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The 3 Welsh World Heritage Sites

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Blaenavon Industrial Landscape

This striking and surprisingly beautiful landscape has been shaped by two centuries of coal and iron mining and iron making.  At its heart stands Blaenavon Ironworks, the largest and most technologically advanced ironworks in the world when it was opened in 1787.  It is one of the most important buildings to have survived from the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

A thriving community grew up around the Ironworks.  Homes were built in the shadow of the furnaces for the workers and their families as well as a school for the ironworkers’ children.  Self-help created the Workmen’s Hall where men strived, through education, for a better life.

Since the Ironworks and pits have closed, heather and moorland plants have colonised barren spoil heaps and quarry scars in the surrounding landscape, creating an upland habitat where wildlife thrives amongst the remains of the old tramroads.   Not only is Blaenavon testimony to human endeavor, it is also testimony to the healing power of nature.

Blaenavon World Heritage Site
UNESCO Inscription  2000

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Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd

The four great fortresses Harlech, Beaumaris, Conwy and Caernarfon built by Edward I on the north Wales coast are the finest examples of medieval military architecture of their kind in Europe.  They were the final piece in the King’s strategic plan to conquer Wales.

It is a testament to the strength of the Welsh that Edward felt it necessary to send the biggest military force ever seen in medieval Britain to Wales in 1277.  His target was the ‘rebel and disturber of the King’s peace’, the ambitious Welsh Prince Llwelyn ap Gruffudd.  Forced to retreat to his heartland in north Wales Llwelyn was hemmed in by a chain of new castles built by the King.

Edward’s oppressive rule led to another Welsh uprising in 1282, during which Llwelyn died.  To ‘put an end finally to the malice of the Welsh’ the King constructed more symbols of his power: concentric ring castles at Harlech and Beaumaris, and fortress palaces at Caemarfon and Conwy, where he surrounded both castles and towns with massive protective walls.  Today these castles and town walls collectively form the World Heritage Site.

UNESCO Inscription 1996

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Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal

The World Heritage Site consists of a continuous group of civil-engineering features built between 1795 and 1808.  It is a masterpiece of historic transport development and the greatest work of two outstanding figures in the history of civil engineering: Thomas Telford and William Jessop.

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct crosses the Dee Valley at a height of 126ft/38.4m and is 1007ft 307m long.  Its 18 tapering piers built from Sandstone quarried from the nearby Cefn ridge. The 19 cast iron arches each span 45ft (13.7m) carry a narrow cast iron trough is only 1 inch 25mm thick.

UNESCO Inscription 2009