03 May 2007

The Battle of Llwchwr 1 Ionawr 1136.

The Battle of Llwchwr, new years day 1136: The Normans of Southern Gwyr had been informed of an on coming Welsh Attack, and realised they could not let the Welsh pass beyound a certain point. They had to ride out and confront the Welsh in a battle, taking aboard fact that a showing of a large strong opposition coming out to meet them. may cause the Welsh to abandon, what the Normans thought was just going to be a bit of the usual Welsh ''Pillage and Plunder'' rampaging raid. This was to be a miscalculation but unavoidable, as if the Welsh were to pass a certain point they could so easy scatter into small raiding parties to ravage the small and isolated villages and farm homesteads of Southern Gwyr. The Welsh however, had come south with a major force out of Brycheiniog to be joined by the Welsh of 'Northern Gwyr' aka the ''Welshry'' who despised the Normans who had robbed them of the fertile lands of Southern Gwyr. The two forces met on the common of Carn Goch, in an head on colision on a bitterly cold winters day, the battle must have been fierce, furious and bloody. A great Welsh Victory, for the chronicles write that following the battle, the battlefield was strewn with corpses, so much so, that it attracted from over a great area ravagenous wolves and feathered carrion, all of which, beast and birds fed well on the dead. The victorious Welsh followed up this slaughter by doing to Southern Gwyr what the Norman Knights and soldiers had hoped to stop. However. more important this victory was to be the signal and message for the Welsh of the West to rise up, led by the warrior husband and wife, the two noble ''Outlaws of Cantref Caio; The Prince to be, Gruffydd ap Rhys of Dehuebarth and young princess Gwenllian of Gwynedd, daughter of the great ''King'' Gruffydd ap Cynan of Gwyned. It is with the aid of his two sons with a great army out of Gwynedd, that the men of the West join with the men of the North united to give an huge Anglo - Norman - Flelmsh Army a crushing defeat on 10 October 1136. A day that does change Welsh History.
There is a fine memorial to the Battle of Llwchwr, raised by Cofiwn members, supporters and others. This memorial is placed on Garn Goch common near to road on way to Garn Goch Hospital via the A 484. Well worth a visit on a warm sunny summers day with a picnic in mind but note check out where best to park locally.
Military history and battlefields may not be quite the ''Politically Correct'' thing to be concerned with but we Welsh are at peril of severe ignorance, understanding and appreciation of the fact regards much of a 1000 years of 'Welsh Military History'. Roughly between King Arthur's victory at Mount Badon over the Saxons to Henry Tudors victory over Richard III at Battle of Bosworth in 1485, military history and battles have shaped Welsh history. Not least the Battles of Llwchwr, Cedeweli and Crug Mawr, all three fought during the War of 1136. These battles, more than just shaped Welsh History, in such a way that the consequence are with us to day, but what many people do not know, and that should include English people too, is that out of this came the beginnings of an ''English Identiy'' (How, I will inform of, at another time else where)


Most people and that includes the majority of Welsh people understand the significance of the 'Battle of Hastings', as Americans would the 'Battle of Gettysburg', whilst Native Americans full understand the significance of the 'Battle of the Little Big Horn' and the consequences of the 'Massacre of Wounded Knee' (see our 'Massacre of Irfon Bridge). Our own first minister who recently went out of his way to visit Rourkes drift and Isandlwana Battlefields probably knows more about these battles than he does about any Welsh Battlefield - indeed I wonder if he's visited any? It would be very interesting and illuminating to do a survey of this with our political representatives. “Name just one Welsh Battlefield?” would be enough.
So what of Welsh Battlefields? As Mynydd Carn 1081 and Bryn Glas 1402 - how many Welsh people have even heard of them - let alone know of their significance and consequences? Lets take this Battle of Llwchwr 1136 fought on 1st January 1136 between the Welsh of Brycheiniog led by Hywel ap Maredudd and the Norman's of Gŵyr. At this time remember Norman power was expanding into Sicily and Greece and into Ireland and Scotland - the Norman's were on an ''unstoppable roll''. The ''Welsh War of Defence'' to further Norman Conquest started here on a new year’s day and despite a bitter set back at Battle of Maes Gwenllian, finally won at Battle of Crug Mawr near Ceredigion in October 1136. Stopped the Norman's ''in their tracks'', and ''pura Wallie'' was saved for another 140 years - time enough for the ''age of the princes of Dehuebarth and Gwynedd'' to consolidate and strengthen Welsh Laws, culture and customs - from which the Native language was to flourish. So If these Battles had not been fought and not been won - we might not be here today or the Wales we might live in possibly be very diffrent.
It is sad that most Welsh people know and understand little of all this, whilst the English know of their history, not least due to being taught so in schools and TV progs etc. Further,The Times ''thundered'' and with an 'English Battlefield Trust' convinced 'English Heritage' of need for an 'English Battlefields Register' to designate and thus help to protect and preserve their battlefields, same exists in Scotland, Ireland and else where. Cadw has promised to consider a Welsh Battlefield Register and indeed a ''provisional listing'' to inform local Authorities of Battle sites in their localities. However, do not leave it at that, we must continue the campaign. If nothing else you can show active support by writing articles and letters on the subject for your local paper as well as to local councillors. AM’s, MP’s and MEP’s. PLEASE DO WHAT YOU CAN TIME IS NOT ON OUR SIDE OK!



I'r Gad - WBfC: Needs Your Help ok!

I first published this statement below in 2005 on the status quo regards my I'r Gad- WBfC for the preservation, protection and promotion of ‘Welsh Battle Fields’. I was opptimistic then that various ''bodies'' I had approached were going to actually ''do something''. However, two years down the road I have not heard anything else or witnessed any moves fast forward on the matter of my concern. This should be your grave concern too, so now I am going to appeal to you directly, to yourselves do something to push things really fast forward. Yes! another 'Writing Campaign' but this time be a bit more radical in the approach plus be pro-active by actually seeing your local councillor, AMs and MPs et al, whomsoever can ''shake and move'' things up. Please patriots, make this our ''Summer of Discontent'' by getting a bit militant about this matter, or nothing will get done - will it? I'r Gad! means just that ok! TO BATTLE! today not tomorrow?
A full report will be poosted in parts over the coming months plus other related material that may be of interest. Having spent some time researching the ‘status quo’ situation regards Welsh Battlefields, I can now state that I am in a position to bring the passive side of the campaign to a conclusion and with your support get a bit more pro-active. First and foremost however, I must assert that our three main objectives remain and are as follows:
1. An urgent need to establish a ‘Welsh Battle Field Trust’; but I am of the opinion now that this should be in the main the responsibility of one or a number of the following, possibly, as a joint effort:

· The Four Welsh Archaeological Trusts.
· UCW Colleges Medieval History Departments.
· Council of Welsh Museums.
· Representatives of Military Museums in Wales.

Whatever ''body/ies'' assumes responsibility could then, in time, work with representatives of other bodies as, for example, the ‘Welsh Tourist Board’ and it’s ‘regional Tourism Partnerships’ and other ‘bodies’ that may have an interest in having a stake in such a development. Not least of these invited to participate would be societies and groups that have interest in Welsh Military History which would include ‘Medieval Re – Enactment Societies and groups that are, at present, engaged in commemorative and memorialising work and who, up to now, have ''carried the torch'' in respect to encouraging greater public interest in Welsh Battlefields and Military History.
Hopefully, in time, a means would be found for allowing members of the general public to be 'associate members' of such a Welsh Battlefield Trust’.
I propose that the first step towards the establishment of a 'WBfT' would be the holding of a ‘Welsh Battlefield Conference’ to discuss, thoroughly, matters regards the establishment of such a ‘Trust’. I also consider that it would be in the best interest of a successful endeavour if one - or all of the aforementioned took responsibility for such business. However, ''Time and tide waits for no man'' and as there is some urgency in regards to this business, I shall continue to pursue the above and the following by seeking, at minimum, the establishment of a ‘Welsh Battlefield Research Group’ that will have a remit to do site visits (as outlined in the main document) and keep this issue active until the above proposal is taken up and advanced.
2. The Campaign for a ‘Welsh Battlefield Register’ will continue but will do so now in support of the work being carried out by the RCAHMW, satisfied by assurances by they and the O.S. that the matter of 'Welsh Battlefields' are not being ignored but that the inclusion of marking more 'Welsh Battlefields' will be carefully considered and carried out as and when appropriate and possible to do so. Further, I am most appreciative of the fact that CADW has confirmed that it, as a body, is most actively willing to consider, at some time in the future, being responsible for a ‘Welsh Battlefield Register’. They have also informed me that they have taken steps already to put in motion appraisal of such a project. Although, at the moment, the ''ball is in the court'' of the RCAHMW’. However, CADW has suggested that in lieu of a ‘WBR’ it may be possible to, at least, publish a ‘List of Welsh Battlefields’ to provide ‘Local Planning Authorities’ with such which could also be made available to the general public; such would at least allow then for a more efficient ''Battlesite Watch'' to be carried out.
This is wonderful news - and I am looking forward to the day when CADW may, at last, publish a ‘Welsh Battlefield Register’ and should it be produced as well as their ‘Historic Landscapes’ Brochure and associated local brochures then, indeed, we will have something very worthwhile. Such would be of immense value to not only the preservation, protection and promotion of Welsh Battlefields but also as a means of greatly encouraging Welsh people to have more interest in a history that is on their own door step. Also, of course, such would greatly promote Wales and be of use to tourism and thus the WTB should be encouraged to support all efforts to fulfil such an objective.
3. Campaign for the National Assembly of Wales to enact Legislation for the Preservation, Protection and Promotion of Welsh Battlefields. In this instance, ‘promotion’ in particular means ensuring that ‘Welsh Military History’ as well as knowledge of Welsh Battlefields are on the Educational Agenda of Wales. Regards this Campaign, it will, of course, be calling on N.A.W. AM’s to support and advance the said proposal to its successful conclusion. To such ends, this campaign will attempt, by various means, to mobilise various interest groups and the general public to support fully. Leaders of all Assembly Political Parties have been requested to support campaign for a ‘Welsh Battlefield Register’.
Both the RCHAMW and CADW however, pose the problems of search and survey of ‘Welsh Battle Sites’ having to being properly carried out and correctly recorded based on precise historical and other evidence; this is, in part, to also satisfy the requirements of the O.S. I well understand and essentially accept the case made by these agencies in respect of such matters. but feel its important to point out that, in Scotland, ‘Historic Scotland’ a body already responsible for actively working towards a Scottish Battlefield Register’ along with other bodies, have come to the opinion that where exact sites cannot be located then a broad area of recognised battle location will be acceptable. I hope that the aforementioned ''Welsh Bodies'' will consider the same practicalities. It is interesting to note, that a ‘Scottish Battlefield Register’ intends to include ‘important skirmishes’, in a Welsh context I would draw attention to such event as that of Coed Grwyne April 1136. (See Battles of Llwchwr, Cydweli and Crug Mawr 1136).
NB: This first decade of the second millennium witnesses a number of anniversaries connected with Owain Glyndŵr Battlefields, of which only the ‘Battle of Bryn Glas’ is marked on a map - and even though the ‘Battle of Hyddgen’ has long been memorialised by a ‘Cofiwn’ memorial’, it is not marked on a map. 2005 will mark the 600th Anniversaries of the ''Bloody Spring'' Military offensive with the battles of ‘Grosmont’ and ‘Pwll Melyn’. These are battle sites of major importance; it would be very welcome - and pleasing, if the aforementioned bodies could give these significant battle sites some priority attention so they, themselves, could be seen to be marking these anniversaries.
Should you require further information on these matters please do contact myself at gethin.apgruffyd@ntl.world.com and if you are aware of others that may have an interest, please do inform of above and now, of this blog too.
Yn Ffyddlon.
NB: See recently published ‘Heritage Counts’ Published by ‘English Heritage’.

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.

Welsh Military History Writting and Publishing.

At least there are improvements in area of Welsh Military History Writing, see work of Paul Rempfrey (search Welsh Battles on web) also recently published book on Welsh Military Institutions, only problem the price; at £30 obviously it will not become mass popular reading. My concern about Welsh battlefields has been to the fore in my mind for quite some time, prompted by my finding out the disinterest that exists amongst the powers that be who should be concerned - and then also, by the attitude of military historians and publishers. On the subject of Welsh Battlefields, we were already aware of the fact that battlefields in Wales are particularly under threat, in the main, because the Welsh Monuments Board and CADW the bodies responsible for our ‘Heritage in the Landscape’ do not have Welsh Battle Sites down on their list of priorities, although due to the I'r Gad- Welsh Battlefield Campaign, they are sitting up and listening. Add to this the fact that there is an institutionalised thinking amongst ‘British historians’ and ‘military interest publishing’ that proclaims that there were no Welsh Battle fields only “Killing Grounds!” and no doubt then they usually go on to paint a picture of the Welsh as only being capable of fighting a guerrilla form of warfare. So very few books on military history ever mention Welsh battles. Go and have a look… you will be shocked that even a major work such as the O.S book of British battles mentions no Welsh battle Fields at all. However, there does exist some books on Welsh Battles.

Battles in Wales by Herbert Williams.

• The Battles of Wales by Dilys Gator.

• Famous Welsh Battles by Philip Warner.

• Glyndŵr's War by Gideon Brough.

• In Search of Owain Glyndŵr by Chris Barber.

• Glyndŵr’s First Victory by Ian Flemming.

Also must mention:

• For best account of the
‘Battle of Bryn Glas’ see book Owain Glyndŵr and the last war of welsh independence in the Welsh Borders, written by Geoffry Hodges and published by Logeston Press. I have suggested to the publishers they publish the chapter on battle of Bryn Glas as a pamphlet. It’s under consideration.

• Last but not least, suggest you buy 'Reference Wales', compiled by John May, published by UWP, Cardiff. Excellent pen ultimate list of Welsh Battlefields.

Other publications:

• The Normans in South Wales 1070 – 1171. Lynn Nelson. University of Texas.

• Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. J.B.Smith. UWP. Cardiff.

• The Taming of the Dragon. W.B.Bartlett. Sutton publishing.

• The Age of Conquest. R.R. Davies. Oxford U.P.


• Last year seen an item in ‘Western Mail’, about a group of Welsh Medieval re-enactors going off to ‘Azincourt’ to help save that Battlefield from ‘windmill developments. ''What about Welsh Battlefields?'' and they are closer. Indeed I would hope that Welsh Military/Medieval Living History and Re – enactment societies and Groups will follow the example of Samhain, who are the first of such to promise support for my campaign.

• Last year BBC 2 produced a T.V. series on subject of 'British Battlefields' and at least one episode covered battles fought by Glyndŵr. This episode largely about 'Battle of Bryn Glas' proved to be excellent. In passing, thought I would ask the question; why doesn’t BBC Wales or even ITV Wales producing, a long over due T.V. series on Welsh battlefields? Hello! BBC Wales programme ma
kers; I can supply you with a ‘treatment’ for such – No problem!

Footnote: The weathers great and looks to be remaining so, how about you getting out and about discovering Welsh Battlefields. Hopefully, then doing something useful to advance ''your?'' 'I'r Gad' - Welsh Battlefield Campaign, regarding what to do see, read following postings to this blog. Do let me know, if you can help and note local info and reporting with photos of Battlefields always welcome. Am I to be the only one bothered and pro - active in this important work?
I'r Gad!