R is for Red Wharf Bay

Red Wharf Bay is located on the eastern coast of Anglesey, near the village of Pentraeth. Besides being a large expanse of sand at low tide the bay does have some interesting historical connections.

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The beach was the site of a great battle nearly 900 years ago. In 1170 the great ruler of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, Owain ap Gwynedd died, leave the kingdom to his heir Hywel. However despite being the eldest child and heir, Hywel was a bastard child which rankled with Owain’s second wife Cristin, who encouraged her own children, Dafydd, Cynan and Rhodri to rebel and overthrow Hywel. Outmaneuvered, Hywel fled to Ireland to return only a year later with a large Irish and Norse army to reclaim his rightful throne. They landed in Anglesey but were caught off guard when Dafydd landed his own Welsh army off the coast of Pentraeth. A violent battle then took place on the beach, causing the waters to turn red with blood, giving it the name ‘Red Wharf Bay’ and at the end Hywel and his warriors lay dead. Thus ending the powerful influence of the Irish in North Wales and signalling the start of a closer relation between Wales and the Kingdom of England.

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The beach was also a place where a young engineer named Maurice Wilks, occasionally visited. He owned a farm nearby and would drive his Jeep between the farm and his other home in Warwickshire. Infuriated by the constant need for spare parts, he drew a sketch of his ideal all-terrain vehicle in the sands of Red Wharf Bay, and from there the Land Rover was conceived. Today, Land Rover is one of the biggest car brands in the world, though Wilks’s original design has long been lost among the waters of Red Wharf Bay.

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