Fort Belan

'1865' cannon. Looking over the Menai Strait to Traeth Abermenai on Anglesey


13 November 2011

Dinlle peninsula

SH 44093 60989; 53.12320°N, 4.33135°W


The southwestern end of the Menai Strait, which separates the Isle of Anglesey from mainland Wales, narrows to a small channel between the end of the Dinlle peninsula and Abermenai Point on Anglesey. With the strait affording access to the North Wales coast and to the port of Liverpool beyond, the strategic importance of the location prompted Thomas Wynn — then Lord Lieutenant of Caernarvonshire and later to become the first Baron of Newborough — to build a fort at the tip of the Dinlle peninsula in 1775.

Originally known as Fort David, Fort Belan, which is now a Grade I listed building, served as a coastal defence battery and garrison for Wynn’s Caernarvonshire Militia. He built the fort because of concerns over coastal security arising from the ongoing American War of Independence, and it is in fact the only fortification expressly built for that purpose on this side of the Atlantic. It also served as a deterrent against American privateers active in the Irish Sea in the 1780s. Its strategic importance again came to the fore during the Napoleonic Wars amidst fears of a French invasion via Ireland. The last military use of the fort was during World War II when it was used as a base for the Home Guard. Throughout its history as a defensive position, however, it never actually saw any active military engagement.

During the 1820s Belan became the Wynn family’s private fort and the buildings were extended and the adjacent dockyard was constructed during this period. The watch tower was built in the 1890s.

The Wynn family sold the fort in 1992 and it became a base for marine biology exploration. The new owners later developed the fort as a holiday accommodation complex offering six self-catering cottages. A short causeway leads up to the fort, which is cut off by the tide twice a day.

Fort Belan (;
Fort Belan (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales);
Fort Belan (Wikipedia)

Fort Belan. The watch tower was added in the 1890s.

'1865' cannon

'1865' cannon

A glimpse through the entranceway

'1845' cannon

'1845' cannon

'1845' cannon

Fort Belan

Cannon on the gun platform

Fort Belan

6 thoughts on “Fort Belan

  1. I have often wondered what this site was like. I have seen it from afar many times, but always assumed there was no public access. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity!


  2. I was going to say the same as Mark; I’d eyeballed it on the OS. It looks an interesting place and your write up is most informative. Do you think those cannons are genuine? I’ve read that wrought iron and cast iron made back in the C19 just doesn’t rust at the same rapid rate as today’s materials. Photos 9 and 10 from the top are my favourites today!


    • I can only assume the cannon are genuine.

      There is a mention of cannon being restored at Belan in this BBC article

      It’s great working with the Friends of Fort Belan who help us do all the things which would be difficult to get round to doing, like restoring several of the old cannons on their wooden carriages


  3. Pingback: Abermenai Point « GeoTopoi

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