Puffin Island lies just off the eastern coast of Anglesey, separated from Penmon Point by the fierce tidal race of Puffin Sound. The island itself is orientated south-west/north-east and rises dramatically from the sea with steep cliffs on all sides. Puffin Island is also Special Protection Area (SPA) as it provides an important sanctuary for several species of sea birds such as the Great Cormorant, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag and Kittiwake.
History & Monuments
The island is most famous for its medieval Augustinian monastery with its impressive 12th century tower and other associated monastic structures. Known by some in the past as ‘Priestholm’, the monastery on Puffin Island was associated with its mainland counterpart Penmon Priory during the medieval period which can still be visited today.
These structures along with the earthwork remains of a possible earlier ecclesiastical enclosure were first surveyed in the early decades of the twentieth century. The remains were surveyed in detail and described by the Royal Commission in 1937, building on earlier antiquarian surveys and excavations. On the north-east point of the island are also the structural remains of a 19th century Telegraph station.
Why are we working here?
Since the early 20th century surveys there has been limited research into the island’s archaeological remains. This is largely due to the continuing spread of dense vegetation that has spread across the island over recent decades. To address gaps in the understanding of the island’s heritage CHERISH commissioned a LiDAR survey for the whole island in 2017. This data has allowed for the island’s threatened and hidden archaeology to be assessed and mapped, providing full archaeological records for deposition with the National Monuments Record. LiDAR data has also combined with Bathymetric data to create a seamless on-shore/off-shore 3D data set showing how the island relates to its surround submerged landscape. Detailed 3D surveys of the deteriorating 12th century tower and monastic buildings were also carried out by the project by using UAVs and terrestrial laser scanning.