The county of Gwynedd is home to many fascinating and beautiful towns but it can be reasonably argued that Dolgellau is the most fascinating and the most beautiful, although it probably won't win any "best name" contests. On the other hand, this part of Wales is filled with odd place names that consider vowels optional in many cases. Either way, though, it can be said that Dolgellau has some of the most interesting history in the surrounding area and its placement along the River Wynion gives it many gorgeous natural features including great sights of such natural treasures as the Cadair Idris and Snowdonia National Park.
Many of the earliest cities that would become part of the U.K. were founded and inhabited during the reign of the Saxons although some older towns were in fact created by Rome during the days of the Roman Empire. Dolgellau, however, predates even Roman occupation when Celtic tribes roamed the lands. The sheer might of Rome in those days would lead Dolgellau to become part of the Empire within fifty years after the death of Christ, though. Unfortunately, the landscape of Dolgellau is very marshy like the rest of Gwynedd so there are few remnants from the Roman times that can give us an idea of how prominent Dolgellau was in those days. All we have to go on is a few Roman coins of varying quality.
When the Romans vacated the premises Dolgellau sort of fell by the wayside and was in a community limbo of sorts for a while, serving mainly as a serf village for those serving Welsh chieftains. It wasn't until the 1100s or so that the town started being built up into a remnant of what is seen today. The fascinating relic known as Cymer Abbey was built during this time but now we can only see a trace of what it might have been. In the 1700s a replacement abbey was erected and though it is beautiful and interesting it doesn't have that age and tarnish that makes the original abbey so enthralling. The town ended up becoming very infamous, though, when George Fox convinced most of the residents to switch to Quakerism. People from all around Wales and beyond would persecute these simple Dolgellau citizens and, in 1686, many of the Quakers from town joined others in moving to Pennsylvania. The rest, as they say, is history.
In the 1700s Dolgellau became incredibly wealthy thanks to the wool trade that was taking the country over by storm. These riches weren't meant to last long, however, and the looming industrial revolution helped to halt Dolgellau's fortunes. By then, however, Dolgellau had already become one of the most significant Gold Rush cities in the world! Naturally treasure of that magnitude would dry up pretty quickly and these days Dolgellau maintains a healthy tourist industry. If the history of the town is any indication, though, we can expect Dolgellau to shift gears yet again and indulge in another wild scheme any day now.
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