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Prestatyn Town

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Map ReferenceSJ08SE
Grid ReferenceSJ0692082790
Unitary (Local) AuthorityDenbighshire
Old CountyFlintshire
Type Of SiteTOWN

According to Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, ‘there is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area (around Prestatyn) during the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Roman and early medieval periods.’ Prestatyn was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1087, but the exact location of the early and medieval settlements that preceded modern day Prestatyn remains uncertain. The most likely location for the original settlement is probably near the castle (NPRN 92922) although no archaeological remains have been reliably identified yet. Although some ascribe the construction of Prestatyn Castle to Llywelyn ap Seisyllt in the early 11th century, ‘the first documentary reference to it appears to be in an 1162 Pipe Roll.’ 

Another possible theory as to the original location of Prestatyn has been proposed by antiquarians, who suggest that ‘the old town and a church stood below the castle and have since been lost to the sea, a theory apparently supported by 19th century descriptions of masonry remains on the north side of the castle, beyond the railway line.’ 

Yet another suggestion as to the original position of Prestatyn is that ‘the medieval settlement lay on the line of the modern High Street. The two earliest houses known in Prestatyn – Plas and Penisardre (NPRN 36102) – were situated here, although both have since been demolished. The two houses weren’t built until the sixteenth century, but ‘the possibility of settlement here prior to these cannot be discounted. Alternatively, settlement may previously have been concentrated in the area of the castle, Nant Hall (NPRN 36042) and Nant Mill (NPRN 24915). When Plas and Penisardre were built they may have acted as a focus for settlement, and the centre of population may then have shifted, with cottages gradually filling the space between these two houses. A map of 1828 shows buildings lining the High Street on both sides.’   

Wherever the exact location and although very little is currently known about Prestatyn medieval settlement, evidently it was small and short lived. ‘There are records of the town being enlarged in the 1160s by Roger de Banastre, but it appears to have been destroyed by Owain Gwynedd in 1167 and there are no further references to it for the remainder of the medieval period.’  

‘Prestatyn’ re-emerges on Speed’s map of 1610 but the settlement consisted of no more than a few cottages ‘straggling up the high street.’ The area around theses cottages was ‘highly cultivated and richly productive of all types of grain, but particularly wheat.’  Little had changed by the time the of the Tithe Survey in 1839. It too ‘shows just one long street lined with cottages, and a crossroads at the south end of it.’ The rich nature of the arable surrounding the village is suggested by large fields that had been divided into strips. These fields, Maes y Groes, Maes y Pycas and Maes y Pittia, have all since been built over. 

It was only in the late 1800s that Prestatyn began to grow into a more substantial settlement, when H. D Pochin of Bodnant initiated development and reclamation of the foreshore near Prestatyn. ‘Old photographs of 1895 and 1900 show small, stone-built, single-storey cottages with thatched roofs at the top of and along Prestatyn’s High Street, which have long since been replaced.’ Now, modern housing on Prestatyn’s outskirts ‘extend out onto the former marshes of the coastal plain, as well as climbing high up the steep sloped of the Clwydian hills to the south east.’ 

Source: Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust report, PRN: 105806, accessed from Historic Wales website 

RCAHMW, 26th March 2020 

application/pdfCPAT - Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust Reports
application/pdfAWP - Archaeology Wales Project Archives
application/pdfAWP - Archaeology Wales Project Archives