|Moel Fammau is the highest peak in the Clwydian Range.
On its summit now, are the remains of the Jubilee Tower, built at a cost of £6,000
to celebrate the Jubilee (50th year of his reign) of George III in 1810,
and once a prominent landmark.
The tower was 150' high and 60' in diameter, constructed in Egyptian style.
Construction was still being finished in 1816, but was never quite completed;
the tower fell down in 1862.
There were unsuccessful rebuilding attempts in 1863 & 1887,
and some restoration work on the remains in 1970.
The summit offers wonderful views extending as far as
Snowdonia, Cumberland and the Midlands.
Conifers now cover much of the slopes, forming part of the Clwydian Forest.
The mountain became a Country Park in 1974
|Jubilee Tower by Arthur Clarke. Crumpled Crown of the Clwydian Range.
Whenever one looks eastwards from the summit of any of the major peaks of Snowdonia
the eye inevitably rests on the Clwydian Range which bounds the view. Beyond, lies the land of the Saxon.
Conversely from the Cheshire side no trace of the giants of Snowdonia is seen for yet again the Clwydians block the view.
They form - the undulating skyline which alerts the traveler that he is approaching Wales.
This lengthy chain which stretches from Prestatyn to Llandegla has several fine tops.
The perky Moel Arthur, and the prominent Foel Fenlli, each with its circlet of earthworks, (for the ancients were busy around here), are noble peaks,
but it is to Moel Fammau (Mothers' Mountain) lying between them that the eye is first drawn.
W. H. Auden was aware of this when he wrote:
"As children in Chester look to Moel Fammau to decide
On picnics, by the clearness or withdrawal of her treeless crown".
She is, beyond all question, the Queen, and queen like she wears her crown — the most massive man made cairn on any British peak, unchallenged for over 150 years.
Few of the many who daily see it as they motor down the Vale of Clwyd, or along the A483 which links Chester with Swansea, realize that they are viewing the crumbling ruins
of a once fantastic structure, roughly pyramidal in shape, some 115 feet high, erected to commemorate the Jubilee of George III.
The story of its erection and subsequent collapse is an entertaining one.
On October 25th, 1810 before an assemblage of from 3,000 to 5,000 people, Lord Kenyon laid the foundation stone of the edifice,
subscribed for by the inhabitants of Denbighshire and Flintshire, which was to take several years in the building.
A contemporary account has it that "the committees and gentlemen of the two counties met about noon at the Bwlch Penbarras, between Ruthin and Mold, where a
detachment of the Flintshire and Denbighshire Loyal Militias, under the respected colonels, headed a procession of the principal gentlemen of the counties to the top of the
mountain, a distance of nearly two miles, most of them on horseback."
It must have been an impressive sight, for the well used track from the Bwlch is plainly visible from the Clwyd Valley for almost its entire length
much of which is on the actual crest of the ridge. That they could be so seen is evident for the story continues
"the sun shone upon the undertaking, and the thousands who attended seemed all animated with sympathetic joy on the occasion".
Joy was indeed the order of the day.
Speeches and poems abounded: and before the throng descended to their respective local celebrations with the attendant ox-roasting, the proceedings were concluded with
"God save the King" with which three additional stanzas, composed for the day, were sung with gusto. The last of these added verses is worth repeating:
"And as this joyous day
The grateful Pile we lay
To Britain's King;
By love, by freedom led,
Well rear its towering head,
Firm as its rocky bed,
To George our King".
The author's heart was obviously in the right place, - but the monstrosity to which he refers was, most fortunately, not so firm, as its rocky bed,
for in 1862 the tower collapsed in a, storm: and we can be grateful indeed that it is but a pile of rubble.
The Carnarvon Herald of November 1st, 1862 records: "On Tuesday last, about half past one o'clock an the afternoon, about two thirds of the obelisk on Moel Fammau or 40
yards of the upper Portion, fell to the ground, probably from the effects of the severe storm of wind and rain which has visited us lately.
The Vale of Clwyd Harriers in full cry, followed by a numerous field had just passed"
It-seems that anything to do .with the Jubilee Tower involved crowds, and even today the remnants .of the once dominating landmark are visited by thousands,
for at 1.800 feet the view from this highest summit of the Clwydians is most extensive.
It looks down on the Dee and Mersey estuaries, across Liverpool land, up the coast of Lancashire to Blackpool's yet more famous tower.
The Vale of Clwyd lies serenely beautiful to the west.
There can be no denying that the view from Moel Fammau is as good as ever whilst, thank Heaven, the view of this noble mountain is no longer despoiled by man's
handiwork, for the rubble of the collapsed tower has become, through a century of weathering and the press of countless feet,
a solid cairn which distinguishes, but no longer disfigures the peak.
Many of those who climb this lovely hill enjoy a lofty picnic here, and it is a great pity that some are careless or wanton,
for twice within the last few years I have been one of a party which has spent half an hour or so collecting and burying the broken glass littering summit.
The Forestry Commission is active in the area, but access is unaffected and it might well be argued that woodlands have introduced a little variety to these heather clad hills.
Offa's Way, that challenging distance footpath which follows the dyke from Prestatyn to Chepstow here forsakes the line laid down the Mercian king many centuries ago;
instead it wisely lead's over these fascinating hills a section of the route sufficient in itself to justify the years of work, survey, land, legal, that have gone into its creation.
|Moel Fammau was it a volcano
The Denbighshire Free Press (14.3.79) reported a story that following an extraordinarily heavy snowfall in February 1773, Moel Fammau erupted one night at 11 p.m.!
The mountain had been heard to utter, as it were, deep groans. The adjacent hills trembled from their roots.
The noise at 11 p.m. was like the sound of distant thunder, from the rolling of huge stones down a craggy precipice.
At midnight there was a loud clap and a jet spurted out from the vertex of the hill;
in the same instant vast bodies of combustible matter - liquid fire, rolled among the heaps of ruins. Was it true, or a joke?
A similar report is in 'A Book of Natural Wonders' by Ellison Hawkes.
It records the volcanic eruptions near Mold on 31 January and 1 February 1773, when vast quantities of burning matter were thrown up,
and the summit of the mountain fell into a vast opening
400 or 500 million years ago, the region was covered by a shallow sea,
and the prehistoric shale’s from that sea now form the
interior of the chain which was once higher than the Rockies.
It has worn down along the length of the Vale of Clwyd fault,
and the summit is now 1,820' high.
Ice age glaciers cut out the cwms and valleys through which the present roads pass.
It has been reported that between 1700 and 700 BC,
the mountain slopes were used as sacred burial grounds
by people of the Middle and Late Bronze Age - Beaker Folk.
Although many burial cairns were identified, most are now lost.