Llangollen Museum tells the story of the area and it's people. The area around Llangollen has been occupied since very early times. Before 6000BC any human presence would have been in the form of small bands of hunters. After this time it is known that Neolithic farmers, originating from Europe, were present in North Wales, although it is only after 3000BC that we have any direct evidence of their presence in this area, in the form of many tumuli, cairns, stone circles and standing stones. A tumulus on top of Creigiau Eglwyseg was found to contain the remains of cremated human bodies, as well as ox and sheep bones when it was opened in the 1890s. A cairn near Aber Sychnant was also opened in 1890. It was found to contain some ashes, a horses tooth, some small bones and a flint arrowhead. Population of the area continued into the Bronze Age. The hill on which Dinas Bran stands was certainly occupied during this period. Four bronze axe heads have been found on Dinas Brân. A fifth axe head was discovered in the 1930s on Fron Fawr. Two bronze spear heads were discovered in 1890 at, or close to, a quarry near to World’s End, although it is not known which one.
The arrival of the Celts in Britain around 600BC heralded the start of the iron age. The Celts spread over the whole of Britain and brought with them the language from which present day Welsh is derived. The Celtic tribe present in north east Wales was the Deciangli. Remains of Iron Age hill forts can be seen around Dinas Bran Castle and on the top of Moel y Gaer in Llantysilio. In 43AD the Romans invaded Britain, and eventually gained control of Wales. Roman culture did not, however, put down deep roots, as it did in the south east and there is little evidence of their presence in the area. Exceptions include Roman artifacts found when excavating the cloister court at Valle Crucis Abbey, a coin bearing the head of Antoninus, found in the 17th century near to the Abbey and Roman pottery found in the Eglwyseg stream.
With the withdrawl of the Romans from Britain at the end of the 4th century, there was mounting Saxon pressure from the east and the border area became the ground of many battles. By the mid 7th century the Saxon settlers had driven the Welsh out of the plains and into the foothills of the mountains. In the latter half of the seventh and early part of the eighth centuries, the Welsh made a number of efforts to reclaim their land, and it was in response to this that Aethelbald, king of Mercia, built Wat’s Dyke, running northward along the border from what is now Ruabon. After his reign was over it appears that the fortunes of Powys recovered. Eliseg, king of Powys in the mid eighth century, won a crucial victory against the English, saving the inheritance of Powys. Offa succeeded Aethelbald as king of Mercia and also made a number of attacks on the Welsh border. It was during his reign (757 to 796) that the remarkable structure known as Offa’s Dyke was constructed. Eliseg’s great grandson Cyngen, was the last in line of that dynasty of Powys. He erected a cross in memory of his great grandfather sometime between coming to power in 808 and his death in 854. Eliseg’s pillar is one of the oldest inscribed monuments in Wales, and the valley afterwards became known as Pant y Groes (Valley of the Cross), after which Valle Crucis Abbey was named. The cross was knocked down and broken during the civil war of 1642 to 1646, but fortunately Edward Lhuyd recorded the original inscription, now totally worn away, when he passed the fallen pillar in 1696. In 1779 the remaining pillar was re-erected by Edward Lloyd of Trevor Hall and at that time, the tumulus on which it stands was opened, revealing the skeleton of a tall man with a gilded skull. The remains were re-interred but the men who uncovered the body said that the bones 'broke like gingerbread'..
Lhuyd's transcription records a vital piece of history - a contemporary inscription from the Dark Ages containing a genealogical record of the kings of Powys that can be compared with later documents. Cyngen, having no children, was succeeded by Rhodri Mawr (Rhodri the great), son of his sister Nest and Merfyn, Frych (Merfyn the freckled), and thus the second ruling house was founded. At the end of the 9th century Alfred came to power in England and some of the smaller Welsh rulers asked for his patronage. It would appear that this included Anarawd ap Rhodri, king of Gwynedd and Powys. In 1039 Gruffud ap Llewelyn killed Iago ab Idwal, great great grandson of Anarawd, and so became ruler of Gwynedd and Powys. He set his sights further afield, and by 1057 ruled all of Wales. He also managed to re-claim some lands beyond Offa’s Dyke, but revenge came in 1063 when Gruffud was killed by Harold in Snowdonia. Elected king of England 3 years later, Harold’s victory was short lived, and everything changed with the coming of the Normans in 1066.
1066 saw William of Normandy’s victory over Harold in the Battle of Hastings. Not many years later the Normans were at the Welsh border. William had no intentions of annexing Wales but wanted to secure a frontier. This he did by giving lands along the borders to some of his faithful supporters, creating the Marcher Lordships. The main Lordships in this area, however, Bromfield and Yale (Iâl) and Chirkland, remained under Welsh rule until late in the 13th century. The latter half of the 14th century and the early 15th century saw some significant changes in the distribution of land with large landowners taking over from smaller farmers. The exact causes are not easy to identify, but the ravages of the Black death in Chirkland and Denbighshire undoubtably had a major effect. The beginning of the 15th century saw the start of the campaign by Owain Glyndwr to wrest back Wales from English control. With discontent rife amongst the peasantry, many of them flocked to support Glyndwr. The area was constantly the scene of unrest.
It is possible that lead was mined in the area around Llangollen as far back as Roman times. Certainly in 1696 Edward Lhuyd, in his travels around the area, said that lead was “previously mined at Fron Lwyd” in the Eglwyseg Valley. Mining leases from the 18th century show lead, copper, calamine, coal and other ores being mined. Slate too has been quarried since before 1700. The Clogau Quarry was established in 1690 and Edward Lhuyd recorded hearing blasting from the Moel y Faen Quarry in 1696 and refers to slate being sent from the Oernant Quarry to the next county. Other quarries, such as the Aber Gwern Quarry, the Eglwyseg (Pant Glas) Quarry, the Wynnstay Quarry and the Ffynnon y Gog Quarry all operated in the 18th and 19th centuries. Work started at 7.30am and was physically hard. It could take up to 8 hours to hand drill a single hole for a blasting charge. Breakfast was usually porridge and bread - cheese and ham made up dinner. Quarrymen brought their own tea and sugar in small tins. The day finished at 5.30pm and was often followed by a long walk home. Wages in 1800 were 6 shillings (30 pence) per week. The Berwyn Slate Quarry was opened as the Clogau Quarry in 1690 and belonged to the Wynnstay Estate. The quarry was, and still is, used to produce large slabs, for hearths, worktops, tombstones and billiard tables. The large blocks were transported to the slate works at Pentrefelin and, after finishing, were loaded onto canal barges, and later railway freight cars, for transport. At the height of its operations the quarry employed several hundred men. Purchased from the Wynnstay Estate in 1950, the quarry today employs 4 men.
Opened around 1700, a map from 1868 shows the Moel y Faen Quarry belonging to the Wynnstay Estate. Producing mainly roofing slates the quarry employed over 600 men at the height of its activity in 1871. By 1931 the number had dwindled to 126, but the quarry continued to operate for another 20 years. The Rhiw Goch Quarry in Rhewl was once a major employer in the area. By the 1880s there were only 6 rockmen living in Rhewl and they were not necessarily working at the Rhiw Goch. The quarrymen had to collect their wages from the Bull Inn in Llangollen. Workers were often paid in pubs in Victorian times; this was by arrangement with the publican so that the workers would spend their wages on drink rather than waste it on food for the family. Having walked sometimes up to 5 miles home they would have a meal and then walk another round trip of 6 miles to Llangollen and back to get their money. In later years when the quarry propspered transport appeared on the scene and men were taken to whichever quarry they worked at. The Pant Glas slate quarry is marked on the 1844 tithe map as a wooded area called Caer Pistyll (Field of the Waterfall). The quarry must have opened soon after, however, as a map from the middle of the 19th century shows a proposed tramway to link the Pant Glas Quarry with the Clogau tramway. The tramway was never built, but old photographs show the quarry still in operation in 1881. The quality of the slate in the Westminster quarry was poor, and the men found it difficult to make a living. At the start of the 20th century they began to leave, and by 1930 the quarry was in crisis. However, a Manchester gentleman took it over and the quarry expanded again, employing up to thirty men. The quarry was worked in a different way and produced, so it was said, the best slates in the country. Two years later the owner was taken ill and died, causing the quarry to close.
Llangollen Museum is situated on Parade St, which leads off Castle St, the main street through the town centre. There is parking close by. Disabled visitors to the museum are welcome to park in the museum car park from which there is single level access to the ground floor of the museum. There is at this time unfortunately no disabled access to the gallery area, although images of most things on display in the gallery can be viewed on the computers on the ground floor. There are no public toilet facilities available in the museum, although the public toilets are only 200 metres away. Assistance dogs are welcome.
The Llangollen Motor Museum is not just two rows of old cars quietly rusting away. Most of the vehicles are on the road. The collection includes a model "T" Ford, a Vauxhall 14/40, several Austins and Citroens. Among the motor bikes are most of the names that bring back memories of "British Bikes". The Norton, the Triumph, the Ariel, the Sunbeam and the B.S.A. An experience not to be missed. The oldest Motor drawn Caravan in Britain, and Our 1950`s Garage Scene are also on display. Pedal cars Include Austin J40 And Pathfinder. Llangollen Motor Museum has: More than 60 vehicles from cars to invalid carriages and pedal cars. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Llangollen Museum, Parade Street, Llangollen, Clwyd, LL20 8PW
Location : Llangollen Motor Museum, Pentre Felin, Llangollen LL20 8EE
Transport Llangollen: Llangollen (Heritage Rail) from Corwen then 10 minutes. Bus Routes : 5, 55, 91, 94 and 98 stop outside
Transport Motor Museum: Llangollen (Heritage Rail) from Corwen then 98 bus. Bus Routes : 98 stops nearby
Opening Times Llangollen: Daily except Wednesday 10:00 to 16:00
Opening Times Motor Museum: Friday to Monday 09:30 to 17:00
Tickets Motor Museum: Adults £5.00; Seniors £4.00; Children Free
Tickets Llangollen: Free
Tel Motor Museum: 01978 860 324
Tel. Llangollen Museum : 01978 862862