DYFFRYN TYWI TRIP - September 10th, 2022



       The Welsh of Brycheiniog attacked the castle in Aberhonddu (Brecon) on June 24th 1403, and Henry Dwn attacked Cydweli Castle at around the same time.


       Eight days later, Glyndŵr began his campaign down Dyffryn Tywi (Tywi Valley) with an attack on Llanymddyfri (Llandovery), the town where Llywelyn ap Gruffudd Fychan had been executed less than two years earlier.

       Today’s trip will visit some of the significant places of this campaign, and will also incorporate the Society’s AGM at Yr Atom in Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen).

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       John Skydmore (Scudamore) had taken over the stewardship of the castle in Carreg Cennen in November 1401 from his brother, Philip, who had recently transferred his allegiance to Glyndŵr.

Carreg Cennen

       John’s wife and mother-in-law were still in the castle at the beginning of July 1403, and so he met with Owain at Dryslwyn under an arranged truce.

       Glyndŵr refused to give the women safe conduct to leave the castle, however, which prompted Skydmore to send a plea for help to John Fairford in Aberhonddu.

       In 1405, Skydmore was accused of disloyalty and of being a secret supporter of Glyndŵr by the English.

       He would later marry Owain’s daughter, Alys.

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       After attacking Llanymddyfri, Glyndŵr travelled down the valley to Llandeilo Fawr to join up with a large force of his supporters that had already attacked the town.

       This force included Henry Dwn and his son; Rhys Ddu; Gwilym ap Philip; and Rhys Gethin.



       Jankyn Havard, the constable of Dinefwr Castle, estimated that Glyndŵr’s army now consisted of as many as 8240 men: the castle had been put under siege, forcing him to send two letters to Aberhonddu with pleas for help.

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       Rhys ap Gruffudd ap Llywelyn Foethus, the constable of Dryslwyn, immediately surrendered the castle after seeing the might of Glyndŵr’s army.


       It was here that Glyndŵr parleyed with John Skydmore: he informed him that he was secure in Cydweli, Gŵyr (Gower) and Morgannwg (Glamorgan) - and that he planned to enter Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire) after taking Caerfyrddin.

View up Dyffryn Tywi towards Dinefwr

       The castles of Emlyn and Llansteffan were also taken around this time which suggests that the campaign was multi-pronged.

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       ‘Carmarthen’ was the administrative, financial and judicial capital of South Wales and was possibly the largest borough in the country at the turn of the 15th century.



       The burgesses had exclusive trading rights in the town and its surrounding area, and they were targeted by Glyndŵr’s men when the town and castle were taken on July 6th 1403.

       The Franco-Welsh force also headed for Caerfyrddin in August 1405, as it was the English headquarters in south-west Wales and key to controlling the area. Owain and the French captured it for both military and mythological reasons - given its links to Merlin and Arthurian legend.

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       Henry Dwn was a major landowner in the Cydweli area, and a descendant of Llywelyn ap Gwrgan, lord of Cydweli. His main property was at Croesasgwrn near Llangyndeyrn.

       He served the English Crown under John of Gaunt in France, and then Richard II in Ireland, but he allied himself with Glyndŵr early in the Uprising and attacked Cydweli Castle on numerous occasions.

       In 1407 his lands were forfeited and he was imprisoned for a time. He was eventually pardoned in 1413, although the fine imposed on him had not been paid before his death in 1416.

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       Cydweli holds a special place in the history of Wales: Gwenllian ferch Gruffudd was killed nearby whilst defending Deheubarth against Norman attacks in 1136.

Gwenllian’s Memorial outside the castle

       Henry Dwn and his son attacked the castle a number of times in 1403: at the end of June; on August 13th; and again on October 3rd with the assistance of French and Breton forces.

Castell Cydweli

       Two other leading Glyndŵr supporters associated with Cydweli were William Gwyn ap Rhys Llwyd and Gwilym ap Philip, and they were both involved in the Dyffryn Tywi campaign.

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       After taking Caerfyrddin on July 6th, Glyndŵr consulted with the ‘wise man’, Hopcyn ap Tomas ab Einion, who convinced Owain to avoid his lands in Ynysforgan and Ynystawe, near Abertawe (Swansea).

       Instead, Glyndŵr moved westwards towards Sanclęr (St Clears) and was confronted by Thomas Carew and his men. After a parley with Carew, Owain returned to Caerfyrddin and his Dyffryn Tywi campaign came to an end.



       His men then dispersed into the countryside, but it is known that a force of around 400 of them attacked into Herefordshire a few weeks later.

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1 Castell Carreg Cennen (via Trapp)

2 Castell Dinefwr (- view: A476/B4300)

3 Castell Dryslwyn (B4297)

4 Caerfyrddin (B4300)

5 Castell Cydweli (A484)