Skip to main content


Caernarfonshire. County of north Wales. It was part of the tribal territory of the Celtic Venedotae, later the Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd. ‘Arfon’ is the land over against Môn (Anglesey) and the county's name is derived from the Roman fortress Castrum (or Caer) of Segontium—Caer yn Arfon. With the destruction of Gwynedd by Edward I, Arfon, together with the Llŷn peninsula, Eifionydd to the south, and Arllechwedd, the land west of the Conwy river, were joined together by the statute of Rhuddlan in 1284 as Caernarfonshire, a county of the principality of Wales. At the Act of Union with England in 1536 the county remained, but in 1974 became part of the county of Gwynedd and was divided into three districts, Arfon, Dwyfor (Llŷn), and Aberconwy. In 1996 Môn was detached and Caernarfonshire, Eifionydd, and Aberconwy remain as the new county of Gwynedd.

The county was dominated by the Snowdon massif (Eryri) with the highest peaks in Wales (yr Wyddfa, 3,560 feet), a glaciated terrain of steep mountain slopes, deeply eroded valleys, and lakes. It is one of Wales's national parks. It is predominantly agricultural with sheep-farming as the main enterprise but extensive slate-quarrying and mining in the 18th and 19th cents. have scarred the landscape. There is still some slate production, but tourism, particularly hill-walking and rock-climbing, is a significant element in the economy. Hydroelectric schemes exploit the steep slopes and fast-flowing rivers.

Regarded as the primary mountain fastness of Wales, it has retained Welsh speech. In 1901, 89.6 per cent spoke Welsh with 47.7 being monoglot Welsh. By 1991 the percentage speaking Welsh had fallen to 61.5. In 1991 the total population was 133,338.

Harold Carter

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Caernarfonshire." The Oxford Companion to British History. . 15 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Caernarfonshire." The Oxford Companion to British History. . (February 15, 2019).

"Caernarfonshire." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved February 15, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.