosphere, their sterility is very great: the hollows and slopes upon peat, or clay, are the chief spots which produce any herbage for the support of the hardy race of sheep and cattle that are pastured in these alpine tracts during the summer. Several of the more improvable wastes, such as Rhôs Hirwaen, in Lleyn, consisting of about 3000 acres; Penmorva Marsh, on the south-eastern border of the county, comprising about 2700 acres; Morva Dinlle, a sandy marsh with some clay, extending from Dinas Dinlle, an ancient British encampment, to the entrance of the Menai, near Carnarvon, and containing 2560 acres; and the wastes in the parishes of Llandeiniolen and Llanrûg, have been inclosed in pursuance of acts of parliament obtained since the commencement of the present century. The common fuel is peat, an abundance of which is obtained in the morassy parts of the wastes and commons, and stored up for winter use. Much of this valuable material contains a large portion of bituminous matter, which renders it a tolerable substitute for coal, an article of very limited consumption in the county, being only procured at a great price from the collieries of Lancashire, Flintshire, &c. Almost every farm has its appropriated turbary, and such as have no right of common buy peat by the load. The Carnarvonshire Agricultural Society, instituted in the year 1807, and consisting of the principal landed proprietors, has exercised considerable influence in the improvement of the husbandry.
The geological features of Carnarvonshire are peculiarly varied and interesting, though they have received but little illustration; and its mineral productions are of great importance, consisting for the most part of copper and lead ores, slates, limestone, and other kinds of stone used for building. The mountains are in general of the primitive siliceous kind, steep, and rugged. The highest peaks of the Snowdonian chain are composed of porphyritic rocks, belonging to the trap formation, passing into nearly compact, or schistose, hornblende: these, on the western side, form numerous basaltic columns on a bed of hornstone, or chert; and large coarse crystals, cubic pyrites, and various mineral bodies, are frequently found in the fissures. The columns are perpendicular, and more or less regularly pentagonal: their length is various; their diameter about four feet, with transverse joints from six to eight feet asunder, and considerable depositions of thin laminated quartz in the joints. Near the summit of Snowdon, there is reason to believe that schistose rocks belonging to the greywacké formation are also to be found, inclosing impressions of shells. The rocks composing the higher parts of the chain are said to include granite and the granitel of Kirwan, schistose hornblende, and schistose mica; and contiguous to these, on each side, are vast beds of clayslate, forming secondary mountains, which constitute the first parapet of the Snowdonian chain, and accompanying which are found beds of chert, quartz, burrstone, serpentine, and an endless variety of combinations of other mineral substances of less bulk: the promontory of Lleyn is formed almost entirely of clay-slate, but the hills on the north-eastern coast, to the west of the river Conway, are composed in a great measure of chert; and several of the mountains, the bases of which consist of argillaceous schistus, have their middle parts covered with blocks of chert, and their summits surmounted by masses of a granitic character. The argillaceous schistus supports a range of mountain limestone strata on the shores of the Menai; and the substrata of the hundred of Creuddyn consist mostly of the same kind of limestone, being part of a formation which also occupies portions of the counties of Denbigh and Flint, and terminates westward in the cliffs overhanging the sea near Llandudno, commonly called Great Orme's Head, which is the eastern boundary of Beaumaris bay.
Of ores, the mountains appear to contain more copper than lead. The primitive rocks in mass contain no metals, but copper is found in several of the hornstone stratified mountains, of which those at Llanberis and Pont Aberglâslyn are examples: in these mines the ore is for the most part sulphate of copper, and yields from eight to ten per cent. of pure metal. The mines, however, are not worked at present. Oxydated carbonate of copper, with some specimens covered with lancet-pointed crystals of an amethystine colour, is obtained at Derwen-dêg, to the south-west of Conway; and sulphate both of copper and lead is found at Havod-y-Llan, near Dinas Emrys. Some copper-mines are worked with spirit in the limestone strata of the hundred of Creuddyn, near Great Orme's Head, in the parish of Llandudno, producing beautiful specimens of malachite, or mammillated green carbonate of copper, of which all the ore there raised consists. There is another copper-mine extensively worked near Llynau Dinlle, to the north-west of Bethgelart, from which the ore is sent to Carnarvon, and there shipped for Swansea. At Bwlch-haiarn, near Gwydir, on the road from Llanrwst to Capel-Curig, are some leadmines, the veins of ore crossing each other, from north to south and from east to west: the matrix is of quartz and calcareous spar, though the surrounding rocks consist of slate, bituminous shale, and trap, or whinstone: the ores chiefly lie about twelve feet beneath the surface; calamine is found in conjunction with the lead, and the whole is intermingled with ferruginous ochre and a small quantity of copper pyrites. Ores of copper and calamine also exist at Capel-Curig, and there are veins of lead-ore at Penrhŷn dû, adjoining St. Tudwal's Islands, near the southern extremity of the county; and at Gêst, near Penmorva, on its south-eastern frontier. The smelting of iron-ore appears to have been carried on at a remote period in Lleyn, as heaps of scoria still testify.
Great quantities of the argillaceous schistus, so abundant in the county, are converted into SLATES for roofing houses and other purposes. Slates are raised between Conway and Bwlch-y-Ddeuvaen, at Trêvriw, in the Llanberis and Llanllyvni hills, on both sides of the promontory of Lleyn, and in the parish of Llandeiniolen; but the principal works of the kind are those of Cae Braich-y-Cavn, near Dôlawen, on the road between Capel-Curig and Llandegai. These quarries about the year 1780 produced only 1000 tons annually, and gave employment to only sixty men; but coming into the possession of Lord Penrhyn, that nobleman, in 1782, opened a vast quarry, which has ever since been worked, and now yields daily several hundred tons of slates. The produce is conveyed by means of an iron tramway to Port-Penrhyn, which was formed by his lordship for the convenience of the vessels engaged in this trade, and at which large quantities of slate are shipped to all parts of the united kingdom, and different parts of the world. The next largest quarries are those of Llanberis, belonging to T. Assheton Smith, Esq., which in 1844 produced 74,000 tons of slate, and have since been much enlarged: the produce is shipped at PortDinorwig, on the Menai straits, where there is excellent accommodation for vessels of considerable burthen. These works employ nearly as many men as the Dôlawen works. Among the numerous quarries of inferior importance are those of Kîlgwyn, in the parish of Llandwrog, which are known to have been worked for 300 years. The Carnarvonshire slates are exceedingly smooth and of a fine grain, generally of a beautiful blue colour, and may be separated into laminæ as thin as required; properties which render them the best for roofing, and for manufacturing into writing-slates: they consist of forty-eight parts of silex, twenty-six of argil, eight of magnesia, four of calx, and fourteen of iron. Of the three quarries above-mentioned, that of Kîlgwyn produces slates of the coarsest quality, which are also of a deep-red colour; those of Dôlawen are exceedingly smooth and of a brilliant blue, or slate-grey; while those of Llanberis are of an intermediate quality, and generally of a reddish-purple hue. The slates of a deep-blue colour are the best adapted of any in Europe for writing-slates; and those obtained from the Dôlawen quarries are planed and framed of various sizes, in a manufactory established by Lord Penrhyn, near Bangor, to the number of about 18,000 dozen annually: these are not only distributed over all parts of the united kingdom, but considerable quantities are also exported, without frames, to the continent. Ink-stands and other fancy articles are also manufactured here of the same material. The slates raised in the Carnarvonshire quarries are divided by the manufacturers into the following classes: viz., duchesses, measuring twenty-four inches by twelve; countesses, twenty by ten; ladies, sixteen by eight; doubles, twelve by six; queen slates, large and of various sizes: and patents, or imperials, with square heads; besides intermediate sizes; all which are sold by the thousand, except the queens and imperials, which are sold by the ton. In some of the quarries are also other classes, called respectively singles, rags, and kiln-ribs. The slate is also converted into tombstones, dados and plinths for stables and passages, chimney-pieces, hearth-stones, sinkstones, dairy tables, sideboards, panels for doors, shutters, &c., fences, and washball stands. It is likewise used to form cases for the outside of buildings, as a defence against the weather; and in such situations, by being painted and sanded, is made to bear the appearance of stone.
A quarry of burr, for millstones, has been opened since the commencement of the present century, near Conway, in a vein running from east to west along the hill called Mynydd-y-Drêv. Near Cwm Idwal is a large quarry of the novaculite of Kirwan (of the second and third varieties of that species), where great quantities of scythe-hones are cut, and sent to London, Dublin, &c.: hones are also obtained from a rock on the eastern side of the valley of NantFrancon. Steatite, or soap-rock, is found in different places, especially at Craig-y-Sebon, and on the hill to the north of Penmorva. Serpentine abounds in the vicinity of Capel-Curig. Ochre is dug out of a mine near the Dôlawen slate-quarries, and is then separated from the sand with which it is intermixed by grinding and successive filtrations, being finally collected in a sediment, which is dried by the sun and air in summer, and upon kilns during the winter: the general colour of this earth is yellow, but in the same manufactory, and also for the use of painters, others of various hues are ground, with which, in their raw state, the Snowdonian shepherds mark their sheep. Large siliceous crystals, commonly called rock diamonds, are found in the fissures of the rocks among the mountains; they are washed down by the violent torrents caused by the heavy rains frequently experienced in these alpine tracts, and being collected by the poor inhabitants, are presented by them for sale to tourists, as extraordinary and valuable productions. Some curious specimens of cubic pyrites and crystallized tin have been discovered at different times.
The manufactures and commerce of Carnarvonshire are various, and the latter is increasing. Besides supplying themselves with wearing-apparel, the inhabitants annually send a few pieces of blue cloth into Merioneth, and some of a peculiar drabcoloured cloth, called Brethyn sir Von, into Anglesey, the latter to be sold at the Llanerchymedd fairs: these cloths are generally seven-eighths of a yard wide. The flannels manufactured here are coarse. The employment of the mountaineers, both in summer and winter, besides tending their herds, and the labours of the dairy, consists in carding and spinning the wool produced by their flocks, of which they make cloth for their own wear, and for sale at the neighbouring fairs and markets, more particularly at those of Carnarvon and Llanrwst. They also make great quantities of striped linsey-woolsey, of different patterns, which they call stuff, and which is used for the women's gowns. Those who have more wool than the family can manufacture sell it at the neighbouring fairs, of which that of Llanrwst is the principal mart for this article, and is attended by the English buyers: the price obtained for the wool at this fair is usually the standard for the year. A considerable quantity of coarse linen yarn is spun and woven by the inhabitants of the mountainous districts, both for their own use and for sale, but chiefly for the latter. The spinners and weavers have a measure peculiar to themselves, commonly called the Welsh yard, which is forty inches long, and by which all their milled cloth, flannels, linseys, and linen are measured when sold. The knitting of woollen stockings and socks is carried on most extensively in the south-eastern extremity of the county, in the neighbourhood of Llanrwst and Penmachno, which is included in the great manufacturing district for those articles, of which the town of Bala in Merionethshire is the centre. Formerly all the wool that was not home-spun and customwove, after being sold, was exported to be manufactured in different parts of the kingdom; but since the commencement of the present century, various establishments have been formed on some of the numerous small streams, for carrying on different branches of the woollen manufacture. Thus, in the parishes of Llanrûg, Llanwnda, &c., are slubbing and carding engines, with jennies and billies for luffing and spinning, which prepare the worsted yarn, and in some instances manufacture it into cloth. At Trêmadoc, on the south-eastern confines of the county, was formerly a large manufactory for weaving druggets and coarse army-cloth. There are about fifty nailers in the county. In the parish of Llanrûg is a paper-mill, and another at Porth-Llwyd, on the Conway, below Llanrwst; and to this list of manufactures may be added the important one of slates, above described. The commerce, until of late years, was almost wholly confined to the port of Carnarvon; but the trade in the article of slates, which form the chief exports in the county, is now chiefly carried on from Port-Penrhyn and Port-Dinorwig.
Although its commerce is comparatively unimportant, yet the harbours of the county are numerous. In the promontory of Lleyn are several creeks, affording safe retreats from storms to boats and small craft engaged on the coast during the fishing season. Among these are Porth-Towyn, Porth-Colman, PorthGwylan, Porth-Ysgadan, and Aberdaron, the last of which is a village chiefly inhabited by fishermen, and the place whence the passage is usually made to Bardsey Island, on the south-eastern side of which is a well-sheltered harbour for vessels of from twenty to forty tons' burthen. The small bay between Porth Towyn and Ceiriad Road is vulgarly called by mariners "Hell's Mouth," from the danger, in rough weather, of being driven into it and wrecked, in attempting to gain St. Tudwal's Road, near Pwllheli, which as a haven is deemed inferior to none in Britain, being not only commodious, but extensive enough to receive the largest fleet, well defended on one side by the promontory of Lleyn, and on the other by two islets, called St. Tudwal's Islands. Pwllheli, having a harbour capable of admitting vessels of sixty tons' burthen, forms the grand depôt for articles imported for the supply of the southwestern part of the county. The small harbour of Porth-Dinllaen was improved early in the present century, by subscription, and has recently undergone some further alterations. Carnarvon has a very commodious harbour: it is impeded by a bar; but the tide rises so high here, that, with proper attention, ships of almost any size may pass and repass in safety. This port carries on a very considerable coasting-trade with London, Bristol, Liverpool, and Ireland, and is by far the most important in this part of Wales. Port-Dinorwig, situated on the Menai, about half-way between Carnarvon and Bangor, opposite Moel-y-Don ferry, has been considerably enlarged and improved within the last few years; it is of good size, and generally contains a number of vessels from all parts, waiting for cargoes. Several hundred tons of slate are daily brought here for shipment. Port-Penrhyn, formerly called Abercegin, close to the town of Bangor, being naturally only a small inlet, was converted by Lord Penrhyn into a commodious harbour, capable of admitting vessels of 300 tons' burthen, for more conveniently exporting the slates from his quarries, about six miles distant. Conway, situated on the left bank, and within a short distance of the mouth, of the river Conway, has a dry harbour, frequented by a few coasting-vessels. The chief exports through the medium of these ports, more particularly of those of Carnarvon, Port-Dinorwig, and Port-Penrhyn, are, slates for roofing; writing-slates; ores of copper; ground chert, &c., for the English potteries; and ochre: the principal exports by land are cattle, sheep, hogs, and raw wool. The imports, besides those of groceries, and other ordinary articles of retail trading, consist chiefly of grain and coal. The principal fishery is on that part of the coast between Pwllheli and Bardsey Island, where the bays and creeks are frequented in the season by vast shoals of herrings, some of which, when taken, are salted on shore, and the rest chiefly sold to Irish vessels of small burthen, which come hither for the purpose of purchasing them. Great numbers of dories are caught here, as also are smelts near Pwllheli; and a small kind of lobster is frequently found burrowing in the sands.
The rivers, owing to the peninsular situation of the county, for the most part run only a short course, from the mountains immediately to the sea; though the waters of some of them are very copious. The Conway, which is the principal, forms an exception, taking a longer course, down a spacious and delightful valley extending parallel with the Vale of Clwyd in Denbighshire, between which county, and that of Carnarvon, the stream forms the line of division during the greater part of its course. Issuing from Llyn Conway, near the point of junction of the three counties of Carnarvon, Denbigh, and Merioneth, it takes a southern, afterwards a northeastern, and lastly a northern, course, at first precipitating its waters in successive falls, until, emerging from under the high wooded cliffs of Gwydir, it rushes into the Vale of Nantconway, and, flowing under the elegant bridge of Llanrwst, meanders in beautiful curves to the town of Conway. Here it swells into a noble tide-river, and soon after mingles its waters with those of the Irish Sea, in the eastern part of Beaumaris bay, after a course of about twenty miles, in which it has been joined by almost as many smaller streams, of which the principal are, the Machno, the Ceirio, and the Llugwy, all from Carnarvonshire. The Conway meets the tide and becomes navigable at Trêvriw, about two miles below the town of Llanrwst, and at its mouth is about a mile broad, and capable of admitting vessels of great burthen. Although it forms the boundary between Carnarvonshire and Denbighshire, during the early part of its course, yet a small portion of the former county, below Llanrwst, is situated on its eastern bank; and from the vicinity of the village of Llansantfraid, in the latter, the remainder of its course is wholly in the former, in which it separates the hundred of Creuddyn from the rest of the county. In the lower reaches of this river, the silt brought up and deposited by the tides has raised its bed above the level of the vale on each side, a circumstance that greatly tends to the injury of the adjacent meadows. A ledge of rocks called the Arrow, crossing the Conway about a furlong above Tàl-y-cavn ferry, forming a great obstacle to its navigation, and over which, at low water, there was a fall of no less than three feet, has been partially removed.
The Seiont, a small and rapid river, has its source in a lake on the eastern side of Snowdon, whence, suddenly turning towards the north-west, it flows through the two beautiful lakes of Llanberis, from the lower of which it proceeds westward, at first under the name of Rythel. Afterwards assuming the name of Seiont, it passes the site of the ancient Segontium to the town of Carnarvon, where it discharges its waters into the Menai, its estuary making a safe and commodious harbour. The lakes and the channel between them were formerly navigated by boats, which conveyed slates, &c., to the lowest extremity of the lower lake, whence they were forwarded by carts to Carnarvon. The Gwyrvai, a stream much resembling the Seiont in size and character, takes a course nearly parallel with it a few miles further southward, and falls into the Menai, near the southwestern entrance of that strait. The Ogwen, a small river from Llyn Ogwen, is equally rapid in its current, and, running north-westward, falls into the Menai, about two miles north-east of Bangor. Lleyn is watered only by inconsiderable streams; and the Gwynedd, or Glâslyn river, is the only one on the southern side of the county worthy of especial notice: it has its source in one of the wildest parts of the Snowdonian mountains, and, after forming the lake of Llyn Gwynedd, pursues a southern course by the village of Bethgelart, and then rushes through a vast chasm in the mountains, which separates the counties of Carnarvon and Merioneth. In the rest of its course it forms the boundary between the two shires, flowing through the now secured and inclosed sands of the Traeth Mawr, once its great estuary, and pouring its waters into the northernmost part of Cardigan bay, a few miles north-eastward of the borough of Criccieth. Carnarvonshire has no artificial inland navigation.
The great Chester and Holyhead railway enters the county from near Abergele, in Denbighshire, and passes along the coast, through the detached parish of Llŷsvaen, running close to some large limestone-quarries. For some distance here the cuttings are exceedingly heavy, and the line afterwards enters Penmaen Rhôs tunnel, 1629 feet in length, and cut through the solid rock; then, passing by the improving village of Colwyn, in Llandrillo, re-enters Denbighshire, and runs along the small vale of Mochdre. Again entering the county of Carnarvon, the line proceeds on the south of Llancystenyn church, and approaches the river Conway, where a most magnificent landscape presents itself: the fine old town of Conway, with its ancient castle, appears in front, with the Carnarvonshire mountains for a background. The line runs on an embankment of 600 or 700 yards, parallel with the Chester and Holyhead road, and then passes into the grand tubular bridge over the river, emerging close under the walls of the castle, and proceeding by the dilapidated town-walls to the Conway station. It then runs along a tunnel of 112 yards, under one of the towers of the ancient walls, and thence by some deep cuttings to Conway Marsh. The railway now skirts the sea-shore; passes along a tunnel 630 yards in length, cut through a hard flinty rock; intersects the fertile plain of Dwygyvylchi, and passes at the foot of Penmaen Mawr, where the Carnarvonshire range of mountains is terminated by the waters of Beaumaris bay. Here the line proved very difficult and expensive, comprising a sea-wall, a tunnel of 220 yards, and other works. After intersecting the parish of Llanvair-Vechan, it reaches the delightful village of Aber; and a few miles beyond, quitting the coast line, runs close to Penrhyn Park and Llandegai, east of Bangor. In this part it is carried over the Ogwen river and valley by two extensive viaducts, and through the Llandegai hills by a tunnel 440 yards in length; after which, the Cegin river and valley are crossed by a viaduct 200 yards long, supported by nine arches, sixty-two feet above the level of the stream. The Bangor station is approached by a tunnel of about 920 yards, cut at a depth of from 160 to 200 yards, through the solid rock, consisting chiefly of slate and greenstone. Leaving the station, the line almost immediately enters the Belmont tunnel, 726 yards long, and having four shafts: this conducts to the Menai strait, which is crossed by a tubular bridge on a still more gigantic scale than that at Conway; and thus the railway is carried into the county of Anglesey. The two bridges are noticed under the heads of Bangor and Conway, and some particulars of the line generally are given in the article on Holyhead: see also the articles on Anglesey, Denbighshire, and Flintshire. The North Wales railway, wholly in the county, was to commence at Bangor in junction with the Chester and Holyhead line, and proceed along the shore of the Menai, through Llanvair-is-Gaer, to Carnarvon. Thence it was to take the coast line of Carnarvon bay, crossing the river Llyvni, and passing by the town of Nevin, to its terminus at Porth-Dinllaen, on the bay, in the parish of Edern; which is the same distance (sixty miles) from Wicklow, on the Irish coast, as Holyhead is from Kingston Harbour, Dublin. This line was twenty-eight and a half miles long; it was to have one tunnel, 704 yards in length, and the steepest gradient was 1 in 203. The royal assent was given to the company's bill on July 21st, 1845, and they obtained a deviation act in the session of 1846; but the design is now altogether abandoned. In the county is a tramroad for the conveyance of slates from the quarries near Dôlawen to the vessels at Port-Penrhyn, the length of which is six miles; also a railway of four feet gauge, on which a locomotive engine is employed, for the conveyance of slates from Llanberis to Port-Dinorwig, a distance of eight miles; and a tramroad from Llynau Dinlle to Carnarvon, for conveying copper-ore and slates.
The roads, which were formerly among the worst in the principality, have undergone great improvements, notwithstanding the difficulties experienced in the execution of such undertakings in so mountainous a country. Amongst the instances most worthy of notice may be mentioned, the construction, in the year 1770, of a good road over the vast precipice of Penmaen Mawr, as part of the road to Ireland by way of Chester and Holyhead, and in which the government afforded considerable assistance; the formation, by Lord Penrhyn, of an excellent road from Capel-Curig, through Nant-Francon and the romantic interior of the Snowdon mountains, to Dôlawen and Bangor, and which now forms part of the nearer route from the metropolis to Ireland; the formation of a new road from Carnarvon to Clynnog, Pwllheli, and Nevin; that of one under the direction of the late Mr. Madocks of Tan-yrAllt, from Aberglâslyn bridge through Trêmadoc to Nevin; and that of another from Llanrwst and Capel-Curig, over Bwlch-yr-Eisteddva, or Gorphwysva, and through Nant Peris, on the western side of the lakes, to Carnarvon. Besides these may also be mentioned the construction of the magnificent suspension bridge over the Menai, near Bangor, and that over the broad channel of the river Conway, at Conway. The road from Carnarvon to the Aberglâslyn bridge, which forms the entrance into Merionethshire, running a distance of upwards of twelve miles through the romantic wilds of Snowdon, was reconstructed by subscription, about the commencement of the present century; and the communication with Merionethshire is now excellent, by means of a good road across the Traeth Mawr to Tan-y-Bwlch. In 1826, a new line of road, above four miles long, was carried round Penmaen Mawr, instead of the road formed in 1770 over it. Carnarvonshire, as has been already noticed, abounds throughout with excellent materials for making and repairing roads. Its numerous streams, when swelled by the frequent and sudden rains that fall in the mountains, require the roads to be carried over them by bridges of a greater length than would be requisite in a champaign country; which increase of size is obtained sometimes by extending the span of a single arch, and sometimes by continuing the structure in the manner of an arcade. Thus diversified in their shapes, and in most instances erected, not at right angles across the stream, but obliquely, they form very ornamental objects in the picturesque scenery of the district.
The road from London to Holyhead by way of Chester enters the northern part of the county, from Abergele in Denbighshire, and passes through Conway, and by the Penmaen Mawr mountain, to Llandegai and Bangor, from which latter place it is carried over the Menai strait by the chain bridge. That from London to Holyhead by way of Shrewsbury, which is shorter than the former by fourteen miles, enters from Pentre-Voelas in Denbighshire, and becomes identified with the line made by Lord Penrhyn, passing by Capel-Curig to the village of Llandegai, near Bangor, where it forms a junction with the road by Chester: the branch from this at Capel-Curig to Carnarvon has been noticed above. Another road from London reaches the county by way of Welshpool and Harlech, entering it from the latter town, in Merionethshire, at Pont Aberglâslyn, whence the main line is continued to Carnarvon, and over the Abermenai ferry into Anglesey; while a branch extends into the promontory of Lleyn, communicating with the towns of Criccieth, Pwllheli, and Nevin.
The remains of antiquity are numerous, various, and interesting. Some are of the class usually considered Druidical; such as the great circle of upright stones, in the parish of Dwygyvylchi; the small Druidical circle, of which some of the stones are deranged and others fallen, situated above Penmorva; the larger circle on Bwlch Craigwen, which is almost entire, and is composed of thirty-eight upright stones; the three cromlechs near Ystum Cegid; the uncommonly large cromlech, in a field near the sea-shore, about half a mile from Clynnog, about thirty yards from which stands a single rude pillar of stone; and the large cromlech situated near the old mansion of Cevn Amlwch, called by the common people Coiten Arthur.
Remains of the Roman stations Segontium and Conovium (described under the heads of Carnarvon and Caerhên), with vestiges of a few detached outposts, and of the connecting roads between them, are yet visible. Part of a Roman road is seen extending from the ancient Segontium to the strong post of Dinas Dinlle, which latter comprises the summit of a large mount, apparently artificial, on the sea-shore, and on the verge of an extensive level, formerly a marsh. It is of a circular shape, four hundred feet in diameter, and surrounded by a vast rampart of earth, within which are included vestiges of buildings of an oblong form, constructed of loose stones, and a tumulus formed of the same materials. Here have been found Roman coins; and on a stream designated Y Foriad, that runs at a little distance, are two fords, still called respectively by the mixed British and Roman names of Rhŷd pedestre and Rhŷd equestre, "the passage for the infantry," and "the passage for the cavalry." The works of Dinas Dinlle appear to have been constructed by the Britons, and afterwards used by the Romans. In connexion with this great centre of observation and action were several other forts, lying diagonally across the country, some towards the north, and others towards the south. The most considerable are, Dinas Dinorwig, in the parish of Llandeiniolen, which is still entire, and consists of an extensive area, including the remains of a circular stone building, supposed by some to have been a prætorium, surrounded by two ramparts of loose stones, within which are two valla formed of earth, and two very deep fosses; Yr hên Gastell, or "the old Castle," near the brook Carrog, in the parish of Llanwnda, which is a small intrenchment with a single rampart, about fifty paces long; Dinas Gorvan, near Pont Newydd, in the same parish, the only vestige of which is its name; and Craig-y-Dinas, on the river Llyvni, a mile and a half distant, and about a mile south-west of the road leading from Carnarvon to Pwllheli, a quarter of a mile from the seat called Lleiar, which is a circular encampment, about a hundred paces in diameter, and the ramparts of which, defended by a treble ditch, are very strong, and composed of uncemented stones: the entrance is towards the north, very narrow, and forty paces in length. All these works are British, but they are supposed by some writers to have been afterwards connected, like Dinas Dinlle, with Roman occupation. Further on, towards the extremity of this southern diagonal line, at the foot of Llanelhaiarn mountain, is a small fort on the summit of a high rock, called Caer, a Roman post of observation: smaller intrenched camps are seen on the western side of the county. Porth-Dinllaen, near Nevin, is thought, from vestiges of strong intrenchments in the vicinity, to have been a harbour made use of by the Romans; and in the parish of Llaniestyn, a little further southward, various Roman urns have been found. The Via Occidentalis entered the county from Merionethshire, at Pont Aberglâslyn, near Bethgelart: some inconsiderable traces of it are yet visible in its progress to Segontium; and it gives name to a farm over which it passes, called Ystrad, or "the Street." Another Roman road, entering the county from Denbighshire, ran through the station Conovium, ascended the hill by Bwlch-y-Ddeuvaen, and thence passed towards the coast, where it ran nearly parallel with the Menai to Segontium.
Carnarvonshire contains several other large intrenched camps of British origin. On the mountainous ridge of the Reivel, forming the southernmost of the more distinguished summits of the Snowdonian chain, is one of the grandest and most artfully constructed British posts in the kingdom, called Tre'r Caeri, or "the town of fortresses." The only accessible side seems to have been defended by three walls, the first of which is now imperfect, the second nearly entire, and the third ranges unequally round the highest verge of the hill; these walls appear to have been regularly faced, are very lofty, and exhibit from below a grand and extensive front. The inclosed area is of an irregular shape, and nearly in the centre of it is a quadrangular space, fenced with stones, and surrounded by two rows of cells, while numerous others are scattered over the surface. These remains of habitations are of various forms; circular, oblong, and square; some fifteen and others thirty feet in diameter, with long entrance passages faced with stone. From the circumstance of many eminences in the vicinity being similarly fortified, namely, Carn Madryn, Bôduan, Moel Benwrch, Castell Gwgan, Moel Garn Guwch, and Pen-yGaer, it has been supposed that this part of the county formed one of the principal retreats of the Britons, when hard pressed by their invaders. On the summit of Penmaen Mawr is the British fortified post or town of Braich-y-Dinas, which, like the similar great work of Tre'r Caeri, must have been perfectly impregnable in early times. Another commanding post of British construction is, Castell Caer Seion, a hill strongly fortified, about a mile and a half distant from the town of Conway: the remains shew this to have been a most extensive British town, with a citadel, outposts, &c. Near the village of Aberdaron, at the southern extremity of the county, is a small circular encampment, about fifty yards in diameter, defended by a double ditch and rampart; and on an isolated hill, at the foot of the lower lake of Llanberis, is an agger of loose stones, once a British fortification, called Caer Cwm y Glô; besides which, on the left side of the valley of NantGwynant, near the village of Bethgelart, on the top of a precipitous rock called Dinas Emrys, or the "fortified city of Ambrosius," is a considerable area, the approach to which is defended by two large ramparts: this comprises the ruins of an ancient stone edifice, about ten yards in length, having walls built without cement, very thick and strong. The bwlch, or hollow, forming the entrance from the mountains into the plain called Nant-Gwrtheyrn, or "Vortigern's Valley," near the town of Nevin, is crossed by a vast artificial rampart, of loose stones, regarded in ancient times as the defence of this important pass.
The religious houses, at the period of the Reformation, were, at Bangor a house of Friars preachers; in Bardsey Island, a very ancient abbey, founded before the year 522; at Bethgelart, a priory of Augustine canons; at Clynnog-Vawr, a collegiate church; and at Maenan, near Llanrwst, a Cistercian abbey, which on its dissolution possessed a revenue of £179. 10. 10. There are some remains of the abbey of Bardsey Island, and Bethgelart Priory. Other very interesting specimens of ecclesiastical architecture exist in the cathedral of Bangor; in the collegiate church of Clynnog, situated on the seacoast to the south of Carnarvon, one of the finest religious edifices in Wales, and for the restoration of which a public subscription has been set on foot; in the parish church of Llandegai, and the parish church of Llanbeblig, this last containing a fine altartomb. The churches are more numerous in the promontory of Lleyn than in any other part of the county; and from old inscriptions in the buildings and their cemeteries, some of them appear to have been founded soon after the introduction of Christianity into Britain. There are extensive ruins of the castles of Carnarvon and Conway, scarcely equalled in grandeur by any in the island. There are also very curious ruins of the castle of Criccieth; some small remains of the celebrated fortress of Deganwy, in the detached hundred of Creuddyn, the northernmost division of the county; picturesque ruins of Dôlbadarn Castle, near the village of Llanberis; likewise of an ancient, and extensive castle on the summit of a hill called Braich-y-Dinas, rising out of the Penmaen mountain, which overlooks the bay of Beaumaris; and of a small fortress on a lofty rock at the head of Llyn Cawellyn. The foundations of the castle of Bangor are yet traceable; and at Dôlbenmaen, near Criccieth, is an old circular tower, supposed to be of British construction. Carnarvon is yet surrounded by its ancient wall, a work of great height and thickness, flanked at short intervals by numerous semicircular bastion towers; the walls and the four principal gateways of Conway are also still standing, and in a tolerable state of preservation.
The ancient mansions most worthy of notice are, Gloddaeth, Gwydir, and the episcopal palace at Bangor. Llŷs Dinorwig, in Llandeiniolen, now in ruins, is said to have been a palace of the last native sovereign of Wales, Llewelyn ab Grufydd, who had also a residence at Aber. The seats of more modern date most worthy of enumeration are, the Deanery at Bangor; Bôdegroes; Caerhên Hall: Coed Helen; Glasfryn, in the parish of Llangybi; Glynllivon Park, the seat of Lord Newborough; Gorddinog; Gwynvryn; Llanvair; Madryn; Nanhoran; Pendyfryn; Penrhyn Castle, in the parish of Llandegai, lately erected on the site of a very ancient mansion; Tan-yr-Allt; Trallwyn; and Vaenol House, southwest of Bangor.
The farmhouses and offices are in some instances well arranged; but they are mostly of an inferior description. The houses of the peasantry are often extremely mean and rude. In some parts their walls are built of what in English counties is called cobb, that is, an argillaceous earth having straw or rushes mixed with it, placed in layers between boards, until the whole is ready for the roof, which is made beforehand, and composed of thatch, either of straw, fern, or heath. Some of these huts, which have commonly but two rooms, are without chimneys, the smoke escaping by a hole at one end of the building. In the more mountainous parts the cottages are constructed of loose stones, such as are found in abundance round the bases of the mountains; these are piled upon each other, and the interstices stuffed close with moss, to keep out the wind and driving rain. The houses of the small farmers, however, have the openings filled with mortar, and in some instances are plastered and whitewashed. In the more frequented parts of the county, between Conway and Carnarvon, and in the vicinities of the slate-quarries, the cottages, as well as the houses of a superior class, are generally built of unhewn stone. The roofing is commonly formed of the fine blue slate of the district, which, when the walls are externally whitewashed or rough-cast, gives them a very cheerful appearance. In situations exposed to the westerly winds, the walls of dwelling-houses in this part of the county are not unusually guarded by a casing of slates, each successive course of which partly covers the one below; the object being to prevent the sea air from penetrating the walls and rendering them damp inside. When a front of this kind is neatly executed with dark-coloured mortar in the interstices, it has a pretty appearance; otherwise, its aspect is unpleasing. The fires in the rural habitations are often made by piling ignited peat on the stone hearth; for, though grates have long been in use in many houses, yet some families reject them, as a fire raised above the level of the floor is less calculated for the purposes of warmth than one kindled on the hearth.
The mode of living of the mountaineers is particularly simple: their bread, called in Welsh bara ceirch, is of oats; and their principal beverage is whey or butter-milk, with a few bottles of cwrw, or ale, preserved as a cordial in case of illness. This plain and humble fare, together with their invigorating climate and active employments, renders them a hardy and long-lived race: whenever medicines are deemed necessary, the herbs growing in the neighbourhood furnish the supply, which is commonly administered by the advice of some matron of reputed skill. Oaten cakes are not only eaten in the mountainous districts, but also constitute the household bread of all the other parts of the county, except only in genteel families, in some of the towns, and in the inns on the post-roads; they are unleavened, and baked on iron plates suspended over the fire, called bake-stones. One daily meal throughout the year consists of a very wholesome vegetable mucilage, called llymru (in English flummery), made by adding as much warm water to finely-ground oatmeal as it can well absorb, to which some sour buttermilk, leaven, or other ferment, is added, and in three or four days' time more warm water is put in, to make it thin enough to be strained through a hairsieve and boiled, after which it is ready for use: the slight fermentation it undergoes, during its infusion, gives it a pleasant acidity, contrasting well with the sweetness of the milk with which it is generally eaten. It should be observed however, that some of the above particulars apply rather to the condition of the peasantry forty years ago than at the present time, considerable changes having taken place in their habits and mode of living. Servants hired by the year usually commence their term of service on the 1st of May.
The surface of the county, with regard to its fences, wears a singular aspect to a stranger arriving from a well-cultivated country. Much land that is not deemed waste has for ages been devoid of fences, and where these are found, they are generally such rude barriers as to admit the trespass, not only of sheep, but of cattle and horses, to the great annoyance and loss of the farmer. Few quickset or coppice hedges are any where to be seen, the inclosures being ordinarily made by walls, three feet, and in some places not more than two feet, high, constructed of loose stones collected from the land so inclosed, or from the neighbouring commons. The stones are piled loosely and promiscuously, except that frequently smaller pieces are laid upon a huge block, evidently lying in its natural situation and position; and the curvature of many of the fences appears to be owing to the accidental position of the several massy blocks discoverable in them. Parts of these unstable erections often fall, and open breaches for all kinds of errant cattle; nor do they ever present any obstacle to the active sheep of the country, which of themselves descend from the mountains in large and numerous flocks on the approach of winter, spread in swarms over the lowland fields, and devour every kind of vegetable produce within their reach. Different gentlemen, however, in clearing their land of the immense blocks of stone that encumbered it, having blasted them with gunpowder, have employed the stone in the improvement of their fences, many of which are now compact and of a proper height.
To the east of the church of Llandeiniolen is a spring, esteemed in the neighbourhood for its sanative properties, and called Fynnon Cegin Arthur, or "Arthur's kitchen water." The cataracts formed by the mountain streams are very numerous, but the most remarkable for their grandeur or their beauty are the following:—Rhaiadr Cwm Dyli, which consists of two distinct waterfalls, formed by a rivulet issuing from the alpine pool in the mountains above, called Llyn Llwydaw, and which, precipitating itself over two rocky ledges, breaks in foam and spray down their broken fronts; Ceunant Mawr, a tremendous fall, half a mile south of Dôlbadarn Castle, which is more than sixty feet in height, and is formed by a torrent from Cwm Brwynog; Rhaiadr Mawr, in the romantic glen that contains the village of Aber-Gwyngregyn, forming two successive falls, the upper of which is again broken into several parts by projecting ledges of rock, while the lower precipitates itself in one broad sheet from a height of upwards of sixty feet; another Rhaiadr Mawr, formed by the stream issuing from Llyn Geirionydd, and regarded by Mr. Bingley as the grandest waterfall in North Wales; and the fall on the stream that issues from Llyn Cowlyd, in the vicinity of the lastmentioned. Down a rocky height called the Benglog, situated on one side of the valley of NantFrancon, rush the united waters of five lakes (giving rise to the river Ogwen) into a deep pool beneath, forming three successive cataracts of striking beauty. To this enumeration of natural curiosities may be added the little floating island on a small lake called Llyn-y-Dywarchen, or "the lake of the sod," which lies to the right of the road leading from Carnarvon to Bethgelart.