Bardsey Island


"BARDSEY ISLAND, an island in St. George's Channel, off the coast of Carnarvonshire, North Wales. It is an extra-parochial place in the hundred of Commitmaen, and county of Carnarvon, situated near the extremity of the peninsula which forms the north boundary of Cardigan Bay. It is between 2 and 3 miles in length, and 1 mile in breadth, comprising an area of about 370 acres, and is separated from the mainland by a channel about 3 miles broad. This channel, from the rapidity of the current through it at times, is called Bardsey Race. From the same circumstance the island received the name of Inys Enlli, or "isle of the current."
From a very remote period it was a favourite resort of such as desired religious retirement. The Culdees are said to have had an establishment here before the 6th century; and in 516, after the massacre of the monks of Bangoris-y-coed, Dubricius, Archbishop of Caerleon, resigned his see and took up his abode in this lonely island. It thus acquired the designation of the "Isle of Saints." Its present name is of Saxon origin, and denotes that it was a retreat of the bards. An abbey was founded here at an early period, probably by St. Dubricius, which flourished till the Dissolution, under Henry VIII., when its revenue was £58. There are no remains of the building, but near its site graves have been discovered lined with stone or tile.
Ruins of an ancient oratory exist in the island, consisting of an apartment with a atone altar, in which religious services are occasionally performed. The north-east part of the island is mountainous, with perpendicular cliffs, which bold climbers explore for the eggs of sea-fowl deposited among them. The natives are chiefly employed in fishing, and their boats are secured in a small harbour on the south-east side of the island-the only side accessible from the sea. A lighthouse was erected in 1821; it is 146 feet high, and the light is visible at the distance of 15 miles."  [From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]


Description & Travel

Bardesey/Ynys Enlli - on the Penllyn.com site

Welcome to Bardsey Island

You can see pictures of Bardsey Island which are provided by:




Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Bardsey Island has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SH117213 (Lat/Lon: 52.756735, -4.792034), Bardsey Island which are provided by:


Social Life & Customs

Various items  - on the People's Collection Wales site

  • A group about to set off for Bardsey from Aberdaron, early twentieth century
  • A group of Bardsey residents outside the 'Mission House' and Chapel, c.1881
  • Bardsey Island Sunday School group, c.1881
  • A group outside the Abbey on Bardsey Island, c.1881