Great Orme

From Academic Kids

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The Great Orme (a.k.a. Y Gogarth and the Orme) is a prominent limestone headland on the north coast of Wales situated in Llandudno in Conwy county borough.

It is echoed by the Little Orme, a smaller but very similar limestone headland which is the other side of Llandudno Bay. A cable-car and tram network conveys visitors to the summit of the Great Orme. Around the lower slopes of the Orme some landscaped gardens and invalid walks have been constructed. There is also a 'Marine Drive' toll-road around the base. At the summit is a visitor centre, shop, and play area for young children.

The Great Orme Mines were one of the most important copper mines of the Bronze Age. Apparently abandoned around 600BC, the mines were re-opened in 1692 and continued to be worked until the end of the 19th century. It is possible that some of the copper from the mine was exported to Europe, even in the Bronze Age. In the 20th century the mines were once again opened, and they are now a fee-paying attraction open to the public.

The Great Orme is run as a nature reserve, with a number of protective designations (including Special Area of Conservation, Heritage Coast, Country Park, and Site of Special Scientific Interest), being an area two miles long by one mile wide. It is home to a long-established herd of several hundred feral Kashmir goats (a present from Queen Victoria). There are numerous paths for walking on the summit.

Saint Tudno ( built his church there in the 7th century; there are still open-air services held at the church each Sunday in summer. There is an ancient oratory on the head, and several large ancient stones that have become shrouded in folklore.

Missing image
Great Orme panorama from Llandudno promenade

Origin of the word 'Orme'

Both the Great & Little Ormes have been etymologised to the Old Norse word for sea serpent (transliterated to urm (or orm) and pronounced as /ǫrɱ/ in the IPA). (The modern day word, Orme, is pronounced as [ɔːɱ] in English.) Maruading Vikings are thus said to have believed Ormes (and the wider Creuddyn Peninsula) looked like a sea serpent (with the Great Orme being the serpent's head) as their boats came in. But it is very difficult to substantiate this belief; because the Vikings left us no written texts, because it seems unlikely that the Vikings ever colonised the area (there are no other Norse names in Gwynedd), and because etymology is a notoriously imprecise tool. The name is just as likely to be a corruption of the Old English 'wyrm'; also meaning 'serpent', which may equally refer to the folk-memory of a coiling labyrinth of tunnels under the Orme, rather than the view of it from the sea.

External links

nn:Pen y Gogarth


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