Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Battle of Llwchwr 1136 by Gethin Ap Gruffydd

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 - Flelmish 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 Gwyr.

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 different.
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.


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