Far away from the noise, pollution and rush of cities, far away from the gaily crowded resorts of the North Coast, the Island of Anglesey is a land of quiet and rest; a land of little rocky bays with sandy beaches; of restful villages, good fishing streams, fine golf courses; an ancient land full of traditions of hospitality, where a holiday slips by, bracing and yet restful, a complete contrast to the tension of urban life.
Anglesey Tourist Information
The island, of course, is not without customary amusements. Beaumaris, the capital, has cinemas, a pier and a pavilion, not to mention the fine and famous Castle. But this is the one exception. A typical resort in Anglesey is the little village sheltered in a cove, with the great breakers of the Irish Sea white in the distance, but never reaching far enough in to disturb the peace and calm. For those who like to wake their own holiday, and not have it “laid on,” the island Is much to recommend itself. Anglesey, or Mon, as it was to the Welsh, or Mona to the Romans, is a low-lying, square-shaped area, 21 miles long and 19 miles broad, flat and treeless, with a rocky, indented coastline. There are five island towns-Amlwch, Beaumaris, Holyhead, Llangefni and Llanerchymedd.
The roads for the most part, are good, though they occasionally wind about in an abstracted sort of way. The Holyhead road, of course, is excellent. The latter town stands on Holy Island, on the west coast, and joined to Anglesey by a great causeway with a central arch, which carries the road and railway, and by another road causeway farther to the south. There are good and comfortable inns in most of the villages. The island has five golf courses. Anglesey is cut off from Caernarvon by the Menai Strait, running from the north-east to the south-west and with a maximum width of about 3/4 of a mile. The strait is spanned by two bridges, the tubular railway bridge, and the very beautiful and graceful suspension road bridge. Both bridges cross the strait near Bangor, and the stretch near the road bridge is rather a pretty spot.
Near the Anglesey end of the railway bridge is the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysilogogogoch, which being translated means, ”Church of St. Mary in a hollow of white hazel near to a rapid whirlpool and to St. Tysilio's church near to a red cave.” All of which goes to show what a succinct language Welsh can be. But there is no more to be said about the village, except that even the Welsh call it Llanfair P. G. ! About 4 miles north of the Suspension Bridge is Beaumaris, the “capital” of Anglesey. This is a village of some size, on the coast, with a grassy foreshore. It boasts a pier, pavilion and a small swimming pool. The outstanding object of interest is the Castle, built by Edward I between 1295 and 1298. It is to the north of the town, and of the type known as a double ward structure. That is, there is an inner and an outer curtain wall, and the whole protected by a wet moat. The castle is well preserved and tended by the Ancient Monuments Commission. The inner ward, square with drum towers at the corners and at the centre of the walls, has a north and South Gateway. Containing this is the outer ward, also towered, and with mooring rings in its walls. The main entrance to the castle is on the south. The parish church of Beaumaris - the place was so called by Edward 1- is partly of fourteenth-century work, with a chancel dating from 1500. There are some fine ancient stalls, and the church contains a sarcophagus of Princess Joan, daughter of King John. At 32 Castle Street there is a house whose hall and south wing date from 1400. The hall is especially interesting, with its grand old timbered roof, smoke-blackened from an open hearth. Another very fine building -is the Court House, dating from 1614. North some 4 miles from Beaumaris, and nearly on the north-east point of the island, is Penmon. Outstanding interest here is centred on the Priory. Penmon is the site of one of the earliest churches in Anglesey, a building founded by St. Seiriol in the sixth century, but destroyed by the Norse invasions in the tenth. However, the place retained its religious associarions, and today one can see the nave and south transept of the Norman church which was built after the destruction of Seiriol's primitive structure. An Augustinian Priory was founded here in 1414.
Just to the NE. of Penmon there is a wishing well. Facing Penmon, and off the point of Anglesey, lies Puffin Island, so called from the great number of those sea birds which dwell on it. It is also called Priestholm, however, a name derived from the fact that it was used as a hermitage by the folk of Penmon. The name, too, shows the influence of Scandinavian invasion and settlement. There are many Scandinavian names to be found in Anglesey. Around the north coast of the island are many pleasant bays, some large, some small, all with small villages catering for the holidaymaker. The largest is Red Wharf Bay, about 4 miles west of the tip of the island and the entrance to the straits. This is a great sandy stretch, high and dry at low tide.To the west is Benllech sand, a good spot, with a golf links nearby. Bull Bay, farther to the north-west, is near the village of Amlwch, one of the larger places in Anglesey. The village is on an inlet to the east of Bull Bay, looking out to the Irish Sea, where all the great Trans-Atlantic liners pass on their way from Liverpool. The climate here is very refreshing. Bull Bay itself is a pretty place, with safe bathing. The hotel has a private rock pool for its residents. Farther west still is Cemaes Bay, with a small village of that name. The bay has two fine arms encircling it, and at Llanbadrig on the east arm there is an ancient promontory fort.
The Holy Island is an interesting place to visit. Holyhead itself has not very much to recommend it, apart from the Harbour, from which the Irish boats sail. But the harbour itself is a really fine affair, with a breakwater a mile and a half long. To the east there is a promenade. Holyhead Mountain, to the west of the town, is more imposing than its 700 feet would lead one to think. From the summit there is a grand view over all Anglesey and the Irish Sea, and even to the distant peaks of Snowdonia. On the summit there is Caer-y-Twr, a hill fort enclosing 17 acres. There is little to be seen except a single rampart wall, with the original entrance in the northeast corner. There are visible the traces of agricultural terraces. The lack of dwellings, however, is made up for by Ty Mawr, on the south-west slope of the mountain. This is an extensive prehistoric village, with the ruins of some twenty huts still standing. The huts are circular, made of stone. There used to be many more, but time, weather and man have destroyed them. At Holyhead, too, is Cater Gybi, a Roman fort constructed late in the era of Roman Occupation. The main Roman centre in N. Wales was at Segontium, now Caernarvon, but this additional fortress was built in the last century of their stay, and connected with Segontium by road. The name Gybi, however, has nothing to do with Rome, but with St. Cybi, an early Saint, who built a church on the site in the sixth century. He was probably a contemporary of St. Seiriol of Penmon. The church was destroyed during the Scandinavian invasions of the ninth and tenth centuries. Although of this church nothing really remains, the Parish Church of Holyhead is a notable building in the Perpendicular style, and worth a visit. About 2 miles S. of Holyhead is Trearddur Bay, a popular little resort on a rugged piece of coastline, much indented by the sea.
There are actually two golf courses in the vicinity, as well as facilities for boating and bathing, tennis and fishing. Farther south still, Rhoscolyn is worthy of notice for its pleasant bay and fine stretch of sand. On the south coast of Anglesey itself there are several little villages catering for tourists. The most popular is Rhosneigr, near Llyn Maelog. There are good patches of sand nearby, and the bathing is safe, though at high tide the village almost turns into an island. There is a golf course nearby. Anglesey – Isle of Invasion Though the land is generally flat, with Holyhead Mountain as the highest point, it was not always so. Indeed, Anglesey as it is today is the ruin of part of the oldest mountain structure in Britain; but age and ice and ice and the sea flattened and decayed the Devonian mountains and indented them. Then the ice filled up the valley with boulder clay and made the whole into the flat plateau we see. Almost, but not quite; for this plateau supported plentiful oak woods, and the interior of the island used to be dense forest, at long since destroyed by man. For man came to Anglesey in ages lost before history began. Came from Brittany and Spain in the Neolithic and New Stone Age, and settled mostly in the south-east corner near the straits, building his hill-top forts and hut circles, and burying his dead in the great chambered tombs, of which twenty still stand, though mainly in the form of Cromlechs - the inner supporting chamber which was buried under a great mound of earth. Bronze Age followed stone, and Iron followed bronze, and in the oakwoods the Druids carried out their sacrificial rites. Then came the Romans, across the strait from Segontium; and for three centuries Anglesey was intermittently under their influence. They probably worked the copper mines for which the island used to be famous. But they left little mark on the island, except for the fort at Caer Gybi, and when they left darkness again closes down on history. The great namc of Arthur, however, is echoed in the island. In the grounds of Baron Hill, near Beaumaris, is Bwrdd Arthur - the Round Table - and in Llaniesty church, 3 miles north, there is a tomb supposed to be that of one of Arthur's knights. But where the Romans left off their civilising mission, the early Christians, as we have seen, took over. St. Cybi and St. Seirion founded their religious houses at Holyhead and Penmon in the sixth century, where they stood till they were destroyed towards the end of the tenth. During this period the inhabitants of the island increased, and likewise the cultivation; the oak woods were pushed back, and Anglesey became such a good grain-producing country that it earned the name of “Mother of Wales,” from the fact that enough was grown there to feed the whole population. Meanwhile temporal princes fought for power, and the main court was established at Abertffraw. But again no trace of the Royal Palace remains. Because Anglesey juts out into the Irish Sea, it attracted all those who sailed in search of plunder and new lands. During the ninth and tenth centuries the Vikings repeatedly made assaults on the island, destroyed the churches, and settled many folk on the soil, as we can tell by all the Scandinavian place names. And so invasion followed invasion: Roman, Scandinavian, Norman and English. The great turning point in the history of the island was the building of Beaumaris Castle by Edward I. The English sent some1500 workers across to do the job - a very considerable influx in those days, and from that event we can say that the modern history of Anglesey begins. The great Castle -not as strong, of course, as Caernarvon or Conway - dominated the island, and Beaumaris became the chief port, while Newborough, the other English town to the south, became the market town. The Castle was besieged, of course. Indeed, in the fourteenth century Anglesey was a hotbed of Welsh nationalism, and in 1403 the army of Glyndwr unsuccessfully attacked Beaumaris. And then, we may say, the history ends, for peace and prosperity took over from war and bloodshed. The Wars of the Roses and the Civil Wars had little effect on the island economy, and the history of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is one of peaceful development, of big, tasteful country houses and fine churches. And so today one can follow the course of history backwards, in stone.