Moel Famau

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Moel Famau
The Jubilee Tower at the summit of Moel Famau.
Elevation 1,821 ft (555 m)
Prominence 912 ft (278 m)
Parent peak Moel y Gamelin
Listing Marilyn, Council top
Translation The bare hill of ?Mama (Welsh)
Pronunciation Welsh: [ˈmɔɨl ˈvama]
Moel Famau is located in Wales
Moel Famau
Moel Famau
Clwydian Range, UK
OS grid SJ162627
Coordinates 53°09′16″N 3°15′21″W / 53.1545°N 3.2559°W / 53.1545; -3.2559Coordinates: 53°09′16″N 3°15′21″W / 53.1545°N 3.2559°W / 53.1545; -3.2559
Topo map OS Landranger 116

Moel Famau (or Moel Fammau; Moel Famma; Moel Fama; or Moel Vamma)[1] is the highest hill within the Clwydian Range, formerly Flintshire Range, on the boundary between Denbighshire and Flintshire in Wales. The hill, which also gives its name to the Moel Famau country park, has been classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1985. It is also surrounded by several well-preserved Iron-Age hill forts.

A northern part of the Offa's Dyke footpath, one of the UK's most popular National Trails, crosses the summit of Moel Famau and the Jubilee Tower.


There has been some confusion over the spelling of the name and both 'Moel Fama' and 'Moel Famau' are in common use. The first word moel is a common Welsh place name element meaning 'a bare hill'.

The local pronunciation is consistently [ˈvama]. The meaning of the 'Fama' is somewhat uncertain, but it is probably a lenited form of a personal name, 'Mama'.[2] Equally it is possible, because famau (always pronounced fama) means "of the mothers", that the name is pre-Christian.

The alternative form 'Moel Famau' is a result of re-interpreting the second element as the lenited form of the common noun mamau, meaning 'mothers'. As a result, 'Moel Famau' is sometimes said to mean 'Mothers' Hill'.[3] 'Moel Famau' is found as early as the eighteenth century, and is still common today. Nevertheless, the standard reference work on Welsh place-names lists 'Moel Fama' as the correct form.[4][dubious ]

Country Park[edit]

The park, which covers an area over 3 square miles (8 km2), is managed by Denbighshire Countryside Service which is responsible for the heather moorland, dry stone walls and access paths, and provides information and facilities for visitors. The area is home to wildlife such as red grouse, European stonechat and Eurasian curlew.

The Forestry Enterprise manage the neighbouring forest as a sustainable conifer plantation for timber production and tourism.


Path from Bwlch Penbarras towards the summit of Moel Famau.

Numerous well-maintained trails of varying difficulty can be used to reach the summit. Two of the most popular, easiest paths start from the southern car parks within Bwlch Penbarras between Moel Famau and Foel Fenlli about 1.25 miles (2.01 km) from the summit. The northern route begins from the Iron-Age hill fort at Moel Arthur. A footpath to the top of Moel Famau also begins from the village of Cilcain.

Much of Wales and North West England can be seen from the summit of Moel Famau. This includes parts of Denbighshire, Flintshire, Cheshire and Merseyside. On clear days, Snowdonia can be seen to the west, the Irish Sea to the north, and to the east Liverpool, Chester, Winter Hill, and the Blackpool Tower.

Jubilee Tower[edit]

The tower, which was built to commemorate the golden jubilee of George III in 1810, was designed by Thomas Harrison of Chester. It was designed like an Egyptian obelisk with three tiers. Although the foundation stone was laid in 1810 by George Kenyon, 2nd Baron Kenyon, the tower was never completed due to a lack of funds. In 1862, a major storm brought down the incomplete tower. The remaining upper part of the structure was demolished for safety reasons leaving just the base. Most of the rubble was removed from the site; smaller stonework was reused by local farmers for dry stone walls.

In October 2010, a celebration was observed by local communities, in both Flintshire and Denbighshire, to mark the 200th anniversary of the laying of the Jubilee Tower's foundation stone. An artistic light and laser installation by a local artist was commissioned by the local authorities to illuminate the tower.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Stephenson, Charles (2008). Moel Famau and the Jubilee Tower of King George III. Stephensons. p. ii. ISBN 9780956059000. 
  2. ^ Owen, Hywel Wyn; Morgan, Richard (2007). Dictionary of the Place-names of Wales. Gomer. p. 324. ISBN 978-1843239017. 
  3. ^ Stephenson, Charles (2008). Moel Famau and the Jubilee Tower of King George III. Stephensons. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-9560590-0-0. 
  4. ^ Davies, Elwyn (1996). A Gazetteer of Welsh place-names = Rhestr o enwau lleoedd. University of Wales Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0708310380.