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Vale of Clwyd Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Vale of Clwyd


The historic landscape of the vale has essentially been fashioned by agriculture and woodland management rather than by industry or commerce. The industries which did emerge were generally small in scale and sometimes of limited duration, and were generally based on the exploitation of natural mineral resources, the processing of agricultural produce, or on service or craft industries such as smithing.

Most of the quarries in Dyffyn Clwyd are now disused. The Clwydian hills in the Dyffryn Clwyd area have been relatively little affected by quarrying, largely since the underlying geology is predominantly of soft and friable shales. However, small medieval or post-medieval roadside and trackside quarries, probably for house and wall building and road maintenance, can be seen on the southern slopes of Moel Arthur in the Moel Famau character area, in the Fron-heulog, Bryn-isaf and Pen-yr-allt character areas. There is a larger quarry at Bodfari, one of the few areas on where limestone outcrops on the eastern side of the vale, and where there were formerly a number of limekilns. Other limestone quarries and disused limekilns are known in the limestone areas on the western side of the vale, as at Craig-y-ddywart to the north-west of Ruthin, on the hills to the west of Llanrhaeadr, scattered throughout the southern part of the Eyarth character area at Pen-y-graig, Ty'n Llanfair and Craig-adwy-wynt, and at Bryn Robyn and Penllwyn on the limestone outcrop at Craig-fechan.

Some mining activity took place during the 19th-century in a number of areas on the Clwydian hills, including small 19th-century gold mine on the western slopes of Moel Arthur, a number of abandoned small-scale mining enterprises for lead and barytes of the 1890s on Moel Dywyll. A quarry and shaft near Pen-llwyn, to the north of Llangwyfan appear to represent small-scale 19th-century lead trials or workings. A haematite mine was worked at Coed Llan, just to the north of the Bodfari between 1877-1909, visible remains being represented by a number of converted buildings including the former agent's house and workshop, together with mine shaft and possible horse whim now obscured in woodland. The iron ore here occurred in fissures between the Silurian shales and the Carboniferous limestone.

An important corn mill was established in what became Mill Street in Ruthin during the 13th-century, the leat which fed the mill with water from the Clwyd in later centuries still surviving as an earthwork in the grounds of Castle Park. Ruthin became an important cloth producing centre during the medieval period with its own guild of fullers and weavers. Other corn mills and fulling mills were established on other streams and rivers throughout Dyffryn Clwyd during the course of the medieval and post-medieval periods, including those at Felin-ysguboriau also on the Clwyd, Melin Garthgynan and Llanrhudd Mill on the Dwr Il, Melin Meredydd on the Afon Clywedog to the west of Rhewl, Candy Mill (for extracting clover seed) and Geinas Mill on the Afon Chwiler, a mill on the Nant-y-ne near Hirwaen, and mills at Felin-isaf and Pentre'r-felin on the stream to the south of Llandyrnog. Some of buildings belonging to these mills still survive, and in a number of cases, such as at Brookhouse Mill, Geinas Mill and Candy Mill, evidence of the mill leats still survives.

Other former industries include the Partington Steel & Iron Company at Bodfari which was provided with sidings from the Mold & Denbigh Junction in 1924, the site of the former works being still visible to the south of the village. The most remarkable industrial workings in the area were the former Lleweni Bleach Works built by Thomas Fitzmaurice in 1785 for treating linen produced on his Irish estates and probably demolished between about 1816-18. The site of these remarkable Palladian buildings, described by Thomas Pennant as having 'a beautiful arcade four hundred feet in extent' are visible as earthworks at Coed y Plain, and were probably approached by the causeway known as Hen Ffs, to the east of Aberchwiler.

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