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Holywell Common and Halkyn Mountain Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

Holywell Common and Halkyn Mountain

Funerary, ecclesiastical and ornamental landscapes

Prehistoric ceremonial and funerary activity in the area is probably represented by a number of Bronze Age round barrows. Because of the extent of mining in the area these are sometimes difficult to distinguish from later spoil tips, though there are pairs of monuments at Eosfan on Holywell Common, and at Parc-y-prysau, west of Pentre Halkyn which appear to be genuine. Bronze Age finds including faience glass beads and a cinerary urn from a barrow at Clwt Militia to the north-west of Brynford which has now been destroyed.

During the middle ages the area was divided between the ecclesiastical parishes of Whitford, Holywell, Northop, Halkyn, Cilcain and Ysgeifiog, three new ecclesiastical parishes being created in the middle of the 19th century, Gorsedd from Whitford and Ysgeifiog in 1853, Brynford from Holywell and Ysgeifiog in 1853, and Rhes-y-cae from the parishes of Halkyn, Cilcain and Ysgeifiog in 1848, as a result of the rapidly expanding population and competion with the nonconformists and the transference to Rome of the newly-built church at Pantasaph. St Paul's Church Gorsedd was built in 1852-53, St Michael's Church, Brynford in 1851-53 and its associated rectory in 1857, and Christ Church, Rhes-y-cae was built in 1847, and its parsonage in 1859.

The 19th century saw the rise of four nonconformist groups within the area, the Independents, Baptists and Wesleyan and Calvinistic Methodists, who competed with each other and the established church, with chapels built and in many instances rebuilt at Rhes-y-cae and Pentre Halkyn, which each had two chapels, and at Pant-y-go and Brynford.

The northern part of the historic landscape area, within the parish of Holywell, was in possession of the Cistercian abbey at Basingwerk, established by the mid 12th century, who established a monastic grange at The Grange, west of Holywell, which came into private hands 'in consideration of purchase money' following dissolution of the abbey in 1537.

The complex of religious buildings built in gothic style at the Franciscan Friary at Pantasaph, including St Davids's Church, dates largely to the period 1849-79, and was built on the estate of the earl of Denbigh. The now ruined convent of St Clare's, to the south, is also of this period. The associated gardens on sloping ground behind the friary, constructed in the 1870s, with calvary and gothic chapels marking the Stations of the Cross are included within the Historic Gardens Register.

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