After visiting Bodior house, a smaller group of Anglesey Antiquarian Society members walked across a couple of fields in the rain to the shore of Holy Island. Our goal was to see the Bodior Tide Mill.
The most familiar type of mill on Anglesey is the windmill. Thirty two of these dot the island, and at most places with distant views you can see one of these towers on the horizon. Descriptions and pictures of all of these are on the Anglesey History web site.
Tidal mills are less noticeable, rarer and older. Rather than capturing the wind to turn the machinery, these capture the tides. A dam is built across an inlet, at just the right height so that at high tide water will spill over part of the dam to fill the basin behind it. As the tide goes out water will begin flowing out of the basin again, turning a wheel that is built over the outlet.This wheel will then turn a millstone for grinding corn.
Some tidal mills on Anglesey, such as ones at Tre’r Gof near Trearddur Bay, and one near Church Island in Menai Bridge (the current site of the rugby pitch), first appear in the records in the early to mid 16th century (compared to 18th century for the earliest existing wind mills). This mill at Bodior is first mentioned in records somewhat later, in the 17th century, but could be older.
As you can see from the photos, the dam and sluice-way of this tidal mill are still extant, although the wheel is long gone. The remains of the walls of the mill building can still be seen as well. This would have held the millstones and other equipment for grinding the corn.
The placement of a successful mill is important, whether driven by wind, stream or tide. The mill must be able to harness the best of the driving force, so a windmill must be in an exposed position, often on a high point in the topography, and a tidal mill must be someplace with a good tidal range and substantial area for the reservoir. But, it must also be accessible for the farmers to bring in their corn, and take away the resulting flour. Bodior mill is in a remote spot with no apparent track leading to it. The group visiting the mill puzzled about this, and there was speculation that perhaps the corn was brought in by boat. Before the 19th century roads were often in poor condition, and in a place like Anglesey, with an extensive coastline, boat travel was much more common.
Aerial photographs, a location map and a brief description of Bodior mill can be found on the Coflein website, run by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.
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[…] After the debriefing sessions some of us went on to explore a nearby tidal mill, the subject of my next blog. […]