28/07/2021 The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales Inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List
28/07/2021 The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales Inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List

Wales’ slate landscape inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Wales’ slate landscape inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site

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  • UNESCO has inscribed Wales’ slate landscape as the UK’s latest World Heritage Site
  • The decision was made today (28 July 2021) by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Fuzhou (China)
  • The status recognises the regions 1,800-year history of slate mining, its people and culture, and its role in ‘roofing the nineteenth-century world’

Wales’ slate landscape has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Slate Mining Landscape of Northwest Wales has become the UK’s 33rd UNESCO World Heritage Site and the fourth in Wales, following the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.

The landscape – located in the mountains of Snowdonia – became the world leader for the production and export of slate during the 18th century. While slate had been quarried in North Wales for over 1,800 years, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that demand for slate surged as cities across the UK expanded to roof workers’ homes and factories.

By the 1890s, the landscape employed approximately 17,000 and produced 485,000 tonnes of slate a year. As well as the international demand for Welsh slate, the area was also home to significant innovative developments in quarrying and stone processing and railway technology for mountainous environments. Today’s landscape has been transformed on a monumental scale due to hundreds of years of mining in the area.

The industry had a considerable impact on global architecture and urbanisation in Europe and North America, with Welsh slate used on several buildings, terraces and palaces across the globe. This included Westminster Hall, the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Australia and Copenhagen City Hall, Denmark.

The inscription also celebrates the unique cultural traditions of the area, including Welsh quarrymen, their slate-working skills, alongside the precise use of the Welsh language in their craftsmanship. The inscription reflects this by including workers settlements with their characteristic chapels and churches, band-rooms, schools, libraries and meeting places that introduced and reflected new forms of social organisation.


Discover the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales

  • Penrhyn Slate Quarry and Bethesda and the Ogwen Valley to Port Penrhyn
  • Dinorwig Slate Quarry Mountain Landscape
  • Nantlle Valley Slate Quarry Landscape
  • Gorseddau and Prince of Wales Slate Quarries, Railways and Mill
  • Ffestiniog: its Slate Mines and Quarries, ‘city of slates’ and Railway to Porthmadog.
  • Bryneglwys Slate Quarry, Avergynolwyn Village and the Talyllyn Railway
Discover the region here

While inscription recognises the area’s unique historical role, the landscape also supports the unique cultural identity of local communities. At least 70% of the population speak Welsh and continue to participate in thriving Welsh language literature, arts and crafts, and musical scene.

While this inscription will protect, conserve, and enhance the landscape for future generations, it will also help strengthen the Welsh language and help the landscape become a significant driver for economic regeneration and social inclusion.

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Press Contact:

Matthew Rabagliati, UNESCO UK

E: [email protected]
T: +447376429772