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Isle of Anglesey
Ynys Môn
Isle of Anglesey UK location map
- Total
- % Water
Ranked 9th
714 km² (276 sq mi)
Admin HQ Llangefni
Largest town Holyhead
ISO 3166-2 GB-AGY
ONS code 00NA
- Total (2006 est.)
- Density
Ranked 21st
Ranked 17th
96 / km² (251/sq mi)
Ethnicity 98.1% White
Welsh language
- Any skills
Ranked 2nd
Anglesey arms
Isle of Anglesey County Council
Control Independent
Member of Parliament
Assembly Members

Anglesey /ˈæŋɡəlsi/ (Welsh: Ynys Môn) [ˈənɨs ˈmoːn], is an island and, as Isle of Anglesey, a county off the north west coast of Wales. Two bridges, spanning the Menai Strait, connect it to the mainland: the original Menai Suspension Bridge (carrying the A5), designed by Thomas Telford in 1826; and the more recently rebuilt Britannia Bridge (replacing the original designed by Robert Stephenson), which carries the A55 and the North Wales Coast Railway Line. Historian and author John Davies argues that it was during the tumultuous 10th century that the Norse name for Môn, Anglesey, came into existence; the name was later adopted into English after Anglo-Norman occupiers arrived to conquer the island during the Norman invasions of Gwynedd.[1][2]

The name Anglesey was later used in the English language as a county name which included Holy Island and other nearby small islands. About half of the inhabitants can speak, read and write Welsh as well as English, and 70% have a knowledge of Welsh.[3] Once the Welsh language was granted equal status in government with the Welsh Language Act of 1993, the representative constituency names for the island were changed to the Welsh name of the island, Ynys Môn (UK Parliament constituency) in the UK parliament, and Ynys Môn (Assembly constituency) in the National Assembly for Wales. With an area of 714 square kilometres (276 sq mi),[4] (although Anglesey proper, not including Holy Island is 675 km2) Anglesey is the largest Welsh island, the sixth largest surrounding the island of Great Britain, and the largest island in the Irish Sea ahead of the Isle of Man.[5]


Môn is the Welsh name of Anglesey, derived from the British enisis mona, appearing first during the Roman era as 'Mona': it is the Mona of Tacitus (Ann. xiv. 29, Agr. xiv. 18), Pliny the Elder (iv. 16) and Dio Cassius (62). It is called Môn Mam Cymru ("Môn, Mother of Wales") by Giraldus Cambrensis, for the claimed ability of the fertile land to produce enough food for the whole of Wales. In reality, the claim was probably more directed at an ability to sustain Gwynedd. Old Welsh names are Ynys Dywyll ("Dark Isle") and Ynys y Cedairn (cedyrn or kedyrn; "Isle of brave folk"). Clas Merddin, and Y fêl Ynys (honey isle) are other names. The English name Anglesey is in fact derived from the Old Norse, meaning 'Ongull's Island'. The alternative "isle (ey) of the Angles" is discredited.


Numerous megalithic monuments and menhirs are present on Anglesey, testifying to the presence of humans in prehistory. Plas Newydd is near one of 28 cromlechs that remain on uplands overlooking the sea. The Welsh Triads claim that Anglesey was once part of the mainland.

Historically, Anglesey has long been associated with druids. In AD 60 the Roman general Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, determined to break the power of the Celtic druids, attacked the island utilizing his amphibious Batavian contingent as a surprise vanguard assault[6] and then destroying the shrine and the sacred groves. News of Boudica's revolt reached him just after his victory, causing him to withdraw his army before consolidating his conquest. The island was finally brought into the Roman Empire by Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britain, in AD 78. During the Roman occupation, the area was notable for the mining of copper. The foundations of Caer Gybi, a fort at Holyhead, are Roman, and the present road from Holyhead to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll may originally have been a Roman road.

British Iron Age and Roman sites have been excavated, and coins and ornaments discovered, especially by the 19th century antiquarian, William Owen Stanley.[7] Following the Roman departure from 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. As an island, Anglesey was in a good defensive position and, because of this, Aberffraw became the site of the court, or 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.

After the Irish, the island was invaded by Vikings, some of these raids being noted in famous sagas (see Menai Strait History), as well as Saxons, and Normans, before falling to Edward I of England in the 13th century.


Anglesey is a relatively low-lying island with low hills such as Parys Mountain, Cadair Mynachdy ("chair of the monastery", or Monachdy; there is a Nanner, "convent", not far away), Mynydd Bodafon and Holyhead Mountain. The island is separated from the Welsh mainland by the Menai Strait, which at its narrowest point is about 250 metres (270 yd) wide.

Brittania Bridge Train crossing 3

Britannia Bridge from the east along the Menai Strait

Anglesey has some of the oldest rocks in the world, dating from the Pre-Cambrian period.

Anglesey has several small towns scattered around the island, making it quite evenly populated. The largest towns are Holyhead, Llangefni, Llannerch-y-medd (Welsh spelling; in English the hyphens are generally omitted), Menai Bridge, and Amlwch. Beaumaris (Welsh: Biwmares), in the east of the island, features Beaumaris Castle, built by Edward I as part of his Bastide Town campaign in North Wales. Beaumaris acts as a yachting centre for the region, with many boats moored in the bay or off Gallows Point. The village of Newborough (Welsh: Niwbwrch), in the south, created when the townsfolk of Llanfaes were relocated to make way for the building of Beaumaris Castle, includes the site of Llys Rhosyr, another of the courts of the mediaeval Welsh princes, which features one of the oldest courtrooms in the United Kingdom. Llangefni is located in the centre of the island and is also the island's administrative centre. The town of Menai Bridge (Welsh: Porthaethwy) (in the south-east) expanded when the first bridge to the mainland was being built, in order to accommodate workers and construction. Up until that time Porthaethwy had been one of the principal ferry crossing points from the mainland. A short distance from this town lies Bryn Celli Ddu, a Stone Age burial mound. Also nearby is the village with the longest official place name in the United Kingdom, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Near it is Plas Newydd, ancestral home of the Marquesses of Anglesey. The town of Amlwch is situated in the northeast of the island and was once largely industrialised, having grown during the 18th century supporting the copper mining industry at Parys Mountain.

Anglesey OS map

Ordnance Survey map of Anglesey

Other villages and settlements include Cemaes, Benllech, Pentraeth, Gaerwen, Dwyran, Bodedern and Rhosneigr. The Anglesey Sea Zoo is a local tourist attraction, providing a look at and descriptions of local marine wildlife from lobsters to conger eels. All the fish and crustaceans on display are caught around the island and are placed in reconstructions of their natural habitat. They also make salt (evaporated from the local sea water) and breed commercially lobsters, for food, and oysters, for pearls, both from local stocks.

The island's entire rural coastline has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and features many sandy beaches, especially along its eastern coast between the towns of Beaumaris and Amlwch and along the western coast from Ynys Llanddwyn through Rhosneigr to the little bays around Carmel Head. The northern coastline is characterised by dramatic cliffs interspersed with small bays. The Anglesey Coastal Path is a 200-kilometre (124 mi) path[8] which follows nearly the entire coastline. Tourism is now the most significant economic activity on the island. Agriculture provides the secondary source of income for the island's economy, with the local dairies being amongst the most productive in the region. There is also a nuclear power station, at Wylfa Head on the north coast.

Major industries are restricted to Holyhead (Caergybi) which, until 30 September 2009, supported an aluminium smelter, and the Amlwch area, where the Wylfa nuclear power station is located close to a former bromine extraction plant. The nuclear power station is scheduled to operate until at least 2012,[9] whilst the aluminium smelting operation closed down in September 2009, reducing its workforce from 450 to 80; this has been a major blow to the Island's economy, especially to the town of Holyhead. However, the local county council supports extending the closure deadline and building a new nuclear power station at Wylfa.[10] The Royal Air Force station RAF Valley (Y Fali) is home to the RAF Fast Jet Training School and also 22 Sqn Search and Rescue Helicopters, both units providing employment for approximately 500 civilians. RAF Valley is now home to the Headquarters of 22 Sqn Search and Rescue.

There is a wide range of smaller industries, mostly located in industrial and business parks especially at Llangefni and Gaerwen. These industries include an abattoir and fine chemicals manufacture as well as factories for timber production, aluminium smelting, fish farming and food processing.

Wind power is developing on Anglesey, with more than 20 commercial wind turbines established near the north coast. The strong sea currents around the island are also attracting the interest of electricity generation companies interested in exploiting tidal power.

The island is also on one of the major routes from Britain to Ireland, via ferries from Holyhead, off the west of Anglesey on Holy Island, to Dún Laoghaire and Dublin Port.

There are a few natural lakes, mostly in the west, such as Llyn Llywenan, the largest natural lake on the island, Llyn Coron, and Cors Cerrig y Daran, but rivers are few and small. There are two large water supply reservoirs operated by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water. These are Llyn Cefni in the centre of the island, which is fed by the headwaters of the Afon Cefni, and Llyn Alaw to the north of the island.

The climate is humid (much less so than neighbouring mountainous Gwynedd) but generally equable under the effects of the Gulf Stream bathing the island. The land is of variable quality and it was probably much more fertile in the past. Anglesey is the home of the northernmost olive grove in Europe and presumably in the world.[11]

See the list of places in Anglesey for all villages, towns and cities.
See the List of Anglesey towns by population for populations.

Ecology and conservationEdit

Much of Anglesey is covered with relatively intensive cattle and sheep farming aided by modern agro-chemicals. In these areas the native vegetation and wildlife have essentially been destroyed. However there are a number of important wetland sites which have protected status. In addition the several lakes all have significant ecological interest including their support for a wide range of aquatic and semi-aquatic bird species. In the west, the Malltraeth Marshes are believed to be supporting an occasional visiting bittern and the nearby estuary of the Afon Cefni supports a bird population made internationally famous by the paintings of Charles Tunnicliffe, who lived for many years – and died at - Malltraeth on the Cefni estuary. The RAF airstrip at Mona is a nesting site for skylarks. The sheer cliff faces at South Stack near Holyhead provide nesting sites for huge numbers of auks including puffins, razorbills and guillemots together with choughs and peregrine falcons. Three sites on Anglesey are important for breeding terns – see Anglesey tern colonies. There are significant occurrences of the Juncus subnodulosus-Cirsium palustre fen-meadow plant association, a habitat characterised by certain hydrophilic grasses, sedges and forbs.[12] Anglesey is home to several species of tern, including the Roseate Tern.

Anglesey is home to two of the UK's small number of remaining colonies of red squirrels, at Pentraeth and Newborough.[13]

Almost the entire coastline of Anglesey is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty The coastal zone of Anglesey was designated as an AONB in 1966 and was confirmed as such in 1967. It was so designated in order to protect the aesthetic appeal and variety of the island’s coastal landscape and habitats from inappropriate development.

The AONB is predominantly a coastal designation, covering most of Anglesey’s 125 miles (201 km) coastline but also encompasses Holyhead Mountain and Mynydd Bodafon. Substantial areas of other land protected by the AONB form the backdrop to the coast. The approximate coverage of the Anglesey AONB is 221 km², and it is the largest AONB in Wales, covering as it does one third of the island.

A number of the habitats found on Anglesey are afforded even greater protection both through UK and European designations because of their nature conservation value, these include:

6 candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSACs) 4 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) 1 National Nature Reserve 26 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 52 Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs)

These protected habitats support a variety of wildlife such as Harbour Porpoises and Marsh Fritillary.

The AONB also takes in three sections of open, undeveloped coastline which have been designated as Heritage Coast. These non-statutory designations complement the AONB and cover about 31 miles (50 km) of the coastline. The sections of Heritage Coast are:

  1. North Anglesey 28.6 km (17.8 mi)
  2. Holyhead Mountain 12.9 km (8.0 mi)
  3. Aberffraw Bay 7.7 km (4.8 mi)

A living and working landscapeEdit

Employment on Anglesey is mainly based on agriculture and tourism and in some cases a combination of both. The range of local produce found on the island is quite varied, from cheese and chocolate to wine. In a number of instances the local produce is also organic.

About two million people visit the island each year. In terms of recreation the island offers a number of opportunities to both residents and visitors alike, the majority enjoying the fine sandy beaches and the coastal landscape.

The most popular forms of recreation include sailing, angling, cycling, walking, wind surfing and jet skiing. These all place pressures and demands on the AONB. At the same time, the AONBs popularity for such activities clearly provides a contribution to the local economy.[14]

Natural historyEdit

References: Jones, W.E. Eifion Jones (Ed.)1990. A New Natural History of Anglesey. Anglesey Antiquarian Society, Llangefni.

Ynys Llanddwyn old

Llanddwyn Island, old lighthouse with Snowdonia in background.


  • Anglesey has the second highest percentage of native Welsh language speakers in Wales (70% of the population).
  • Anglesey hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1957, 1983, and 1999.
  • Anglesey/Ynys Môn is a member island of the International Island Games Association. In the 2009 Games held on the Åland Islands (Finland) Anglesey/Ynys Môn came joint 17th (with Western Isles) with 1 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals. In the 2007 Island Games on Rhodes (Greece) Anglesey/Ynys Môn came 15th on the medal table with 3 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals. In the 2005 Games on the Shetland Islands, Anglesey/Ynys Môn came 11th on the medal table with 4 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals. and the 2011 Games were held on the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Anglesey/Ynys Môn Island Games Association plan to make a bid to host the 2015 Island Games.
  • The Anglesey County Show is held each year in summer on the site of Mona Airfield, close to RAF Valley, in which farmers from around the country compete in livestock rearing contests including sheep and cattle.
  • Anglesey has featured in the Channel 4 television archaeology series, Time Team (series 14) - programme transmission date 4 February 2007.


The geology of Anglesey is notably complex and is frequently used for geology field trips by schools and colleges. Younger strata in Anglesey rest upon a foundation of very old Precambrian rocks that appear at the surface in four areas:

  1. a western region including Holyhead and Llanfaethlu,
  2. a central area about Aberffraw and Trefdraeth,
  3. an eastern region which includes Newborough, Gaerwen and Pentraeth and
  4. a coastal region at Glyn Garth between Menai Bridge and Beaumaris.

These Precambrian rocks are schists and phyllites, often much contorted and disturbed. The general line of strike of the formations in the island is from north-east to south-west. A belt of granitic rocks lies immediately north-west of the central Precambrian mass, reaching from Llanfaelog near the coast to the vicinity of Llanerchymedd. Between this granite and the Precambrian of Holyhead is a narrow tract of Ordovician slates and grits with Llandovery beds in places; this tract spreads out in the north of the island between Dulas Bay and Carmel Point. A small patch of Ordovician strata lies on the northern side of Beaumaris. In parts, these Ordovician rocks are much folded, crushed and metamorphosed, and they are associated with schists and altered volcanic rocks which are probably Precambrian. Between the eastern and central Precambrian masses Carboniferous rocks are found. The Carboniferous Limestone occupies a broad area south of Lligwy Bay and Pentraeth, and sends a narrow spur in a south-westerly direction by Llangefni to Malltraeth Sands. The limestone is underlain on the north-west by a red basement conglomerate and yellow sandstone (sometimes considered to be of Old Red Sandstone age). Limestone occurs again on the north coast about Llanfihangel and Llangoed; and in the south-west round Llanidan on the border of the Menai Strait. Puffin Island is made of Carboniferous Limestone. Malltraeth marsh is occupied by Coal Measures, and a small patch of the same formation appears near Tal-y-foel Ferry on the Menai Strait. A patch of rhyolitic/felsitic rocks form Parys Mountain, where copper and iron ochre have been worked. Serpentine (Mona Marble) is found near Llanfair-yn-neubwll and upon the opposite shore in Holyhead. There is abundant evidence of glaciation, and much boulder clay and drift sand covers the older rocks. Patches of brown sand occur on the south-west coast.

Under the name GeoMôn, and in recognition of its extraordinary geological heritage, the island gained membership of the European Geoparks Network in spring 2009.[15] and the Global Geoparks Network in September 2010.

There are Google Earth files: Anglesey.kmz and Anglesey.kml, which show important geological locations on Anglesey, and include a number of geological map overlays, they can be downloaded from: Google Earth Geology,[16] whereas a historiography of geological research on Anglesey is available at: Historiography of Geological Research.[17]

Other places of interestEdit

View north-westwards across grazing land above Porth y Gwyddel - - 1438946

View north-westwards across grazing land above Porth y Gwyddel. The view includes Ynys Lawd/South Stack with its familiar lighthouse, Pen-las Rock and Elin's Tower

Notable peopleEdit

Born on AngleseyEdit

Lived on AngleseyEdit


Anglesey (together with Holy Island) is one of the thirteen historic counties of Wales. In medieval times, before the conquest of Wales in 1283, Môn often had periods of temporary independence as it was frequently bequeathed to the heirs of kings as a sub kingdom of Gwynedd. The last times this occurred were for a few years after 1171 following the death of Owain Gwynedd when the island was inherited by Rhodri ab Owain Gwynedd and again between 1246 - c.1255 when it was given to Owain Goch as his share of the kingdom. Following the conquest of Wales by Edward I it was created a county under the terms of the Statute of Rhuddlan of 1284. Prior to this it had been divided into the cantrefi of:

In 1974 it formed a district of the new large county of Gwynedd, until in the 1996 reform of local government it was restored as a local government county. The county council is a unitary authority and is named "Isle of Anglesey County Council" (Welsh: Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn). In 2011, the Welsh Government appointed a panel of commissioners to administer the council, thus the elected members are not presently in control. The commissioners will remain in control until they are ready to hand over to an elected council, and no elections will be held until that time. Prior to the direct administration, there were a majority of independent councillors, though members did not generally divide along party lines. There are five non-partisan groups on the council, containing a mix of party and independent candidates. The largest of these groups is Annibynnol Gwreiddiol/Original Independents, with 22 members out of the 40 in total.


Secondary schools:

There are also 50 primary schools in Anglesey, all of which are co-educational day schools.[19]


By road, Anglesey is linked from Holyhead to the mainland by the A55 which leads to Chester. Also the A5 runs from the east of the island (Llanfairpwllgwyngyll) to Bangor and as far as St Albans via the Menai Bridge. The A5025, which runs around the northern edge of Anglesey, and the A4080, running around the southern edge form a ring around the island.

There are six railway stations in Anglesey: Holyhead, Valley, Rhosneigr, Ty Croes, Bodorgan and Llanfairpwll. All are on the North Wales Coast Line and services are operated by Virgin Trains to London Euston, and by Arriva Trains Wales to Chester, Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street and Cardiff Central. Historically the island was also served by the Anglesey Central Railway which ran from Gaerwen to Amlwch and the Red Wharf Bay branch line between the Holland Arms railway station and Red Wharf Bay.

By air, Anglesey Airport has a twice daily scheduled service to Cardiff International Airport where connections worldwide can be made.

Holyhead Port is a busy ferry port handling more than 2 million passengers each year. Stena Line and Irish Ferries sail to Dublin and Dún Laoghaire in Ireland, forming the principal link for surface transport from central and northern England and Wales to Ireland.

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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Coordinates: 53°17′N 4°20′W / 53.283, -4.333

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Anglesey. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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