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Project area 6 is comprises a narrow coastal strip rising steeply into the Rhinog Mountains of the Harlech Dome. The mountains are heavily scarred by the impacts of ice flowing east-west over the range during the last Ice-Age and have some of the best examples of glacial landforms in Britain. The coast is fringed by long stretches of sandy beaches and occasional large sand-dune complexes.


The dunes of Morfa Harlech are suspected to be post-medieval in age. The base of Castell Harlech was believed to be navigable by boat with access to the sea during the reign of Edward I. Any evidence of how the waterways may have looked is now buried under Morfa Harlech, modern development and improved pastureland.

Sarn Padrig (St Patrick’s Causeway) extends some 20km off-shore, and is composed of large, loose stones that have come from the Rhinog Mountains and beyond. The exact mechanism of its construction is still not fully understood, but it is clearly a relic landform from the last glacial period between 15 and 20 thousand years ago. It is littered with dozens of post-medieval shipwrecks that got into trouble around the reef. CHERISH is producing a detailed bathymetric survey in an attempt to visualise its extent and nature and increase awareness of any wreck sites that can be identified.

The reef of Sarn Padrig
The reef of Sarn Padrig

Why are we working here?

The focus of CHERISH’s work in this area is off-shore around Sarn Padrig. It is the largest of the sarns that extend into Cardigan Bay – Sarn-y-Bwch and Sarn Cynfelyn lie to the south of Sarn Badrig. Features such as this are usually subject of myths and legends and Sarn Badrig is no exception. Cantre’r Gwaelod, was a legendary ancient fertile kingdom within Cardigan Bay between the isles of Ramsey and Bardsey. It has been described as a “Welsh Atlantis” and well known from Welsh folklore and literature.

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