03 May 2007

The Massacre of Irfon Bridge 12 Rhagfyr 1282.

9 - 10 Rhagfyr 'Byddin Llywelyn' takes up positions at Rhosferig, having marched from Gwynedd, they are joined by local allies. The following day 11 Rhagfyr, That morning Llywelyn and "the 18" receive blessing at Llanganten, Llywelyn possibly made speech to his soldiers and had his priest take the 'Croes Naid' from it's requilary and placed around his neck, before riding off to Aberedw. Picture: Myself rising up 'Baner Llywelyn' at Rhosferig in December 2006.

11 Rhagfyr, late Afternoon: Llywelyn and "the 18" are at Aberedw, there they are attacked and "the 18" out numbered are slaughtered. Llywelyn mortally wounded is taken with his priest to the cave (Know today as Ogof Llywelyn), later that evening he his given 'last rights' before being beheaded - murdered or really has all was hatched by plotted intrigue, it would be more correct to say he was assassinated. The priest also was killed so that there was no witness to the great crime that had been committed.

12 Rhagfyr, 'Byddin Llywelyn' at Rhosferig told of their leaders death were induced to lay down their arms with promise of their liberty. Made to move from strong position at Rhosferig they were surrounded and marched to Parc ar Irfon. It is more than likely that hidden in woods there were archers who at a given signal fired a devastating shower of sharp pointed metal, in no time at all after repeated onslaught most of the 'Milwyr Cymry' were dead. Those who were not may have fled into Parc wood to be persued, ridden down and brutally struck the death blow from behind. The wounded no doubt were slaughtered where they lay, local tales do tell of a number of 'Milwyr Llywelyn' escaping and whilst washing in stream at Prysgduon were suprised by a ghost which accused them of cowardice for fleeing the enemy.
Some days later Llywelyn's body was secretly placed under the high alter at Abaty Cwm Hir, his head was delivered to Edward I who had it crowned with ivy, placed on a pike on London Bridge to be mocked by passers by. In time the head of his brother Dafydd would receive the same treatment, two brothers never at peace with each other in life may have found it together in death.
Thus came to an inglorious end to the 1000 year reign of a native Cymric Aristocracy and with it came the conclusion of over 500 years of resistance to Saxons, Normans and English. The Wars of Welsh Independence it seemed had come to an end. However, the story was not quite at 'End Game', now you decide "Battle?" or "Massacre?"
You are more than likely aware of my campaign to see Cymric Battlefields registered, the accepted historical account of the Battle of Irfon Bridge has long been recognised as a "Battle" equal in importance as the Battle of Hastings to Saxon - English history. Despite this "Battle of Irfon Bridge" is now being contested has not having taken place and instead the argument being put forward by historian Anthony Edwards that in fact a ''massacre'' that took place. Nevertheless this does not lessen the need to give this most important of Cymric historical sites great priority in our campaign to see it registered and recognised. This "Battle/Massacre Site" serves to highlight what our campaign is about, to draw attention to the threat our battlefields face from developers, Governmental or commercial etc.
Battlefields today face threats from numerous sources; roads and housing, windmills and whatever? The site now receiving attention here has had a golf course built over it but as Anthony Edwards points out far better that than a motorway driven through it, thus the owners of the golf course need have no fear that a campaign will be started to see they are removed. However, perhaps they with support of local council and other local concerned bodies may meet to discuss best place where a memorial may be set up in 2007 to mark 725th anniversary of this significant event in our history. it as much is a turning point marking our final conquest as Hastings signified the same for Saxon - England. Of course the difference today being that most people, even Welsh people will have heard of the Battle of Hastings but how many of our own people have ever heard of the "Battle of Irfon Bridge" or rather the Massacre of 12 Rhagfyr 1282, GO ON ASK A FEW PEOPLE.
So What Is To Be Done? First familiarise yourself with the facts: The true story is presented in a series of excellent pamphlets written and published by Historian Anthony Edwards.

1: Marwoliaeth Llywelyn ap Gruffydd – Y Gwirionedd 1987.

2: The Ghosts on the Fairway – The Army that vanished 1988.

3: Appointment at Aberedwy – Death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd 1992.

4: Letters of a peace maker 1998.

5: The Massacre at Aberedw 1999.

Our I'r Gad - Welsh Battlefield Campaign: Then you may support our campaign by writing to bodies as below seeking support for historical memorials and markers, Historical Information Boards and Brochures be produced:

* O.S.
* National Assembly.
* Powys Council.
* Builth Council.
* The Areas MEP, MP & AM.
* The Areas local Councillors.
* Local Media.
* Menter Powys.
* Antur Gwlad Llywelyn.
* Other as required.

Further, I would propose a local Campaign: 1282 Research and Study Group/Campaign is established, I would be quite happy to assist with this development. Local campaigns are always best way forward or otherwise it may be thought that "outsiders" are intruding in local affairs and in all such matters I do consider that local community will know best how to proceed with campaign objectives toward good successful conclusion.
Other, than a permanent memorial why not a '1282 Trail Llywbr Llywelyn' between Cilmeri, Llanganten, Rhosferig, Parc ar Irfon/Parc Wood to Bont Rhosferig to Aberedw. This strikes me as something local Community Councils and local Tourism Initiatives could be involved in.
Further: to above I also propose that some local body be responsible for Cofia 1282 Historical Information Notice Boards are set up throughout 'Ardal Builth' interpreting the last three days in the life of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd as described in the writings of historian Anthony Edwards.
In association with the 1282 - 2007, 725th Anniversary why not the holding of a 1282 Historical Conference, possibly at Caer Beris Hotel, which is close to the "Battle/Massacre Site". At such conference all matters and issues may be discussed and as well proposals considered regards memorial work.
History In The Landscape. Contact Builth Wells TIC:
Tel: 01982 553307. Fax: 01982 553841 Builth TIC has a wonderful brochure on local walks. Walk One: The Wye, The Wells and Cilmeri is one to use for our 'Battlefield/Massacre Site walk'. Such is described as taking about an hour, depending if your walking from Bont Rhosferig/Parc ar Irfon to Rhosferig, on to Llanganten then to Cilmeri (up hill) or from Cilmeri to Llanganten to Rhosferig (down hill) and down to Parc ar Irfon and Bont Rhosferig . I suggest that you do this walk in the summer as later in the year the pathways get very wet and muddy. There is no better way of getting to know and become familiar with our history than getting out walking and becoming informed of 'History In The Landscape'. Plus of course it's healthy for you, and if you have children, then what a wonderful day out with picnic, teaching them about their history.

This year and annually hence we are suggesting commemoration of the last days of Llywelyn as a '1282 History Weekend' with on the Saturday ''autonomous'' family or community outing to Cilmeri Cenotaph in the Morning, followed with short visit to Llanganten/Rhosferig then by car to Parc ar Irfon/Bont Rhosferig followed by lunch break at Caer Beris or in Builth Wells, view Castle there. Then onto Aberedw to lay your floral or Ivy tributes (by first Yew tree, upon entering the Church) in memory of Llywelyn, his priest and 'The 18' all killed at Aberedw on 11 Rhagfyr 1282.
I suggest that you then have a '1282 Rememberance Dinner' at the Seven Stars Inn at Aberedw, if you search the web you will find B&B at Aberedw or you can make arrangements to stay in Builth Wells. In years to come perhaps entertainment may be organised at the Wye Side Arts Centre, perhaps that is something the Powys Menter Iaith could consider being responsible for.

Sunday Morning: Visiting Abaty Cwm Hir where the headless body of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was buried under the high alter, today marked by a fine memorial set up by Mudiad Cofiwn. Dinner at 'The Happy Union Inn', then to conclude in the afternoon with visiting of other sites in the area associated with this history.

Picture: At the Cofiwn memorial to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in Abaty Cwm Hir. Myself, Sian Ifan and Son, that day in the summer of 1282, a few (inc Sian's young son) of us actually had walked across country some 21 miles from Cilmeri to Abaty Cwm Hir. Yes! a once in a life time experience but glad I did it, for the 700th anniversary Cofiwn commemoration 1282 - 1982.

Please note there is no rigid organisational time table to this "historical interest activity" as individuals and groups may carry out the walk detailed at top or the latter field trip at their own convenience. Further information from Buith Tourism Information Centre. Enjoy This Experience of seeking sense of history in the Landscape.
To inspire you; see below and read up the web and if going on our suggested walk perhaps you will have time to informally discuss possibilities for 1282 - 2007 commemoration work in your locality? or even 'I'r Gad WBfC work?
It would be a kind, if your useing our source of information you acknowledge such. Guess what? we do not get grants and amazingly you never hear us appealing for funds. We do this because we have a great love and enthusiasm for 'Hanes Cymry'. Yes! we are patriots and so grants and donations are not an issue but a little appreciation goes a long way to keep us motivated and it helps otherwise too.
Diolch yn Fawr.