The tiny island of 20,000 graves

Once a centre of power and one of the holiest places in Britain, today Bardsey Island has only four year-round residents - and no electric grid, cars or indoor toilets.

Bardsey Island doesn't have cars, paved roads, an electric grid or indoor toilets.

The population includes 200 grey seals, 300 sheep and just four year-round humans - making the island's sheep-to-person ratio larger than even that of New Zealand.

Mobile reception, if you can get it, comes from Ireland, which lies 55 miles west across the Irish Sea.

But for centuries, this small Welsh isle was anything but a backwater.

"For much of its history, the island has been superior to the mainland," said Colin Evans, who runs regular (weather permitting) boat trips to Bardsey. "The centre of power has changed."

Located two miles off the coast of northern Wales' Llŷn Peninsula, Bardsey today is known as the "island of 20,000 saints"; the island's largest population resides underground. And while 20,000 graves may seem like a stretch for landmass that measures just 1.5 miles by half a mile, its centuries of importance means the real number might well be close.

Romantic legends hold that Bardsey was sacred to Celtic druids, and that it was the real Avalon where King Arthur was buried.

In the 6th Century, it's said the Welsh kings of Llŷn and St Cadfan together founded a monastery here.

Then came an especially resonant idea, which stemmed from a story about Cadfan's successor St Leuddad: that anyone who died on the island would not go to hell.

By the early Middle Ages, these traditions helped make Bardsey one of the holiest places in Britain.

With religious importance came political. From the island, the Bardsey abbot administered a section of mainland that ran some seven miles up the coast.

As late as the 19th Century, long after the monastery had gone, Bardsey bustled with 140 residents.

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