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Holywell Common and Halkyn Mountain Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

Holywell Common and Halkyn Mountain

Transport and communication

A Roman road may have been built along Halkyn Mountain as part of a route between Roman settlements at Chester and St Asaph, and possibly to provide early access to the mines, though the existing archaeological evidence is inconclusive.

The common land is crisscrossed by numerous trackways and footpaths running between the shafts and mining setts, some of which are first recorded on early maps and plans of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Some of the tracks are likely to be of considerable antiquity, giving access to the mines and to providing communication between communities on either side of the hill. The open mountain was also crossed by a number of longer-distance routes shown on 17th and 18th-century road maps, including a north-south route between Shrewsbury and Holywell, passing through Windmill, a route between Northop and Denbigh via Rhes-y-cae, and a route between Flint and Denbigh via Pentre Halkyn and Waen-brodlas.

In earlier times much of the ore mined on Halkyn Mountain would have been carried away by packhorse or by cart to the smelteries, though in the 18th century tramways or narrow-gauge railways were introduced, with trucks pulled by horse or pushed by hand, the course of which can still be seen at Berth-ddu, to the south of Halkyn, for example. Underground canals were constructed in some of the larger mines in the 18th-century, being replaced by underground railways in the 19th century.

During the course of the Napoleonic Wars at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century a timber tower for beacon was built within the prehistoric hillfort at Moel y Gaer, Rhosesmor, as part of a long-distance communications network between Holyhead and Chester.

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