10 Largest towns in North Wales
With below that a gazetteer on some North Wales hillforts, which were not one of the 15 North Wales forts that have their own or share a whole pages. Plus one that is now in Mid Wales, but just on the edge with North Wales. Namely Braich y Dinas, + Dinas, Bwrdd Artur (Din Silwy), Bryn Euryn, Caer Seion + Alltwen, Dinas Bran, Dinas (Llanfairfechan ) Dinas Emrys, Dinorben Hillfort, Llaneffyd Hillfort, Caergwrle Castle Hillfort, Pen Y Castell, / Caer Olau, Pen Y Corddyn Mawr, Pen Y Dinas, and Pen Y Mont / Caer Caradog (Cerrigydruidion, Wales), I mention Foel Fas Motte, Plus Craig Rhiwarth in Montgomeryshire, and Llanymynech Hillfort in Montgomeryshire.
The populations of some North Wales Towns. The 18 largest are listed in order.
Statistics from around the 2000s. Though this page was written in 2020,
I am using late 2000s stats.
1 Wrexham 45000,
2 Rhyl 24889
3 Colwyn Bay 20,992 (On Own 9742, includes Mochdre 1862, Rhos On Sea 7110, Old Colwyn 7626, Llysfaen 2652, )
4 Llandudno 20,090 (Including Penrhyn Bay)
5 Prestatyn and Meliden 18426,
6 Buckley 18268
7 Llangefni 17000, though other sources say 5700, so this is not so
8 Connahs Quay 16526,
9 Conwy 14410
10 Bangor 13725
11 Holyhead 12,000,
12 Aberystwyth 12000 swells to 21000 when students arrive
13 Flint 11936
14 Newtown 10500
15 Abergele 10,000 and only including Pensarn,
16 Caernarfon 9611
17 Holywell 8758
18 Denbigh 8500
Other North Wales Town and city populations, Llangefni 5700, Hawarden 1858, Llanberis 1842, Betws Y Coed 1182, Ruthin 5000, Bala 1980, Harlech 1264, Tregarth 1000, Criccieth 1826, Caergwrle 1650, Porthmadog 4187, Tywyn 4500, Dolgellau 2678, Mold 9658, Gresford 3000, Cerrigydrudion 700, St Asaph 3000, Beaumaris 6000, Amlwch 3438, Penmaenmawr 4200, Trefriw 1200, Llanfair PG Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Llanfairpwllgwyngyll 5400, Nefyn 2000, Llanrwst 3000, Llangollen 3300, Bethesda 4321, Y Felinheli 2081, Welshpool 6269, Blannau Ffestiniog 4830, Llandulas 1600, Pwllheli 3861, Chirk 4000, Glan Conwy 1256, Llanfairfechan 3500, Machynlleth 2000, Bagillt, 1800, Capel Curig 200, Towyn 2000, Degannwy 3700, Barmouth envrions swells from 6000 in that area, to 50,000 in tourist season, as of it's huge camp site. Barmouth itself normally has 2500 people. Llangernyw 650, Kinmel Bay 5810, Eglwys Bach 1000, Pentrefoelas 340, Llanfairtalhaiarn 1010, Llysfaen 2700, Pentrefoelas 340, Glan Conwy Llansanffraid 2500, Llansanan 1300, Llangwm 560, Betws Yn Rhos 1010,
If London was in Wales, it would be 90% of the size of Ynys Mon in geographical area.
If Llandudno, Conwy, Penmaenmawr, Colwyn Bay, and Glan Conwy, plus Degannwy, and Llandudno Junction and the other places in these environs were counted as one town, they would have 68,000 people. If you added Rhyl Abergele, St Asaph, Prestatyn, Denbigh, Towyn, and Kinmel Bay, that would all together equal 128,000 people. So good statistics, statisticts and Statisticts there. The first one of that was spelt right. I have also proudly corrected Prestatyn to Prestatyn, miss spelling.
Perhaps Rhos-on-Sea's greatest claim to fame is that, according to legend, Madoc ap Owain Gwynedd, a Welsh prince, sailed from here in 1170 and discovered America, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus's famous voyage in 1492. This event is recorded by a plaque on one of the properties on the sea-front.
North Wales, maybe not even including Aberystwyth not spelt Abersytwyth, or Powys areas has more people than Alaska, in December 2006.
Below, my gazetteer on some more North Wales hillforts
Remember though this link goes to a index page on articles which has articles on 15 or more North Wales hillforts, so far more than what I say about the hillforts below.
There are about 17 of them below,
Operation Mini gazetteer on North Welsh hillforts. I must reiterate, I have over a dozen pages, usually a page per fort, on other North Wales hillforts, like Penycloddiau and such, if you look at my index page on these and over 40 on hillforts across Europe. This is just me mentioning these other sites in North Wales, seeing they are significant to my knowledge of the hillforts, and it is my locality. Many of these gazetteer sites have a bit more on them mentioned elsewhere by me on this website hillforts.co.uk like on other hillfort pages, or my Welsh hillforts page.
Braich Y Dinas, correct Welsh mutation is apparently Braich Y Ddinas, the settlement or city on the arm, or on the arm of the mountain, I think a kind of ridge, in Welsh. This site is now the site of Pen Dinas quarry. What could be called Braich Y Dinas Hillfort, and was also called Pen Dinas Hillfort, which means something about a settlement on the head or hill. Could also be called Penmaenmawr hillfort, or Pen Maen Mawr hillfort, as that is the hill it was on, and the town it overlooked, or Penmaenmawr Mountain Hillfort, or even Penmaen mawr Mountain Hill fort. Or even North East Llanfairfechan hillfort. Ok sorry about that just thought I would get in a wide variety of search names for helping those unsure of the name.
Anyway it is the sight of the most saddening destruction of a hillfort in Wales. The site was said to be another Tre'r Ceiri, with stone huts and ramparts and Iron age and Roman era settlement evidence.
I have been up there myself, once on a walk from Druid Circle, above Penmaenmawr in the hills I saw the quarry to it's east (There are 3 there). Then more recently I in 2021 walked up from Llanfairfechan I parked in the town, and took the Llanfairfechan footpaths, that go to the east of the town, near the farms, then up the hillside, looping round from northwest of the hillside, to southwest then up from the south rim, to where the quarry is. I was happy to be able to walk along a path and saw a official ending of the path. At this point, and I would only take responsible adults up there, and in calm weather, as it is a very steep drop, I could see across the chasm, that is now a deep quarry where there used to ba a great hillfort. The hill used to stand 1500 foot high, but now is 1188 feet high, with a huge gaping hole in the centre now.
It had a trio of thick ramparts, 9 foot for the outer wall, though the north just required a steep drop. Ninety roundhouses of Tre Ceiri quality, were found there. Experts like Pennant wrote up on it.
In the 1900s, and 1910s, and 1920s, the quarry destroyed the site despite efforts to stop this destruction It was felt the hundreds of jobs and income for certain richer people mattered more. My thinking is yes yes jobs matter, but there comes a point where such destruction for jobs is terrible. The granite quarry still exists, well the damage has been done, so that is not a problem. Though it was a 7.5 hectare hillfort so it was very useful. In nowadays surely it would not be allowed to happen. Though then again what if it was some super valuable mineral. Well in modern days surely it would be Aswan dam style move the ramparts and huts to a nearby hill, or it would be done in a safe unobtrusive way, or not at all. I mean it was a total tragedy, that is quite unforgivable. I mean surely it is like destroying a major monument just to sell the rock to somebody. I definitely see it as awful that it was destroyed. .
When atop the remains of the hill, with it's quarry buildings I could see all the way to Holyhead Mountain, another fort site, Llandudno was easy to see, and Conwy Mountain, Bangor, Penrhyn Castle, and Caer Bach, and the hills of the Carneddau, well mountains.
It would have been a mighty impressive site in it's prime, a site surely of hundreds of people, that towered over the area.
Today, sheep, little birds, horses and quarry vehicles hold the site. Though actually the site would have been a few hundred feet higher in the air, than the current top of the summit. At 457 or so metres it would have been among the higher Welsh hillforts, certainly so compared to the land to the north.
Also from it's top and on the walk down to the south you can see a other hillfort Dinas, or Dinas Camp, which sits on the south east of Llanfairfechan. This is a rounded hill, I say a conical looking site, that has a side that points north west towards Llanfairfechan down the gap between Braich Y Dinas and the Carneddau I mean it has a 40 metre central enclosure and has had 14 smallish huts found within. It has been excavated. It has apparently been massively robbed of stone. I myself tried to get up this hill. I parked on a road on the South East of Llanfairfechan, then saw the scree covered cone of Dinas, I mean it is on one side. I then went into the wood, the nature reserve Nant Y Coed. There is a path there to the fort. Without this path, I suspect you would see some trying to cross going via the south east over a stream, with a walking stick, and only a very fit healthy experienced adult could do that, holding onto tree branches to cross, making sure he crossed further up stream away from the deeper points, and only in times when the water is low. Even then I would not suggest doing that, plus if they crossed just south or south west of the cone, at the stream, they would likely fall in, which can lead to all sorts of woes, from minor to terribly tragic, so don't try that. Nothing like that happened to me, but I would only go via the south east in that situation, further up stream, and super safely and sensibly as a adult. So anyway, up there I saw the roundhouse foundations, on this small hill top, that were just rings in the ground, as of dirt and grass covering them. They reminded me of the sizes of those at Anglesey Ynys Mon's Holy Isle. A fine site indeed. I got back to the car very much soaked as of a me investigating the stream. So a fun day, but I would not cross those streams, you never realise how fast and powerful ankle and knee length streams are, as some points turn out to be deeper even than that, and never cross at rapids, or deep points, and never go up steep bush covered bits, or on that scree. I made sure I was safe, and after getting up there, I even saw from the hill, how some points to the south east of the cone have very steep sheep paths down to the stream, that would need careful memory and walking stick, walking boots walking, and a steep gulley whereas to the west and south there is scree, I would never step on myself. I would say I would even prefer going down those steep sheep paths to the south east than that, though I would also very much avoid them as well, but I went via the old Nant y Coed path of course. Ok I admit it I crossed the stream a few times, when going along the Nant Y Coed path, just to see it, and fell in, and am lucky I did not hit my head on a boulder, or something, sorry I just had to admit that. Anyway it shows how tough a place it would be to get to, without that path. Still it was all good fun. Though I did sprain my ankle, which made me not able to walk for 2 weeks, so I advise only taking the safer route. Keep safe on hillforts though 100 percent stay sensible.
Bwrdd Artur also known as Din Silwy, and Bwrdd Arthur, (Moel Arthur, and Caer Caradoc the one in Wales, both have other names as well, so all 3 forts in North Wales, I have been to, named after Arthur, and Caradog, have other Welsh names as well)
This Bwrdd Artur, not Bwrdd Arthur, site sits on the north east of Anglesey. This site has views of Penmaenmawr to the east where there used to be a hillfort. It sits prominently on the quite flat Anglesey panorama, from North Wales coast, and is so known, in it's own flat risen shape, as Arthur's table, in Welsh. It is 164 metres high.
This fort sits in Rhos On Sea or Colwyn Bay depending on the boundary. It is a Dark Ages, or Early Medieval Ages site, from the era between the Roman withdrawal, and the arrival of the Normans. I think I mention it in my Welsh Hillforts page. It rises to 131 metres in height getting a great view of the coast of Colwyn Bay. Could maybe be called Rhos On Sea hillfort, or Colwyn Bay hillfort, but then again it is better to keep it as the proper traditional Welsh name.
I havce got at it via the area between Mochdre and Colwyn Bay crossing the bridge over the A55 and up the winding paths uo to the top, but also you can circle round it and on the Rhos On Sea Colwyn Bay side, there is a car park, where many go from. Indeed there are other paths up from Rhos On Sea as well, of this hill that has forested sides, but a less so more grassy summit land. There is that info board atop, and from there you can see all the way to Moel Siobod near Dolywdellan and Bwts and Anglesey with Bwrdd Arthur, and of course Great Orme, and even in the distance Dyserth's hillfort, Moel Hiraddug and between some hills a little of the Clwydian Hills, but not much. Plus of course out to sea, and the Colwyn Bay coast. The Rhos On Sea harbour of course, just before Penrhyn Bay, is where in myth Prince Madog sailed to America from, but of course that is just a nice story, not factual history, but I love it anyway, and of course this fort is actual factual history. On the Colwyn Bay / Rhos On Sea area, just beyond the car park it does get a little more Castle town "wynd like", (to borrow the Scottish old city phrase, with houses, so a little like what you get in castle towns, of streets seeming more crowded in design. Just in the immediate vicinity of the hill, by the car park, but not once you get more than a half a street away. So anyway you can circumnavigate the fort via the paths below, and there are roads circling round part of the fort as well, though the A55 stops a immediate circling by car.
Caergwrle Castle Hillfort
This site in North East Wales, is a Medieval castle, which was used by both Welsh and English forces in this part of North East Wales. Its sits up above a narrow valley that includes Hope and Caergwrle. Nearby is Hope Mountain which is visible for a wide distance. But across the very narrow valley floor, which is taken up by a few streets, or less, is a slope and a Bronze and Iron Age hillfort, Caer Estyn., It has been noted that the medieval castle has indications within it that look like this same hillfort. So it is felt a hillfort was also over here this side as well.
Conwy Mountain / Mynydd Y Dref which means something like the Mountain of the town, has the hillfort known as Caer Seion. Also a short walk to the west is Alltwen.
Caer Seion hillfort is a Iron Age era fort that sits upon the 245 metre high Conwy Mountain, just on it's western bit. From it's stone ramparts, on this west east ridge of a hill, you get a great view. You overlook the coast towards Great Orme, and Anglesey, then nearer down to Conwy marina and also down to the east to the site of Conwy Castle. From it's top you also see Deganwy Castle the Dark Ages and Medieval site. From the hillfort itself I am not sure if I remember if you see the castle, but on the east of this mountain there are times you do. You even from the top see Moel Hiraddug's shape far away in Dyserth. Also if you look south you see the Conwy Calley, and the area west of Conwy, plus the start of the Sychnant pass, to the west. Alltwen, by Penmaenbach at 255 metres high, is only a short less than half hour walk along virtually the same level of ground, to a coastal outcrop overlooking the sea. It has the A55 coastal express way right below it. This site was also it is felt a Iron Age hillfort, of a much much smaller size. Then You look south at Tal Y Fan which has Caer Bach a km or more to the south atop it a bit higher. As the name in Welsh suggests a very small hillfort. Plus a bit west of that is Penmaenmawr Quarry where Braich y Dinas used to be.
This hillfort sits above Llangollen. This site which means the crow's city or settlement is a well named site. It is among the highest castles in Britain, and a typically high hillfort. In fact it hits about 1000 feet, and I am sure I can see the ruins of the castle around it ever so slightly from Moel Famau as the hills veer far southwards. This site was very much a Iron Age hillfort, which can still be seen around the ruins of the Medieval castle. It is the medieval castle that make this site more noticeable from below, perfect for a 19th Century romantic painting. I mention this site in my Welsh hillforts page. So that is Dinas Bran hillfort or castle site for you.
Is a hillfort near Beddgelert in North West Wales, in Gwynedd. It is a long high ridge of a shape, using the slopes, and the ramparts to improve protection at certain weak spots. It is a Dark Ages, or Early Medieval Ages site, from the era between the Roman withdrawal, and the arrival of the Normans. It has legend's associated to King Vortigern, a leader among the Britons, who was associated with the story of the Saxons and their battles with the Britons. It also has legends linking it with a dragon, and in a sense it is shaped like a sleeping dragon. I mention this page in my Welsh hillforts page.
Is a hillfort site near Abergele, near it's village of St George just south of the A55. The site was a Dark Ages / Early Medieval Site that was used by Welsh leaders ad the like. The whole site has been excavated away by a quarry, so now it is a gaping hole of greyness and industrial quarry vehicles. This is not such a tragedy as some may fear as unlike Braich Y Dinas, it was not that singular a site, and the quarrying made it possible to have intense archaeology excavations in tandem. Which saw archaeologists find some pretty big info on this site. I mention this page in my Castles and Hillforts article which is on what even if nobody else call, my ultimate links page, which has a picture of the site as well.
A whale shaped mountain with a hillfort on, by the village that is in the upland between Henllys, and Abergele. You can see this high fort for miles around, well the silhouette.
Pen y Castell hillfort
Llanrwst's hillfort, this hillfort, Maenan's hillfort, actually a few miles or so north of Llanrwst on the east side of the Conwy Valley sits amid forest today in 2021. The top is covered in trees, and vegetation. It is a long little fort, sitting on a ridge that would without the current woods, have overlooked the Conwy valley looking across to Dolgarrog, and with a good view of Pen Y Gaer across the valley. To see the view you would have seen then you can walk along but tread carefully to Cader Ifan Goch a few or 10 or minutes walk north along the path. This fort is amid the trees, and has some loose looking rocks, so I make sure I keep and tread safe and far from the edge on it. Also known as Caer Oleu Camp. I have drawn a picture of it very amateur level, and put it on the bottom of this page, next o a actual photo of mine of a motte somewhere else. In my pic of this Maenan hillfort, in Conwy County in North Wales, it is under attack. I can tell you it is a Iron Age scene, and it is overlooking the Conwy Valley from the east. I have put 2 entrances top and bottom, and a beacon, to honour how it is Caer Olau. The site is surrounded with plenty of rampart and wall creating boulders and rocks.
Pen y Corddyn Mawr
This site sits near Betws Yn Rhos a village just to the west then south of Abergele. It is a private site, that contains a pretty decent hillfort of ramparts and a steep slope to the west. It is likely Iron Age. It is not spelt Pen y Corddyn Fawr, I miss spelt it as that.
Pen Y Dinas - Great Orme, Llandudno,
This Iron Age fort sits in Llandudno. It is right on Great Orme, just near the ski centre, and not that far from the pier. This small hillfort has a huge cliff down to the Llandudno side, and in there are caves the kind which actually had a Catholic printing press in them, during the attempts at a counter reformation by Papal priests in the Tudor era. Evidence of a building has been found on this site, which has a view of the town of Llandudno, plus a view of right across to Conwy Mountain. The information board states that 60 roundhouses have been located here from the Iron Age. The fort is sometimes called Pen Dinas, and can be seen from the cable car that goes over it, and from above, from a higher bit of the Orme,
This is not to be confused with the Pen Dinas that sits above Aberystwyth.
Pen y Mont - Caer Caradog, Cerrigydruidion,
Pen y Mont is a hillfort just south east of this town in southern Conwy County (2021) or the middle of the south of North Wales.
It sits on what I see as the edge of the Mid Wales plain, with the hill itself having views of Cerrigydruidion below, and it's area, and Snowdonia beyond.
I reached it via a 1 lane road down and up from the nearby town, barely a few minutes drive away. I found parking difficult on a 1 lane road, and would not advise Winter journeys, I am not putting people off going there, but it is private property, though there is a footpath that passes just over 10 metres to the south of the site. I was able to get up there and see the fort from behind that fence, and was impressed at the view. I also spoke with a gentleman from the area by the town, and he told me that the name given so often, Caer Caradog, or Caer Caradoc, is actually the English name. I was surprised as this is 2 Welsh terms, but then again, I said, it makes sense as most Welsh hillforts are more matter of fact, local describer titles, not fanciful titles like that of Caradoc. This is more about the normal term, by the way pen is often used for head of a hill, or that kind of thing, and Y is The and Mont is mount.
The fellow was good enough to tell me that traditionally and up to not that long ago a service was held with 3 crosses on the site, annually, but this has stopped more lately as of aging congregations, and the weather. My mind flickered onto thought of Navan and Ingleborough in that situation. As I say it is by no means a tourist site, and a good way of seeing it is recognising it from below. Another of these prominent site you see from below. As I say if you wish to obey the letter of the law, then you can not go and see it, without permission first I feel. I am happy to have seen the site from the distance I did. Well you can see it from that fence, can't you where the footpath is. I was surprised to see the site has been excavated in the 1960s, the ramparts and such. I feel it reminds me of a cross between a lower ramparts Moel Arthur, and such like, as it is fairly oval. It is around 1.7 hectares in area is the enclosure. All that has been found is the ramparts, and no other buildings. Then ramparts of the piling earth variety, from the ditch. Some as of that wonder if it was even a hillfort. Though I feel I wonder if it was a religious site. Then again maybe I am wrong to assume it is a ancient Iron Age or Dark Ages hillfort, maybe it is of some other type much later than that. Some sites even call it Pen Y Gaer Camp. The thing is most experts say it is Iron Age. But surely even though little was found by archaeologists, it could be a religious events site, or a refuge in the Iron Age. I agree with the convention that it is Iron Age. As it looks so many such sites. It also sits at edge of Trum y Gaer a ridge. The altitude of Cerrigydruidion is about 349 metres, while this site is closer to I think it is closer to 370. Though I am unsure on that. So it is a hillfort, it has a entrance and ramparts, though I wonder if it is more a ritual events centre from the Iron Age. The fact it reminds me of Moel Arthur is good, I mean it also does has that space hopper curl, on the sides from certain angles, as Moel Arthur may have had ritual importance according to some experts.
Foel Fas is a Medieval Motte north of Pentrefoelas. It apparently was the reason for the name of the town / village in the south of Conwy County. We went there and walked from Pentrefoelas Car park up a field and onto a small ridge overlooking the town, we wondered if it was the Motte, very eroded, then saw there was a wood just to the north of the field, with a farm house within it, we went around by car and drove to a road, a mile or more north and walked along eastwards, then saw the footpath a heritage trail that realised must return to that wood, and field and Pentrefoelas, so we walked south to meet the wood where the farm house is, and saw on the north of that wood, north of that field north of Pentrefoelas, was a proper conical motte, many foot high mound. With a stream skirting past it. We walked carefully up the tree and soft leaf and fallen branches, and lumber, strewn motte, and overlooked the top under the canopy of the wood. It was hard to climb for a motte, as many like at Rhuddlan are just grass, so easy to get up, but this was more difficult. But a good thing to see. I am unsure if it is a Norman motte from their pre 1090s attacks on Wales that were driven, back, or maybe a Welsh prince's motte using cutting edge tech of the time. But without the canopy it would overlook the area as well as anywhere, but now it has a feeling of a lost treasure between the brownness and shadows of the leaf strewn floor, and darkened feel of a canopy.
Apparently there are also some mysterious buildings to the south of Pentrefoelas in the hills, that some wonder if are ancient.
Plus a larger walled, rabbit warren.
The town itself is now famous for the scarecrow for speedsters. To scare speeding motor cyclists into slowing as of it being dressed in a yellow high viz clothing. I have a picture of it at the bottom of this page by the hillfort drawing I did.
OK a last 2 hillforts, for this page. Both in Mid Wales, but just on the edge for one from North Wales, and the other also in Montgomeryshire.
Craig Rhiwarth, Montgomeryshire, Powys,
So another hillfort I have been to is the highest hillfort in Wales, you may say tallest hillfort in Wales, but that does not make sense.
So anyway, we drove down to Craig Rhiwarth, by parking at the village called Llangynog, which is a 339 strong village with a church and car park and telephone box, which sits by the mighty hill of Craig Rhiwarth which towers over it like no hillfort hill I have ever seen does ovr a community. Possibly as this village with it's plenty of miners cottages which dot the southern edge of the hill, lived off things like slate from the hill. The village is a rare above average percentage in 2021 Welsh speaking locale in Powys, as much of Powys has more of a longer English language history than most of the rest of Wales. Though it is in the far north of Powys, what used to be Mongomeryshire, and as I say elsewhere Montgomeryshire used to be regarded as North Wales territory by some. Though I do get a little feel of it being North Wales and a little feeling of it being Mid Wales. The most north Wales thing is the village and high hills, the most Mid Wales thing, the view of the Mid Wales hills, and aspects even of the villages and lower down areas landscape.
Indeed in terms of the hill it towers like a Napoleon shape mantlepiece clock over the village. With the houses below almost like dots little below, Ok a bit bigger than that, but not much so.
So we saw the BBC weatherman walking instructions, and got out the car, I had to get my bearings and took 20 minutes to realise which road and hill we were heading up. I was surprised it was the very busy in Summer road to Bala. I would like to find a route that does not go up such a busy road in summer, so if there is a safer one, I would find it. Not that BBC weatherman walking are not safe, it is a great show and I am sure it is safe, but I found the very fast cars going up the hill for that steep 300 metres a bother. Always getting off the road on the grass when hearing them. So only good for those with good hearing, awareness, and fitness and in good weather.
So we walked up past the metal fence and sheep., and plenty of Summer moths, beetles and flies, up hundreds more metres in length and height. Then were pleased to see past the fence that is marked on the OS map, and up along past the bog and the saddle of the hill, we saw the hill top.
So we got on the hill past the northern wall. That wall is depleted now, but still very noticeable, indeed on the one hand it could barely stop a determined sheep at point but on others, it runs along the contour for the hundreds of metres that this hill top cuts above the gradients of the slope, so it is sensible to cross at the path that passes over the bog, and through the entrance. That northern wall, except for a tiny tad on North east is all the wall you get.
Then up top there are more crags, and rocks, over a wide area. with steep slopes to the east and west, and the lethal crags and slopes to the south which overlook the little village.
Brilliantly atop this highest hillfort in Wales, at 532 metres high, on the southern part there are roundhouse rings in the ground, those ones of stones their shape easily identifiable. They are Iron Age, and they are most plentiful at the area to the south of the highest point, of the fort, where there is a walkers cairn, which are not that good a thing on hillforts, unless they are real ancient ones (Ingleborough shows that). But anyhow there are loads of these circles, and some quite big. I even saw one away from this more west central part of this fort, further east looking like a more of a abandoned farmhouse structure. There are rectangle and round ones, the rectangles may have been the more recent ones.
It is the case that many of these were actually used as Hafods into the 19th Century. So hangovers of the Iron Age traditions. Of course a hafod is a high cottage or farmhouse used in Winter in traditional Welsh livestock rearing society, the converse to a Hendre. That society stopped so much around that century. I actually arrived in June which is when they would have been there.
So really this was a seasonal hill top village protected by the lethally steep slopes, and a good wall to the north. So the traditional, fortified hill top village.
The hill was a place for miners in the period after the hafods. You see a lot of there old workings of buildings, and piles of rocks, and stuff om the way up, marked lev dis up here
Pistyll Rhayader the highest hillfort in Wales, is not that far away by car.
I am sure I could see the Wrekin from the top of this hill, on the plains, far away.
It is stated the enclosed area is 16 hectares, which makes it the second largest hillfort in Wales after Penycloddiau. I wonder if this debatable, as do to me I am uncertain at that size area, I mean where do you draw the line at the crags and the drop, it's even more uncertain than any other fort. Someone stated 32, which would make it the largest but I shall accept conventional wisom of it being 16. If you look at a map of it, the area west of the huts looks large, but actually that area is crags, so the plateau then is actually maybe smaller than Penycloddiau. So it is either the biggest or second biggest, probably second as most experts say so.
By the way there have been 170 roundhouses found, some late medieval, but some obviosuly Iron Age age, so amazing there.
The height and walls remind me if Tre'r Ceiri.
So good stuff there, the highest hillfort in Wales.
This sits on the border of Wales and England, in the east of Montgomeryshire, the northern most third of Mid Wales, or Powys.
The hills is a large hill, and sits 226 metres high, and dominates above the small town of about 1600 people in 2021.
I had not heard of this fort, so after labelling Penycloddiau the largest in Wales, on other experts knowledge, I wanted to go up it.
I reached there and noticed it is the Mid Wales community I pass through just around border, and remember seeing the Shropshire hills, from these points on my way north and south plenty of times in the car.
When parking I thought it looked a simple enough climb, not far from the town.
I read it was a site that in the past held 57 hectares within it's cliffs and ramparts.
The theory is that mining was what attracted Iron Age and earlier settlers, and like Kelheim, in Germany the defences were to enclose a mining community.
The site was later used by Romans, and Normans, and later much was destroyed by intense quarrying of parts of the hill, which gave jobs, and income for many but did affect the site, in huge scars. Later housing also was built upon the site, also causing a affect. Plus a golf course which spans much of the site.
So when trekking up, I saw the huge gaps from the quarries, and reached up a path where on the top I saw that very golf course mentioned earlier. I was expecting some pitch and putt course or maybe a medium sized one. I looked off the well made viewpoint at the top seeing Gaer Fawr from the top, and all sorts of sites pointed out by those examples of direction compass plaques. Then I headed north to see the ramparts. I stuck to the side of the course to make sure I could refind the path, but began to realise this was a much larger course than I thought, when passing a line of trees, there was another hole, with golf buggies, and well kept greens, and golf balls. I did not want to be putting fun seekers off their game, or be seen as a trespasser, so eventually found the path. I may have seen some rampart remains, and tried heading back and forth, through the woods, eventually finding more holes. To me this was like a shangri la for golfers, like in the Himalayas, you would walk up a mountain of snow and see the beautiful gardens, I walked up and saw a lovely golf course. I even saw a nice plaque claiming this was the site of Caratacus and his last stand. When heading north again, I even went in circles, unusual for me, as I have a good sense of direction, and realised that I was effectively lost, very unusual for me, as normally I have great barings, but compounded by how I did not want to walk in the way of golfers, some of whom would be fun seekers, with me annoying their games, I did not want to be a party pooper, and some of whom would have had every right to be angry with some civilian walking in their line. You never know, some might have even got angry with me, or even accidently hit me with a golf ball. I do think though it is a lovely course with lovely views. I eventually headed round the rim of what I thought was the fort, then decided I was lost. I then just decided to run down the hill, hoping to reach away from the endless paths, to a proper road, before the summer sun started setting. When at the valley floor, proper roads, I headed clockwise from the hill, towards the town I started at and realised to my horror I was far away from the hill, somehow I was near Llynclys. 2 and a half miles north of the town I started at. I began to wonder if I would need to call a taxi, or if I was on the other side of the hill, as at that stage I knew not if it was 2 and a half miles away I feared I was on the other side. I did not fancy retracing my steps, as I did not know them. Happily though there was a map on the roadside, and I walked back along the Wales North South road back to my car. Just shows you should always take a proper map, not the daft maps I take on my phone. No harm, though. If it was Winter I would have been in trouble, but I had hours of sunlight left. So a good warning, always take a map, and a phone, and know where everything is around the fort. But thats great, Llanymynch Hillfort is so big you can get lost in it, and so big it spans 2 countries. When I was lost, I did not even know what country I was in. Also Ian Woosnam, the Oswestry born, golfer with a Welsh Mum, and a father with some sort of Welsh connections, I have not discovered what, by the way, he "Ian" actually identifies very much as Welsh, was brought up golfing on this golf course it seems. With a brilliant mentality of if he can do one good round then he can keep so. He is the only Welshman to win the Masters, one of the 4 major golf competitions of the world, and one of only under 5 up to 2021 British and Irish people who have won it. Actually he is the only Welshman to have won a major in Golf up to 2022. So as I say where people may have swung their swords for Iron Age battle practice, he swung his woods, to practice to win the Masters. Very good as golfs major power horses or rather power houses (Thats a egg corn), till 2022 are USA, Scotland, parts of England, Australia and South Africa, so it is brilliant he got Wales on the major honours list, when though it has a lot of interest, it is not as key to the nation of Wales to the 2020s anyhow, as it is in parts of those previously stated golfing realms if we are honest. He was also a winning European Ryder Cup captain in Ireland in 2006, over the USA. Though he is not the only Welshman to captain Team GB and Ire, and Europe at the Ryder Cup as also Dai Rees did.
Back to the fort. The site does go along Offa's Dyke, the site of which was incorporating the fort's defences into the plans. It is not spelt Llanmynech, Llanmynych hillfort, or Llanymynych Hill fort. Interestingly the majority of the fort sits within Montgomeryshire, so Powys and Wales, but the majority of the town sits in England, in Shropshire. So you walk under a bridge and it has a small sign saying welcome to Wales, and vice versa, just like I saw on the golf course.
So here is my Ghost story, what about every Halloween when people are by the quarry at Braich y Dinas, they look up at the stars, and see a horse and cart rising up to the level where the the Iron Age hillfort entrance was, a few hundred feet up, lit by the moonlight, like the vision of a witch on a broomstick flying across the moon. Cool stuff by me there. I would say never go up by that quarry at night though, as it would be horribly dangerous and there are lethal drops. SO BE SAFE ON HILLFORTS.
My idea to commemorate it would be to have a kind of large plastic see through dish positioned to the side on the modern remnants of the summit outside the quarry. Then you go under it, and look up and on the other side, half the sheet is the sky, and the lower half is a image of the fort in it's prime as if it would have looked from below the hill, with warriors in the distance atop it, and iron age men and women folk, and wagons all sorts. Plus a plaque below it explaining it. Plus maybe in the corner a gothic image of someone in a hut with a candle that keep them atop this hill, safe and lwith some light at night. But never go up it at night readers. The piece would be called, A telescope into the past.
SO BE SAFE ON HILLFORTS.
VARIOUS WEBpages on hillforts
Birthplaces of many modern Welsh leaders, including First Ministers, and Welsh Secretary,, and some ruling outside of Wales