Dolgellau is a small market town of some 2,500 people in the modern county of Gwynedd in Wales. Believed to have originally been a Roman military outpost, it was previously the county town of the historic county of Merionethshire, and was the location for Owain Glyndwr's last Welsh Parliament in 1404. It is situated in a valley between the rivers Mawddach and Wnion at the foot of the Cader Idris mountain range, some six miles from the summit of Cader Idris itself. Dolgellau or Dolgelly or Dolgethley as the English sometimes spelt the name is Welsh for the "the valley of the Hazel Groves".
It was one of the focal points for the Welsh Quakers during the seventeenth century, most of whom emigrated to the new world. Rowland Ellis was one of those that moved to Philadelphia in 1687. He came from the farmstead of Brynmawr to the north of Dolgellau, and so gave his new home the same name, which was later adopted by the famous university built on the site. Although the last local Quaker died in the 1850s their contribution is recalled at a Quaker exhibition located at Ty Meirion, Eldon Square in the town.
Dolgellau hosts an annual folk and rock festival every July called "Sesiwn Fawr" (the Big Session) and the Dolgellau International Music Festival every August. Nearby are the ruins of Cymer Abbey, a Cistercian foundation established under the patronage of Maredudd ap Cynan at the end of the twelfth century.
The Mawddach Valley is the centre of the Dolgellau Gold-belt which was the scene of a brief Welsh gold rush during the nineteenth century, and continues to be the focus of attempts to establish a viable Welsh Gold industry. Gwynfynydd Mine some six miles to the north of the town was being worked until very recently.
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