Castell Mawr, Red Wharf Bay

button-theme-womenCastell Mawr, Red Wharf Bay

A major feature of the landscape north of the quay at Red Wharf Bay is the Carboniferous limestone outcrop known as Castell Mawr, or Castle Rock. As you look north from the quay area you see the narrow end of the almost rectangular outcrop.

Old postcard showing Castell Mawr

There was never a castle in this area. The outcrop was so imposing that it looked like a castle!

The old postcard shows Castell Mawr with the Min-y-don Hotel near its southern end. Min-y-don means ‘Edge of the Wave’.

The hotel was enlarged and improved in Victorian times by Margaret Roberts, who was born there. She had 20 siblings and was in domestic service before returning to Min-y-don and developing the business. Her entrepreneurial flair helped to draw tourists’ attention to this area, and she was still known as “the Queen of Red Wharf” when she died in 1905, aged 93.

When the freehold was auctioned in 1881, the hotel included 15 bedrooms, dining, drawing and sitting rooms, a bar, housemaids’ closets, gardens, stables and a croquet lawn. It was “frequented by visitors from England, Ireland and the Continent of Europe”.

Engraving of limestone quarry near Red Wharf Bay

Old OS maps name an outbuilding, just north of the hotel, as Hen Gapel (old chapel). Calvinistic  Methodists, including Mrs Roberts, met there before Capel Saron was built in the 1830s.

The northern end of the outcrop was quarried. Some of the limestone was polished to form “black marble” for decorative purposes. The engraving of the quarry, courtesy of the National Library of Wales, was made by William Daniell and published in A Voyage Round Great Britain 1814-1825. The view is eastwards, towards Llanddona. The distant hill is Bwrdd Arthur.

The site is marked as Old Quarry on the 1899 OS map, indicating quarrying had ceased by then.

With thanks to Michael Statham, Prof Hywel Wyn Owen and Dr Hazel Pierce, and to the National Library of Wales

Postcode: LL75 8RJ    View Location Map

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