Flintshire - Encyclopedia

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FLINT, or FLINTSHIRE (sir Gallestr), a county of North Wales, the smallest in the country, bounded N. by the Irish Sea and the Dee estuary, N.E. by the Dee, E. by Cheshire, and S.W. by Denbighshire. Area, 257 sq. m. Included in Flint is the detached hundred of Maelor, lying 8 m. S.E. of the main part of the county, X. 17 a and shut in by Cheshire on the N. and N.E., by Shropshire on the S., and by Denbighshire on the W. and N.W. The Clwyd valley is common to Flint and Denbigh. Those of the Alyn and Wepre (from Ewloe Castle to the Dee) are fine. The Dee, entering the county near Overton, divides Maelor from Denbigh on the W., passes Chester and bounds most of the county on the N. The Clwyd enters Flint near Bodfary, and joining the Elwy near Rhuddlan, reaches the Irish Sea near Rhyl. The Alyn enters the county under Moel Fammau, passes Cilcen and Mold (y Wyddgrug), runs underground near Hesb-Alyn (Alyn's drying-up), bends south to Caergwrle, re-enters Denbighshire and joins the Dee. Llyn Helyg (willow-pool), near Whitford, is the chief lake.

Both for their influence upon the physical features and for their economic value the carboniferous rocks of Flintshire are the most important. From Prestatyn on the coast a band of carboniferous limestone passes close by Holywell and through Caerwen; it forms the Halkin Mountain east of Halkin, whence it continues past Mold' to beyond the county boundary. The upper portion of this series is cherty in the north - the chert is quarried for use in the potteries of Staffordshire - but traced southward it passes into sandstones and grits; above these beds come the Holywell shales, possibly the equivalent of the Pendleside series of Lancashire and Derbyshire, while upon them lies the Gwespyr sandstone, which has been thought to correspond to the Gannister coal measures of Lancashire, but may be a representative of the Millstone Grit. Farther to the east, the coal measures, with valuable coals, some oil shale, and with fireclays and marls which are used for brick and tile-making, extend from Talacre through Flint, Northop, Hawarden and Broughton to Hope. The carboniferous rocks appear again through the intervention of a fault, in the neighbourhood of St Asaph. Silurian strata, mostly of Wenlock age, lie below the carboniferous limestone on the western border of the county. Triassic red beds of the Bunter fill the Clwyd valley and appear again on the coal measures S.E. of Chester. Lead and zinc ores have been worked in the lower carboniferous rocks in the north of the county, and caves in the same formation, at Caer Gwyn and Ffynnon Beuno, have yielded the remains of Pleistocene mammals along with palaeolithic implements. Much glacial drift obscures the older rocks on the east and north and in the vale of Clwyd. Short stretches of blown sand occur on the coast near Rhyl and Talacre.

The London & North-Western railway follows the coast-line. Other railways which cross the county are the Great Western, and the Wrexham, Mold & Connah's Quay, acquired by the Great Central company. For pasture the vale of Clwyd is well known. Oats, turnips and swedes are the chief crops. Stock and dairy farming prospers, native cattle being crossed with Herefords and Downs, native sheep with Leicesters and Southdowns, while in the thick mining population a ready market is found for meat, cheese, butter, &c. The population (81,700 in 1901) nearly doubled in the 19th century, and Flintshire to-day is one of the most densely populated counties in North Wales. The area of the ancient county is 164,744 acres, and that of the administrative county 163,025 acres. The collieries begin at Llanasa, run through Whitford, Holywell, Flint, Halkin (Halcyn), Northop, Buckley, Mold and Hawarden (Penarlag). At Halkin, Mold, Holywell, Prestatyn and Talacre lead is raised, and is sometimes sent to Bagillt, Flint or Chester to be smelted. Zinc, formerly only worked at Dyserth, has increased in output, and copper mines also exist, as at Talargoch, together with smelting works, oil, vitriol, potash and alkali manufactories. Potteries around Buckley send their produce chiefly to Connah's Quay, whence a railway crosses the Dee to the Birkenhead (Cheshire) district. Iron seams are now thin, but limestone quarries yield building stone, lime for burning and small stone for chemical works. Fisheries are unproductive and textile manufactures small.

The county returns one member to parliament. The parliamentary borough district (returning one member), consists of Caergwrle, Caerwys, Flint, Holywell, Mold, Overton, St Asaph and Rhuddlan. In addition, there is a small part of the Chester parliamentary borough. There is one municipal borough, Flint (pop. 4625). The other urban districts are: Buckley (5780), Connah's Quay (3369), Holywell (2652), Mold (4263), Prestatyn (1261) and Rhyl (8473). Flint is in the North Wales and Chester circuit, assizes being held at Mold. The Flint borough has a separate commission of the peace, but no separate court of quarter sessions. The ancient county, which is in the dioceses of Chester, Lichfield and St Asaph, contains forty-six entire ecclesiastical parishes and districts, with parts of eleven others.

Among sites of antiquarian or historical interest, besides the fragmentary ruin of Flint Castle, the following may be mentioned: - Caerwys, near Flint, still shows traces of Roman occupation. Bodfary (Bodfari) was traditionally occupied by the Romans. Moel y gaer (bald hill of the fortress), near Northop, is a remarkably perfect old British post. Maes y Garmon (perhaps for Meusydd Garrison, as y, the article, has no significance before a proper name, and so to be translated, battlefields of Germanus). A mile from Mold is the reputed scene of une victoire sans larmes, gagnee non par les armes, mais par la foi (E. H. Vollet). The Britons, says the legend, were threatened by the Picts and Saxons, at whose approach the Alleluia of that Easter (A.D. 430) was sung. Panic duly seized the invaders, but the victor, St Germanus, confessor and bishop of Auxerre (A.D. 380-448), had to return to the charge in 446. He has, under the name Garmon, a great titular share in British topography. At Bangor Iscoed, "the great high choir in Maelor," was the monastery, destroyed with over 2000 monks, by iEthelfred of Northumberland in 607, as (by a curious coincidence) its namesake Bangor in Ireland was sacked by the Danes in the 9th century. Bede says (ii. 2) that Bangor monastery was in seven sections, with three hundred (working) monks. The supposed lines of direction of Watt's and Offa's dykes were: Basingwerk, Halkin, Hope, Alyn valley, Oswestry (Croes Oswallt, " Oswald's cross"), for Watt's, and Prestatyn, Mold, Minera, across the Severn (Hafren, or Sabrina) for Offa's. Owain Gwynedd (Gwynedd or Venedocia, is North Wales) defeated Henry II. at Coed Ewloe (where is a tower) and at Coleshill (Cynsyllt). Near Pant Asa (pant is a bottom) is the medieval Maen Achwynfan (achwyn, to complain, maen, stone), and tumuli, menhirs (mein hirion) and inscribed stones are frequent throughout the county. There is a 14th-century cross in Newmarket churchyard. Caergwrle Castle seems early Roman, or even British; but most of the castles in the county date from the early Edwards.

See H. Taylor, Flint (London, 1883).

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