History on Anglesey

Anglesey is an ancient island with over 9,000 years of rich history from Celtic, Viking and Medieval settlers.

Evidence of human habitation dates back to the Mesolithic period around 8,000 BC and many of the stone burial chambers, standing stones, and hill forts erected in the subsequent millennia have survived today.

In the 1stC AD, Anglesey was one of the last Celtic strongholds with their Druid Priests, against the Roman occupation of Wales. The Celtic Christian church flourished in medieval times and two main monasteries were founded: St Cybi's, Caer Gybi (Holyhead), and St Seriol's, Penmon. Viking raids subsequently caused great destruction, however in the 12thC the island flourished again with many of it’s churches being built.

During the 13thC, Edward I launched two successful campaigns against the last Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and subsequently built his "iron ring" of castles around the Welsh coast, including Beaumaris Castle, a United Nations World Heritage Site.

From the 18th century, Anglesey became prominent for it’s copper and also it’s sea access to Ireland. Parys Mountain, a Roman copper-mine began full-scale mining in the 1760s and soon became the largest copper mine in the world. Britain’s union with Ireland in 1800 lead to improving the road route from London to Dublin, and Holyhead emerged as the primary port for sea access to Ireland. In 1810 Thomas Telford built a new road and the World’s first major suspension bridge; ‘Menai Bridge’ across the Menai Strait. The railways later lead to Robert Stephenson constructing a rail bridge, the ‘Britannia Bridge’ in 1850. Menai Heritage Exhibition recounts the building of these two iconic bridges.

The sea has played a large part in shaping Anglesey, and has claimed over 100 wrecks through the ages including the Royal Charter in 1859, one of Britain's worst in which 400 people perished reported by Charles Dickens after visiting the island. Visitors can learn about the tales of tragedy, heroism, and lost treasure at the Holyhead Maritime Museum or the Moelfre Seawatch Centre.

The Oriel Ynys Môn in Llangefni houses Anglesey's principal museum, displaying relics and artefacts from Anglesey's cultural and social past as well as featuring it’s seafaring, mining and agricultural industries and the Island's natural history. Guided walks and history talks provide further insight into the island’s heritage.