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History holidays in Conwy north Wales

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Click to zoom into a map of Conwy showing Heritage SitesConwy 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 Town.
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 Great 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.

Click to enlarge Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, Llewelyn the GreatThe 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 Castle >

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:

  1. History of the Upper Conwy Valley, Dolwyddelan and the Meredudd ap Ieuan Trail (Meredith ap Ifan Trail).
  2. Llywelyn Fawr Trail, history of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales

To book accommodation online >

Heritage map of Conwy County.
This map shows:
Ancient Churches
Neolithic Burial Chambers
Historic Sites and Heritage Sites
Main Roads
Click on the towns to find holiday accommodation nearby, or scroll down the page.
Heritage Map of Conwy. Move the cursor over the attractions and towns Click for Great Orme Prehistoric Copper Mines where to stay in Llandudno where to stay in  Colwyn Bay where to stay in Abergele Rhuddlan Castle, one of the iron ring of Castles built by King Edward 1 where to stay in Bodelwyddan where to stay in Rhyl where to stay in  Conwy where to stay in Deganwy where to stay in Llanrwst where to stay in Maenan where to stay in Pentrefoelas where to stay in Betws y Coed where to stay in Bylchau Conwy Castle, fantastic medieval Castle and Walled town. Maen y Bardd burial chamber Bwlch y Ddeufaen Standing Stones Click for Llangelynin Church and Holy Well Llandrillo yn Rhos Church St Hilary's Church Llanrhos Hendre Waelod ancient burial chamber Click for Bodnant Gardens Click for Dolwyddelan Castle, one of Prince Llywelyn's strategic fortresses Click for Ty Mawr Bishop Morgan's House Click for Great Orme Country Park Click for Deganwy Castle Click for Ty'n y Coed Uchaf Click for St Gwyddelan's Church, dates from about 1500AD Nature reserve Where to stay in Rowen accommodation in Blaenau Ffestiniog Go to Snowdonia Gwynedd Map Go to Snowdonia Gwynedd Map Capel Garmon Burial Chamber Click for information on St Grwst's Church and Llewelyn's tomb, Pont Fawr, the bridge over the Conwy and Ty Hwnt i'r Bont the Tea Rooms by the river and Gwydir Castle, Llanrwst Jump to Denbighshire The smallest Church in Britain ? St Trillo's Chapel in Rhos on Sea St Tudno's Church on the Great Orme Llandudno

For a holiday in Conwy north wales choose from this list of accommodation providers in Conwy and vicinity. Please note the properties listed are not specifically offering History and Heritage holidays.
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