County has much to offer in the way of history
and heritage, from neolithic burial chambers that have survived over five
thousand years to medieval town houses, not to mention the World Heritage
Site of Conwy Castle and Walled
On the northern most tip of the County, on the Great Orme's Head on the
Creuddyn Peninsula at Llandudno you will find the internationally famous
Orme Copper Mines. Over 4 miles (6km) of tunnels have so far been surveyed,
making them the largest prehistoric mines in the world. Across the
fields nearby are the stones of Llety’r Filiast, a Neolithic Burial
Chamber dated around 3,000 BC.
Just a short drive from here, approx. 3 miles South of Llandudno we come
to the Vardre, the hill in Deganwy overlooking the Conwy River and estuary.
One might think that Conwy Castle would be the prime heritage site in this
area but the Vardre holds a very important position in Welsh history, indeed
in the history of the British Isles. The castle
built on the Vardre, known as Deganwy Castle of which there are now few
remains, was home to Maelgwn (Maelgwyn) King of Gwynedd who was the
most powerful of the five Kings of Britain in the 6th century. Understanding
the history of Deganwy Castle is helpful in understanding the heritage of
Conwy County and also the history of North Wales.
Following the departure of the Romans from Britain and the onset of the
so called "Dark Age" a leader called Cunedda is thought to have
established a base on the Vardre in a prime position overlooking the estuary.
His mission, in 400 A.D, was to rid North Wales of the Irish invaders who
had filled the vacuum left by the exit of the Romans. Generations would
pass before success was achieved and it was left to Maelgwn the great grandson
of Cunedda to establish a stable kingdom to be known as Gwynedd. Archeology
shows us that there was a royal court located on the Vardre in the 6th
century AD and it was Maelgwyn (Maelgwn) King of Gwynedd
c.480 - c.547 who
established the Royal Line of Wales from which came Hywel Dda (and the House
of Tudor), and the two Llywelyns, who achieved so much for Wales, and whose
descendants joined the English House of York.
original Vardre fortifications were on the East bank of the River Conwy,
with the Welsh heartlands of Gwynedd on the West. But in the late 13th century
the English King Edward during his campaign to subdue the Welsh chose the
far bank of the River Conwy as the site for his Castle. The site on the
Western bank of the Conwy was not only an ideal military location that could
be supplied and reinforced by ships, but it also symbolised Edward's power
in crossing over the Conwy and planting a foothold in the Kingdom of Gwynedd,
and to rub salt into the wound Conwy Castle was to built over the tomb of
the Welsh Prince Llewelyn. More about Conwy
The Castle at Conwy, built by the English King Edward, dominated the landscape
and the history of the valley for many years but in 1485 the arrival of
a Welshman, Maredudd ap Ieuan, in Dolwyddelan in the South of the County
opens up a new chapter in the history of the Conwy County and indeed North
Wales. Please scroll down the page to find more heritage sites in Conwy
or click here
> to read about Maredudd
and the history of the Wynne family.
In tracing the heritage of Conwy County I have started in the North of
the county with the Great Orme and the Conwy estuary and I will continue
South down the Valley toward it's southern boundary.
Leaving Conwy we soon reach the village of Rowen from where we can take
a diversion from the valley bottom into the high lands behind the village.
A narrow winding lane rises steeply toward Tal y Fan where there are several
ancient sites including Maen y Bardd,
a neolithic burial chamber, several standing stones, and, slightly further
afield on the hills above Penmaenmawr the Druid's Circle set of stones.
Having gained the high ground it would be a shame not to visit the ancient
Church and Holy Well at Llangelynin
. In ancient times the track would take the travellers on toward Aber and
eventually Bangor in the West. But we will double back and return to the
valley bottom and continue our journey South.
Travelling along the B5106 we soon reach the village of Trefriw and the Spa
at Trefriw Wells. First discovered by the Romans it was used extensively
by local inhabitants until a landslip covered the entrance to the Cave
of Wells. Tour the ancient cavern and sample the water from the rock,
See the cyclopean bath house and discover many interesting items unique
to Trefriw Wells Spa. Round the visit off with a delicious cake in
the peaceful tearoom or garden overlooking the beautiful Conwy Valley.
This is beginning to sound like an advertisement for the Spa, but it
is a good place for a break in the journey.
From Trefriw we travel another mile to Llanrwst where you will find Gwydir
Castle, St Grwst's Church, Pont Fawr, Ty Hwnt i'r Bont (another excuse to
stop for delicious cream teas!), and the Alm's Houses all in a beautiful
location on the banks of the Conwy River. Oh and I almost forgot the most
important item....the sarcophagus
of Prince Llewelyn. Its a lovely little town in a picturesque location
ideal for exploring on a heritage holiday so allow some time for the visit.
More about Llanrwst >
Click here to jump to:
- History of
the Upper Conwy Valley, Dolwyddelan and the Meredudd ap Ieuan Trail (Meredith
ap Ifan Trail).
- Llywelyn Fawr Trail, history of
Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales
To book accommodation online >