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Anglesey in Welsh is Ynys Mon.

It was known as Mam Cymru ('Mother of Wales') during the middle ages because its fertile fields produced enough food to supply the north of Wales.

Since the conquest by Edward I, in the 13th century, it has primarily been a county. For a period from 1974 it was part of the new large county of Gwynedd, however in 1996, as part of the local government reform, it was restored as a county and is a unitary authority.

It is an island off the north west coast of Wales. It is separated from the mainland by a body of water known as the Menai Strait and access to the island is via two bridges the Menai Suspension Bridge, built by Thomas Telford and today carries traffic along the A5 from Bangor, and the Britannia Bridge which carries the A55 road and the railway to Holyhead.

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With an area of 278 square miles it is the largest Welsh island and the 5th largest island of Great Britain. It is also the largest island in the Irish Sea as it is larger than the Isle of Man. It has many Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB) and a National Nature Reserve at Newborough Warren. The largest town is Holyhead and is a major port with ferry boats leaving daily with passengers and goods bound for Ireland, a ferry trip to Dublin Ireland, takes around 3.25 hours, whilst the Catamaran takes around 1.75 hours. Its county town and government centre is at Llangefni. In 2007 the population of Anglesey was around 69,000.


Historically, Anglesey has long been associated with Druids, and it is said by some that when the Romans arrived it was the local Druid population that they had to defeat, and on doing so they were then used to mine copper on Pary's Mountain near Amlwch amongst other things. See the Amlwch Copper Kingdom, for more details on this.

It is rich in prehistoric remains and there are numerous megalithic monuments and structures present on the island. A number of Iron Age and Roman sites have been excavated, and coins and ornaments discovered to confirm that Anglesey was inhabited during this time, evidence of humans on the island as far back as 7000 BC.

In AD 60 the Roman General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, invaded the island and made use of the minerals, climate conditions and agricultural land to their advantage. However he left with his army soon after, when news of Boudica's revolt reached him. It was finally brought into the Roman Empire by Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britain, in AD 78.  See Romans on Anglesey for a more detailed look at this part of Anglesey's Roman history. The foundations of Caer Gybi, a fort at Holyhead, are Roman (see Caer Gybi Roman Fort ). Other Roman sites on Anglesey include:- Caer Leb, near Brynscienyn, Caer y Twr Hillfort, at Holyhead, and the Din Lligwy Hut Group, near Moelfre.

When the Romans left Britain in the early 5th century, pirates from Ireland colonised Anglesey and the nearby Llŷn Peninsula. In response to this, Cunedda ap Edern, a Gododdin warlord from Scotland, came to the area and began the process of driving the Irish out. This process was continued by his son Einion Yrth ap Cunedda and grandson Cadwallon Lawhir ap Einion, the last Irish invaders finally being defeated in battle in 470.

After the Irish, the island was invaded by Vikings, and it is thought the name Anglesey is to have come from a Viking place name. Then the Saxons and Normans invaded before it fell to Edward I of England in the 13th century.

As an island, Anglesey was in a good defensive position and, because of this, Aberffraw became the site of the court (Llys) of the Kingdom of Gwynedd. Apart from a devastating Danish raid in 853 it was to remain the capital until the 13th century, when improvements to the English Navy made the location indefensible.

As with many parts of Wales, Anglesey has a mining heritage. First off it was lead ore and silver and then Copper, by the 18th century Amlwch at the north of the Island was the Copper Capital of the world. At its peak it was producing 3,000 tonnes per year and over a 150 year period more than 3.5 million tones of ore was raised. At this time Amlwch was also the second largest town in Wales, second only to Merthyr Tydfil (coal mining), with a population of around 10,000. There were around 1500 men and women working in the mines, the rest of the population being other trades, business, and families that built up around this. By the mid 19th century copper started to decline and the main industry became ship building. The Amlwch Copper Kingdom has an exhibition in the Sail Loft detailing the history of both the copper mining and ship building periods.

Parys Mountain  Photo by Robin Drayton

Agriculture has always been a big part of Anglesey life, with many people using the land and sea to make a living. Populations around the island grew at various times when exploitation of other resources were being harnessed, like Copper in the 18th and 19th centuries which saw an influx of people to work in the mines. Then again at the beginning of the 19th century when Thomas Telford built the Menai Suspension Bridge using stone from the quarries around Pemon and for the first time allowing easier access to the island. At the end of the 19th Century the building of the Britannia Bridge Britannia Bridge to bring the railway on the island and to the port at Holyhead, at this time the building of Llanfairpwll Station increased the population of this community and the services it needed. At this time tourism took off in a big way as the Victorian's took to the trains to visit.

Today employment on the island is primarily agriculture and tourism with about 2 million people visiting each year making use of the vast amount of recreational activities both on sea and land.

Towns and Villages

The historic town of Beaumaris is the site of one of the castles built by Edward I after his defeat of the Welsh Princes, Beaumaris Castle. On a visit you can also see the 17th century Beaumaris Courthouse, that is still used as a court once a year, or the nearby 19th century Beaumaris Gaol,   in Steeple Lane, which started off life as a prison, but was later a police station and then a Children's Clinic prior to becoming a the museum you see today.

Holyhead is on Holy Island off the west coast and is a major ferry port taking passengers and cargo across to Dublin in Ireland. It has the largest population of around 11,000 in 2005. Here there are a wealth of attractions to see including the Caer Gybi Roman Fort, a maritime museum and the Salt Island Lighthouse. Nearby on Holyhead Mountain, the highest point on Anglesey, you have the Caer y Twr Hillfort, and the Holyhead Mountain Hut Group. On the other side of the mountain you have the South Stack Lighthouse on a rock outcrop and nearby is the RSPB reserve of South Stack, with it's Ellins Tower viewing tower. Just south of Holyhead town you have the three stone structures, of many, of Ty Mawr Standing Stone, Trefignath Burial Chamber, and the Penrhos Feilw Standing Stones.

South Stack Lighthouse   Tom Oates

Llangefni is the county town of Anglesey and where the government administration is carried out. It is also home to a large nature reserve, the Dingle Nature Reserve and the Llangefni Windmill, as well as the art centre and museum Oriel Ynys Mon, with interactive displays on the history of the island and an exhibition of local artists and craftspeople.

Menai Bridge which is one of the entry points onto the island, when you take the A5 from mainland Wales and travel over Thomas Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge. It is also home to the Menai Heritage Experience, which gives a history of both bridges into Wales as well as on the town. From here a walk down the Belgian Promenade gives access to the causeway to get onto Church Island.

Amlwch and the nearby Parys Mountain was the Copper Capital and during the 18th and 19th centuries it was the largest copper mine in the world, and at this time was the second largest town in Wales with a population of around 10,000. By the mid 19th century when copper mining started to decline it then became a ship building port, you can find out more in Amlwch Copper Kingdom, houses in the sailloft building at the old harbour. Also on the harbour wall you will find the Amlwch Lighthouse. Today Amlwch has a population of around 3,500.

Moelfre is on the East coast and has a heritage of daring sea rescues and major shipwrecks seen off Anglesey. The Seawatch Centre is a tribute to this maritime history and shows today's modern lifeboats as well as details of the 1859 disaster, when The Royal Charter sank off the coast of Anglesey during one of the fiercest storms of the century, a 104mph hurricane, when 459 people lost their lives despite the efforts of the 'Moelfre 29'. It also tells the story of local coxwain Richard (Dic) Evans, who served on lifeboat crews for 50 years helping to save the lives of many crews, including the rescuing of the 8 crew of The Hindlea which got in trouble off the coast, exactly 100 years and a day after The Royal Charter. There is a monument to 'Dic' outside the centre with him looking out to sea.

The Village with the Longest Name

Anglesey's other claim to fame is that, according to the Guinness Book of Records, it has the village with the longest name in the world, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch and translated into English you get:-

Saint Mary's Church by the white hazel pool, near the fierce whirlpool with the church of Saint Tysilio by the red cave!

The long name was actually created in the 19th century, by local businessmen who wanted to attract tourists to the Island. The story goes that a businessman had a secret cure to 'Lock Jaw' and when visiting his shop and asking for this cure he would hand you an envelope, which inside had a piece of paper with the full name of the village printed on it! It is abbreviated to Llanfairpwll or Llanfair P.G. by the locals today, and on Ordnance Survey Maps is shown as Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll. It is the first village you enter coming over the  Britannia Bridge   on the A55. At Llanfairpwll Station you will find this long name on the station building, a sign on the station platform, and also on the nearby James Pringle Weavers shop, where you can get to learn more. Llanfair also has one of three remaining toll houses on the island and the monument to the First Marquess of Anglesey Column which you can visit and climb to the top of to get some good views of the Menai Straits and Snowdonia Mountains on the mainland. Nearby is the family home of the Marquess of Anglesey family Plas Newydd.

Harnessing Nature

Being an island it can sometimes be a very windy place and the abundance of this resource has in the past provided a useful source of energy. There are records of windmills being built from the 14th century. However those on the island today, were build during the 18th and 19th centuries when numerous windmills were built all over the island. Almost 50 are known to have been built. The last mill to stop working was in 1936. In 1978 on of the mills at Llanddeusant, Llynnon Mill, was bought by the council and fully restored and today is fully working, and open to visitors. There are many others that have been converted into houses and there are some that are acting now as mobile phone bases. There are many still in ruin including the one on Parys mountain that was used to power the pump to get water out of the mine.

There were also Water Mills, using the power of water from streams and lakes like the one at Llanddeusant, Howell Watermill.

Today there are 3 large wind farms who are still using the power of nature to produce energy for us.


Being an island Anglesey is surrounded by the sea and was a strategic coastal point for ships coming into and out of the Liverpool Dock. To help guide ships around it, and it's many islands, a number of lighthouses were built as well as the use of sea markers. The lighthouses on Anglesey include:

Amlwch Lighthouse, Anglesey

Llanddwyn Island Lighthouses, Anglesey

Penmon Lighthouse,  Anglesey

Point Lynas Lighthouse, Llaneilian, Anglesey

Salt Island Lighthouse, Holyhead, Anglesey

Skerries Lighthouse (The), Anglesey

South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey

We have only so far written up one of the Sea Marks, that of the White Ladies Sea Marks on Carmel Head in the north of the island. This includes one of the small islands, West Mouse, just off the coast and between the mainland and The Skerries.

What to See

Coastal and other views, wildlife, geology and holidays focusing on natural heritage are a major element. There are no motorways, the two major routes are the A55 and A5 which travel from mainland Wales near to Bangor and Conwy on to Holyhead. There is a group of A routes that nearly form a circular route and a few B roads, but there are also many smaller roads or lanes, so getting from one place to another is not fast. There are bus routes and a many footpaths including the Anglesey Coastal Path    which is 125 miles and goes all around the island and links up with many of the smaller paths and attractions we have in the list below. There is also an annual Anglesey Walking Festival which takes place for three weeks at the end of May and beginning of June and various guided walks are on offer around many of Anglesey's paths taking in many of it's historic attractions. This 2010 PDF link will give you some idea of what is on offer, but the details of what is on offer will change year on year.

We have put together a list of Anglesey Attractions and have also created an interactive Anglesey Attractions Map where holding your mouse over the item gives the name of the attraction, and then clicking on the item takes you to the location guide we have created for it.

The location guides we have created so far include:

Amlwch Copper Kingdom, Amlwch, Anglesey

Amlwch Lighthouse, Anglesey

Barclodiad y Gawres Burial Chamber, nr Aberfrraw, Anglesey

Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey  

Beaumaris Courthouse, Beaumaris, Anglesey

Beaumaris Gaol, Beaumaris, Anglesey

Bodowyr Burial Chamber, nr Brynscienyn, Anglesey

Britannia Bridge, nr Llanfairpwll, Anglesey

Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Chamber, nr Llanfairpwll, Anglesey

Bryn Gwyn Standing Stones, nr Brynscienyn, Anglesey 

Caer Gybi Roman Fort, Holyhead, Anglesey

Caer Leb, nr Brynscienyn, Anglesey

Caer y Twr Hillfort, nr Holyhead, Anglesey

Capel Lligwy nr Moelfre, Anglesey

Castell Bryn Gwyn, nr Brynscienyn, Anglesey

Cemlyn Nature Reserve and Bay, nr Tregele, Anglesey

Church Island, nr Menai Bridge, Anglesey

Din Dryfol Burial Chamber, nr Aberfrraw, Anglesey

Din Lligwy Hut Group, nr Moelfre, Anglesey

Dingle Nature Reserve (The), Llangefni, Anglesey

Holyhead Mountain Hut Group, Holyhead, Anglesey

Howell Watermill, Llanddeusant, Anglesey

Llanddwyn Island Lighthouses, Anglesey

Llanfairpwll Station, Llanfairpwll, Anglesey 

Llangefni Windmill, Llangefni, Anglesey

Llangwyfan Church, Llanwyfan, Anglesey

Lligwy Burial Chamber, nr Moelfre, Anglesey

Llynnon Mill, Llanddeusant, Anglesey

Marquess of Anglesey Column, Llanfairpwll, Anglesey

Menai Heritage Experience, Menai Bridge, Anglesey

Menai Suspension Bridge, Menai Bridge, Anglesey

Penmon Cross, Penmon, Anglesey

Penmon Dovecot, Penmon, Anglesey

Penmon Lighthouse,  Anglesey

Penmon Priory, Penmon, Anglesey

Penrhos Feilw Standing Stones, nr Holyhead, Anglesey

Plas Newydd, Llanfairpwll, Anglesey  

Point Lynas Lighthouse, Llaneilian, Anglesey

Puffin Island, Penmon, Anglesey

Prysaddfed Burial Chamber, Prysaddfed, Anglesey

Salt Island Lighthouse, Holyhead, Anglesey

Seawatch Centre, Moelfre, Anglesey

Skerries Lighthouse (The), Anglesey

South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey

South Stack, nr Holyhead, Anglesey 

St Seiriols Well, Penmon, Anglesey

Tacla Taid Transport and Agricultural Museum, Newborough, Anglesey 

Tregwehelydd Standing Stone

Trefignath Burial Chamber, nr Holyhead, Anglesey

Ty Mawr Standing Stone, nr Holyhead, Anglesey

Ty Newydd Burial Chamber, nr Llanfaelog, Anglesey

White Ladies Sea Marks, Carmel Head, Anglesey

Other Nearby Islands

Anglesey is surrounded by many other islands, some large and some small and it has a number of beautiful peninsulas as well. Here we have listed some of them.

Church Island   is in fact connected via a causeway at Menai Bridge, and is home to St Tylios church which is still in use today.

Cribinau is off the west coast and is a small walled island, the wall being constructed to protect Llangwyfan Church which stands on it.

East Mouse is one of 3 similarly named islands off the north coast, the other two being West Mouse and Middle Mouse. It is sometimes referred to as Ynys Amlwch as it is just off the coast at Amlwch, see our guide on Amlwch Copper Kingdom   for more details on the history of this area.

Holy Island is the largest island off Anglesey and the second largest in Wales, and contains the largest town of Holyhead and it's port that takes vehicles, passengers and cargo from here to Ireland. It also has the highest mountain on Anglesey, Holyhead Mountain at 720ft. It is connected to the mainland via 3 road bridges, taking the 2 major A roads, A55 and A5 and a B road at Four Mile Bridge.

Middle Mouse - makes up one of the 3 mMouse islands off the north coast. It can be seen from the headland at Porth Llanlleiana, which has various remains from the old brickwork industry that was on the island.

Puffin Island   is the ninth largest island in Wales and sits off Penmon Point on the east coast. Today it is uninhabited and is a privately owned nature reserve, being home to colonies of sea birds including a Great Cormorant colony of over 750 pairs. It has a number of names including Yny Seiriol and Preistholm. It has the ruins of a 19th Semaphore station and some ruins of a monastery which is said to have been built at the time of St Seiriol.

Penmon Lighthouse and Puffin Island

Salt Island sits in the harbour of Holyhead and today it is used as a passenger, car and freight terminal and berths for ferries to and from Ireland. It is also home to the Salt Island Lighthouse, one of John Rennies surviving works. The island got its name from a factory located on it in the 18th century that processed sear water into order to extract salt, this ceased production in 1775.

The Skerries are group of islands 3km offshore from Carmel Head at the north west corner of the island. They are an important breeding site for sea birds and they attract divers who want to visit the many shipwrecks around them. It is also home to the Skerries Lighthouse.

South Stack is an island just off Holy Island and home to the South Stack Lighthouse, which is open to the public to view the engine house and guided tours up the tower. It is connected to the mainland via a bridge which is accessed via a descent of 400 steps from the headland at South Stack.  

West Mouse is one of 3 off the north coast. It is located in strong tides and has a number of shipwrecks near it. There is a white beacon in the centre which makes up one of the 3 White Ladies Sea Marks, the other two being on nearby Carmel Head on the Anglesey mainland.

Ynys Castell,  Ynys Gaint, Ynys y Big are all islands that sit in the Menai Strait between Anglesey and mainland Wales.

Ynys Dulas is a small island off the north east coast. It is about 1 mile offshore within Dulas Bay. On the island is a round building with a cone shaped top that was built in 1924 by Lady Dorina Neave to store food and provide shelter for shipwrecked seamen.

Ynys Feurig is the name given to a group of islets that inter connect and lie off the west coast of Anglesey just north of Rhosneigr.

Ynys Gored Goch lies in the Menai Straits and is situated in the area called the 'Swellies' between the two bridges, the Menai Suspension Bridge, and the Britannia Bridge.  There is a single house and outbuildings on the island and because of the variation in tide, at very high tide the island can look like it is two with the house nearly submerged on one, and the outbuilding on the other.

Ynys Gored Goch at High spring tide taken 30 March 2006

Ynys Llanddwyn is a tidal island off the west coast. It forms part of the National Nature Reserve of Newborough Warren and has a number of buildings on it including the Llanddwyn Lighthouses. It is not always an island, only at high tide, and is accessible on foot with around 10 footpaths including the Anglesey Coastal Path    covering it. It has a blue flag beach and other buildings include the remains of a church, a lighthouse cross and pilots cottages.

The pilots cottages on Ynys Llandwyn, with in the background the Lighthouse Cross
on the left and the remains of the church on the right.

Ynys Moelfre sits off the coast near the village of Moelfre on the east coast. Moelfre lifeboat station is an active station in the waters around here and the Seawatch Centre, in the village of Moelfre, tells the history of this.

Links and Lists

Photographers Resource Links External Links

Romans on Anglesey


Anglesey Attractions

Anglesey Attractions Map

Anglesey Coastal Path 

For location guides see the list above.

Wikipedia entry on Anglesey

Anglesey History

Anglesey Nature - Natural history and conservation information including protected areas and resources.

Friends of Anglesey Red Squirrels includes a webcam of one of the sites near Beaumaris. There is also a population in Newborough Forest.

Anglesey Through Time

Anglesey Tourism

Anglesey Visitor

Discover Anglesey

Anglesey Walking Holidays

Welsh Mills Society

By: Tracey Park Section: Islands Key:
Page Ref: Anglesey Topic: Islands  Last Updated: 07/2010

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