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Welsh: Meirionnydd
Flag of Merionethshire.svg
Flag of Merionethshire
Ancient extent of Merionethshire
  1831385,291 acres (1,559.22 km2)
  1911/1961422,372 acres (1,709.28 km2)
  183135,315 [1]
  Succeeded by Meirionnydd
Chapman code MER
GovernmentMerionethshire County Council (1889-1974)
   HQ Dolgellau
   Motto Tra môr, tra Meirion
(While the sea lasts, so shall Meirionnydd)
Merioneth arms.png
Coat of arms of Merionethshire County Council

Merionethshire or Merioneth (Welsh : Meirionnydd or Sir Feirionnydd) is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales, a vice county and a former administrative county.

Welsh language Brythonic language spoken natively in Wales

Welsh or y Gymraeg is a member of the Brittonic branch of the Celtic languages. It is spoken natively in Wales, by some in England, and in Y Wladfa. Historically, it has also been known in English as "Cambrian", "Cambric" and "Cymric".


Meirionnydd is a coastal and mountainous region of Wales. It has been a kingdom, a cantref, a district and, as Merionethshire, a county.

Historic counties of Wales Wikimedia list article

The historic counties of Wales are sub-divisions of Wales. They were used for various functions for several hundred years, but have been largely superseded by contemporary sub-national divisions, some of which bear some limited similarity to the historic entities in name and extent. They are alternatively known as ancient counties.



The spelling of the Welsh name in standard modern orthography is Meirionnydd (for the geographical area) or Sir Feirionnydd (for the county), with a double <nn>, but the variant with a single <n> is sometimes found in older works. [2] [3]


Merionethshire is a maritime county, bounded to the north by Caernarfonshire, to the east by Denbighshire, to the south by Montgomeryshire and Cardiganshire, and to the west by Cardigan Bay. With a total area of 1,731 km² (668 sq miles), it is one of the more sparsely populated counties in Great Britain.

Caernarfonshire former administrative county of Wales

Caernarfonshire, historically spelled as Caernarvonshire or Carnarvonshire in English, is one of the thirteen historic counties, a vice-county and a former administrative county of Wales.

Denbighshire (historic) former county in Wales

Historic Denbighshire is one of thirteen traditional counties in Wales, a vice-county and a former administrative county, which covers an area in north east Wales. It is a maritime county, bounded to the north by the Irish Sea, to the east by Flintshire, Cheshire and Shropshire, to the south by Montgomeryshire and Merionethshire, and to the west by Caernarfonshire.

Montgomeryshire historic county of Wales

Montgomeryshire, also known as Maldwyn is one of thirteen historic counties and a former administrative county of Wales. It is named after its county town, Montgomery, which in turn is named after one of William the Conqueror's main counsellors, Roger de Montgomerie, who was the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

The Merioneth area remains one of the strongest Welsh-speaking parts of Wales, although places like Barmouth and Tywyn are very Anglicised. The coastline consists alternately of cliffs and stretches of sand and the area generally is the most mountainous in Wales; a large part of the Snowdonia National Park lies within it. The greatest heights are Aran Fawddwy 905 m (2,970 ft) and Cadair Idris 893 m (2,929 ft). The chief rivers are the Dwyryd, the Mawddach and the Dyfi. Waterfalls such as Pistyll Cain and small lakes are numerous, the largest being Bala Lake (4 miles long and 1-mile (1.6 km) broad).

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Barmouth village and community in Gwynedd, Wales

Barmouth is a town and community in the county of Gwynedd, north-western Wales, lying on the estuary of the River Mawddach and Cardigan Bay. Located in the Historic county of Merionethshire, the Welsh form of the name is derived from "Aber" (estuary) and the river's name, "Mawddach". The English form of the name is a corruption of the earlier Welsh form 'Abermawdd'.

Tywyn town and seaside resort on the Cardigan Bay coast of southern Gwynedd, Wales

Tywyn, formerly spelled to Towyn, is a town, community, and seaside resort on the Cardigan Bay coast of southern Gwynedd, Wales. It was previously in the historic county of Merionethshire. It is famous as the location of the Cadfan Stone, a stone cross with the earliest known example of written Welsh, and the home of the Talyllyn Railway.


The region which became Merionethshire previously constituted the Cantrefs of Meirionydd and Penllyn, and the Commote of Ardudwy. Prior to the 10th century, Ardudwy formed part of the principality of Dunoding, while Meirionydd and Penllyn were part of Powys.

Cantref medieval Welsh land division

A cantref was a medieval Welsh land division, particularly important in the administration of Welsh law.

Penllyn (cantref) medieval cantref of Wales

Penllyn was a medieval cantref originally in the Kingdom of Powys but annexed to the Kingdom of Gwynedd. It consisted of the commotes of Edeyrnion, Dinmael, Penllyn is Treweryn and Penllyn uwch Treweryn.

Commote a secular division of land in Medieval Wales

A commote, was a secular division of land in Medieval Wales. The word derives from the prefix cym- and the noun bod. The English word "commote" is derived from the Middle Welsh cymwt.

Welsh records from the end of this period, and later, treat Dunoding as a vassal of Gwynedd, ruled by an ancient cadet branch of the same family. Nevertheless, according to John Edward Lloyd, Dunoding had been independent of Gwynedd, at the time of Cadfan ap Iago (in the early 7th century), and before.

Gwynedd A county in Wales, adjacent to Powys, Conwy, Anglesey, and Ceredigion

Gwynedd is a county in Wales, sharing borders with Powys, Conwy, Denbighshire, Anglesey over the Menai Strait, and Ceredigion over the River Dyfi. The scenic Llŷn Peninsula and most of Snowdonia National Park are in Gwynedd. Bangor is the home of Bangor University. In the northern part of the county, the other main settlements are Caernarfon, Bethesda, Ffestiniog, Llanddeiniolen, Llanllyfni, Porthmadog and Pwllheli. The largest settlement in the south is Tywyn.

Sir John Edward Lloyd was a Welsh historian, He was the author of the first serious history of the country's formative years, A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest (1911).

Cadfan ap Iago King of Gwynedd

Cadfan ap Iago was King of Gwynedd. Little is known of the history of Gwynedd from this period, and information about Cadfan and his reign is minimal.

The Norman presence in England, after 1066, was the most significant factor which disrupted this pattern.

In 1067, the rulers of Gwynedd and Powys invaded England, in support of Eadric the Wild, a leader of continued Saxon resistance against the Normans. When Northern England revolted against in 1080, the Normans responded by preemptively attacking, and then occupying Wales, to prevent any further Welsh assistance to the English. In 1094, the Welsh decided to revolt, but Hugh of Chester, the nearest Norman magnate, successfully re-captured North Wales by the end of 1098 (with Norwegian assistance).

Gruffudd ap Cynan, the heir to the principality of Gwynedd, came to an accommodation with the Normans, who restored him to power in Gwynedd, excepting the Perfeddwlad. Once Hugh died (in 1101), Gruffudd made further representations to King Henry I, who in response granted Dunodin to Gruffudd, as well. Gruffudd's sons engaged in expansionist attacks on surrounding territory, taking Meirionydd from Powys in 1123, and annexing it to Gwynedd.

Following the death of Madog ap Maredudd, the powerful ruler of Powys, and the death of his immediate heir, Madog's remaining sons divided Powys between them. Penllyn was the portion which went to Owain Brogyntyn. Unfortunately Owain was too weak, compared with his father, to resist Gwynedd's aggressive behaviour, and was forced to become a vassal of Owain Gwynedd, the son of Gruffudd who now ruled Gwynedd; Penllyn, as a result, became a mere Cantref of Gwynedd.

Dunoding is naturally divided in the middle, by Tremadog Bay and the gorges and marshland of the Glaslyn river; Ardudwy is the portion south of that divide. In the early 13th century, Llywelyn Fawr, Owain Gwynedd's grandson, established a distinct territorial unit comprising Ardudwy and Meirionydd (which is immediately south of Ardudwy), and gave it to his own son, Gruffydd, as an appanage. In 1221, however, Gruffydd was stripped of these lands for ruling them too oppressively.

In 1245, Gruffydd's half-brother, Dafydd, launched an attack against his uncle - King Henry III - eventually resulting in the loss of the Perfeddwlad. When Gruffydd's son, Llywelyn, allied with the enemies of Edward I (Henry's son) and tried to recover the Perfeddwlad, Edward launched a huge invasion of Gwynedd, resulting in the death of Llywelyn in 1282.

Two years later, in 1284, King Edward issued the Statute of Rhuddlan, terminating Gwynedd's existence as a state. The former appanage of Ardudwy-Merionydd, together with Penllyn, which had been part of Gwynedd for less than 150 years, were converted into Merionethshire (taking the name from Meirionydd).

Merioneth was an important part of the Welsh slate industry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with major quarrying centres at Blaenau Ffestiniog in the north of the county and Corris in the south.


An administrative county of Merioneth was created under the Local Government Act 1888 on 1 April 1889. The first election to the new authority was held in January 1889. [4] The county was abolished under the Local Government Act 1972 on 1 April 1974. The bulk formed the Meirionnydd district of Gwynedd, with a small area in the north east, Edeirnion Rural District, becoming part of the Glyndŵr district of Clwyd.

As a result of the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, which came into force on 1 April 1996, the Glyndŵr area was made a part of the new Denbighshire principal area, with the rest forming a new Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire principal area. The latter area was, however, renamed Gwynedd almost immediately. [5]

Main towns

The main towns are

The main industries today are agriculture, forestry and tourism.

Places of special interest (with grid reference)

See also

Related Research Articles

Llywelyn the Great Prince of Gwynedd and de facto Prince of Wales

Llywelyn the Great, full name Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, was a King of Gwynedd in north Wales and eventually ruler of all Wales. By a combination of war and diplomacy he dominated Wales for 45 years.

Owain ap Gruffudd was King of Gwynedd, North Wales, from 1137 until his death in 1170, succeeding his father Gruffudd ap Cynan. He was called "Owain the Great" and the first to be styled "Prince of Wales". He is considered to be the most successful of all the North Welsh princes prior to his grandson, Llywelyn the Great. He became known as Owain Gwynedd to distinguish him from the contemporary king of Powys Wenwynwyn, Owain ap Gruffydd ap Maredudd, who became known as Owain Cyfeiliog.

Gruffudd ap Cynan King of Gwynedd

Gruffudd ap Cynan, sometimes written as Gruffydd ap Cynan, was King of Gwynedd from 1081 until his death in 1137. In the course of a long and eventful life, he became a key figure in Welsh resistance to Norman rule, and was remembered as King of all Wales. As a descendant of Rhodri Mawr, Gruffudd ap Cynan was a senior member of the princely House of Aberffraw.

Kingdom of Gwynedd Kingdom in north Wales

The Kingdom of Gwynedd was a Roman Empire successor state that emerged in sub-Roman Britain in the 5th century during the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain.

Kingdom of Powys kingdom in mid Wales

The Kingdom of Powys was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain. It very roughly covered the top two thirds of the modern county of Powys and part of the West Midlands. More precisely, and based on the Romano-British tribal lands of the Ordovices in the west and the Cornovii in the east, its boundaries originally extended from the Cambrian Mountains in the west to include the modern West Midlands region of England in the east. The fertile river valleys of the Severn and Tern are found here, and this region is referred to in later Welsh literature as "the Paradise of Powys".

Principality of Wales principality on the British Isles until the 16th century

The Principality of Wales existed between 1216 and 1536, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales during its height between 1267 and 1277. For most of its history it was "annexed and united" to the English Crown except for its earliest few decades. However, for a few generations, specifically the period from its foundation in 1216 to Edward I's completion of the conquest of Wales in 1284, it was de facto independent under a Welsh Prince of Wales, albeit one who swore fealty to the King of England.

Powys Fadog

Powys Fadog was the northern portion of the former princely realm of Powys, which split in two following the death of Madog ap Maredudd in 1160. The realm was divided under Welsh law, with Madog's nephew Owain Cyfeiliog inheriting the south and his son Gruffydd Maelor I, who inherited the north.

Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr, was the court poet of Madog ap Maredudd, Owain Gwynedd, and Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd, and one of the most prominent Welsh poets of the 12th century.


Perfeddwlad or Y Berfeddwlad was the name during the 12th century for the territories in Wales lying between the River Conwy and the River Dee.

History of Gwynedd during the High Middle Ages

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Edeirnion or Edeyrnion is an area of the county of Denbighshire and an ancient commote of medieval Wales in the cantref of Penllyn. According to tradition, it was named after its eponymous founder Edern or Edeyrn. It was included as a Welsh territory of Shropshire in the Domesday Book.

The House of Aberffraw is a historiographical and genealogical term historians use to illustrate the clear line of succession from Rhodri the Great of Wales through his eldest son Anarawd.

Anwyl of Tywyn family Welsh family of Park, Tywyn

Anwyl of Tywyn are a Welsh family who claim a patrilinear descent from Owain Gwynedd, King of Gwynedd from 1137 to 1170 and a scion of the royal House of Aberffraw. The family motto is: Eryr eryrod Eryri, which translates as "The Eagle of the Eagles of Snowdonia." The family lives in Gwynedd and speak Welsh.

Owain ab Edwin of Tegeingl or Owain Fradwr was lord of the cantref of Tegeingl in north-east Wales at the end of the 11th century. He was the son of Edwin of Tegeingl. He sided with the Normans in their failed invasion of North Wales, and in the 1090s attempted to become ruler of Gwynedd.

Mawddwy human settlement in United Kingdom

Mawddwy is a community in the county of Gwynedd, Wales, and is 88.3 miles (142.2 km) from Cardiff and 172.8 miles (278.0 km) from London. In 2011 the population of Mawddwy was 622 with 59.5% of them able to speak Welsh.


  1. Vision of Britain - 1831 Census
  2. Double 'nn' is found in the title of a number of Welsh-language books, e.g. Crwydro Meirionnydd, a companion to the area by T. I. Ellis (Llandybie, 1954), and the county atlas published by the old county council (Atlas Merionnydd, Y Bala, 1972).
  3. For the single 'n' variant see, for example, Melville Richards, Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units. University of Wales Press, Cardiff 1969.
  4. "Merioneth County Council Elections". Cambrian News. 25 January 1889. p. 8. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  5. "The County of Gwynedd (Electoral Changes) Order 2002, Welsh Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 3274 (W.312)". Office of Public Sector Information. 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-27.

Further reading

Coordinates: 52°50′N3°50′W / 52.833°N 3.833°W / 52.833; -3.833