Aberdaron - Gazetteers


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

National Gazetteer (1868)

"ABERDARON, a parish in the hundred of Commitmaen, in the county of Carnarvon, North-Wales, 14 miles S.W. of Pwllheli. It is situated, as its name indicates, at the mouth of the river Daron, at the extremity of the peninsula of Lleyn, and opposite to Bardsey Island. On this island a famous monastery once existed which used to attract a large number of pilgrims. Aberdaron was the usual place of embarkation for the island, and was much frequented by the pilgrims. On the highest ground a chapel was erected, Capel Vair, or "Chapel of Our Lady," in which it was customary to invoke the protection of the Virgin before passing over to the island. There was also another chapel at a little distance from the former, and near the shore, named Capel-Anlaaelog. These have both shared the destiny of the monastery to which they were related, and have fallen into decay.

The church had anciently the privilege of sanctuary attached to it; and in 1115 Griffydd-ab-Rhys, prince of South Wales, took refuge within its precincts, from Griffydd-ab-Cynan, prince of North Wales, who desired to capture and give him up to Henry I. The isolated position of the village, and the want of roads, cut it off from communication with other towns. Good limestone is quarried, and a small quantity of lead ore is found, in the parish. A fair is held on the 10th June. The living, which is in the diocese of Bangor, and in the patronage of the bishop, is a rectory and vicarage; value, with Llanfaelrhys, £120. The church, which was formerly collegiate, had privilege of sanctuary, and was dedicated to St. Hyrwyn, the tutelary saint of Bardsey Island. The Independents, and the Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, have chapels in the village. Beneath the hill on which the chapel of Our Lady stood, was the cave of Ogo Vair, and in the cave was a kind of wishing well. The devout visitor had to carry a mouthful of its water up a difficult and dangerous way to the top of the hill."

"TYNEFAL, a village in the parish of Aberdaron, county Carnarvon, 13 miles S.W. of Pwllheli."

"TYNREFAL, a hamlet in the parish of Aberdaron, county Carnarvon, 13 miles S.W. of Pwllheli."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]

A Topographical Dictionary of Wales Samuel Lewis, 1833


ABERDARON (ABER-DARON), a parish in the hundred of COMMITMAEN, Lleyn division of the county of CARNARVON, NORTH WALES, 18 miles (W.S.W.) from Pwllheli, containing 1389 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated on the extreme point of the peninsula of Lleyn, the Promontorium Langanum of Ptolemy, derives its name from the small river Daron, which here falls into the sea, off Bardsey Race. In 1115, Grufydd ab Rhys, Prince of South Wales, took sanctuary in the church of this place, from the treachery of Grufydd ab Cynan, sovereign of North Wales, who intended to deliver him into the hands of the English monarch, Henry I. Grufydd ab Cynan commanded the fugitive prince to be dragged from his asylum by force; but his soldiers were unable to execute his orders, from the strenuous resistance opposed to them by the clergy of the neighbourhood, who successfully exerted themselves in defence of the privileges of the church; and the young prince, with his partisans, escaped by night, and set forward on his journey to the deep forest of Strath Towy, in South Wales, where, having collected the adherents of his family, he commenced hostilities against the Norman and Flemish settlers.

Aberdaron was anciently much resorted to by devotees, as a place of embarkation for Bardsey Island, on their pilgrimage to the celebrated monastery established there; and on the summit of the promontory are the remains of the ancient Capel Vair, or Chapel of Our Lady, erected for the use of the mariners, who, previously to their entering upon the dangerous navigation of the sound, were accustomed to invoke the protection of its tutelar saint. At a small distance from it, and near the shore, are the remains of another chapel, called Capel Anhaelog, which, like the former, has been suffered, since the dissolution of Bardsey monastery, to fall into decay. The village, which is small and chiefly inhabited by fishermen, is, by its isolated situation, and the want of good roads and other facilities of communication, precluded from all intercourse, except on market days during the summer with Pwllheli, from which place the inhabitants are supplied with necessaries, and by sea with Liverpool, to which port vessels sail regularly every week with pigs, poultry, and eggs, and from which they return laden with coal, for the supply of the neighbourhood. A stratum of excellent limestone has recently been discovered in this parish, which, from its scarcity in this part of the country, promises to be of great benefit to the farmers : lead-ore has also been found in small quantities. A fair is held here annually on the 26th of June.

The living is a discharged vicarage, with the perpetual curacy of Llanvaelrhys annexed, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Bangor, rated in the king's books at £ 3. 9. 4 1/2., endowed with £ 200 private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Bishop of Bangor : there is also a sinecure rectory, rated at £ 10. 9. 4 1/2., and in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of St. John's College, Cambridge, who usually present a fellow of that college. The church, dedicated to St. Hyrwyn, a saint of the island of Bardsey, was formerly collegiate, and had the privilege of sanctuary : it is an ancient structure, consisting of a nave, south aisle, and chancel, and, though at present in a greatly dilapidated state, appears to have been an elegant and highly finished building, in the ancient style of English architecture : some trifling remains of stalls are visible in the chancel. There are places of worship for Independents and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists.

A school for the education of poor children of Aberdaron is held here every fourth year, in turn with Llanvaelrhys, Bryncroes, and Rhiw ; the income of the master arises from the rental of a tenement in the parish of Bryncroes. Dr. Henry Rowland, Bishop of Bangor, founded an almshouse in that city, in 1616, for six single men, of whom two are to be of Aberdaron. The courts for the manor of Bardsey were formerly held at a house in this parish, which still bears the name of " Court; " and on an eminence near it, called Brynn y Crogbren, or the " Gallows' Hill," criminals were probably executed: another house in the neighbourhood is called Secar, signifying the Exchequer. Below the cliff occupied by the ruins of Capel Vair is the cave of Ogo Vair, in which there is a well, formerly much frequented by devotees, who superstitiously believed that, by carrying a mouthful of the water up a circuitous and dangerous path to the summit of the hill, whatever wish they might entertain would be accomplished. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is £494.

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A Topographical Dictionary of Wales Samuel Lewis, 1833

Bardsey Isle

BARDSEY ISLE, a small island in St. George's channel, near Cardigan bay, an extra-parochial district, locally in the parish of Aberdaron, in the hundred of DINLLAEN, county of CARNARVON, NORTH WALES, lying off the promontory of Lleyn, from which it is separated by Bardsey Race, three miles in breadth, containing 84 inhabitants. This island, from the remotest known period. of antiquity, appears to have been the resort of devotees, who, retiring from the cares of the world, sought an asylum here, where they passed the remainder of their lives and were buried.
St. Dubricius, Bishop of Caerleon, resigning his see to St. David, retired to this solitary spot, where, dying about the year 612, he was interred; but his remains were afterwards removed to Llandaf. After the slaughter of the monks of Bangor, not only the brethren who survived, but numerous other Britons, who had embraced the Christian doctrines, took refuge in the island.
Prior to the time of St. Dubricius, this was probably a retreat of the Culdees, the first religious recluses in Britain, for whose secret worship of the Almighty its retired situation was peculiarly auspicious. Before the death of St. Dubricius, a monastery was founded in the island, probably by the monks who joined him after the massacre at Bangor, and dedicated to St. Mary, which subsequently became more eminent for its sanctity than for the extent of its endowments.
In the reign of Edward II., a petition was, according to the Sebright manuscripts, presented to that monarch by the abbot, complaining of exaction on the part of the sheriff of Carnarvon, which procured redress. The monastery continued to flourish till the dissolution, at which time its revenue amounted to £58.6.2. There are only some small portions of the abbey remaining : the site was granted by Edward VI. to Sir Thomas Seymour, and afterwards to the Earl of Warwick.

The island, now the property of Lord Newborough, is two miles and a half in length, and one and a half in breadth. From the violence of the current which runs through the sound, it obtained the British name Ynys Enlli, or the island in the current, and by the Saxons it was, from its being a favourite retreat of the bards, named Bardsey, or the island of the bards. The shores and sand-banks in this part of the channel render the navigation exceedingly dangerous, and numerous vessels have been lost : to prevent the recurrence of similar disasters, a lighthouse, with a flashing light, was erected on the island, in 1821, and lighted for the first time on the 24th of December in that year. The tower is a substantial and handsome square structure, seventy-four feet high, surmounted by a lantern ten feet high ; and, being built on an elevation sixty-two feet above the level of the sea, the light is one hundred and forty-six feet above high water mark at spring tides. The south side of the island being the first headland that appears in navigating the channel, the erection of this lighthouse became an object of the greatest importance, and its completion has been attended with the utmost benefit to the numerous vessels connected with the port of Liverpool.

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