Timeline in Anglesey

A Timeline of the History on Anglesey, North Wales

Anglesey has an interesting and ancient history. We have tried to represent that history as extensively as possible, commenting not only on the major events but also on the more interesting and generally recognised events of the recent past. This section is new and will be completed as time permits.

◘ Ice Age

In the 1880s, the skull of a mammoth was found in Holyhead Bay, which was once the location of an ancient forest. Other such forests existed in other parts of Anglesey. These forests were probably destroyed as a result of the higher sea levels rising from the ice thawing out. The skull is now on show at the Maritime History Museum in Holyhead.

◘ 2000 BC

There is evidence of man’s presence in Britain before the end of glaciation, but none so far on Anglesey.

◘ 19000 – 13000 BC

Anglesey comes out of the ice. After thousands of years of being under a cap of ice almost a third of a mile high, Anglesey emerges from the latest glaciation.

◘ 7000 BC

The first evidence of man on Anglesey is confirmed from present-day finds at Aberffraw.

◘ 6000 BC

The Mesolithic period. The time of the hunter-gatherers. Anglesey man has to compete for his food with the likes of wolves, bears, and even lions. The hunter-gatherers would seldom stay in the same place for any length of time, moving between campsites as the season dictated. There are no permanent accommodations, and thus little evidence survives, and not too much is known of them. Their sources of food included elk, deer, bison, seafood, berries, and roots. Wildfowl and eggs provide another plentiful source of food. Their tools would be made of stone, bone, wood, and flint. Their weapons would be mainly bows and arrows, knives, and spears.

◘ 4000 – 3000 BC

Large parts of Anglesey man’s hunting grounds were disappearing as more and more land became submerged by still rising sea levels after the glaciations. Later, even more of their land would effectively disappear as the Neolithic farming communities brought land under the till.

◘ 3300 – 2000 BC

Neolithic Man. Colonists from Europe have brought farming to Anglesey. They are growing primitive crops and keeping domestic animals. For many years, Mesolithic and Neolithic man co-existed. The first evidence of what resemble villages and towns is apparent. It is from this period in time that most of Anglesey’s megalithic tombs originate.

◘ 3000 BC

Occupation at Holyhead. Modern-day finds from the excavations of Trefignath burial chambers at Holyhead dates occupation of the site to 3000 BC.

◘ 2000 – 1800 BC

Excavations of burial sites on Anglesey have included finds of cremation remains in pottery urns. These people became known as the Beaker People.

◘ 2000 – 500 BC

The Bronze Age. At some stage, Anglesey became a major market place for the gold & bronze ware of Ireland and the south of England. There is evidence suggesting that bronze was being smelted, and that weapons were actually being made on Anglesey.

◘ 300 BC

At approximately this time, Celts arrived on Anglesey. They were described as being fond of war, and barbarously savage. They were said to be intelligent and quick to learn, and yet high-spirited and quick to anger – but not evil of character. They were a vain people, brightly clothed and often adorned in gold or bronze neckwear and bracelets. Following a battle, it was customary to behead their dead enemies, later to be displayed on the front of the Celts’ houses when they returned home. Many of the craft objects that the Celts brought with them to Britain were copied by local craftsmen, who added their own local decoration styles. They brought with them the Druids – Celtic priests – powerful and important men, even politically. Some druids were seers or diviners, whilst others were bards. Celts worshipped – amongst many other things – rivers and streams, and many valuable and important objects and weapons have been recovered from these rivers, into which the Celts would throw them as offerings to the gods (after a victorious battle, for example).

◘ 150 BC – 60 AD

Llyn Cerrig Bach Hoard. In 1939, during the building of RAF Valley, the lake at Llyn Cerrig Bach was drained. A wealth of Celtic offerings to the River/Spring God was uncovered, dating back to this period. The hoard included a god carved from stone, a typical Celtic object. There were also gold and bronze ornaments and weapons, now on show in the National Museum of Wales. An iron slave gang chain designed to restrain 5 men was also discovered. This possibly implies that the Celts kept slaves, probably their defeated enemies.

◘ 60 AD

The Romans invade Anglesey. Two legions of the Roman army led by Suetonius Paulinus fought and defeated the Celts on the shores of Porthaethwy (now Menai Bridge). A Roman historian present before the Romans crossed the Menai straits to do battle tells of the blood-curdling screams from the Druids and Celts as they screamed curses at the Romans across the straits. Many of the Roman soldiers were frozen with fear. They obviously recovered, as the Celts were cut to ribbons. The Romans had arrived and would stay for the next 300-plus years. They probably controlled Anglesey from their stronghold in Segontium (Caernarfon).

◘ 280 – 300 AD

Roman Naval Base built at Holyhead. Probably because of the threat of Irish invasion, the Romans built a naval base at Holyhead. I have certainly read that part of St Cybi’s enclosure was at one time being used as a garrison. Remains from this same period of the local people’s accommodations can be clearly seen in the hut-circled village of Ty Mawr, so well-preserved on Holyhead mountain.

To be continued…