FLINTSHIRE

"FLINT, a maritime county of North Wales, situated between the Dee and the Clwyd. The Dee bounds it on the E., the Irish Sea on the N., and the county of Denbigh on the S. and W., with which it is much interwoven. It anciently formed part of the Roman province Brittannia Secunda, and was at that time inhabited by the British tribe Ordovices. After the departure of the Romans, whose station was at Varae, now Caergwrlse near Bod-fari, it became part of the Welsh principality of Venedotia or Gwynedd, and was overrun by the Saxons, 1054-5, who annexed it to Mercia under the name of Englefield. In the reign of Edward the Confessor it was again reduced, and after the Norman Conquest was added to the earldom of Chester, but continued for above two centuries debateable ground, being the scene of several severe contests between the Welsh and English. It was subsequently held by Edward the Black Prince, and was made shire ground by Edward I. In the reign of Henry VIII. it received the privilege of sending members to parliament, and during the civil war of Charles I. was alternately occupied by the royalists and parliamentarians, who took and retook several times the castles of Flint, Hawarden, and Rhuddlan, until they were finally dismantled by order of the parliament. In extent of surface it is the smallest county of Wales, containing only 244 square miles, but is one of the most populous in proportion to its area, having at the census of 1861 a population of 69,737; in 1851 the population was 68,156; and in 1801,39,469; it thus having increased 30,268 since the commencement of the present century. In circuit the county measures about 113 miles, of which 20 miles are coast, the shore being generally low and skirted by sands, in places nearly 4 miles wide, which are dry at low water. In its geological characteristics it belongs chiefly to the carboniferous and New Red sandstone formations, the latter being the uppermost of the rocks in this county, and forming the basis of the red marl of the lower part of the Vale of Clwyd, and the N.E. bank of the new channel of the Dee. From the Dee the land gradually rises, and forms a range of hills of moderate elevation, intersecting the county lengthways from S.W. to N.E. These are chiefly formed of carboniferous or mountain limestone, rich in lead ore and haematitic iron ore. The coal measures form part of the grand coal-field of North Wales, occupying the coast of the estuary of the Dee, extending from the Point of Ayr towards the S.E., and bounded by a line from Llansasa to Holywell. They consist of rich measures of common, carmel, and peacock coal, resting on shale, and having a dip of one yard in four to two in three. The field inclines towards Cheshire, passing under the Dee, and is worked at Flint, Whetford, Mostyn, Holywell, Mold, and various other places. Ironstone is found in conjunction with the coal, and is worked to a small extent. The great mining operations are in lead, which is found in the limestone rock, and yield 15 cwt. of metal per ton of ore, containing from 8 to 10 ozs. of silver. The chief mines are in the neighbourhood of Holywell, Halkyn, Kilken, Mold, Milwr, and Talar-Goch, near Dyserth. Some of these are believed to have been worked by the Romans, and were considered the richest lead-mines in England, but recently have not been found so productive as formerly. Copper is also found, and there are considerable brass works at Holywell, besides calamine, sulphate of zinc, popularly known as black jack, and barytes, the last occurring at Cefn Meiriadog. Many other mineral productions, as marble, chart, petroleum, millstone, building stone, fireclay, potters' clay, are found in different parts of the county. The surface is moderately hilly, and along the coast low and sandy, with much waste land, and some rich meadows recently reclaimed from the Dee. The chief ranges of hills are those which skirt the S.W. boundary of the county, along the valleys of the Upper Alyn and Clwyd, rising at Moely-Famma to the height of 1,845 feet; at Arthur's Camp to 1,491; and at Moel-y-Cloddian to 1,452. Another range of hills, as mentioned above, runs through the middle of the county from S.E. to N.W., rising at Moel-y-Gaer to the height of 1,050 feet, and separating the water-shed of the county into two grand divisions, the one drained by the Alyn, or Alun, and the Clwyd, and the other by the Dee. These rivers, though they have part of their course within Flintshire, rather belong to other counties, except, perhaps, the new channel of the Dee, which constitutes the only inland navigation this county possesses. Other rivers are the Elwy, Terrig, and Wheler. The county is traversed by the Chester and Holyhead section of the London and North-Western railway, which passes along the estuary of the Dee from the Dee ferry to Rhyl, a distance of about 28 miles. There is also a branch line of 13 miles from Chester to Mold; and the Vale of Clwyd line, which branches off from the Chester and Holyhead main line at Rhyl, then passing by Rhuddlan and St. Asaph, where there are stations, is carried as far as Denbigh, a distance of 11 miles. The Chester and Shrewsbury section of the Great Western line touches the county on the S.E. There is also a short goods line from the collieries near Mold to the Dee. Three principal lines of road traverse the county from S.E. to N.W. One following the course of the Dee leads from Chester to Flint. The second, which also leads from Chester, passes through Hawarden and Northop to Holywell, where it separates into two branches, one going to Rhuddlan and the other to St. Asaph. The third enters the county from Wrexham, and passing through Caergwrle and Mold, goes to Denbigh. Crossing these roads nearly at right angles is a fourth road leading from Ruthin in Denbighshire through Mold and Hawarden, across the Dee ferry to Liverpool. Numerous branch roads connect these at various points, and lead to the principal villages and towns. The county is generally divided into large estates, and the farmhouses and buildings constructed of stone. Much wool and butter are sent to market, and good crops of wheat are raised in all the lower lands lying near the coast, and in the fertile valleys of the Alyn, Clwyd, and Dee. Barley, potatoes, oats, and green crops, are occasionally grown; and in the uplands, and along the banks of the Dee, is much good pasture for cattle and sheep, the former being of large size for native breeds. Although agriculture is in a forward state, yet the mines and collieries constitute the chief source of wealth, and employ a large proportion of the inhabitants. The manufactures are not numerous, consisting chiefly of cotton spinning and trades connected with the working of metals, also paper making, brick and tile works, and potteries. The county town is Mold, where the assizes and quarter sessions are held, but the county gaol is at Flint, the former county town. It is contributory with six other boroughs to Flint in returning one member to parliament, and is the only market town except Holywell in the county. St. Asaph is a city, being the seat of a bishopric and the head of a Poor-law Union, the only other union in the county being that of Holywell, which is likewise the head of a County Court district and superintendent registry. Rhuddlan and Flint are the polling places for the county, which returns one member to parliament, besides the one for the borough of Flint mentioned above. The county is divided into five hundreds-Coleshill, Prestatyn, Rhuddlan, Mold, and Maelor, comprising 23 parishes and portions of 12 others, all within the diocese of St. Asaph and province of Canterbury. For military purposes it forms part of the' N.W. district, and is included for legal purposes in the North Wales and Chester circuit. The local government is conducted by a lord-lieutenant, deputy-lieutenant, and about 30 county magistrates. The chief seats are-Asaph Palace, of the Bishop of St. Asaph; Halkyn Hall, of the Marquis of Westminster; Downing, of Viscount Feilding; Mostyn Hall, of Lord Mostyn, whose old seat, Pengwern, was recently destroyed by fire, including in the ruin a priceless collection of Welsh MSS.; Gredington, of Lord Kenyon; Talacre and Greenfield, of Sir Piers Mostyn, Bart.; Bodelwyddan, of Sir Hugh Williams; Hawarden Castle, of Sir Stephen Glynne, besides numerous other mansions. The antiquities are numerous and highly interesting, including several Roman camps, as Caergwr-Le, i.e. "camp of the giant legion," near the village of Hope, where a hypocaust, inscribed tiles, bricks, and other Roman remains, have been found, including some large beds of iron; scoriae at Caer Estyn, which seems to confirm the assertion that the iron and lead mines of Flintshire were worked by the Romans. Another Roman station is at Caersws, where many remains, such as querns, bricks, Samian ware, and the foundations of a Roman villa, have been dug up. Caerwys, now a decayed village, is also said, to have been a Roman station, which impression is favoured by the arrangement of the streets at right angles to each other, as at Caerwent, in Monmouthshire. Caerwys was also celebrated for being the cradle of Eisteddfoddian, or festivals of the bards, which were held here by royal commissions of Edward I., Henry VIII., and Elizabeth. In later times it was the county town, the assizes being held here until their removal to Flint. Ancient pillars are still standing on Mostyn Hill and at Diserth, where are traces of a British camp. On the Wrexham road, near Overton, is Bangor Iscoed, where the largest and most ancient monastery in Great Britain stood. It was founded about the year 180 by Lucius, son of Coel, the first Christian king of Britain, and had, before its destruction by Ethelfrid of Northumbria in 603, no fewer than 2,400 monks, over whom Nennius, the historian, was abbot in the 7th century. Offa's Dyke, which formed the great boundary line between the Welsh and Saxons, and is supposed to have been formed by the Mercian king of that name, commences on the N. coast of Flintshire, near Prestatyn, and runs S. in the direction of Mold. At several points the line of the dyke is crossed by Roman roads, a circumstance which has caused some antiquaries to believe it of much earlier date than that ordinarily assigned. Watt's Dyke is also partly in this county, being somewhat similar to the preceding, but not so clearly defined nor so persistent as that of Offa. It is probable that it commenced at the sea-coast, near Basingwerk Abbey, and ran in a S. direction past Halkyn, through the gorge of the Alyn, to Wynnstay, formerly called Watt's Stay from this circumstance. At Basingwerke are beautiful ruins of an abbey, and at St. Asaph the cathedral is well deserving of notice; as also the castles of Flint, Eulo, Hawarden, Mold, Rhuddlan, Basingwerke, and Diserth, more fully noticed under the several parishes in which they stand."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2018