BARDSEY ISLAND (WELSH: YNYS ENLLI), known as the legendary “Island of 20,000 Saints”, is located 1.9 miles (3.1 km) off the Llŷn Peninsula in the Welsh county of Gwynedd. The Welsh name means “The Island in the Currents”, while its English name refers to the “Island of the Bards”, or possibly the Viking chieftain, “Barda”. At 179 hectares (440 acres; 0.69 sq mi) in area it is the fourth largest offshore island in Wales, with a population of only 11.
The north east rises steeply from the sea to a height of 548 feet (167 m) at Mynydd Enlli, which is a Marilyn, while the western plain is low and relatively flat cultivated farmland. To the south the island narrows to an isthmus, connecting a peninsula on which the lighthouse stands. Since 1974 it has been included in the community of Aberdaron.
The island is claimed to be the burial site of Merlin. It has been an important religious site since the 6th century, when it is said that the Welsh kings of Llŷn and Saint Cadfan founded a monastery there. In medieval times it was a major centre of pilgrimage and, by 1212, belonged to the Augustinian Canons Regular. The monastery was dissolved and its buildings demolished by Henry VIII in 1537, but the island remains an attraction for pilgrims to this day, marking the end point of the North Wales Pilgrims Way.