03 August 2007

The Battle of Hirwaun Common?

Battlefields Sites Lost Forever ?

The key objectives of our Battlefield Campaign is of course their preservation & protection, having said that here in Cymru we first have much work to locate many Battle Sites & as far as possible certify them as authentic. This is important for a number of reasons; in the first place it is not always the case that local tradition as to site of a Battle field is correct, despite possible local names at location which may signify a battle having been fought. (see examples in this Emailing Bulletin). This is not just a matter of seeking "Historic Authenticity" but also because if the end objective is to see such Battle sites registered we need to understand what is at stake. Our campaign to see that our Battlefields sites are registered goes hand in hand with campaign for the legal powers to ensure they are then preserved & protected, this in mind there is a need to be "spot on" as it could effect peoples properties & livelihoods. As in the case perhaps of the Battle of Hirwaun 1093:

1093 ...Rhys ap Tewdwr, king of Deheubarth, was slain by the French who were inhabiting Brycheiniog. And then fell the kingdom of theBritons. .... And then, two months after that, .... the French came to Dyfed and Ceredigion, which they have held to this day, and they fortified them with castles ; and they seized all the land of theBritons ....'Brut y Tywysogion 1093 (Hergest version.)

Hirwaun (Mid Glamorgan) Is derived from Hirwaun Wrgan, which means Gwrgan`s long meadow. It was here at the end of the eleventh century, that a battle was fought between Iestyn ap Gwrgan, with his Norman allies, against the forces of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of Dynevor. Rhys fled from the battle and was captured and beheaded at Penrhys in the Rhondda Valley, where a monastery was later built over his burial site. There are several cairns in the Hirwaun area that are reputed to be monuments to this great battle and some name refer to this event, for example, Maes y Gwaed (The Field of Blood), Carn y Frwydr (Battle Cairn) and Gadlys (The Hall of Battle Hirwaun)

Regards the above, I must admit I have not given great in depth research & study too; i am taking these examples above form Web sites at face value. Some where to back of my mind is the thought that i may have read somewhere Rhys was killed outside Brecon? I am aware that the story regards his connection to Penrhys in Y Rhondda is untrue so i cannot claim that the aforementioned Battle is authentic. However, it serves purpose here to use as an example to raise issue of Battle field site desecration & despoilment by human hand if the industrial uses of Hirwaun Common has ravaged the Battlefield beyond any recognition. There are of course many issues here to consider not least the one of desecration, then of despoilment of an important Battle site but also what about the issue of the need to exploit the land for sake of a peoples livelihood & community survival, in this instance Hirwaun & this battle site is an excellent example to focus debate around. Given there is reason to believe that the Battle site has been despoiled there ? Perhaps local enthusiasts or interests could inform me? These are issues that thankfully the RCAHMW are now taking aboard in their survey of Welsh Battlefields as reported in a two page centre spread in the Daily Post, which our Society helped with & contributed to.

Another Time and Another Struggle.


Raising The Red Flag on Hirwaun Common 31 May 1831 Another Battle was to begin on Hirwaun Common that which has come down to us, known as the Merthyr Rising 1831 an insurrection by Welsh Workers seeking "Natural Justice".
2006 marks the 175th Anniversary. I know that a number of commemorative events & activities are taking place in Hirwaun, Merthyr & across the heads of the valley's down into the Southern Valleys of 'Cordell Country'.Further information on request only.
Gethin Gruffydd.