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Llanberis - Overview

Llanberis lies in a long, narrow valley with two large lakes just north-west of Snowdon. The earliest evidence of settlement is Dinas Ty Du hillfort dating from the Iron Age. Some Roman remains have been found and are most likely associated with Segontium, the large fort on the outskirts of modern day Caernarfon. In the sixth century, Saint Peris built a religious retreat at the southern end of Llyn Peris and Saint Padarn established his church on the banks of Llyn Padarn.

Until the early nineteenth century, the area remained sparsely settled and agriculture provided the main income. Small-scale open cast mining of slate along the north-eastern slopes of the valley, which had started in the late eighteenth century, developed dramatically with the opening of the Vivian Quarry in the 1870’s where the production was streamlined by employing blackpowder and further tramways were installed for improved transportation of the slates from the quarries. The largescale industrial mining greatly contributed to the growth of the population from around 700 in the first half of the nineteenth century to over 3000 by the end of it.

Despite the growth of industrial open cast mining in the valley, tourists came to Llanberis in ever rising numbers from the Romantic period onwards. The Royal Victoria Hotel advertised its provision of ponies and guides to the summit of nearby Snowdon and also held the keys for the grounds on which Dolbadarn Castle is situated. Julius Rodenberg, a journalist and travel writer from Germany, was taken in by the beautiful situation of the hotel and the hotel harper playing in the lobby every evening. Feeling particularly inspired one evening, he composed new lyrics on the tune of the Welsh folk-song ‘Ar hyd y nos’. Tourism is now the major industry in Llanberis, a centre for walking, climbing and mountain biking as well as diving in the now flooded slate quarry.

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