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Isle of Anglesey Ynys Môn
- Total
- % Water
Ranked 9th
714 km²
Admin HQ Llangefni
Largest town Holyhead
ISO 3166-2 GB-AGY
ONS code 00NA
- Total (2007 est.)
- Density
Ranked 21st
Ranked 17th
97 / km²
Ethnicity 98.1% White
Welsh language
- Any skills
Ranked 2nd
Arms of Isle of Anglesey County Council
Isle of Anglesey County Council
Control NOC (non-partisan factions, independents in plurality)
Member of Parliament
Assembly Members
MEPs Wales

The Isle of Anglesey[1] (pronounced /ˈænɡəlsi/; Welsh: Ynys Môn, pronounced [ˈənɨs ˈmoːn]) is an island and county off the northwest coast of Wales, with a predominantly Welsh-speaking population.[2] It is connected to the mainland by two bridges spanning the Menai Strait: the original Menai Suspension Bridge (carrying the A5), designed by Thomas Telford in 1826; and the more recently constructed Britannia Bridge (originally 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.[3][4]

The name Anglesey was later used in the English language as a county name which included Holy Island and other nearby small islands. Once the Welsh language was granted equal status in government with the Welsh Language Act, 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 720 square kilometres (278 sq mi),[5] Anglesey is the largest Welsh island, and the fifth largest surrounding the island of Great Britain.



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.


There are numerous megalithic monuments and menhirs present on Anglesey, testifying to the presence of humans in prehistory. Plas Newydd is 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, 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. 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.[citation needed]

British Iron Age and Roman sites have been excavated, and coins and ornaments discovered, especially by the 19th century antiquarian, Lord Stanley of Penrhos. 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, 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.

Britannia Bridge from the east along the Menai Strait

Anglesey has several small towns scattered around the island, making it quite evenly populated. Beaumaris (Welsh: Biwmares), in the east of the island, features Beaumaris Castle, built by Edward I as part of his 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.

An Ordnance Survey map of Anglesey from 1946

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 had 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 [6] 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 supports 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 close in or around 2010, and the aluminium smelting operation all but 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.[7] The Royal Air Force base RAF Valley (Y Fali) is home to the RAF Fast Jet Training School and also 22 Sqn Search and Rescue Helicopters which provide employment for approx 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, 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.

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 conservation

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. 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.[8]

Anglesey is home to two of the UK's small number of remaining colonies of red squirrels, at Pentraeth and Newborough. [1]

Almost the entire coastline of Anglesey is designated 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 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 miles)
  2. Holyhead Mountain 12.9 km (8 miles)
  3. Aberffraw Bay 7.7 km (4.5 miles)

A living and working landscape

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. [2]

Natural history

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

Llanddwyn Island, old lighthouse with Snowdonia in background.


  • 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 will be 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.
  • Anglesey has featured in the Channel 4 television archaeology series, Time Team (series 14) - programme transmission date 4 February 2007.
  • Anglesey has the second highest percentage of native Welsh language speakers in Wales (70% of the population).
  • 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.


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, Caerwen 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 Llanfairynneubwll and upon the opposite shore in Holyhead. There are abundant evidences 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.[9] Its application to join the Global Geoparks Networks is to be considered in August 2009.

A Google Earth .kmz file, Anglesey.kmz, Anglesey.kml, showing important geological locations on Anglesey, and including a number of geological map overlays, can be downloaded from: Google Earth Geology, whereas a historiography of geological research on Anglesey is available at: Historiography of Geological Research

Other places of interest

Sons and daughters of Anglesey

Born on Anglesey

  • Tony Adams - actor (Anglesey, 1940)
  • William Bulkeley - diarist (1691 - 1760 Brynddu, Llanfechell, Anglesey)
  • Grace Coddington - Fashion Editor, American Vogue , Creative Director, British Vogue , British fashion model (Angelsey, 1941)
  • Dic Evans - Seaman and coxswain, twice winner of the RNLI gold medal for bravery - (Moelfre, 1905)
  • Dawn French - actress, writer, comedian (Holyhead, 1957)
  • Hugh Griffith - Oscar winning actor (Marianglas, 1912)
  • Steve Griffiths - writer (Anglesey 1949
  • Meinir Gwilym - singer and songwriter (Llangristiolus, 1983)
  • Owain Gwynedd - prince (Anglesey, c. 1100)
  • Hywel Gwynfryn - radio and TV personality (Llangefni, 1942)
  • Wayne Hennessey - footballer - currently goalkeeper with Wolves and Wales (Anglesey 1987)
  • Captain Owen Jones - volunteer lifeboatman winner of the RNLI gold medal for bravery (Anglesey)
  • Rhys Jones - 2 gold medals (archery) International Island Games 2005
  • Mr Thomas William Jones - able seaman on RMS Titanic who took charge of Lifeboat #8 (Anglesey, c. 1880)
  • William Jones - mathematician (Llanfihangel Tre'r Beirdd, 1675)
  • Glenys Kinnock - politician (Holyhead, 1944)
  • John Morris-Jones - Welsh grammarian and poet (Llandrygarn, 1864)
  • Wendy Orme - screenwriter (Anglesey, 1911)
  • Goronwy Owen - poet (Llanfair Mathafarn Eithaf, 1723)
  • Edward Roberts - gold medal (team shooting) International Island Games 2005
  • Edward Roberts - second coxswain winner of the RNLI gold medal for bravery (Anglesey)
  • Wilf Roberts - landscape artist (Anglesey, 1941)
  • Nicola Kate Stretton - silver medal (athletics) International Island Games 2005
  • Hugh Owen Thomas - pioneering orthopaedic surgeon (Anglesey, 1833)
  • Ifor Owain Thomas - tenor (Pentraeth, 1892)
  • Thomas Thomas - gold and bronze medal (team shooting & shooting) International Island Games 2005
  • Owain Tudor - Grandfather of Henry VII (Henry Tudor), who had married the widow of Henry V to give the Tudor dynasty a tenuous claim on the English throne Plas Penmynydd
  • Anthony White - gold medal (team shooting) International Island Games 2005
  • Sir Kyffin Williams RA - landscape painter (Anglesey, 1918 - 2006)
  • Claire Wilson - gold medal (swimming) International Island Games 2005

Lived on Anglesey


see also: Isle of Anglesey County Council

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). While there is currently a majority of independent councillors, the council is under no overall control, as the members do not generally divide along party lines. The only party group on the council is that of Plaid Cymru. There are five non-partisan groups on the council, containing a mix of party and independent candidates. The largest of these groups is Môn Ymlaen/Anglesey Forward, with 15 members out of the 40 in total.


Secondary schools:

There are 52 primary schools in Anglesey:

  • Ysgol Aberffraw
  • Ysgol Amlwch
  • Ysgol Garreglefn, Amlwch
  • Ysgol Beaumaris
  • Ysgol Goronwy Owen, Benllech
  • Ysgol Bodedern
  • Ysgol Bodffordd
  • Ysgol Bodorgan
  • Ysgol Bryngwran
  • Ysgol Brynsiencyn
  • Ysgol Y Tywyn, Caergeiliog
  • Ysgol Ty Mawr, Capel Coch
  • Ysgol Cemaes
  • Ysgol Dwyran
  • Ysgol Esceifiog, Gaerwen
  • Ysgol Y Ffridd, Gwalchmai
  • Ysgol Kingsland, Holyhead
  • Ysgol Llaingoch, Holyhead
  • Ysgol Llanfawr, Holyhead
  • Ysgol Morswyn, Holyhead
  • Ysgol y Parc, Holyhead
  • Ysgol Llanbedrgoch
  • Ysgol Llanddeusant
  • Ysgol Llanddona
  • Ysgol Llandegfan
  • Ysgol Llandrygarn
  • Ysgol Llanerchymedd
  • Ysgol Llanfachraeth
  • Ysgol Ffrwd Win, Llanfaethlu
  • Ysgol Llanfairpwllgwyngyll
  • Ysgol Llanfechell
  • Ysgol Corn Hir, Llangefni
  • Ysgol Y Graig, Llangefni
  • Ysgol Llangoed
  • Ysgol Henblas, Llangristiolus
  • Ysgol Cylch y Garn, Llanrhuddlad


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 Birmingham New Street and London Euston, and by Arriva Trains Wales to Chester, Manchester Piccadilly and Cardiff Central.

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 also


External links

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


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