Where are they found?
Within Dyffryn Ogwen these fireplaces are to be found in terraced cottages and in scattered tyddynnod and small farmhouses. Fireplaces are often the first items to be refurbished when a house is ‘improved’ and this occurred during the last century as now, New houses incorporated original new slate fire surrounds carved by their owners. Older houses enjoying the new wealth ‘improved’ their hearths with similar carvings.
The red dots on the map below show where carved slates have been found in Dyffryn Ogwen. (Click on the map to enlarge it).
The evidence so far suggests that the idea of decorating slate fire surrounds by carving on them originated in Dyffryn Ogwen, where quarrying started earlier than elsewhere and where more men were employed. Since the men lived in cottages and not in barracks (as was the custom in some quarry areas) they had the incentive to adorn their own homes. From there it spread by emulation and the movement of workers from one area to another.
A picture of the distribution of carved slates outside Dyffryn Ogwen is beginning to appear as research continues. The map below shows shaded in grey the main slate quarrying areas. The place names marked in italic are locations where examples of slate carvings have been reported. (Click on the map to enlarge it).