Britannia, by William Camden


Big B BEYOND the County of Montgomery, lies Meirionydhshire, which the Britains call Sîr Veirionydh,sir the Latins Mervinia, and Giraldus, Terra filiorum Conani, i.e. the Land of the sons of Conanus. It reaches to the crooked bay which I mention’d, and is wash’d by the main Ocean on the west-side, with such violence, that it may be thought to have carry’d off some part of it. On the south (for some miles) it is divided from Cardiganshire by the river Dyvy; and on the north, borders on Caernarvonshire and Denbighshire.

Mountains exceeding high. This County hath such heaps of mountains, that (as Giraldus observes) it is the roughest and most unpleasant County of all Wales. For the hills are extraordinary high, and yet very narrow, and terminating in sharp peaks; nor are they thin-scatter’d, but placed very close, and so eaven in height, that the shepherds frequently converse from the tops of them; who yet, in case they should wrangle and appoint a meeting, could scarce come together from morning till night.

⌈It is (as he observes) generally consider’d, the most mountainous of all the Welsh Counties; though its mountains are not the highest; those of Snowdon in Caernarvonshire exceeding them in height, and being at least equal to them in rocky precipices. But whereas Giraldus calls it the roughest and most unpleasant Country in all Wales; it may be answer’d (if that be worth notice) that for the pleasing prospect of a Country, there is hardly any standard; most men taking their measures herein, either from the place of their own nativity and education, or from the profit which they suppose a Country may yield. But if (as some hold) variety of objects make a Country appear delightful, this may contend with most; as affording (besides a sea-prospect) not only exceeding high mountains, and inaccessible rocks; with an incredible number of rivers, cataracts, and lakes: but also variety of lower hills, woods, and plains, and some fruitful valleys. Their highest mountains are Kader Idris, Aren Voudhwy, Aren Benlhyn, Arennig, Moelwyn, Mannod, &c. These maintain innumerable herds of cattel, sheep, and goats; and are (in regard they are frequently fed with clouds and rains, and harbour much snow) considerably more fertil, tho’ the grass be coarse, than the hills and ridges of lower Countries. Kader Idris is probably one of the highest mountains in Britain; and (which is one certain argument of its height) it affords some variety of Alpine plants: but for mountains so high, and their tops notwithstanding so near, that men may converse from them, and yet scarce be able to meet in a whole day; I presume there are none such in nature: and am certain there are not any in Wales, but that men conversing from their tops, may meet in half an hour.⌉

Wolves in England destroy’d. Innumerable flocks of Sheep ⌈(as hath been said)⌉ do graze on these Mountains; nor are they in any danger of Wolves, which are thought to have been destroy’d throughout England, when King Edgar impos’d a yearly tribute of three hundred wolves-skins on † † No Prince of this name in Wales: An leg. Idwal?Ludwal Prince of these Countries. For (as we find in William of Malmesbury) “When he had performed this for three years, he desisted the fourth, alledging he could not find one more”. However,See Derbyshire and Yorkshire. that there remained some long after, is manifest from unquestionable Records. The Inhabitants, who apply themselves wholly to the breeding of Cattel, and who feed on Milk-meats, viz. Butter, Cheese, &c. (notwithstanding Strabo formerly derided our Britains as ignorant of the art of making Cheese,) are scarce inferiour to any People of Britain, in stature, clear complexion, comeliness, and proportion; but have an ill character, among their neighbours, for Incontinency and Idleness.

It hath but few Towns. On the east, where Dyvy runs, Kwmmwd MowdhwyMowdhwy. is a place well known; which was formerly the inheritance of William, otherwise call’d Wilkok Mowdhwy, a younger son of Grufydh ap Gwenwynwyn, Lord of Powys, and by his son’s daughter it descended to Hugo Burgh, and again * * Per ejus daughters of that house, to the honourable families of Newport, Leighton, Lingen, and Mitton.dol

Where the river Avon runs more westerly, lies Dôl Gelheu,Dôl Gelheu. a small Market-town, so called from the valley in which it is seated, ⌈or rather, from it’s situation in a woody vale; the word Dôl being much the same with the English Dale, so common in the North of England and in Scotland; and * * Id est, Lhe Kylh Coryletum.Kelhe (in the southern dialect Kelhi) signifying strictly a wood where much hazel grows, and being sometimes used for any other wood; though at present there are not so many woods about this town, as were formerly. What Antiquity this place is of, or whether of any note in the time of the Romans, is uncertain: however, some of their coyns have been of late years dug-up near a well call’d Fynon Vair, within a bow-shot of the town; two whereof were sent me by the reverend † † Mr. Maur. Jones.Rector of the Place; which are fair silver pieces of Trajan and Hadrian: viz.Trophaeum lhe

1. Imperatori Trajano Augusto, Germanico, Dacico, Pontifici maximo, Tribunitia potestate, Consuli quinto, Patri Patriæ: Senatus populusque Romanus optimo Principi.

  1. Imp. Traiano avg. Ger. Dac. P.M. Tr. P.
    cos. V. P. P.S.P. Q. R. Optimo princ.

    Trophæum de Dacis.
  2. Imp. Caesar Traian Hadrianvs Avg. P.M. Tr. P.
    Cos. Iii.

    Mars Gradivus cum hasta & spoliis.⌉

Close by the Sea in the small Country of Ardudwy, stands on a steep rock the Castle of Ar-lechHar-lech. (called heretofore Kaer Kolhwyn,) which, as the Inhabitants report, was built by Edward the first, and took it’s name from the situation; for Ar-lech in British signifies on a rock; though some call it Harlech† Quasi Hardh-lech., and interpret it, A rock pleasantly situated. When England was embroil’d in civil wars, Davidh ap Jenken ap Enion, a British Nobleman, who sided with the House of Lancaster, defended this Castle stoutly against Edward the fourth, until William Herbert, Earl of Penbroke, forcing his way through the midst of the Alps of Wales, a very difficult passage, attack’d it with so much vigour, that it was surrender’d into his hands. It is almost incredible, what great difficulties he and his Soldiers struggled with in this troublesome journey; when in some places whilst they ascended the mountains, they were forced to creep; and elsewhere in descending, in a manner to tumble down: whence that way is called by the neighbours at this day, Lhê Herbert. Herbert’s-way.twr Lhyn

⌈This Harlech (for that is the right name, and the denomination is probably from a rock,) was once call’d Tŵr Bronwen, and afterwards receiv’dMr. Robert Vaughan’s MS. the name of Kaer Kolhwyn from Kolhwyn ap Tagno, who liv’d there in the time of Prince Anarawd, about the year 877, and was Lord of Ardudwy and Evionydh, and some part of Lhŷn; which countries are yet, for the most part, possess’d by his posterity. His Arms were, Sable, a cheveron argent, betwixt three flower-de-luces. Notwithstanding Harlech might receive this name of Kaer Kolhwyn from Kolhwyn ap Tagno, yet it seems probable that this place, or some other near it, was call’d Kaer before his time. For I am assured, that in the memory of some persons yet living, several Roman Coins have been found hereabouts; and that the Britains prefix’d the word Kaer to most places fortified by the Romans, is well known to all Antiquaries.

In the year 1692.Torques, or Chain. an ancient golden Torques was dug-up in a Garden somewhere near this Castle of Harlech. It is a wreathed bar of gold (or rather perhaps three or four rods joyntly twisted) about four foot long; flexil, but bending naturally only one way, in form of a hat-band; hooked at both ends exactly (that I may describe it intelligibly, though in vulgar terms) like a pair of pot-hooks; but these hooks are not twisted as the rest of the rod, nor are their ends sharp, but plain, and as it were cut even. It is of a round form, about an inch in circumference, and weighs eight ounces, and is all over so plain, that it needs no farther description. It seems very probable, that Roman Authors always intended an ornament of this kind, by the word Torques, seeing it is derived from Torqueo; and not a chain (composed of links or annulets) as our Grammarians commonly interpret it, and as Joannes Schefferus supposes, who in his learned and curious dissertation de Torquibus, tells us, that the Torques were moveable, and made of rings; the Circles solid and round; and the Monilia, a little broader, &c. Moreover, the British word Torch, which is doubtless of the same origin as well as signification with the Latin Torques, is never used for a chain, but generally for a wreath, and sometimes, though in a less strict sense, for any collar, or large ring; our word for a chain being Kadwen, which agrees also with the Latin. Whether the Torques here describ’d was British or Roman, seems a question not easily decided; seeing we find, that anciently most Nations that we have any knowledge of, used this kind of ornament. And particularly, that the Britains had golden Torques’s, we have the authority of Dio Cassius† Hist. Rom. lib.62., who in his description of Boadicea, or Bunduica, Queen of the Iceni in the time of Nero, tells us, she wore a large golden Torques ( Greek text Greek text Greek text Greek text) that her garment was of divers colours, &c. If it be objected, that though she wore such an ornament, yet it might be in use amongst the Britains only since the Roman Conquests; it may be answer’d, that this seems not to have been the sense of the Author, but that he thus describes her for the strangeness of her habit; adding, that her yellow hair hung loose, and reached down to her hips, &c. A farther confirmation, that the Britains used golden Torques’s, is, that they were so common among their neighbour-nation (and probably their progenitors) the Gauls. For Livy tells ¦ ¦ Lib.36., that Publius Cornelius, when he triumph’d over the Boii, produced, amongst other spoils, one thousand four hundred and seventy golden Torques’s. And Britomarus, a commander amongst the Gauls, who is presumed to have been a Britain, wore such an ornament; as we find in Propertius. (a)

(a) —Vasti parma relata ducis
Illi virgatis jaculantis ab agmine brachis,
Torquis ab incisa decidit unca gula
.   Lib. 4.

If any shall urge farther (notwithstanding this authority of Dio Cassius, which with me is sufficient) that seeing there is no British name for this Ornament (the common word Torch, being derived from the Latin Torquis,) it follows, that the Britains knew no such thing: I answer (though we need not much insist on that objection) that to me it seems very suspicious, the word was Celtick before it was Roman. For though I acknowledge it derived from Torqueo, yet we have also the verb Torchi in the same sense: and seeing both the British words Torch and Torchi are in all appearance deriv’d from the common word Troi, i.e. to turn; and also that Grammarians know not well whence to derive Torqueo; I know not but we may find the origin of it in the British Torch. Nor ought any one to think it absurd, that I thus endeavour to derive Latin words from the Welsh; seeing there are hundreds of words in that Language, that agree in sound and signification with the Latin, which yet could not be borrowed from the Romans, for that the Irish retain the same, who must have been a Colony of the Britains, long before the Roman Conquest: and also that the Welsh or British is one Dialect of the old Celtic: whence, as the best Criticks allow, the Roman Tongue borrow’d several words; and I presume, by the help of the Irish, which was never alter’d by a Roman Conquest, it might be traced much farther.mor lhwch For instance; we must acknowledge these British words,Hib. Tir, Aieir, Muir, Avan, Loch. Tîr, Awyr, Môr, Avon, Lhŵch, &c. to have one common origin with those of the same signification in the Latin, Terra, Aer, Mare, Amnis, Lacus; but seeing the Irish also have them, it is evident that they were not left here by the Romans; and I think it no absurdity to suppose them used in these Islands before Rome was built.

But that we may not digress too far from our subject, it is manifest from what we have alledg’d, that golden Torques’s were much used by the Gauls; and I think it not questionable, but that they were in use also amongst the Britains before the Roman Conquest: but whether this we now speak of, were Roman or British, remains still uncertain. To which I can only say, that it seems much more probably to have been British. For whereas it is evident from the example of Boadicea, Britomarus, the Champion that fought with T. Manlius Torquatus, &c. that the great Commanders amongst the Gauls and Britains wore them; I do not know that it appears at all that the Roman Officers did so: and unless that be made out, I think we may safely pronounce it British; for no other Roman, but a Soldier, could lose it here. As for these honorary rewards presented to * * Gruter.
Inscr. p.96.
Soldiers of merit, we need not presume them to have been Roman, but rather Spoils taken from the barbarous Nations which they conquer’d. The use of this Ornament seems to have been retain’d by the Britains long after the Roman and Saxon Conquests: for we find, that within these few Centuries, a Lord of Iâl in Denbighshire, was call’d Lhewelyn aur-dorchog, i.e. Leolinus torqui aureo insignitus: and it is at this day a common saying in several parts of Wales, when any one tells his adversary, he’ll strive hard, rather than yield to him; mi a dynna’r dorch a chwi; i.e. I’ll pluck the torques with you.Ial AEneid

This which we have here describ’d, seems by the length of it to have been for use as well as ornament, which perhaps was to hold a Quiver; for that they were apply’d to that use, seems very plain from Virgil’s † † Æneid. l.5.description of the Exercises of the Trojan Youth:

Cornea bina ferunt præfixo hastilia ferro:
Pars læves humero pharetras: it pectore summo
Flexilis obtorti per collum circulus auri

Each brandishing aloft a Cornel Spear:
Some at their backs their gilded Quivers bore;
Their Wreaths of burnish’d gold hung down before.

But I fear I have dwelt too long on this one subject, and shall therefore only add (for the satisfaction of such as may scruple this relation) that this valuable Monument of British Nobility and Antiquity is now reposited in the hands of Sir Roger Mostyn of Mostyn, Baronet.

We must not here forget to transmit to Posterity some account of that prodigious fireExhalation. or kindled exhalation which annoy’d this neighbourhood some years since. There is already a short relation of it, publish’d in the Philosophical Transactions ¦¦ Num.208., in a Letter from my above-mention’d * * Mr. Jones, Jan.20. 1694.Friend; but those pieces coming to few hands, I shall make bold to insert it here, with some additions:


THis Letter contains no answer to your Queries about the Locusts, for I am wholly intent at present upon giving you the best account I can, of a most dismal and prodigious accident at Harlech in this County, the beginning of these Holidays. It is of the unaccountable firing of sixteen Ricks of Hay, and two Barns, whereof one was full of Corn, the other of Hay. I call it unaccountable, because it is evident they were not burnt by common fire, but by a kindled exhalation which was often seen to come from the Sea. Of the duration whereof I cannot at present give you any certain account, but am satisfy’d it lasted at least a fortnight or three weeks; and annoy’d the Country as well by poisoning their Grass, as firing the Hay, for the space of a mile or thereabouts. Such as have seen the fire, say it was a blue weak flame, easily extinguish’d, and that it did not the least harm to any of the men who interpos’d their endeavours to save the Hay, tho’ they ventur’d (perceiving it different from common fire) not only close to it, but sometimes into it. All the damage that was sustain’d, happen’d constantly in the night. I have enclos’d a catalogue of such as I have receiv’d certain information of; and have nothing to add, but that there are three small Tenements in the same Sion Phenomenon Phaenomenon damage Scintillae Daran neighbourhood (call’d Tydhin Siôn Wyn) the Grass of which was so infected, that it absolutely kill’d all manner of Cattle that fed upon it. The Grass has been infectious these three years, but not throughly fatal till this last. Pray send me with all convenient speed, your friend’s thoughts, and your own, of the causes, and, if possible, also the remedy, of this surprizing Phænomenon, &c.

Thus far, Mr. Jones’s account of this surprizing and unparallel’d Meteor; since which time, I receiv’d information from him and others, that it continu’d several months longer. It did no great domage by consuming the Hay and Corn, besides those of some particular persons; but the Grass, or Air, or both, were so infected with it, that there was all the while a great mortality of Cattle, Horses, Sheep, Goats, &c. For a long time they could not trace this fire any further than from the adjoyning Sea-shores: but afterwards those who watch’d it (as some did continually) discover’d that it cross’d a part of the Sea, from a place call’d Morva bychan in Caernarvonshire, distant from Harlech about eight or nine miles, which is describ’d to be a Bay both sandy and marshy. That winter, it appear’d much more frequently than in the following summer: for whereas they saw it then almost every night, it was not observ’d in the summer, above one or two nights in a week; and that (which if true, is very observable) about the same distance of time, happening generally on Saturday or Sunday nights: but afterwards it was seen much oftner. They add, that it was seen on stormy as well as calm nights, and all weathers alike; but that any great noise, such as the sounding of Horns, the discharging of Guns, &c. did repel or extinguish it; by which means it was suppos’d, they sav’d several Ricks of Hay and Corn; for it scarce fir’d any thing else.

This Phænomenon, I presume, is wholly new and unheard of; no Historian or Philosopher describing any such Meteor; for we never read that any of those fiery Exhalations distinguish’d by the several names of Ignis fatuus, Ignis lambens, Scintillæ volantes, &c. have had such effects, as thus to poison the Air or Grass, so as to render it infectious and mortal to all sorts of Cattle. Moreover, we have no examples of any fires of this kind, that were of such consistence as to kindle Hay and Corn, to consume Barns and Houses, &c. Nor are there any describ’d to move so regularly as this, which several observ’d to proceed constantly to and from the same places for the space of at least eight months. Wherefore seeing the effects are altogether strange and unusual, they who would account for it, must search out some causes no less extraordinary. But in regard that that may not be done (if at all) without making observations for some time upon the place; we must content our selves with a bare relation of the matter of fact. I must confess, that upon the first hearing of this murrain amongst all sorts of Cattle, I suspected that those Locusts that arriv’d in this Country about two months before, might occasion it, by an infection of the Air; proceeding partly from the corruption of those that landed, and did not long survive in this cold Country; and partly of a far greater number which I suppos’d were drown’d in their voyage, and cast upon these Coasts. For though I know not, whether any have been so curious as to search the Sea-weeds for them in this County, yet I am inform’d that a Gentleman accidentally observ’d some quantity of them on the shores of Caernarvonshire near Aber-Dâran; and that others have been seen on the Sands of the Severn-Sea. Now, that a considerable quantity of these Creatures being drown’d in the Sea, and afterwards cast ashore, will cause a Pestilence, we have many instances in Authors ** V. Tho. Moufeti Theatrum Insectorum, p.123.; and particularly one that happen’d in the year 1374, when there was a great mortality of Men and Cattle, on the Coasts of France, occasion’d by Locusts drown’d in our English Chanel, and cast upon their shores †† Otho Frisingensis.. But whether such a contagious vapour, meeting with a viscous exhalation, in a moorish Bay, will kindle; and so perform in some measure, such a devastation of Hay and Corn, as the living Creatures would do (where we may also note that ¦ ¦ Lib. xi. c.29.Pliny says of them, multa contactu adurunt, i.e. they burn many things by the touch,) I must recommend to farther consideration. I know there are many things might be objected, and particularly the duration of this fire; but men are naturally so fond of their own conjectures, that sometimes they cannot conceal them, though they are not themselves fully satisfy’d.

About two miles from Harlech, there is a remarkable Monument call’d Koeten Arthur. It is a large Stone-table somewhat of an oval form, but rude and ill-shap’d (as are the rest of these Heathen-Monuments,) about ten foot long, and above seven where it is broadest; two foot thick at one end, but not above an inch at the other. It is placed on three rude Stone-pillars, each about half a yard broad; two of which that support the thick end,V. Lhêch y Drybedh in Penbrokshire. are betwixt seven and eight foot; but the third, at the other end, about three foot high.⌉ Lhech penbrokeshire pembrokeshire

Higher up, in the confines of this County and Caernarvonshire, two notable arms of the Sea encroach on the land, call’d Y Traeth mawr, and Traeth bychan, that is, the Greater Wash or Frith, and the Lesser. And not far from hence, near a small Village call’d Festineog,Festineog. is a high road or military way of pitch’d stones, which leads thorough these difficult and almost unpassable mountains; and seeing it is called in British Sarn Helen,Helen’s way. or Helen’s way, it is but reasonable that we suppose it made by Helena the mother of Constantine the Great; whose works were many and magnificent throughout the Roman Empire. ⌈This was probably of a very considerable extent; unless we should suppose the same Helen was Author of several other high-ways in Wales. For besides the place here mention’d, it is also visible at one end of Kraig Verwyn, where it is called Fordh gam Helen Luedhog, i.e. The crooked Road of Helen the great, or puissant. Dhual Halen Dol Wydhelen Rhyd And I observed a way call’d Fordh [or Sarn] Helen, in the parish of Lhan Badarn Odyn in Cardiganshire; as also that a great part of the Road from Brecknock to Neath in Glamorganshire, is distinguished by the same name. At this parish of Festineog, it is call’d otherwise Sarn y Dhûal (a name, whereof I can give no account) for the space of three miles, viz. from Rhŷd yr Hàlen * * Q. Whether this Brook (as some others in Wales) was once call’d Hàlan; or whether the true name be Rhyd ar Helen, &c. with respect to the Road?to Kastelh Dôl Wydhèlen; and some presume that Pont Aber Glaslyn, and y Gymwynas in Caernarvonshire, is a continuation of the same Road.

On a Mountain call’d MikneintMikneint. near Rhyd ar Halen, within a quarter of a mile of this Road, are some remarkable Stone-monuments,Stone-Monuments. call’d Bedheu Gwyr Ardudwy, i.e. the Graves of the men of Ardudwy. They are at least thirty in number; and each Grave is describ’d to be about two yards long; and to be distinguish’d by four Pillars, one at each corner of a Grave; which are somewhat of a square form, about two or three foot high, and nine inches broad. The tradition is, that these are Sepulchral Monuments of some persons of note slain here, in a battle fought betwixt the men of Dyffryn Ardudwy, and some of Denbighshire. That they are indeed the Graves of men slain in battel, seems scarcely questionable; but when, or by what persons, &c. is wholly uncertain. One of the next neighbours informs me, that he saw, amongst other stones brought hence to mend the walls of Festiniog-Church-yard, one with an Inscription; but at present there remains no account of it. By the description he gives of it, I suppose it Roman. Bedh Lhech For he says it was a polish’d stone, about two foot long, half a yard broad, and three or four inches thick: whereas all the later Inscriptions that I have seen in Wales, are on large Pillars, which are generally rude and unpolish’d. I am told there are also a considerable number of Graves near this Causey, on the Demeans of Rhiw goch, in the parish of Trawsvynydh: and in the year 1687. I copied this Inscription from a stone call’d Bêdh Porws, or Porus’s Grave, near Lhêch Idris in the same Parish.

Hic In Tvmvlo Jacit
Homo----Rianvs Fvit

I found afterwards, it was generally understood, as if this had been the Grave of one of the first Christians in these parts; and that they read it, Porius hic in tumulo jacit: Homo Christianus fuit. Being at that time wholly unacquainted with any studies or observations in this kind, perhaps I might not transcribe it with that accuracy I ought; but if it be thus on the Stone (which I must recommend to farther examination) it can never bear that reading, unless we suppose the Letters STI omitted by the Stone-cutter after RI in the last line; which would be such a fault as we have scarce any instance of in these many hundreds of Inscriptions which Authors have publish’d. But howsoever we read the word, ---RIANVS, I suppose this Inscription to have been the Epitaph of some Roman, about the second or third Century.⌉dwy du

Not far from Sarn Helen,Sarn Helen. is Kaer Gai,Kaer Gai. i.e. Caius’s Castle, built by one Caius a Roman; of whom the common People of that neighbourhood report great things, and indeed scarce credible.

In the east part of the County, the river Dee springs from two fountains,The Fountains of Dee. whence it is supposed to have deriv’d the name; for they call it Dŵy, which also signifies the number two; though others contend that it took the name from the word Duw,This river is call’d in Welsh Dowrdwy. as if a sacred river; and some again from , which denotes black,See Radnorshire. from the colour of the water. This river, after a very short course * * Passes, said to pass entire, and unmix’d, through a large lake, call’d Lhyn Tegid, in English Pimble Mear, and † † Corruptly for Pen-lhyn Mear.Plenlyn Mear, carrying out the same quantity of water that it brought in. For neither are the Gwiniad, which are a fish peculiar to this lake, found in the Dee; nor any Salmons taken in the lake, though common in the river; ⌈but this indeed may be no conclusive Argument; because we find that Fish, as well as Birds and Beasts, have their stations Providentially assigned them, and delight in such places as afford them agreeable feeding, &c. so that the passing of this river through all the lake, unmix’d, may be no more than a frivolous opinion of the Vulgar.⌉ If you please, take here an accurate description of this lake, by an Antiquarian Poet.

Hispida qua tellus Mervinia respicit Eurum, Guiniad Fish.
Est lacus antiquo Penlinum nomine dictus,
Hic lacus illimeis in valle Tegeius altâ
Latè expandit aquas, & vastum conficit orbem.
Excipiens gremio latices, qui fonte perenni
Vicinis recidunt de montibus, atque sonoris
Illecebris captas demulcent suaviter aures.
Illud habet certe lacus admirabile dictu,
Quantumvis magna pluvia non æstuat: atqui
Aëre turbato, si ventus murmura tollat,
Excrescit subito rapidis violentior undis,
Et tumido superat contemptas flumine ripas

Where eastern storms disturb the peaceful Skies,
In Merioneth famous Penlin lies.
Here a vast Lake which deepest Vales surround,
His watry Globe rowls on the yielding ground.
Encreas’d with constant Springs that gently run
From the rough Hills with pleasing murmurs down,
This wondrous property the Waters boast,
The greatest Rains are in it’s Chanels lost,
Nor raise the flood; but when loud tempests roar,
The rising Waves with sudden rage boyl ore,
And conqu’ring Billows scorn th’ unequal Shore.

⌈As to the Gwiniad before-mention’d, the word might be aptly render’d in English a Whiting; but the fish so call’d is very different from it, being of the Trout kind. A description of it may be seen in Mr. Willoughby’s Ichthyology, who supposes it the same with what they call (by names of the like signification) ein Albelen, and Weiss-fisch in some parts of Switzerland, and the Ferra of the Lake of Geneva. And here, we may observe the natural agreeableness of those Alpine Lakes with these in our Mountains, in affording the same Species of Fish, as well as of our high Rocks, in producing some variety of Alpine Plants. They are never taken by any bait, but in nets; keeping on the bottom of the Lake, and feeding on small shells, and the leaves of water Gladiol ** Gladiolus lacustris Clusii., a Plant peculiar to these Mountain-Lakes.⌉

On the brow of this Lake, lies Bala,Bala. a small Town with certain Privileges; having but few Inhabitants, and the Houses rudely built; which yet is the chief Market of these Mountaineers.

⌈The word Bala, though now very seldom (if at all) used as an Appellative, denotes, as the Author of the Latin-British Dictionary † † Tho. Gulielmus.
Vide Davisii Præf.
informs us, the place where any River or Brook issues out of a Lake; as Aber signifies the fall of one river into another, &c. and hence Dr. Davies supposes this Town to be denominated. In confirmation whereof, I add, that near the out-let of the River Seiont, out of Lhyn Peris * * The Lake of St. Caernarvonshire, there is a place call’d BrynBryn signifies a hill.y Bala. Others ¦ ¦ H. Perry, (in Dr. Dav. Dict.) whom we find too apt to presume Irish words to be old British.contend that Bala in the old British, as well as Irish, signifies a Village. I incline to the former Opinion, and imagin, that upon farther enquiry, other instances besides these two might be found, which would make it still more evident. The round Mount or Barrow at this Town, call’d Tommen y Bala, as also that other about half a mile from it, call’d Brynlhysk, and a third at Pont Mwnwgl y Lhyn, in the same neighbourhood, are supposed by their names, form, and situation, not to have been erected for Urn-burial, but as Watch-mounts to command the road and adjacent places, upon the Roman Conquest of this Country.uw ystratgwyn

Not far from hence in the Parish of Lhan ùw’ Lhyn, we find the ruins of an ancient Castle, of which no Author makes mention. It is call’d Castelh Corndochen,Castelh Corndochen. a name of which I can give no account; and is seated on the top of a very steep Rock, at the bottom of a pleasant Valley. It shews the ruins of a Wall, and, within that, of three Turrets, a square, a round, and an oval one, which is the largest. The Mortar was mix’d with Cockle-shells, which must have been brought hither by Land-carriage, about fourteen miles. It seems probable that this Castle, as also such another (but much less) in Traws-vynydh Parish, call’d Castelh Prysor, were built by the Romans, but nothing certain can be affirm’d herein.

We have not room here to take notice of several other places remarkable, and shall therefore only mention a gilt Coffin, and some brass Arms, found there of late years. The Coffin was discover’d about the year 1684. in a Turbery †† Boggy or moorish ground, where fuel turfs are dug-up., call’d Mownog ystràtgwyn near Maes y Pandy. It was of wood, and so well preserv’d, that the gilding remain’d very fresh; and is said to have contain’d an extraordinary large Skeleton. This is the only instance I know, of burying in such places: and yet they who placed this Coffin here, might have regard to the perpetual preservation of it; seeing we find by daily examples of trees found in Turberies, that such bituminous earth preserves wood beyond all others.Bethkelert

The brass ArmsSee Fig. 14, 15. were found in the year 1688. in a rock call’d Katreg Dhiwin, in the Parish of Bethkèlert. They seem to be short Swords or Daggers, and to have been all cast in molds. They were of different forms and sizes; some of them being about two foot long, others not exceeding twelve inches: some flat, others quadrangular, &c. About fifty of them were found by removing a great stone; so near the surface of the ground, that they were almost in sight. I have been inform’d, that several were gilt: but twenty or thirty that I saw of them when first found, were all cover’d with a bluish scurf. Their handles probably were of wood, for they were all wasted: and there remain’d only (and that but in very few) two brass nails that fasten’d them, which were something of the form of chair-nails, but headed or riveted on each side; so that they could not be taken out without breaking the round holes wherein they were placed; which they did not fill up, but hung loose in them. Such weapons have been found elsewhere in Wales; and those were probably of the same kind, which were found at the foot of St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, suppos’d to be British.⌉

Hugh, Earl of Chester, was the first Norman that seiz’d this Country, and planted garrisons in it, whilst Grufydh ap * * Conanus.Kynan was his prisoner: but he afterwards recovering this land with the rest of his Principality, left it to his Posterity, who possess’d it till their fatal period in Prince Lhewelyn.

There are in this County 37 Parishes.

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06