A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1849.
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DENBIGH, a borough, market-town, and parish, having exclusive jurisdiction, in the union of St. Asaph, locally in the hundred of Isaled, county of Denbigh (of which it is the ancient shire town), in North Wales, 218 miles (N. W.) from London, on the road from Ruthin to St. Asaph; the borough containing 5238 inhabitants, of whom 3405 are in the parish. This place was originally named by the Welsh Castell Caled-Vryn yn Rhôs, "the castle on the craggy hill in Rhôs," from the prominent situation of the castle in the ancient territory of that name. Its present name is a modernisation of the Welsh designation Dinbech, signifying a small hill, probably from a comparison with the loftier eminences by which it is surrounded. Edward I. bestowed the lordship upon Davydd, brother of Llewelyn the last sovereign of North Wales, who, on the death of that prince, assumed the title of Prince of Wales, and here convened an assembly of the native chieftains, in order to deliberate upon the most effective mode of prosecuting the war against the English. But their efforts were unavailing; and Davydd, being surprised and taken prisoner in the vicinity, was conveyed to Rhuddlan Castle, at which Edward was then staying, and thence to Shrewsbury, where, having been tried and convicted of treason, he was condemned to an ignominious death, which was carried into execution in a most barbarous manner. Edward then granted the castle and lordship to Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, who built on the site of the former a magnificent structure, surrounded the small town with walls, one mile and a half in compass, and conferred divers privileges on the inhabitants, which entitled him to the distinction of founder of the future importance of the place. It has been stated, however, that the castle was not entirely finished by him, in consequence of the death of his son, who, falling into a deep well in the Red Tower, was drowned, when the afflicted parent, according to Camden, "desisted from his work before he had laid on the roof." Lacy was afterwards ordered by his sovereign to take the command of the army, jointly with the Earl of Lancaster, the king's brother, then about to embark on a continental expedition: but a wide-spread revolt breaking out in North Wales, at the head of which was Madoc, an illegitimate son of the late Prince Llewelyn, the projected expedition was abandoned, and the Earl of Lincoln, with a view to preserve his newly-erected castle of Denbigh, advanced into Wales before the king. He failed, however, in his object; for, arriving in the vicinity of this place, on the 11th of November, 1294, he was suddenly attacked by the Welsh, who, relying on the situation of the English army, determined to stake their hope of success on the issue of a single battle, in which they were signally victorious, the English being defeated and compelled to retire.
Upon the death of Lacy, the lordship passed to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in right of his wife Alicia, daughter and sole heiress of the Earl of Lincoln; but, reverting to the crown on his attainder, it was bestowed by Edward II. on his favourite, Hugh Spencer, Earl of Winchester, whose conduct towards his vassals was highly oppressive, in depriving them of several of the privileges conferred by Lacy. After the execution of Spencer, the lordship was conferred by Edward III. on Roger Mortimer, Earl of March. This nobleman having suffered the same fate as his two predecessors, Edward assigned the lordship to William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, who died in 1333; and on the reversal of the attainder of the Earl of March, it was restored to his grandson Roger, and, passing to Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cambridge, by marriage with Anne, sister of Roger, the last Earl of March, came to the house of York, and thus became vested in the crown.
During the war between the rival houses of York and Lancaster, Denbigh was held for Henry VI. by his half-brother, Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, from whom it was taken by the Yorkists in 1460: in the year 1468, Pembroke is said to have returned with an army of 2000 Welshmen, and to have burnt the town in revenge. Leland informs us that Edward IV. was besieged in the castle, from which he was permitted to retire only upon condition of leaving the kingdom for ever. The castle appears to have remained from this time in the possession of the crown, till the year 1563, when Elizabeth granted it, with the lordship, to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, whom she created Baron of Denbigh. The conduct of this nobleman rendered him obnoxious to the inhabitants, whom his extortions drove into open rebellion against his authority: various tumultuary proceedings took place, and some of the gentlemen resident in the neighbourhood being implicated, were tried and beheaded. The queen, in order to allay the strong feelings of discontent which the rapacity of the earl had excited, secured to the tenants by charter, in the nineteenth year of her reign, the quiet possession of their property within the borough, and conferred upon the burgesses several new and valuable privileges; and the earl, with a view to make some satisfaction for the evils he had inflicted, and to conciliate the minds of the inhabitants, commenced at his own cost the erection of an elegant chapel in the castle, of which he laid the first stone on the 1st of March, 1579, as appears from a foundation stone now in the south-east corner of the building. This edifice, which was intended as a parochial church for the inhabitants, was from some circumstance not completed, and the walls, which had been raised to a considerable height, were left to moulder into ruin.
On the attainder of the Earl of Leicester, the castle and lordship again reverted to the crown; and from this time till the commencement of the civil war of the seventeenth century, very few circumstances of historical interest are recorded. In 1643, the castle was garrisoned for King Charles by William Salusbury, a gentleman in the neighbourhood, and an ancestor of the present Lord Bagot, who repaired it at his own expense, and, with the aid of the inhabitants of Denbigh and the gentry of the vicinity, raised and maintained an armed force sufficient to resist every effort that might be made to reduce it for the parliament. The royalists retained possession of the castle, and after the disastrous battle of Rowton Moor in September 1645, it afforded an asylum to the vanquished monarch, who for two nights occupied the tower (now in ruins) which from that circumstance was called Siambr y Brenin, or "the royal apartment." The parliamentarians subsequently gained a victory over the king's forces near Denbigh; but they made no impression on the castle, which the garrison continued to defend with unabated intrepidity, till September 1646, when, in obedience to a special order from the king, dated at Newcastle, the governor capitulated on honourable terms, and, after the treaty was signed, delivered the keys to General Mytton, on the 26th of October; this being almost the last fortress which held out for the king. Soon after the Restoration, the fortifications were dismantled by order of Charles II. William III. granted the castle and lordship of Denbigh, together with several large possessions in Wales, to the Earl of Portland, which excited a considerable ferment among the inhabitants, who having sent a petition to parliament, some animated debates took place in the House of Commons, and the grant was rescinded. The castle and lordship are still under the superintendence of a steward appointed by patent from the crown.
The town is picturesquely situated nearly in the centre of the rich and beautiful Vale of Clwyd, partly at the base, and partly on the acclivity, of a steep, isolated, rocky eminence crowned by the venerable remains of the castle. At a distance it presents an interesting appearance, which, however, is not entirely sustained on entering the place. It consists of three principal thoroughfares, and several smaller streets and lanes, and is well paved and lighted, but only scantily supplied with water, which is brought from several springs, each at some distance from the more respectable portions of the town. Leland informs us that there were anciently several streets within the walls, but that at the period at which he wrote, namely, in the reign of Henry VIII., most of the houses were in a dilapidated condition, or wholly removed. Part of the town is within the parish of Hênllan. The environs abound with beautiful and varied scenery; the air is remarkably salubrious; the land around the town is rich, and in a high state of cultivation; and in the immediate neighbourhood are numerous seats and elegant villas, inhabited by opulent families, whom the advantages of its situation have induced to select Denbigh for their residence. Considerable improvements were lately effected, by widening the narrower streets and excavating the rock, by which some good levels have been obtained, and various other advantages gained.
The great Eisteddvod, or Congress of Bards, held here on the 16th and two following days of September, 1828, was honoured by the presence of His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, and most of the nobility and gentry of the surrounding country. The proceedings were opened by reading the old proclamation, usual on such occasions; after which the prize compositions were read, and the medals were distributed by ladies to the successful candidates. The Duke of Sussex, on his arrival on the second day, was met by the corporation at the confines of the borough, where an address was read and the freedom of the borough presented to His Royal Highness, who, having returned a suitable reply, proceeded to the area beneath the castle, where the competitors recited their englynion, and displayed their trials of skill in performing on the harp. Some of the most eminent vocalists from the metropolis were engaged at the festival, which was also enlivened by the Denbighshire band, during the intervals of the public performances. A Welsh literary society was formed here some time ago, which now languishes for want of sufficient support: there are a news-room and reading-room, to which the terms of subscription are £2. 2. per annum.
The trade principally consists in the supply of the inhabitants, for whose use commodities of every kind are brought by land-carriage from the port of Rhuddlan, eight miles distant. Some considerable tanneries are carried on; and upon the banks of a stream, at a small distance from the town, are mills, principally employed in carding and dressing wool for the manufacturers. The manufacture of gloves and shoes, from skins dressed at Dôlgelley and other places, is still carried on to some extent: about 7000 dozen pairs of gloves were formerly sent yearly to London, Bristol, and other places; and the shoes were sent to Liverpool, and there shipped for the West Indies, &c. A most extensive bleaching establishment was erected at Lleweni, in Hênllan parish, in 1780, by the Hon. Thomas Fitzmaurice, who, in order to encourage his tenantry in Ireland, and to promote the national manufacture, received his rents in brown linen cloth, which was sent to this place to be bleached. The establishment was one of the most complete and elegant structures of the kind in the kingdom, and, under the immediate superintendence of the proprietor, more than 4000 pieces of Irish linen were bleached annually. After his decease, the works were carried on by some persons from Lancashire, for a few years; but this extensive concern has been discontinued, and the buildings have been taken down. The markets are on Wednesday and Saturday (the former being the principal), and are plentifully supplied with provisions, which are sold at a moderate price. Fairs are held on the Saturday before Palm-Sunday, on May 14th, the last Wednesday in June, July 18th, September 25th, and the second Wednesday in November.
The earliest charter of incorporation obtained by the inhabitants, was that granted by Henry Lacy, Earl of Chester, in the reign of the first Edward, written in the French language, and not dated. Subsequently to this grant, the burgesses received charters from the crown, in the 18th of Edward I., 6th of Edward III., 2nd of Richard II., 2nd of Richard III., 22nd of Henry VII., 1st of Henry VIII., 5th of Edward VI. (in whose grant the charters of nine previous sovereigns are "inspected"), 39th of Elizabeth, and 14th Charles II. By the last-named charter, which, until the passing of the Municipal Corporations' Act, was that by which the borough was governed, the title of the corporation was declared to be "the Aldermen, Bailiffs, and Burgesses of the borough of Denbigh." The control was vested by the charter in two aldermen, two bailiffs or sheriffs, two coroners, a recorder, town-clerk, two leave-lookers, two serjeants-at-mace, a town-crier, a beadle, and several constables: the capital burgesses, constituting the common-council, were twenty-five in number, including the aldermen, bailiffs, coroners, and recorder. Of these officers, the aldermen and bailiffs were elected annually by the capital burgesses: the aldermen were justices of the peace for the borough, and on quitting office became coroners; the bailiffs were returning officers of the member to serve in parliament, and acted as sheriffs in the court of quarter-sessions, and as presiding judges in the court of pleas. The recorder and town-clerk were appointed by the same authority, and continued in office during the pleasure of the body, with power to appoint each a deputy to perform their respective duties. The burgesses at large, who were admitted to that right by the common-council, were about 350 in number: they were exclusively liable to serve on juries within the borough, but were exempted elsewhere; and their privileges consisted of freedom from toll in Denbigh and throughout the counties of Chester, Stafford, Gloucester, Hereford, and Salop, and also, until 1802, when the Hênllan inclosure act was passed, of a right of common over about 150 acres of very good land.
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, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, together forming the council of the borough, which is not divided into wards. The council elect the mayor 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 possess a property qualification of £500, or be rated at £15 annual value. The burgesses consist of the occupiers of houses and shops rated for three years to the relief of the poor. Two auditors and two assessors are elected annually, on March 1st, by and from among the burgesses; a recorder is appointed by the crown; and the council appoint a treasurer, town-clerk, and other officers, who hold their office during pleasure. The municipal and parliamentary limits are the same, extending, as defined by the ancient charters and confirmed by the "Boundary Act" of the 2nd and 3rd of William IV., to the distance of one mile and a half in every direction from the centre of the town, including the parish of Denbigh, formerly called Whitchurch parish, and parts of the parishes of Hênllan and Llanrhaiadr. The income of the borough for the year 1833 amounted to about £250, of which about £100 were derived from tolls, and £90 from an allotment of fifty-six acres and a half of land, assigned under the Hênllan inclosure act to the corporation, in lieu of the estrays and right of common which they had enjoyed upon the forest of Lleweni, in the parish of Hênllan.
Denbigh first received the elective franchise in the 27th of Henry VIII., and in the year following Ruthin and Holt were made contributory boroughs, since which time they have continued jointly to return one member to parliament: by the act of 1832, for "Amending the Representation of the People," Wrexham was added to this district of boroughs. The right of election is vested by the same act in the old resident burgesses of the borough, 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. The number of tenements of this value within the limits of the borough is about 200. The mayor is the returning officer.
The corporation has a separate commission of the peace, consisting of eight magistrates, with exclusive jurisdiction within the borough; but by the passing of the Municipal Act, its separate court of quartersessions was abolished. A court baron for the lordship is (or till recently was) held by prescription, every three weeks, in which debts to the amount of 40s. and upwards are recoverable: this court has also the power of attaching goods, and, in default of special bail, of issuing a writ of fieri facias, for levying on them for the debt and costs. The Easter and Michaelmas quarter-sessions for the county are held here; and one of the county debt-courts established in 1847 has been fixed at Denbigh, with jurisdiction over the parish of Denbigh, and nine other parishes. The town-hall, which is situated in the centre of the market-place, was erected in 1572, by Robert, Earl of Leicester, and was considerably improved and enlarged in 1780. It is an extensive and commodious building, comprising in the lower part a covered area for the market, above which are the council-chamber, in which the business of the corporation is transacted, and a court-room.
The living consists of a discharged rectory and vicarage, united by an act passed in the 29th and 30th of Charles II., and rated in the king's books at £23. 17. 3½.; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph: the tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £400. The ancient parochial church, dedicated to St. Marcellus, and now in a very dilapidated condition, is situated at Whitchurch, about a mile from the town, from which place the rectory was transferred by act of parliament to Denbigh, which was made the head of the parish. In the porch of this church are two monumental effigies in brass, in a kneeling posture, of Richard Myddelton, of Gwaynynog, governor of Denbigh Castle in the reigns of Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, and of his wife Jane, both of whom were here interred; the latter died in 1565, and the former ten years subsequently. In the body of the building is an ill-executed mural monument to the memory of the learned Welsh antiquary, Humphrey Llwyd, of Foxhall, near Denbigh, who is represented kneeling at an altar, and in Spanish costume. He was born in 1527, and, in addition to his great skill in physic and in music, is celebrated as an excellent rhetorician, a sound philosopher, and a profound antiquary: he was representative in parliament for his native place, and dying prematurely, was interred here in 1568. There is also a large altar-tomb to the memory of Sir John Salusbury and his lady, the former of whom died in 1578. A neat mural monument on the western wall has been erected, by the Gwyneddigion Society in London, to the memory of Thomas Edwards, of Nant, commonly called Twm o'r Nant, the Cambrian poet, who died on the 3rd of April, 1810, at the age of seventy-one, and was interred in the churchyard. All parochial duties are now performed at the chapel of St. Hilary within the ancient walls, with the exception of funerals, which still take place at Whitchurch, there being no cemetery attached to the former. The chapel is a spacious structure, in the later style of English architecture, with various modern additions, by which its original character, especially in the northern part, has been destroyed. St. David's church is of recent erection: the living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Rector of Denbigh. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Roman Catholics, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, of which that belonging to the Calvinistic Methodists is large and commodious.
The Free grammar-school was founded in 1727, by subscriptions from thirty-three individuals, amounting to £340, which were vested in the purchase of an estate in the parish of Tremerchion, county of Flint, now under the management of three trustees. This estate consists of about twenty-nine acres and a half, paying a rent of £39. 10. per annum; and, with a previous grant of three acres in the parish of Hênllan, now producing £15 per annum, by Robert Lloyd Tanner and Anne Twiston, in 1726, towards the maintenance of a free grammar-school, and two small allotments under an inclosure act, constitutes the foundation of the establishment. The Blue-coat charity school was founded pursuant to the will of Mrs. Oldfield, dated 1714, whereby she bequeathed lands in the parish of Llanrhaiadr, now producing £91 per annum, for its endowment. This was subsequently augmented by a bequest of £200 by Mr. Morgan Evans, vested in the three per cents. reduced, and paying an interest of £6; and accumulations of Mrs. Oldfield's charities were vested in the Old South Sea annuities, and turnpike-tolls, to the amount of £461, yielding dividends of £15. 19. per annum. A large and handsome National school has recently been erected, with aid from the Committee of Council on Education, and the National Society; and to this building the Blue-coat school has been removed. A British school has also been established in the town; there is a Church Sunday school, and the dissenters have four Sunday schools.
Numerous charitable bequests have been made for distribution among the poor, amounting in the aggregate to more than £1700; but nearly the whole have been lost, owing to the charity and corporation funds having been blended together. The amount at present distributed among the poor, on St. Thomas' day, is £7. 2. 8., of which £5. 0. 8. are derived from rentcharges, and £2. 2. are the rent of a house in Sandy lane; and a sum of £1. 12. is paid to the minister for preaching a lecture at Easter, arising from a grant for the purpose by William Middleton. A dispensary was instituted in 1807; and the committee of the Royal Eisteddvod held at Denbigh in 1828, presented to the corporation £50, the interest to be applied to apprenticing a poor boy from the parish of Hênllan, and one from the Blue-coat school of the town, which has been occasionally carried into effect. It being considered necessary to erect an hospital for the insane poor of North Wales, a proposition was lately made, which has now been satisfactorily accomplished, by the establishment of such an institution in the neighbourhood of Denbigh, under the patronage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. The site was provided through the munificence of the late Joseph Ablett, Esq., of Llanbedr Hall, who presented a piece of land comprising twenty acres, valued at £2000, and admirably adapted for the purpose, within half a mile of the town. Towards the liberal subscription that was raised, Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Albert contributed £50 each; the Prince of Wales, one hundred guineas; the late Marquess of Westminster, Lady Emma Pennant, the late Bishop of St. Asaph, the Dean of St. Asaph, and the Hon. E. M. Lloyd Mostyn, £200 each; Sir W. W. Wynn, Bart., Sir R. B. W. Bulkeley, Bart., the Misses Luxmoore, the Archdeacon of Essex, the Hon. Col. Douglas Pennant, Lord Dinorben, B. W. Cumming, Esq., and Lord Mostyn, £100 each; Viscount Dungannon and Lord Kenyon, £50 each; &c. Accommodation of the best kind has thus been provided for a number of the poor in North Wales who are suffering from insanity.
Contiguous to the town are the remains of a priory of Carmelite, or White, friars, dedicated to St. Mary, said to have been founded before the year 1289, by John Salusbury, of Lleweni, who, from an inscription on a mutilated brass plate discovered some time since, is thought to have been buried in the priory church, which was the mausoleum of his family until the Reformation. The remains consist principally of the church, now converted into a malt-house, of which the eastern window is a fine composition, in the later style of English architecture, and in excellent preservation: the roof also, a beautiful specimen of carved oak, is still entire. Various mutilated effigies, and fragments of tombs, bearing inscriptions in some instances much defaced, have been discovered among the ruins of this once stately structure. The remains are situated at the bottom of Vale-street, Denbigh, but within the parish of Hênllan.
The castle occupies the summit of the CaledVryn, an isolated limestone rock, rising abruptly to the height of 240 feet from the western boundary of the Vale of Clwyd; and incloses an area of considerable extent. Its principal entrance is on the north, under a lofty and magnificent arch, which is almost entire, and flanked by two large towers, now in ruins; above are two niches, in one of which is a robed figure of the founder, Henry Lacy, in a sitting posture, and in the other was once a figure of his lady. The rooms and towers are in a state of the utmost dilapidation. The citadel is surrounded with walls, a mile and a quarter in circumference, inclosing the whole of the ancient town. The principal entrance in the wall is on the north-west, and is defended by two majestic towers; these are nearly entire, and from them the walls extend round the brow of the hill, on the most elevated and precipitous parts of which numerous lofty towers have been erected, forming together one of the strongest bulwarks in the kingdom. There were two gates on the line of wall, called the Exchequer gate and the Burgess gate, the former from having been the place where the court for the lordship was held, and the latter from having been appropriated to the same use by the burgesses: over this last is what is called the Burgess Tower, in which, when the assizes for the county were held in Denbigh, the prison was. Within these walls are the ruins of the church, or chapel, founded by the Earl of Leicester; and the chapel of St. Hilary, formerly appropriated to the use of the garrison, and now regarded as the parochial church. The former appears to have been of very large dimensions, its walls comprising a considerable area, now covered with grass, in which horses and cattle are pastured: one lofty arched gateway alone remains, of which it was vulgarly said that the key-stone would one day fall on the head of the most illustrious man in Denbigh, but the key-stone was removed many years since, by Dr. Price, the rector. Within the walls of the fortress are numerous cottages, which materially diminish the interest excited by these ruins; and on the southwest front of the castle, and on the boundary wall upon this side, are an extensive terrace and bowling-green, commanding one of the richest and most interesting views of the fertile Vale of Clwyd. The prospect embraces the whole of the eastern portion of that beautiful and finely varied tract; it is terminated by the ocean at Llandulas bay, and on the south by the entire range of the mountains of Clwyd, with their numerous camps and tumuli. On this delightful area, the grand Congress of the Bards, called the Great Eisteddvod, was held in 1828. According to Leland, a chapel of ease was built at Denbigh by a person named Fleming, after whom it was called Capel Fleming; and near it anciently stood an almshouse, founded by the same individual, and built of hewn stone, which, in Leland's time, had already fallen into decay: no traces of either of these buildings are now visible.
Among the eminent men who have been connected with this place, in addition to those already noticed, was Sir Hugh Myddelton, who was born at Galch Hill, within half a mile of the town; he was alderman of Denbigh in 1597, and in 1611 presented the corporation with two maces, and an elegant cup of silver. In 1608, Sir Hugh succeeded in bringing the New River to London, upon which occasion he received the honour of knighthood; and in 1622 he was raised to the baronetage: he represented the borough in many successive parliaments, and died in 1631. In the park of Gwaynynog, about two miles from the town, in Hênllan parish, is a monument, consisting of a tall Grecian urn, resting on a square pedestal, to the memory of Dr. Samuel Johnson: on one side is inscribed the time of his death, and on the other an inscription records that the spot was often dignified by the presence of that great moralist, whose writings "gave ardour to virtue and confidence to truth." The gallant general, Lord Combermere, was born at Cotton Hall, in the neighbourhood of the town. Denbigh gives the title of earl to the family of Fielding.
DENBIGHSHIRE, a maritime county of North Wales, bounded on the north by Flintshire, the Irish Sea, and a detached part of Carnarvonshire; on the west by Carnarvonshire; on the south by Merionethshire and Montgomeryshire; on the southeast by the English county of Salop; on the east by a detached portion of Flintshire; and on the northeast by the English county of Chester. It extends from 52° 48' to 53° 18' (N. Lat.), and from 2° 54' to 3° 47' (W. Lon.); and includes an area, according to Evans' Map of North Wales, of 387,600 statute acres, or nearly 606 square miles. The population, in 1841, was 88,866, of whom 44,428 were males, and 44,438 females; and the number of houses amounted to 18,437 inhabited, 999 uninhabited, and 168 in course of erection. The annual value of real property assessed to the property and income tax, for the year ending April 1843, was as follows: lands, £284,346; houses, £53,937; tithes, £17,966; manors, £6970; mines, £4365; quarries, £1715; iron-works, £1741; other property, £309: total, £371,349.
At the period of the Roman invasion of Britain, the territory now forming the county of Denbigh, in Welsh called Sîr Dinbech, was included in the country of the Ordovices, a people who, according to Whitaker, extended their dominion over North Wales, from the districts now forming the county of Salop, a great part of which, on their advance towards the north-west, fell into the possession of the Cornavii. Under the Roman sway it formed a portion of Venedotia, one of the minor divisions of the great province of Britannia Secunda, but it retains hardly any trace of its occupation by that people. No station is known to have been situated within its limits; and the only roads connected with it were, a branch of the Watling-street, which crossed the northern parts of it, from the station Varis, at Bodvari or at Caerwys, on the western confines of Flintshire, to Conovium, at Caerhên, near Conway, in Carnarvonshire; and the Via Devana, which, from the station Deva, at Chester, passed southward within or near the eastern confines of Denbighshire towards Nidus, at Neath, in Glamorganshire.
Nothing of importance is recorded concerning this territory until the reign of Offa, the Anglo-Saxon King of Mercia, who, to put an end to the predatory incursions made by the Welsh into the western parts of his dominions, led a powerful army against them, pursued them to their fastnesses, and extorted a peace on his own terms. By these means he annexed to his former dominions extensive districts, until then possessed by the native Britons, which he colonized with a Saxon population, and separated from the territories of the Welsh by the vast ditch and rampart that bear his name, extending from the estuary of the Dee to the banks of the Wye, and including in the Mercian territory part of the present county of Denbigh. To the east of this is another similar boundary line running nearly parallel with it, at a distance varying from five hundred yards to three miles, and called Wat's Dyke, of the formation of which there is no authentic record. Offa's Dyke, however, prevented not the hostile incursions of the Welsh into the Saxon territories; and the Saxons retaliated by making dreadful ravages on the more accessible parts of the country of the Cymry. Egbert, in the year after his accession to the throne of Wessex, entered North Wales with a formidable army, devastated the whole country to the foot of the Snowdon mountains, and seized upon the seigniory of Rhyvonioc, in Denbighland.
On the death of Rhodri Mawr, or Roderic the Great, sovereign of all Wales, the greater part of this county became included in the principality of North Wales, called by the Welsh Gwynedd, and the seat of the government of which was at Aberfraw, in Anglesey; while those parts of it lying eastward and southward of the Vale of Clwyd were included in the sovereignty of Powys, the seat of government being at Mathraval, near Meivod, in Montgomeryshire. Anarawd, son of Roderic, who succeeded to his kingdom of Gwynedd in 877, was, a few years afterwards, applied to for an asylum in his dominions by the remainder of the StrathClyde Britons of the north, who had been long harassed by the Danes, Saxons, and Scots, and had lost Constantine, their king, in battle. The prince received them on the condition of their recovering a portion of the Saxon territory, on which to settle, and of their defending it by arms: under the conduct of one Hobart, they easily dispossessed the Saxons of the country between the Dee and the Conway, of which they remained in quiet possession until Eadred, Earl of Mercia, began to make preparations for regaining the territory from which he had been so summarily expelled. The Britons, receiving early intelligence of his designs, removed their cattle and goods beyond the Conway, and being promptly joined by Anarawd with a powerful body of forces, this prince completely defeated the Saxons at Cymryd, about two miles from the town of Conway, and pursued them into Mercia, whence his troops returned to their own country loaded with spoil. The northern Britons were allowed to establish a separate state in the conquered country, which included the greater part of the counties of Denbigh and Flint, and received from its inhabitants the name of Strath-Clwyd, or Ystrad-Clwyd, from its being traversed by the river Clwyd. In the contests maintained for the sovereignty of Wales between the sons of Hywel Dda and those of Edwal Voel, the former, assembling their forces in South Wales, laid waste the territory of North Wales, as far as the river Conway, on the banks of which they were encountered by the latter at Llanrwst, where, after a sanguinary conflict, the sons of Edwal Voel were victorious, pursuing their enemies into South Wales, and retaliating upon their territories the evils which had been inflicted on their own.
From this period no event peculiarly affecting Denbighshire is recorded, until after the conquest of England by the Normans. Henry II., leading a large army into North Wales, in the year 1157, drove Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, out of his camp near Northop in Flintshire; and the latter took up a strong position, since called Cîl Owain, or "Owain's retreat," near the city of St. Asaph: on Henry's further advance, Owain retreated to Bryn-y-Pin, a still stronger post, situated about five miles to the west of St. Asaph, in this county, and soon after concluded a peace with the English monarch, among' other conditions of which, he and his chieftains submitted to do homage to Henry. A few years after this, all the princes of Wales, with Owain at their head, entered into a confederacy for the recovery of their independence; and the first enterprise of the revolt was an inroad by Davydd, son of Owain, into Flintshire, whence he carried off the inhabitants and the cattle, and brought them into the Vale of Clwyd. Henry advanced with a small army to Rhuddlan, in Flintshire, but soon returned into England, and, having assembled the choicest troops from every part of his dominions, advanced into Powys by way of Oswestry in Shropshire. The combined forces of the Welsh assembled to oppose him at Corwen, a little beyond the southern border of Denbighshire; and Henry, desirous of bringing them to action, led his army to the Ceiriog, a small river in the south-eastern part of the county, the woods on the banks of which he ordered to be cut down, to escape the danger of ambuscades. In attempting to force a bridge over this river, the English monarch was aimed at by a Welshman, whose arrow would inevitably have pierced his body, had not Hubert de St. Clair, constable of Colchester, sprung forward and received it in his own. While the English were cutting down the woods, a strong party of Welsh, without any orders from their leaders, being acquainted with the ford, crossed the river, and suddenly attacked the van of Henry's army, which was composed of pikemen: and in the warm action that ensued, since called the battle of Crogen, many were slain on both sides. Henry, however, effected the passage, and advanced across the south-eastern part of this county, and over the Berwyn mountains, to the vicinity of Corwen, where he encamped for several days, the Welsh being posted upon the opposite heights, and losing no opportunity of cutting off his supplies. The English army was at length reduced to great distress, and its difficulties were rendered still greater by sudden and violent rains; so that Henry was constrained to return into England with a heavy loss of men and ammunition. In revenge for the disappointment of his designs, he commanded the eyes of the hostages which he had previously received, to be plucked out.
After the death of Llewelyn, the last Prince of North Wales, his brother Davydd held a meeting of the Welsh chieftains at Denbigh, of which he possessed the lordship, when it was determined to maintain the war against the attacks of the English. This task, however, proved far beyond their strength; and Davydd, being soon afterwards taken prisoner near this place, was put to death as a traitor by the English monarch, Edward I. About the period of the subjugation of Wales by Edward, the eastern parts of this county fell into the hands of English possessors, under very peculiar circumstances: Emma, widow of Grufydd ab Madoc, who died in 1270, disagreeing with her husband's relatives respecting the education of her sons (or, as Mr. Pennant thinks, her grandsons), obtained possession of the eldest two, and delivered them over as wards to Edward I. One of them, named Madoc, with his inheritance of Bromfield and Yale, was placed by that monarch in charge of John, Earl Warren; and Llewelyn, the other youth, with his patrimony of Chirk and Nanheudwy, in that of Roger Mortimer, third son of Roger Mortimer, the son of Ralph, Lord Mortimer, of Wigtown. These noblemen having obtained possession of the territories above-mentioned, conspired together, and caused the sons of Grufydd to be drowned in the river Dee; after the perpetration of which murder, they each received from the king a grant of the estates of their respective wards, dated at Rhuddlan, October 27th, 1281, with the exception of Hope Castle, and the lands thereto appertaining, which Edward retained in his own possession. The first-mentioned lordship continued in the family of Warren until the year 1347, when it descended by an heiress to the Fitz-Alans, Earls of Arundel, who purchased from John, grandson of Roger Mortimer, the lordship of Chirk and Nanheudwy: these united domains remained with the Fitz-Alans for several generations, and, after repeated attainders and forfeitures of different heirs, became finally vested in the crown.
The Lordship of Denbigh was bestowed by Edward I. upon Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, who, among other conciliatory concessions to his new vassals, granted them permission to kill all kinds of wild animals, except in certain parts reserved for his own amusement: but the exercise of these privileges seems to have been abridged by his successors, for, in the reign of Henry VI. five parks are enumerated in the lordship, viz., Moylewike, Caresnodooke, Kyfford, Bagh, and Posey, the rangership of which that monarch gave to Owen Tudor. Lacy erected a castle at Denbigh to secure his new acquisition, and converted the village into a walled town, thus laying the foundation of the importance of the present town. A wide-spread revolt soon compelled Edward again to head an expedition into North Wales, on which occasion the Earl of Lincoln, to preserve his newly-erected castle of Denbigh, advanced before the king, and, arriving under its walls on November 11th, 1294, was suddenly attacked by the Welsh insurgents, who, encouraged by the situation of the English, were desirous of hazarding their fortunes upon the issue of a single battle, in which the English forces were defeated and compelled to retire. From the Earl of Lincoln the lordship descended to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who had married that nobleman's daughter Alicia, and on whose attainder Edward II. gave it to his favourite, Hugh le Despencer. After the execution of the latter nobleman, Edward III. bestowed it on Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, who being a few years subsequently attainted of high treason, the seigniory of Denbigh was granted by the same king to Montacute, Earl of Salisbury. It was soon restored, however, to the family of Mortimer, in which it remained until conveyed by marriage to Richard, Duke of York, on the accession of whose son Edward to the throne of England, it became vested in the crown. Queen Elizabeth, in the sixth year of her reign, granted it to her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, at the same time creating him Baron Denbigh; but on the attainder of this nobleman, the estates reverted to the sovereign.
In 1696, William III. issued a patent, under the great seal, conferring on William, Earl of Portland, the lordships of Denbigh, Bromfield, and Yale, without regard to the tenures of persons then occupying various parts of such estates, by compositions, rents, and services to the crown, or to the Prince of Wales, on whom they had been usually settled for his support. The Welsh landholders, however, aware that such an unqualified grant would encroach upon their liberty and property, and form a dangerous precedent, applied to their representatives to state their grievances before parliament; and the commons, after due deliberation, presented a petition to the king, from the whole house, earnestly requesting him to recall his grant of the above-mentioned lordships, with which the king complied. The lordship of Denbigh, with the forests (as they are legally termed) of Bromfield and Yale, still form a part of the landed possessions of the crown.
The other grand seigniorial territory in the county, namely, the Lordship of Ruthin, was granted by Edward I. to Reginald Grey, second son of Lord Grey, of Wilton, in whose descendants it remained until the reign of Henry VII. For some valuable consideration, it was then conveyed to the crown by George Grey, Earl of Kent, and Baron Ruthin, in whose family the latter title continued until the death of Charles Grey, eighth Earl of Kent, after which the dignity descended by female heirs, through the families of Longueville and Yelverton, to that of Talbot, by which it is now enjoyed. The lordship of Ruthin, after its conveyance to the crown, seems to have been possessed by the Earl of Warwick. It subsequently formed part of the estates belonging to the Myddeltons of Chirk Castle, and in the early part of the present century was vested in three co-heiresses of that family: by a decree of Chancery, in 1819, it was finally settled on one of the three ladies.
To return to the historical events of the county: Richard II., during his expedition into Ireland, deposited a vast amount of treasure in Holt Castle, which had been originally erected by Earl Warren, and which was delivered up to Bolingbroke, in 1399, prior to the deposition of that unfortunate monarch. During a fair holden at Ruthin, in the year 1400, the Welsh chieftain, Owain Glyndwr, suddenly made a descent upon that place, attacked its castle without success, and, after pillaging the inhabitants and burning the town, returned to the mountains. In the wars of the Roses, Edward IV. is said by Leland to have been besieged in the castle of Denbigh, and here to have entered into a compact with the Lancastrians, by which he was allowed a safe retreat, on condition that he should leave the realm, and never return. Denbigh, among several other strong places in Wales, was held during the latter part of the year 1459, by Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, for his half-brother, Henry VI.; but in the following year it was taken by the Yorkists. In 1468, the earl is said to have returned into Wales, and, being joined by a large body of forces, to have pillaged and burned the town of Denbigh. The statute of the 27th of Henry VIII., which for ever abrogated the peculiar jurisdictions of the lordships marcher, at the same time incorporated the lands subject to such jurisdictions in new and additional counties, of which this of Denbigh is one.
The inhabitants of the county took a very active part in the great CIVIL WAR of the seventeenth century. According to a manuscript preserved in the Wynnstay library, and printed in the Archæologia Cambrensis for January 1846, the county in 1642 "presented his Matie. a petition for protection against the orders and ordinances of parliament, and gave the king a compleate regiment of volunteers, and £1000: this petition was presented to his Mtie. at Yorke, ye 4th of August, and the commission of array put in execution through the whole county." An order was addressed to the commissioners of array for the county, in the following terms:—"1642. Charles Rex. Right trusty and wellbeloved, wee greete you well. Whereas a rebellion being raysed against us, and are marching towards us, wee are necessitated for the defence of our person and crowne, and the religion and lawe established, to call upon all our good subjects to assist us. And whereas we are fully persuaded of the affection and loyalty of that our county, and their readiness to assist us, theire kinge and liege lord in this owre and theire necessary defence, according to their duty and allegiance;—These are to will and require you, for that [end] and with all possible speede, to bring into Chester to our royall standard, there to attend our farther directions, the traine bands of that county, as well horse as foote, with such other volunteers as your interest in them and their owne affection shall perswade to come with them. And if the necessary occasions of any of our trayned bands shall withhold them, then either their sonn or servant or there volunteeres bee admitted to serve in there places, with there harness compleate; which trayned bands and volunteers, with those from other of our counties in our dominions of Wales, wee intend to forme into regiments for a gard for our dearest sonn the prince, and receave into our pay upon their arrival at Chester. Whether we desire that our county in this so greate exigence do furnish them with sufficient ammunition for the journey, and money to beare their charges, which we shall look upon as a great expression of affection and fidelity, and shall at all times remember to their advantage. And wee do require all justices of peace in yt our county, to give assistance to you herein, and all our lovinge subjects of that same, to be obedient to yr directions in pursuance of these our commands. And for so doing, this shall bee to you and them a sufficient warrant. Given at our court at Darby, this 15th of September, 1642." The manuscript above mentioned, after giving this proclamation, goes on to state, that on the 27th September the King "came to Wrexam, and vywed the trayn bands of Bromffield and Chirke," two hundreds in the county; and that, on the 3rd October, he again came to the same town, and "vywed the traine bands of the hole county, who weare to marche the morrowe after to Shrewsbury for a gard to the prince."
In the beginning of the next year, Chirk Castle, the property of Sir Thomas Myddelton, who represented Denbighshire in parliament, was taken and plundered by Colonel Robert Ellyce, at the command of the king himself. Towards the close of the year, on the 9th of November, "Holt brige was taken by Sir Thomas Myddelton and Sir William Brereton, who presently entered Wrexam;" and about the same time, Denbigh Castle was garrisoned for the cause of Charles, by William Salusbury, a gentleman of the neighbourhood, with the aid of the inhabitants of the town, and the gentry of the country round. In February 1644, Prince Rupert appears to have been at Chirk Castle, on his way to Chester. In the autumn of this year, "Sir Thomas Myddelton and Colonel Mytton, with all their forces from Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, mett at Llangollen; and, the 20th of October, began violently to assault the castle of Ruthyn, and soe continuinge for two dayes, and not conceaving hopes of forcing it, retreated." At the end of the following month of January, Myddelton "invaded the lower parts of Denbighshire." Prince Maurice is recorded in the narrative from which these quotations are made, to have passed a night at Chirk Castle, and thence to have gone through Ruthin, towards Chester, in February 1645. The king himself was at the same castle in September, having previously "given proclamation among his souldiers that they should not plunder anything in Denbighshire:" he thence advanced to Chester, and, after the battle of Rowton Moor, retreated from the city to Denbigh Castle, and proceeded again to Chirk, on his way into England. Soon afterwards, the parliamentarian forces under General Mytton gained an important victory near Denbigh, over the royalist troops commanded by Sir William Vaughan, slaying about one hundred, taking nine hundred prisoners, and dispersing the remainder. "Ruthyn Castle was surrendered to the parliament, 12th April," 1646: Chirk Castle had been deserted by its royalist governor, Sir John Watts, several weeks before; and in the month of October, Denbigh was surrendered for the use of the parliament, to General Mytton; to whom also Holt Castle was given up in January 1647. The defence at Denbigh was remarkable for the bravery with which it was conducted, and the garrison surrendered only on the most honourable terms. Some years afterwards, in 1659, Sir Thomas Myddelton, now a royalist, having, with Sir George Booth, declared himself in favour of the restoration of Charles II., became obnoxious to the ruling power, and his castle of Chirk was besieged and taken by the troops under the command of General Lambert. Since this period, no events of importance have occurred in connexion with the county.
Denbighshire is in the diocese of St. Asaph, and province of Canterbury: the total number of parishes is fifty-eight, of which twenty-three are rectories, twenty-one vicarages, and fourteen perpetual curacies. For purposes of civil government it is divided into the six hundreds of Bromfield, Chirk, Isaled, Isdulas, Ruthin, and Yale. It contains the borough and market towns of Denbigh, Ruthin, and Wrexham, the last having been added to the district of boroughs by the Reform Act of 1832; the borough of Holt, and the market-towns of Llangollen and Llanrwst. One knight was formerly returned to parliament for the shire, and one representative is now returned for Denbigh and the three other boroughs conjointly; the county is now entitled, under the late act, to the return of two members, who, with the member for the boroughs, are elected at Denbigh: the polling-places for the shire are Denbigh, Llangollen, Llanrwst, and Wrexham. The county is included in the North Wales circuit; the assizes are held at Ruthin, and the quarter-sessions at Wrexham and Denbigh alternately: the county gaol is at Ruthin, and the county houses of correction, or bridewells, are at Ruthin and Wrexham. There are about forty acting magistrates. It comprises the poor-law union of Ruthin, and parts of the unions of Wrexham, St. Asaph, Llanrwst, Conway, Corwen, and Llanvyllin.
The form of the county is extremely irregular; and beyond its south-eastern extremity is a small detached portion, comprising part of the village of Llanymynech, bounded on the west by the river Tanat, and on the south by the Vyrnwy (which streams separate the portion from Montgomeryshire), and on the east and north by Shropshire. Its surface and scenery are much diversified: and the rugged and mountainous features of the principality are here conspicuous, though frequently softened into picturesque beauty by an intermixture of varied fertility. The hundred of Yale, in the eastern part of the county, is for the most part mountainous, bleak, and barren. This elevated district, almost the only produce of which is heath, is formed by the Clwydian and Hiraethog range of mountains, which, with its dependent hills, also forms the greater part of the elevated wastes that occupy so much of every other district of the county: this range is in the form of the Roman letter U, its two sides running parallel with each other, and inclosing the beautiful Vale of Clwyd. The north-eastern, or Clwydian wing, entering within the north-eastern border of the county from the vicinity of Ysceiviog in Flintshire, presents a variety of limestone and argillaceous strata in its course by Yale, Minera, the Vrondeg hills, Eglwyseg lime-works, Oernant slatequarries, and Cevn dû, to Bryn Eglwys, where it completes the curve which connects it with the southwestern, or Hiraethog range. This latter wing extends from above Derwen, on the southern border of the county, to Eglwys-Bâch, on the river Conway, its north-western extremity, and forms one of the most extensive and dreary wastes in the whole principality, being from twenty-five to thirty miles in length, and varying in breadth from five to nine miles: its chief covering is heath. Among these hills, in the western part of the county, are several small lakes, which give rise to numerous meandering streams. The hills on the coast extend no farther eastward than Abergele, where the country begins gradually to sink into the extensive plain of Morva Rhuddlan, which stretches eastward into Flintshire. By much the greater part of the far-famed Vale of Clwyd is in this county, in which it extends in length more than twenty miles, and in breadth generally from five to seven: thickly studded with villages and seats, its appearance is rendered still more pleasing by being inclosed by mountains, whose brown and barren summits form a fine contrast with the verdant meads and luxuriant fields below. The dreary appearance of the desert moors is also in many parts relieved by small and fertile valleys watered by sprightly streams, one of the principal of which is that called the Valley of Yale. Bromfield, by far the most important division of the county with regard to population and wealth, was anciently called Maelor Cymreig, "Welsh Maelor," to distinguish it from the detached portion of Flintshire, on the opposite side of the Dee, called Maelor Saesneg, "English Maelor:" lying to the north and west of the Dee, and to the south and east of the Alyn river, Bromfield in its western parts shares in the wild and mountainous character of the adjoining hundred of Yale; but the greater portion of it is fertile, pleasant, and highly cultivated. Chirk, anciently called Gwayn, forming the south-eastern extremity of the county, almost wholly consists of hills, of which the two most conspicuous are Cader Verwyn and Cevn Uchâ, forming part of the Berwyn range of mountains, which, from the vicinity of the village of Chirk, extends south-westward into Shropshire, Montgomeryshire, and Merionethshire. The mountains of Denbighshire are not among the highest in Wales: some of the most remarkable elevations are, Moel Vammau, 1845 feet above the level of the sea; Cyrn-y-Brain mountain, 1858 feet; Moel Venlli, 1767; Craig Eglwyseg, 1688; Moel Arthur, 1491; Pen-y-Cloddiau, 1452; Moelvre Uchâ, 1234; Llanelian, 1110; and Moelvre Isâ, 1037 feet.
The climate is very various in different situations. On the hills the air is generally cold and sharp, for even the westerly winds, during the greater part of the year, are deprived of their genial mildness in their passage to this county by the snow-clad heights of the Snowdon range; and the more elevated districts are wholly exposed to the east and north: this keenness of the air, however, added to the dryness of the soil, renders the inhabitants of the more hilly regions particularly hardy and robust. The atmosphere of the valleys is milder and more humid; but the Vale of Clwyd, as it opens northward to the sea, is exposed to the full violence of boreal blasts, which are nevertheless supposed to contribute to the salubrity for which it is celebrated; its inhabitants are distinguished for the soundness of their constitutions, and their longevity. On some parts of the Hiraethog hills no grain is sown but the hardy oat; and so unpropitious is the climate there, that in some years it never ripens, but is quite green in the month of October.
The SOILS vary in richness, in proportion as their situation is more or less favourable for receiving alluvial deposits from higher grounds. Strong loams, excellently adapted for the cultivation of wheat, &c., and for permanent pastures, occupy the Vale of Clwyd below Ruthin; a low maritime tract in the vicinity of Abergele; the banks of the Conway near Marl, and upwards towards Maenan and Trêvriw; the borders of the Dee adjoining Cheshire; and much of the detached portion of the county bordering on the river Vyrnwy. Free loams, adapted for the general purposes of tillage, are found in patches adjoining to, or intermingling with, the strong loams; as also in the Vale of Clwyd, above Ruthin; in the valley of Llanrwst, above Trêvriw; in small proportions in the valley of the Tanat, and in the lower parts of the smaller valleys. Light soils, consisting of various admixtures of sandy loams, rounded pebbles, gravel, and peat, more particularly adapted for the culture of barley, peas, turnips, &c., abound in the valleys, especially in their higher recesses, and on slopes having a southern aspect: the soils of this kind on the limestone, though shallow, are fertile. Ferny soil, or hazel mould, of various colours, occurs in small tracts, intermingled with the foregoing soils, and on the sides of the inferior hills, naturally producing fern, broom, furze, and underwood of various kinds, particularly hazel and hawthorn. On the slate hills, and on the slopes of the lesser valleys, is found till, or a hungry light mould, tinged with oxyde of iron, producing mountain-ash, birch, and dwarf furze. Some parts of the Vale of Clwyd have their soils tinged by a substratum of a reddish sandstone, of loose texture; and a similar soil touches the county at Holt, on the river Dee. The dry argillaceous strata of which most of the mountains consist, are generally covered with a thin coat of light peat, having a substratum of till or of shale, and overrun with common heath. The hollows and levels of the Hiraethog mountains abound with a considerable depth of excellent peat for fuel, which is so closegrained that if cut with a sharp instrument, when dry, it presents a polished surface.
About a third part of the vales of Denbighshire is under tillage, producing great quantities of grain for exportation. The common corn crops are wheat, barley, and oats. Wheat is commonly cut with the reaping hook; and barley, in the Vale of Clwyd, with cradled scythes. Rye is occasionally grown; as also are peas, though to a much less extent than formerly: beans are hardly ever seen. The culture of turnips was introduced into the county about the year 1765, and though it has made more progress here than in the other counties of North Wales, it is yet far from being extensive. Potatoes are grown for home consumption. The most common artificial grass is red clover, with which rye-grass is sometimes mixed; some of the clover is seeded: for the hilly districts hay seeds are obtained from Anglesey. Only the meadows of the Vale of Clwyd, and those bordering on the Dee and the Vyrnwy, are rich enough to fatten cattle: the hilly parts of the county rear great quantities of cattle, to be sold lean to the graziers of richer districts. Artificial irrigation is assiduously practised in all convenient situations. In the more fertile vales of the eastern parts of the county, the grass lands are chiefly appropriated to the dairy, the produce of which, in both cheese and butter, is conveyed in considerable quantities to the markets of Chester, Shrewsbury, and Bridgnorth. The greater part of the cheese is made and sold as Cheshire cheese; a small quantity as Gloucester: annatto is used for colouring in the lowlands, but seldom in the uplands. Lime is the most general manure, where it can be conveniently obtained: it is frequently burned in sod kilns, on the field to be manured. Sea-thong, or sea-weed, is collected in considerable quantities on the coast after storms, and is highly valued as a manure. Shell-sand, containing a proportion of from two-thirds to four-fifths of decayed shells, is sometimes imported in sloops from the coasts of Carnarvonshire and Anglesey, for the same purpose, and is the most fertilizing of all. The "Lummas plough," a variation of the Rotherham plough, is in almost universal use, having been first introduced, in place of the large old-fashioned plough, about the year 1760. The Scotch plough, drawn by two horses abreast, is also occasionally seen; but the horseteams more generally draw singly: oxen are commonly yoked in pairs.
The Cattle of the high lands are almost wholly of the diminutive race which occupies so much the greater part of North Wales. Their colour is chiefly black; their horns long, and curving upwards; and their particular value consists in their extreme hardiness, owing to which they may be reared on their scanty pastures at little expense or trouble. In the vales the cattle are of a superior kind, larger, and of all varieties of colour: those reared in the maritime plain extending from Abergele eastward are distinguished for their aptitude to fatten. The Sheep in the mountainous districts are also small and hardy, having generally white faces and legs, sometimes horns, and their wool is commonly coarse; the weight of their carcass varies from seven to twelve lb. per quarter; that of their fleece, from three-quarters of a lb. to two lb. and a half. Another native breed is that which occupies the south-eastern and eastern parts of the county, from the border of Montgomeryshire to Wrexham; they have black faces, and as fine wool as any sheep in the island, that of the Ryeland breed only excepted: the mutton of those fed on the limestone lands is reckoned particularly delicious. Other breeds, of various kinds and crosses, are kept by individuals in the inclosed districts. Hogs are most numerous in the dairy district. In the vales, excellent draught Horses, both for the coach and for the wagon, are obtained; their colour is generally black or bay, and they are strong, active, and well made.
Towards the eastern border of the county are some orchards, from which, in plentiful seasons, cider and perry are made for home consumption. The most extensive woodlands are in the Vale of Clwyd and on the eastern border of the county: on the latter side, are about five hundred acres in the parish of Chirk only. The woods around Erthig, or Erddig, are distinguished for their luxuriance, and the taste with which they have been formed: this is the only spot in North Wales where the song of the nightingale is known to have been heard. Some of the most flourishing trees in the Vale of Clwyd are, the oak, sycamore, ash, chestnut, elm, and poplar.
The inclosures of waste lands, since the year 1790, when they formed one-half of the county, have been very numerous and extensive. The more elevated regions, being sterile, and having so ungenial an aspect, are applied with most profit, as already observed, to the rearing of lean cattle. Some parts of the Vale of Clwyd are rendered of very little value by stagnant water for which there is no outlet, and which causes the soil to produce little besides rushes and other coarse aquatic grasses; but much of this land has been greatly improved by draining and embanking. Coal is the common fuel, except in the districts most distant from the pits, where peat is used. In the year 1796, an agricultural society was established at Wrexham, which extends the sphere of its transactions over the country around that town, to the distance of twenty miles in every direction. In the Vale of Clwyd is a farmers' club, which holds its meetings monthly.
The GEOLOGY of the county is interesting, and its mineral productions are various and important, consisting chiefly of coal, iron and lead ores, slates, limestone, and freestone. The Berwyn range of mountains is composed of primitive schistus, that is, such as does not contain iron pyrites, or any impressions or remains of organized bodies; the position of the strata being at the same time nearly perpendicular. The greater part of it lies in thick irregular laminæ, intersected in different places by veins of quartz; but the slates that are quarried are unmixed with quartz, and frequently incline in their position considerably from the perpendicular: the position of the strata is most irregular on the eastern descent of Trim-y-Sarn, and the southern side of Llangollen Vale. On the border of Flintshire, the Clwydian hills consist of argillaceous shale, which, proceeding south-eastward, is bounded on the north-east by the limestone of that county, and on the south-west by that bordering the Vale of Clwyd: from Moel Accre to where this range joins the Hiraethog mountains, at the head of the Vale of Clwyd, limestone and argillaceous strata are met with alternately. The Hiraethog range consists of shale, with grey mountain rock, or semi-indurated whinstone, and flags used for flooring and for tombstones: this is bounded on the east by limestone, and on the west is intersected by narrow tracts of grey limestone, which run transversely to the direction of the chain of hills. The great LIMESTONE tract of North Wales commences in an abrupt precipice, about 900 feet high, at Llanymynech, in the detached part of the county; and thence proceeding northward, the range of hills of which it is composed forming the western boundary of the plain of Salop, it is found successively at Porth-y-Waûn, Coed Trêvlech, Soughton, Cyrn-y-Bwch, Bryn-y-Garth, and the Vron. Near the last place it reaches the river Dee, and making a turn towards the north-west, it extends over almost the whole county of Flint, and a great part of that of Denbigh. The south-westernmost line of rocks may be traced from Trevor, on the northern side of the Dee, by the bold rocks of Eglwyseg near Valle Crucis Abbey, the heights of Yale, and the upper extremity of the Vale of Clwyd, down the south-western side of that beautiful district from Llanelidan to Evenechtyd, Coed Marchan, Llanrhaiadr, Denbigh, Meriadog, and Llandulas; and terminates in the cliffs overhanging the sea at Llandudno, or Orme's Head, in Carnarvonshire. The north-easternmost range passes the collieries and freestone-quarries at Ruabon to Minera, and thence runs parallel with the former into Flintshire.
Eastward and north-eastward of this limestone, which, in geological position, rests upon the slate, is a rich tract of COAL MEASURES, resting upon the limestone, from which they dip eastward while it ranges northward, and north-eastward when its direction is changed to the north-west. The thickest seam, at Brymbo, near Wrexham, is fifteen feet; further south, at Ruabon, nine feet; at Chirk, seven feet; and at Llwyn-y-Maen, and other places near Oswestry, only six feet; while at the southern extremity of the field, at Alderbury, in Shropshire, there are no seams thicker than from eighteen inches to two feet: the dip of the strata varies from two yards in three to one yard in seven. The coal is of different qualities; the most bituminous species is called binding, or coking coal, while other kinds, having less bitumen, and exhibiting varieties of fracture, are called stone coal, hard coal, run splent, &c.: the latter are most useful for domestic purposes, as they do not cohere in burning, or leave many cinders, but emit a clear flame and diffusive heat. The principal coal-pits are in the vicinities of Wrexham and Ruabon, and at Black Park near Chirk.
Iron-ore of a peculiarly excellent quality is found in connexion with the coal strata, and is raised in great quantity. At Acrevair, in the parish of Ruabon, the New British Iron Company have three blast furnaces, making about 300 tons of iron weekly, and forges and mills capable of converting it into malleable iron: these works, with the ironstone-mines and collieries connected with them, give employment to from 1400 to 1500 men and boys. There are also extensive iron-mines, two blast furnaces, some foundries, &c., at Brymbo, near Wrexham. The Lead-ore is chiefly found in the limestone, though in some places in a gritstone, and in others in a blackish shale: the principal mines are, that at Minera, near Wrexham, and those in the parish of Llanverras, which have been worked for a long series of ages, but are not now in operation. About twenty-six tons of leadore were raised near Llangollen in the year 1846; and the calcareous rocks of Coed Marchan, in the neighbourhood of Ruthin, of Llanverras, and Llanarmon, and along the sea-coast, are also known to contain ores of this metal. A green, dusty, rich ore, called by the miners copper-malm, is found in the Llanymynech lime-rocks, whence many tons of it have, at different times, been exported to be smelted: calamine also exists in great quantities at the same place. The Limestone is of an excellent quality, and very white in its efflorescence after calcination: it is worked in almost innumerable places. The principal Slate quarries are in the south-eastern part of the county, being those of Oernant near Llangollen, and Glyn Ceiriog. To the former there is a branch from the Ellesmere canal, and the latter are within five miles of the same canal at Chirk. The slates obtained at the former place are more durable than those of the latter, which, when exposed to the action of sulphuric acid, shew symptoms of decomposition in four days. Chert is found at Trêvarclawdd, near Oswestry, and on the Llêchrydau hills, near Glyn Ceiriog. On the banks of the Dee, between Overton and Bangor, are great quantities of ductile Clays, that will bear calcination, but are not used by any pottery. At Rhôsy-Medre and Cevn Mawr, near Ruabon, are manufactories of coarse earthenware, and some excellent quarries of freestone from which blocks of a very large size can be obtained. A zinc-work has been established in the same part of the county. Carbonate of lime, in the various forms of spars, stalactites, and coarse mineral agaric, are found at Trevor, near Llangollen.
A principal article of manufacture is what are provincially called webs, and, by the London drapers, Welsh plains, or cottons, a coarse sort of thick, white, woollen cloth, made in pieces from 90 to 120 yards in length. This is confined to the small district of Glyn, which comprises a few parishes to the north and west of the town of Oswestry in Shropshire, and contains eleven fulling-mills. The webs here made are termed by the drapers "small cloth," to distinguish them from those manufactured in Merionethshire and Montgomeryshire, which are about oneeighth of a yard broader. Instead of lambs' wool, in this manufacture, the clothiers mix, with the woofing of the coarse sort of webs, flocks from the fullingmills, and, with the finer sort, combings from Yorkshire and Lancashire, generally in the proportion of about one-third. The market for the Glyn webs is held every Wednesday, at the town-hall in Oswestry. The southern parts of the county share in the manufacture of knit woollen stockings and socks, of which Bala, in Merionethshire, is the centre: the northern boundary of this manufacture extends from Bettws, in Merionethshire, by Yspytty-Ivan and Llanrwst, in this county, to Penmachno, in Carnarvonshire; and next to Bala, the principal market for these stockings is at Llanrwst. In the Vale of Llangollen is a factory for spinning cotton yarn, and weaving it by means of power-looms. Many skins of the native sheep, and foreign lamb and kid skins, dressed at Dôlgelley, in Merionethshire, are brought to Denbigh, and manufactured into shoes and gloves, the former of which are sent to Liverpool, to be exported to the West Indies, and the latter are sent to London, Bristol, and other places. About 150 persons in the county are employed in the nail manufacture, and near Wrexham are some large paper-mills.
Notwithstanding that this is geographically a maritime county, it possesses neither sea-port nor haven; and as none of its rivers, except the Conway near its mouth, are navigable, while flowing through it or upon its borders, its natural facilities for water-carriage are very limited. It has, however, the advantage of two excellent lines of railway, the Chester and Holyhead and the Chester and Shrewsbury, by the latter of which great facilities are afforded for the exportation of its mineral produce, and which is assisting to develop the resources of the coal and iron districts of the county in the most effectual manner. Means of conveyance are provided, likewise, by the Ellesmere line of navigation. The chief exports are, lean cattle, and sheep: webs, stockings, shoes, and gloves; lead, coal, and malleable and manufactured iron; slates; and butter, cheese, and bacon: the principal imports, besides the various kinds of shopgoods for the ordinary supply of the inhabitants, are, dressed skins, to be manufactured at Denbigh. The produce of the greater part of the county in wool is either sold to the adjoining manufacturing districts, or taken to the fairs of Chester and Shrewsbury, where it is purchased by the clothiers of the North of England. One of the fairs held at Wrexham was formerly the greatest fair in North Wales; it commences on the 23rd of March, and there were brought to it great quantities of Yorkshire cloths, and Lancashire and Sheffield manufactured goods, supplying nearly the whole of North Wales, and a great part of South Wales, for the ensuing year. Owing, however, to the improvement of the roads leading into the interior of Wales, this mart has gradually declined, and few tradesmen now attend it. A wool fair was established at Denbigh in the year 1808.
The principal RIVERS are the Dee, the Clwyd, and the Conway; besides which, the smaller rapid streams, coming down from the mountains towards these three great channels, or from the south-eastern extremity of the county towards the Severn, are very numerous. The Dee, descending from Llyn Tegid, or Bala lake, in Merionethshire, enters a few miles below the small town of Corwen, in that county, and crosses the south-eastern part of Denbighshire from east to west, along the beautiful Vale of Llangollen. On reaching the eastern side of Denbighshire it becomes its boundary, and forms the line of division between England and Wales; then, flowing north-eastward, it separates from this county, in a very devious part of its course, the large isolated portion of Flintshire, which for several miles occupies its eastern bank. Afterwards becoming the boundary of Cheshire, it takes a northern course towards the city of Chester, and wholly quits Denbighshire at its north-eastern extremity, at Holt. The chief tributaries of the Dee from this county are, the Alwen, which has its source in one of the lakes in the western part of the county, and flows south-eastward into Merionethshire; the Ceiriog, a torrent which descends from the slate mountains in the hundred of Chirk, and joins the Dee below Brynkinalt, in the parish of Chirk; the Clywedog, which it receives from the westward, a little below Bangor in Flintshire; and the Alyn, which, rising among the hills about Llandegla, flows northward into Flintshire, where it makes an extraordinarily circuitous course, again touching Denbighshire in the vicinity of Gresford, from which village it runs eastward to the Dee, a little below Holt.
The Clwyd descends northward from a small lake among the hills on the southern border of the county: having flowed past the town of Ruthin, it reaches the border of Flintshire, below the village of Llandyrnog, and, taking a north-western direction, enters that county in the vicinity of St. Asaph. In its course along the rich and spacious vale to which it gives name, it is joined by numerous streams from the mountains on either side. Its chief tributary is the Aled, which descends in a very irregular northeastern course from the mountains near the source of the Alwen, in the south-western part of this county, and joins the Clwyd in Flintshire. The Conway, issuing out of the small lake called Llyn Conway, at the point of junction of the shires of Denbigh, Merioneth, and Carnarvon, makes a rapid descent northward in successive cataracts, almost immediately becoming the boundary between the counties of Denbigh and Carnarvon. Emerging from under the wooded cliff of Gwydir, it rushes into the beautiful Vale of Nantconway, and, a few miles below the handsome bridge of Llanrwst, enters the eastern confines of Carnarvonshire, between which and Denbighshire, after a course of a few miles, it again becomes the boundary, and so continues until below Llansantfraid, where, fast increasing in breadth, it again enters Carnarvonshire. The Conway is navigable up to Llanddoget, in this county, near which place the tide ends. The south-eastern extremity of the county is bounded on the south-west by the rivers Rhaiadr and Tanat successively; the former, about midway in this line, falling into the latter, which in its further course to the Severn is joined by a small stream from the hundred of Chirk.
The Ellesmere canal, which forms a communication between the navigable channels of the rivers Mersey, Dee, and Severn, was originally designed to pass from Chester, through the eastern part of the county of Flint, and, entering Denbighshire in the parish of Gresford, to have proceeded southward through the eastern part of this county, to Shrewsbury; thus also opening a direct communication between Chester and the great coal district of Denbighshire. But, owing to the broken and unsound state of the country, caused by the various excavations which had been made for coal and other minerals, it was found necessary to abandon the construction of the above-mentioned line, in the country lying between Chester and the vicinity of Ruabon, to which latter a branch of the main canal now extends northward from the vicinity of Ellesmere, terminating on the northern side of the Dee, at Pont-yCysylltau. Here it is met by several tramroads from the collieries, furnaces, and forges in the parish of Ruabon; and adjacent to it are basins, wharfs, and warehouses, which afford facilities for a considerable trade in the mineral produce of the country. Hence a branch extends up the northern bank of the Dee to Trevor, Llangollen, and the vicinity of the Oernant slate-quarries, near Llantysillio, where it receives a powerful stream of water from the river Dee, turned into it by a very extensive weir and flood-gates, and thus supplying an extent of nearly forty miles of the main canal and its branches. At Pont-y-Cysylltau the principal branch crosses the river Dee and the Vale of Llangollen upon a magnificent aqueduct, constructed partly of cast-iron, 1007 feet long, and 126 feet 8 inches high above the bed of the river. From the southern end of this aqueduct it is conveyed, by means of a high embankment about 500 yards in length, to the same side of the valley; passes the Vron lime-works; and then, after being carried through a tunnel, proceeds between the village and castle of Chirk, within a very short distance of Black Park colliery, from which there is a tramroad leading to a wharf on its banks. It then enters another tunnel, on emerging from which, near the village of Chirk, it is conveyed across the valley and river of Ceiriog, into Shropshire, by a second aqueduct of freestone, of ten arches, 700 feet in length, and 70 feet above the surface of the ground. Proceeding towards Shrewsbury, a branch from the vicinity of Frankton takes a south-western direction to the Llanymynech lime-works, in the detached part of the county, on the borders of Shropshire and Montgomeryshire. Here terminates, in this direction, the property of the Ellesmere Canal Company, and the navigation is continued to Welshpool and Newtown by the Montgomeryshire canal, the work of a separate company, which hence crosses the river Vyrnwy into the county of Montgomery, on an aqueduct of five arches, each of forty-five feet span, and twenty-five feet high above the ordinary level of the water in the river beneath: there are, besides, various smaller arches for the passage of flood water. From the lime-rocks at Llanymynech a tramway, about two miles and a half in length, greatly facilitates the conveyance to the boats on the canal. The total length of the branch canal which terminates at Pont-y-Cysylltau, is a little more than eleven miles; that of the navigable feeder which extends to the Dee at Llantysillio, nearly six miles; and that of the Ruabon brook tramway, which proceeds from the termination of the canal at Pont-y-Cysylltau to Ruabon brook, three miles and a quarter.
The Chester and Holyhead railway, opened in the year 1848, enters the county of Denbigh from Rhyl, in Flintshire, by crossing the river Clwyd near its mouth. The line passes along the sea-coast, and in the course of a few miles reaches the vicinity of Abergele, where a station is fixed. It then runs between Gwrych Castle and the sea, and by the village of Llandulas, into the parish of Llŷsvaen, &c., in a detached part of Carnarvonshire; leaving which, it runs along the vale of Mochdre, in the county of Denbigh, into the main body of Carnarvonshire. The Chester and Shrewsbury railway, also opened in 1848, enters the county from Pulford, in Cheshire, and at a distance of two miles reaches the village and station of Rossett; it then crosses the river Alyn, runs through the hill of Rofts, and into the beautiful vale of Gresford, where a station is placed, about 300 yards from the village of Gresford. Proceeding along some embankments and deep cuttings, the line passes Gwersyllt Hall on the right, and, a little further on, Acton Park on the left. It soon after reaches Wrexham, and passes thence by the domain of Erddig, to Ruabon, the centre of a fine mineral district; after which, leaving Wynnstay on the left, it crosses the river Dee by a stupendous viaduct, nearly one-third of a mile in length (noticed in the article Llangollen), and runs by Chirk, then along a shorter viaduct, into the county of Salop. There are stations at Wrexham and Ruabon, and a branch has been formed to Minera, near Wrexham. The roads of Denbighshire are in general good, the materials for making and repairing them being abundant and of good quality: their extent has also of late years been greatly increased. The road from London to Holyhead, by Shrewsbury, enters it from Oswestry at the village of Chirk, and crosses its south-eastern extremity, through Llangollen, to Corwen in Merionethshire, beyond which it again passes for some distance within its southern boundary. That from London to Holyhead, by Chester, runs across the northern part of the county, from St. Asaph in Flintshire, through Abergele, to Conway in Carnarvonshire: a branch from this, at the village of Northop in Flintshire, passes through Denbigh, and rejoins the main road at Conway.
The antiquities of the county may now be noticed. It contains no remains of Roman occupation, unless the vast mining level which pierces the limestone hill at Llanymynech be of Roman formation: in this, now called Yr Ogov, or "the cavern," have been found various Roman coins and other interesting antiquities, besides numerous skeletons. On one of the sloping sides of the same hill is raised a stupendous rampart of loose stones, accompanied by a deep fosse, beyond which are two other fosses, cut in the rock with immense labour. A large number of Roman coins has been likewise found on the mountain called Moel Venlli, seemingly indicating that this fortified post was occupied by the Romans during their sway over the country, though it appears to be of purely British construction. The most ancient monument of known date is the Pillar of Eliseg, raised in memory of a British chieftain of that name, slain in battle against the Saxons, near Chester, in the year 607: it is situated about two miles from Llangollen. Offa's Dyke, still by the Welsh designated by the synonymous appellation of Clawdd Offa, may be plainly traced in nearly the whole of its course through this county. It enters from the north-western part of Shropshire, in crossing the river Ceiriog to Glyn, whence it proceeds by Chirk Castle and across the river Dee and the Ruabon road, and forms part of the Wrexham road, as far as Pentre Bychan. Hence it is continued, by Plâs Power, Adwy 'r Clawdd near Minera, and Brymbo, across the little river Cegidog, and on the southern side of Bryn Yorkyn mountain, into Flintshire, its direction being first northward and then north-westward. Near Chirk Castle, by the river Ceiriog, is a large breach in it, supposed to be the place of interment of the English who fell in the battle of Crogen, and still called Adwy 'r Beddau, or "the pass of the graves." It is observable that the ditch is in all parts on the western, or Welsh, side of the rampart; and along its course are many artificial mounds, the sites of small forts. Wat's Dyke, to the east of Offa's Dyke, of equally large proportions, but not of so great a length, is first discoverable to the south of Maesbury, in the vicinity of Oswestry, whence it may be traced across the eastern part of this county to the estuary of the Dee, near Basingwerk, in Flintshire. It enters Denbighshire, in crossing the Ceiriog at the spot where that river unites with the Dee, between Brynkinalt and Pen-y-Lan; and then takes its course through Wynnstay Park, and by Pentre 'r Clawdd to Erddig, where is the site of a strong fort. Hence it passes above Wrexham, near Melin Puleston, by Dôlydd, Maes-gwyn, Rhôsddû, Gwersyllt, across the Alyn, and through the township of Llai, to Tryddin, in the county of Flint. Mr. Pennant notices it as remarkable, that Wat's Dyke should have been overlooked, or confounded with that of Offa, by all early writers, except Thomas Churchyard, the poet, who supposes the object of its formation to have been, that the intervening space between it and the latter might be free ground, for the purposes of traffic, between the Danes and the Britons. On one of the limestone hills to the west of Abergele, called Copa 'r Wylva, or the "mount of the watch tower," are the remains of a very strong British post; as there are of another, called Caerddin, or Garthen, on a lofty hill, about 200 yards distant from Offa's Dyke, near Ruabon; and of a third, at the extremity of the elevated ridge, overlooking the Vale of Gresford, in a field called the Rofts. In the parish of Kegidock, on the summit of a hill called Pen-y-Parc, are vestiges of the camp occupied by Owain Gwynedd, after his retreat from Cîl Owain. In the parish of Llanarmon are numerous remarkable sepulchral tumuli, or barrows, of different forms, composed of stones and earth, covered with sods, and inclosing cinders, fragments of bones, and urns containing ashes.
At the time of the Reformation there were, at Denbigh a house of Carmelite friars, at Ruthin a college of regular priests, and at Llanegwest a Cistercian abbey, called De Valle Crucis: the remains of the last form an interesting and romantic object. The most remarkable churches are those of Gresford, Llanrhaiadr, Ruabon, Ruthin, and Wrexham, which last is one of the most beautiful specimens of ecclesiastical architecture in the principality: that of Hênllan is rendered worthy of notice by the peculiarity of its tower standing on a lofty rock, while the body of the edifice is situated in the vale below. There yet exist picturesque ruins of the castles of Castell Dinas Brân, near Llangollen; Denbigh; Holt; and Ruthin: Chirk Castle is now the large and ancient mansion of Robert Myddelton Biddulph, Esq., having been awarded by the Court of Chancery to his mother, as one of the coheiresses of the Myddelton family. Near the village of Llanarmon, on an unusually large artificial mount called Tommen-yVaeldre, may be traced the foundations of a square fort. The principal modern residences in the county are, Acton Hall, the seat of Sir Robert Cunliffe, Bart.; Bathavern Park; Bryniestyn, that of Sir William Lloyd, Knt.; Brynkinalt, that of Viscount Dungannon; Dyfryn Aled; Erddig; Eyarth; Galltvaenon; Glanywern; Gresford Lodge; Gwersyllt; Kinmel, that of Lord Dinorben; Llandebr Hall; Llanerch; Llangedwin, that of the Rt. Hon. Charles Williams Wynn; Llŷs Meirchion; Pen-y-Lan; Penbedw; Plâs Heaton; Plâs Power; Pool Park, that of Lord Bagot; Ruthin Castle, that of the West family; Trêvalyn; and Wynnstay, the princely residence of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, Bart. Though the farmhouses and offices are, in numerous instances, upon modern and improved plans, yet the greater number are of an inferior kind. In the vicinity of the slate hills the fences are commonly walls of flat stones; but modern fences are most frequently made of hawthorn sets, of which great quantities are raised by nurserymen in the county.
In those parts of Denbighshire bordering on Cheshire, servants hired for the year commence their term of service on the 1st of January; but in the rest of the county, on the 1st of May. During the hay and corn harvest, the farmers of the Vale of Clwyd and its vicinity go every morning to the cross, or market-place, of any of the towns of Wrexham, Ruthin, or Denbigh, to hire workmen for the day; the latter being there assembled for the purpose, with their scythes and hooks. From time immemorial it has been customary for men, of from forty to sixty years of age, to come down, during the winter season, into the lowlands of the county, from Merionethshire and other mountainous districts, as professed feeders of cattle: they are commonly called "cow-men." The farmers of the lower parts of Denbighshire excel those of most other parts of North Wales in the quality of their bread, beef, bacon, cheese, and ale, which constitute the main support of the labouring classes; but advancing thence into the more mountainous tracts, the wheaten bread is found mixed with different proportions of rye and barley, or wholly superseded by oat-meal cake.
There are springs of ancient celebrity for their medicinal qualities, in the parish of Kegidock; at the foot of an eminence called Gwladus' Chair, to the north-west of the church of Llanrhaiadr; and near the church of Llandegla. A lofty precipice on the sea-shore to the west of Abergele, called Cevn Ogov, is pierced by several caverns, washed by the waves at high water: the largest of these is called by way of distinction Yr Ogov, or "the cavern," and has its roof and sides decorated with stalactites, in various fanciful forms. The most remarkable waterfalls are, two upon the river Aled, near its source; and that of Pistyll-Rhaiadr, near Llanrhaiadr-yn-Môchnant.