Puffin Island

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Puffin island
Welsh: Ynys Seiriol


Puffin Island (Ynys Seiriol), Anglesey.JPG
Puffin Island from Penmon Point
Location: 53°19’7"N, 4°1’46"W
Grid reference: SH649821
Area: 69 acres
Highest point: 190 feet
Population: ininhabited
A map of the island from 1947

Puffin Island is an uninhabited island off the eastern tip of Anglesey and forms the easternmost point of the county. It was formerly known as Priestholm in English and Ynys Lannog in Welsh. The current Welsh name, Ynys Seiriol, means "Seiriol's Island", after St Seiriol who established a monastic settlement here.

At 69 acres, Puffin Island is the ninth largest island off the coast of Wales. It consists of carboniferous limestone, rising to its highest point at 190 feet above sea level, and falling to the sea again in steep cliffs on all sides.

The island is privately owned by the Baron Hill estate and landing is not allowed without the proprietor's permission.


Saint Seiriol established a monastic settlement on the island and on Trwyn Du (Penmon Point) on the mainland opposite the island in the 6th century. Seiriol is said to have been buried on the island.

A monastery existed on the island in the late 12th century and was mentioned by Gerald of Wales who visited the area in 1188. He claimed that whenever there was strife within the community of monks a plague of mice would devour all their food.

King Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd is said to have sheltered here in around 630 when fleeing an invasion from Edwin of the Northumbrians. Llywelyn the Great issued two charters in 1221 and 1237 confirming the canons regular in possession of the island and the church and manor of Penmon on the mainland of Anglesey. The ruins of several ecclesiastical buildings are visible on the island, including the remains of a 12th century church.

Much later a telegraph station was built on the north-eastern tip of the island.[1] It is now disused.


Trwyn Du Lighthouse near the island

The island is a Special Protection Area[2] (SPA), particularly because of its cormorant colony with over 750 pairs, making it one of the largest colonies in the British Isles. It also has good numbers of guillemots, razorbills, shags and kittiwakes nesting, and in recent years small numbers of eider and black guillemot.

The puffins, from which the island gets its modern English name bred in considerable numbers at one time, with up to 2,000 pairs recorded. Rats were introduced accidentally to the island, probably in the late 19th century, and reduced this population to a very few pairs. A programme of poisoning these rats started in 1998 by the Countryside Council for Wales appears to have eradicated them, and the puffin population has shown an increase since that date.

At one time the island was heavily grazed by rabbits, but these were wiped out by an outbreak of myxomatosis, leading to the growth of dense vegetation, particularly common elder.

The strong currents around the island provide for an abundance of marine life, particularly on the north coast where the depths reach 8 fathoms. Many people enjoy fishing trips departing from Beaumaris in these waters, catching mainly mackerel, but many other species are caught. Pleasure cruises are also available from Easter to October to view the island, its seal colony and birdlife.

There is one identified shipwreck, a steamship The Pioneer, which ran ashore in 1878 with a cargo of iron bars when the tow lines to it broke following its rescue from engine failure near The Skerries.[3]


  1. Faster Than The Wind, The Liverpool to Holyhead Telegraph, Frank Large, an avid publication ISBN 0952102099
  2. Site description from the UK SPA network
  3. Holden, Chris (2008). Underwater Guide to North Wales Vol. 2. Calgo Publications. pp. 158–167. ISBN 978-0-9545066-1-2.