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Monday, 18 May 2015

Welsh Slate: Archaeology and History of an Industry

A book which tells the story of an industry that changed the landscape and communities of Wales will be launched this week in a castle which was at the centre of one of the longest industrial disputes ever seen in British history.

Welsh Slate: Archaeology and History of an Industry is published by the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and is the result of a collaboration with Dr David Gwyn, an industrial archaeologist who lives in Pen y Groes in the Nantlle Valley. The book brings together Dr Gwyn’s life-long fascination with the industry and the Royal Commission’s recording expertise and extensive visual archive.

Dr David Gwyn is in no doubt about the importance of the industry.

“The slate industry left its mark on not only the country’s landscape but also had a profound social and cultural impact on the region, on Wales and on the wider world.”

Professor R. Merfyn Jones, who has written the book’s Foreword, agrees:

“The Industrial Revolution may have been founded on textiles and powered by steam; but it was roofed with slates skilfully wrenched from the Snowdonia hills.”

The Ffestiniog quarries and slate-quarrymen’s city of Blaenau Ffestiniog (AP_2011_3093, NPRN 305760)

World Heritage Status

Slates from quarries the length and breadth of Gwynedd once roofed large parts of the world, and its global significance has been recognised with the inclusion of the Slate Industry of North Wales on the UK’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites to be submitted to UNESCO.

This book makes an important contribution towards developing the Gwynedd Council led nomination.

Councillor Mandy Williams- Davies, Chair of the bid’s Steering Group, believes that the book is undoubtedly a key step in gaining UNESCO World Heritage Status for the slate industry but also believes that it will have an impact locally:

“The book will help the people of Gwynedd take pride in yet another part of the county’s rich heritage, ensuring that the industry continues to bring benefits of all kinds to people still living in the slate communities and beyond.”


Welsh Slate is encyclopaedic in its range, immensely detailed in its research but is also accessibly written and illustrated by outstanding drawings and photography.

The book will be officially launched in the Great Hall of Penrhyn Castle near Bangor. The neo–Norman castle was built in the nineteenth century and is now owned by the National Trust.

In 1900, conflict between Lord Penrhyn and the Bethesda quarrymen led to a bitter three year strike and the launch of this book is seen as an important step in reconciling the heritage of the castle and the surrounding communities.

The book is available in both English and Welsh versions:

Welsh Slate: Archaeology and History of an Industry (ISBN: 978-1871184-51-8)

Llechi Cymru: Archaeoleg a Hanes (ISBN: 978-1871184-52-5).

These are large format books of 291 pages with 243 high-quality illustrations and cost £45.

The launch will take place in the Great Hall of Penrhyn Castle, Llandygai, Bangor 17:30 – 19:30 Thursday 21 May 2015.

For further details, please contact the Royal Commission on 01970 621200,

For further information and images, please contact:

Nicola Roberts, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales Tel:- 01970 621248

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is the investigation body and national archive for the historic environment of Wales. It has the lead role in ensuring that Wales’s archaeological, built and maritime heritage is authoritatively recorded, and seeks to promote the understanding and appreciation of this heritage nationally and internationally.


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