Anglesey, Wales

Anglesey or Anglesea, an insulated county of North Wales. It is separated on the SE, by the Menai Strait, from Carnarvonshire, and is surrounded elsewhere by the Irish Sea. It consists chiefly of the island of Anglesey, but includes also the island of Holyhead and the islets of Skerries, Priestholm (or Puffin), and Llanddwyn, with some others. Its length south-eastward is 20 miles; its breadth south-westward, 17 miles; its circumference, 76 miles; its area, 175,836 acres. Its outline is indented by several considerable bays. The coast is very rocky, and presents some fine scenery in the north and west; but in the south is partly desolated with sand. The general surface is uninteresting, not much diversified with hill and dale, and quite devoid of lofty mountains or deep glens, flat in the S and in the centre, and rising into only moderate hills in the N. The climate is mild, but foggy. Geologically Anglesey is important from the presence of extensive formations of pre-Cambrian rocks. Mona marble, a beautiful green rock quarried near Holyhead, is a variety of serpentine. Some coal exists, but of most uncertain character—sometimes in alluvial boulders of a ton or upwards. The coal-field stretches for about 9 miles, from near Gaerwen to Malldraeth Bay, and there is a small patch opposite Carnarvon; it is but little worked. Peat fuel is obtained in inexhaustible plenty. Gritstone, limestone, coloured marble, lead ore, and copper ore are worked; and serpentine, soapstone, fuller's earth, potter's clay, magnesia, calamine, sulphur, alum, silver, and zinc are found. Much of the land is pastoral and un-enclosed. The arable soils are chiefly a sandy loam, a stiff reddish earth, and a blackish vegetable mould; all fairly fertile, and receiving improvement by means of shell sand from various parts of the shore. Wood occurs along the banks of the Menai, but is elsewhere scarce. The enclosures are not quickset hedges, but stone or turf walls; and they combine with the bleakness of the surface to render the general aspect tame and cold. Oats, barley, rye, and potatoes are the chief crops. The black cattle are of the kind called runts, and are much esteemed for the flavour and tenderness of their flesh. The native sheep are the largest breed in North Wales. Not a few sheep also of the mountain districts are sent hither to fatten.

The chief streams are the Braint, the Cefni, and the Alaw, but all are small. Numerous kinds of fish, some of them not common in other parts, are plentiful along the coast. Shellfish also abound. Coarse woollen fabrics, for home use, are manufactured. The main road to Holyhead runs through Anglesey, crossing the Menai Strait near Bangor, by a magnificent suspension bridge, erected by Telford, in 1826, with a headway for ships of 100 feet. The Chester and Holyhead section of the L. & N.W.R. goes through the southern part of the county, from the Britannia Bridge to Holyhead; and the Anglesey Central branch goes from a junction at Gaerwen northward to Amlwch.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5

Places and Parishes in Anglesey

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