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Menai Strait, Anglesey

Historical Description

Menai Strait, a belt of sea separating Carnarvonshire from Anglesey. It was known to the Romans as Meneviacum Fretum, to the Saxons as Maenige and Maunie, and its name signifies " narrow waters." It extends from the head of the Lavan Sands in the neighbourhood of Beaumaris, 14 miles south-westward, to Carnarvon Bay at Abermenai; and it varies in width from 200 yards to 2 miles. It is supposed to have been once two bays or inlets, separated by an isthmus around the spot now overhung hy Menai Bridge. It is swept by two tides, entering from its two ends, running sometimes from 4 to 8 miles per hour, and rising about 20 feet, and it hasa light at Trwyn-du Point. The navigation of it is comparatively dangerous, both from the clashing of the opposite tides, and from the existence of various rocks; yet it possesses importance from the fact that vessels can float quietly through at periods when the wind entirely prevents them from sailing round by Holyhead; and it is further important on account of comprising all the local commerce of Carnarvon Harbour, together with that of some small sub-ports. Ferries were the only means of crossing the strait prior to the erection of the Menai and the Britannia bridges, and they were so dangerous in stormy weather that no fewer than 180 passengers by them were drowned between the years 1664 and 1842. Some of them are still in use, and in ordinary weather are safe, while in stormy weather they can be avoided by a circuit to the bridges. Well-kept roads run along the greater part of both banks; and villas, mansions, and villages are so numerous as, together with the town of Carnarvon, to give a large proportion of the banks a highly-peopled aspect. The scenery also is softly and richly beautiful, and much of it is embellished with wood, feathering down to the water's edge. The strait is notable for the passage across it of Agricola, when the reign of the druids in Anglesey was brought to an end, and for a defeat sustained by the English in 1282.

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

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