Carnarvonshire, Wales


Carnarvonshire or Caernarvonshire, a maritime county of North Wales, bounded on the north by Beaumaris Bay and the Irish Sea, on the north-east by Denbighshire, on the south-east and the south by Merionethshire and by Cardigan Bay, on the south-west by Carnarvon Bay, and on the northwest by the Menai Strait, dividing it from Anglesey. Its length south-westward is 55 miles, its greatest breadth 23 miles, its circuit about 150 miles, its area 361,097 acres. The part between Cardigan Bay and Carnarvon Bay, 28 miles long, and diminishing in breadth from 13 miles to a point, is the peninsula of Lleyn, and the other parts are mainly filled with the vales and mountains of Snowdonia. Much of the Lleyn peninsula is low country, parts of the other seaboards also are low, yet these tracts abound in bold picturesque diversities, while the mountains of Snowdonia, regarded either in the group or in detail, are the richest for grandeur, force, and beauty in the British Isles. The Conway river goes along the north-eastern boundary to the sea; the Machno, the Lledr, and the Llugwy fall into the Conway; the Glas-Llyn, a romantic stream, goes to Cardigan Bay; and the Seiont and the Gwrfai descend from Snowdon to the Menai Strait. Numerous lakes lie among the mountains, and innumerable rivulets run around their bases. Cambrian and Silurian rocks, with vast and manifold protrusions of erupted rocks, fill nearly all the area. The Cambrian form considerable belts in the north-west and the south-west; the lower Silurian spread from the middle west, through all the centre, to the south and the east; and the upper Silurian form a small tract in the north-east. The erupted rocks range from granite through all the traps to the simply volcanic, and include great uplifted masses of clay-slate and other schists. Old red sandstone appears on the coast from Conway to Bangor, also in Braich-y-Pwll, and carboniferous limestone appears in Orme's Head and in a strip along part of the Menai Strait. Copper, lead, and zinc are worked, roofing slates in vast quantities are quarried, and millstone and ochre are found.

Wheat is grown in a few fertile spots on the seaboards, but oats, barley, and potatoes are the chief crops. Husbandry in general has been much improved. The black cattle are smaller than those of Anglesey; the native sheep are a very diminutive breed, but have been improved by judicious crossing. Butter, wool, and Iambs are sent to the market, and stockings, flannel, and coarse woollen cloth are manufactured. The Chester and Holyhead section of the L. & N.W.R. goes along the northern seaboard; a branch runs down the valley of the Conway from LIandudno Junction to Bettws-y-Coed and Festiniog, and another branch from Bangor to Carnarvon and thence to Afon-wen, where it forms a junction with the section of the Cambrian railway between Pwllheli, Criccieth, and Portmadoc. From Bangor and Carnarvon are short offshoots of the L. & N.W. system to Bethesda and to Llanberis respectively. From Dinas Junction on the line from Carnarvon to Afon-wen, the North Wales narrow gauge railway runs into the heart of the Snowdon district to Snowdon station, which is connected by coach with Beddgelert. From Portmadoc, also connected by coach with Beddgelert, runs another narrow gauge or "toy " railway, the Festiniog, to Blaenan Festiniog.

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

Carnarvonshire County Record Office
Shire Hall
Glanhwfa Road
LL77 7TW
Tel: +44 (0) 1248 752080

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

List of Registration Districts in Carnarvonshire from 1837 to 1974.

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Carnarvonshire is available to browse.


Old map of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Old map of Carnarvonshire circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers online:

Parishes and places

The towns and parishes have now been moved to a separate page.