1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Anglesey

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

ANGLESEY, or Anglesea, an insular northern county of Wales. Its area is 176,630 acres or about 276 sq. m. Anglesey, in the see of Bangor, is separated from the mainland by the Menai Straits (Afon Menai), over which were thrown Telford's suspension bridge, in 1826, and the Stephenson tubular railway bridge in 1850. The county is flat, with slight risings such as Parys, Cadair Mynachdy (or Monachdy, i.e. “chair of the monastery”; there is a Nanner, “convent,” not far away) and Holyhead Mountain. There are a few lakes, such as Cors cerrig y daran, but rising water is generally scarce. The climate is humid, the land poor for the most part compared with its old state of fertility, and there are few industries.

As regards geology, the younger strata in Anglesey rest upon a foundation of very old pre-Cambrian rocks which appear at the surface in three areas:—(1) a western region including Holyhead and Llanfaethlu, (2) a central area about Aberffraw and Trefdraeth, and (3) an eastern region which includes Newborough, Caerwen and Pentraeth. These pre-Cambrian rocks are schists and slates, often much contorted and disturbed. The general line of strike of the formations in the island is from N.E. to S.W. A belt of granitic rocks lies immediately north-west of the central pre-Cambrian mass, reaching from Llanfaelog near the coast to the vicinity of Llanerchymedd. Between this granite and the pre-Cambrian of Holyhead is a narrow tract of Ordovician slates and grits with Llandovery beds in places; this tract spreads out in the N. of the island between Dulas Bay and Carmel Point. A small patch of Ordovician strata lies on the northern side of Beaumaris. In parts, these Ordovician rocks are much folded, crushed and metamorphosed, and they are associated with schists and altered volcanic rocks which are probably pre-Cambrian. Between the eastern and central pre-Cambrian masses carboniferous rocks are found. The carboniferous limestone occupies a broad area S. of Ligwy Bay and Pentraeth, and sends a narrow spur in a south-westerly direction by Llangefni to Malldraeth sands. The limestone is underlain on the N.W. by a red basement conglomerate and yellow sandstone (sometimes considered to be of Old Red Sandstone age). Limestone occurs again on the N. coast about Llanfihangel and Llangoed; and in the S.W. round Llanidan on the border of the Menai Strait. Puffin Island is made of carboniferous limestone. Malldraeth Marsh is occupied by coal measures, and a small patch of the same formation appears near Tall-y-foel Ferry on the Menai Straits. A patch of granitic and felsitic rocks form Parys Mountain, where copper and iron ochre have been worked. Serpentine (Mona Marble) is found near Llanfaerynneubwll and upon the opposite shore in Holyhead. There are abundant evidences of glaciation, and much boulder clay and drift sand covers the older rocks. Patches of blown sand occur on the S.W. coast.

The London & North-Western railway (Chester and Holyhead branch) crosses Anglesey from Llanfairpwllgwyngyll to Gaerwen and Holyhead (Caer Gybi), also from Gaerwen to Amlwch. The staple of the island is farming, the chief crops being turnips, oats, potatoes, with flax in the centre. Copper (near Amlwch), lead, silver, marble, asbestos, lime and sandstone, marl, zinc and coal have all been worked in Anglesey, coal especially at Malldraeth and Trefdraeth. The population of the county in 1901 was 50,606. There is no parliamentary borough, but one member is returned for the county. It is in the north-western circuit, and assizes are held at Beaumaris, the only municipal borough (pop. 2326). Amlwch (2994), Holyhead (10,079), Llangefni (1751) and Menai Bridge (Pont y Borth, 1700) are urban districts. There are six hundreds and seventy-eight parishes.

Môn (a cow) is the Welsh name of Anglesey, itself a corrupted form of O.E., meaning the Isle of the Angles. Old Welsh names are Ynys Dywyll (“Dark Isle”) and Ynys y cedairn (cedyrn or kedyrn; “Isle of brave folk”). It is the Mona of Tacitus (Ann. xiv. 29, Agr. xiv. 18), Pliny the Elder (iv. 16) and Dio Cassius (62). It is called Mam Cymru by Giraldus Cambrensis. Clas Merddin, Y vel Ynys (honey isle), Ynys Prydein, Ynys Brut are other names. According to the Triads (67), Anglesey was once part of the mainland, as geology proves. The island was the seat of the Druids, of whom 28 cromlechs remain, on uplands overlooking the sea, e.g. at Plâs Newydd. The Druids were attacked in A.D. 61 by Suetonius Paulinus, and by Agricola in A.D. 78. In the 5th century Caswallon lived here, and here, at Aberffraw, the princes of Gwynedd lived till 1277. The present road from Holyhead to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll is originally Roman. British and Roman camps, coins and ornaments have been dug up and discussed, especially by the Hon. Mr Stanley of Penrhos. Pen Caer Gybi is Roman. The island was devastated by the Danes (Dub Gint or black nations, gentes), especially in A.D. 853.

See Edw. Breese, Kalendar of Gwynedd (Venedocia), on Anglesey, Carnarvon and Merioneth (London, 1873); and The History of Powys Fadog.