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Site Details

NPRN 240466

Map Reference SH45SW

Grid Reference SH4396151883

Unitary (Local) Authority Maritime

Old County Maritime

Community Maritime



Period Medieval

Site Description The Abermenai ferry is mentioned in connection with the life of Gruffudd ap Cynan, king of Gwynedd in the late eleventh and early twelfth century. After the Norman conquest. The commote of Menai was initially granted to Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I, until her death in 1290 and to Isabella, wife of Edward II from 1309 to 1358. The Abermenai ferry is not recorded but, in the township of Rhosfair or Rhosyr, as distinct from the land of the burgesses of the new borough of Newborough, Ieuan ap Adda ap Tegwared, Madog ap William, David ap William and Madog ap Ieuan ‘hold thereof one gafael called Gafael Porthwysion’ (landholding of the ferrymen) for which they pay 12s.8d. Per annum. The location of the gafael Porthwysion may be identified by a document of the early nineteenth century. In 1815 an Act for the Enclosure, the very tip of Abermenai a small area of around fifteen acres, comprising the ‘allotments of the King’s Most Excellent Majesty’ which included the Ferry House which possibly dates to the 15th century. The Abermenai ferry house is marked on charts surveyed by Grenville Collins in the late seventeenth century, by William Morris in the early eighteenth century, by Evans in the late eighteenth century and appears on the Enclosure Award map of 1815. Collins shows a corresponding house at the tip of Morfa Dinlle, where Belan Fort was later built. Lewis Morris indicates two houses on each side of the channel. One of the two on the Anglesey side is described as Ferry house while one of the two on the mainland side is labelled ‘Watch House’. There are three structures on the Enclosure Award map at Abermenai, one of which corresponds to the position in which a ‘white powder magazine’ stands on the OS 1:2500 map of 1889. The ferry cased to operated officially in c.1849 and the ferry house is shown as a ruin on an Admiralty chart of 1872. By the 1940s, the ruin of the ferry house was barely distinguishable. The ‘powder magazine’ which now stands roofless has, however, blocked windows and openings. This structure almost certainly represents a survival of one of the ferry houses. Sources also suggest that that the ferry worked into and out of Caernarfon as well as directly across the mouth of the Menai Straits to the northern tip of Morfa Dinlle.

Sources include:
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, 2006, Crossing the Straits, pg19-21
Records of Caernarfonshire 83
Wynne-Jones, I, 2001, Shipwrecks of North Wales, 4ed, pg85

Maritime Officer, RCAHMW, June 2008