Trip – September 3rd, 2016
After his victory at the Battle of Bryn Glas
in 1402, Owain Glyndŵr and his troops moved further south into
Monmouthshire, burning and looting the English-held
towns as they did so.
A few years later, a number of these locations would become
the scene of major battles in the uprising.
Owain had good reason for wanting to stamp his authority in Monmouthshire:-
* Prince Hal - the future
Henry V of England - was born in Monmouth and claimed the title ‘Prince of Wales’.
* The area had become a
stronghold for the Marcher lordships - the Normans built numerous castles from
the 11th century onwards in order to
safeguard the land they had taken
from the Welsh.
* Dafydd Gam - one of
Owain’s principal enemies - had a manor house in Llantilio
Crossenny, and he provided the English forces with
local information for a number
of the battles in the area.
& PWLL MELYN
Following defeat at Grosmont in May 1405, a Welsh force led by Owain’s son Gruffydd then attacked Usk
Castle. The castle had been heavily fortified and so the attack was repulsed,
with many Welsh soldiers being slaughtered as they retreated.
Gruffydd was captured, and among
those killed were his uncle, Tudur, and the Abbot of
The main battle was fought near this plaque at Castle Farm on
the hill above the castle, although the fighting reached almost as far as Monkswood to the north-west.
When a railway was being built through Usk in the 1850s, the pond called ‘Pwll
Melyn’ was cleaned and a number of
skeletons from the battle were discovered.
By 1400, Adam of Usk had been a
lecturer in Canon Law, a practising lawyer, and was involved in securing the
legal grounds for the deposition of Richard II.
He is best known for writing a chronicle of life in Wales,
England and Europe which covered the period 1377 to 1421, and
included a ‘contemporary’ account of Glyndŵr’s
Unfortunately, much of his writing about the uprising must
have been second-hand, however, because from February 1402 until June 1406 he
lived in Rome - and he did not return to Wales until 1408.
of Usk’s brass plaque
Adam died in Usk and is buried in St
Mary’s Priory Church in the town. It has a beautifully carved 15th century
screen, and on its east face is a brass plaque which commemorates him.
The inscription is written in Welsh cywydd metre, and a
After fame the tomb from the
The practiced advocate of London
And ‘judge of the world’ by gracious privilege,
May the heavenly abode be thine, good sir!
Lo, a Solomon of Wisdom,
Adam of Usk is
The wise doctor of ten commotes.
Behold a place full of learning.
CRAIG Y DORTH & TREFYNWY
heavy defeat at Campstone Hill, Glyndŵr’s
men regrouped at Craig y Dorth near Monmouth, and
managed to defeat an English force in the summer of 1404.
Craig y Dorth
They pushed them
four miles down the valley to the gates of Monmouth Castle, and apparently
captured the baggage train which had been abandoned by the English in their
flight to safety.
The Monnow Bridge in Monmouth is the only remaining medieval
fortified river-bridge in Britain.
It has been pedestrianised, and is now a
Scheduled Monument and a Grade I listed building.
TRI CHASTELL - YNYSGYNWRAIDD & GWYN
‘The Three Castles’ are usually grouped together because they
were under the control of a single lord for almost their entire history.
Between 1219 and 1232, Hubert de Burgh spent a small fortune
on rebuilding each of them in stone using the latest military architecture.
The Three Castles formed part of the duchy of Lancaster, and
during Owain’s campaign they were under the control of Henry IV.
After briefly seeing action in 1404-05, they were never again
to play a major role in military affairs and by 1538 the castles were abandoned
Y TRI CHASTELL - Y GRYSMWNT
In the 15th
century, Grosmont Castle was a well-established
strategic base for the English with a three hundred year
It was the
birthplace of Henry of Grosmont, the first Duke of
Lancaster. He was Henry Bolingbroke’s grandfather, and Grosmont
was one of the largest towns in South Wales at the time.
The primary source of information, for the battle with Glyndwr’s
forces on March 11th 1405, comes from
Prince Hal. He was keen to prove himself as a military leader even at the young
age of 17.
In a letter to his father he described how 8000 Welshmen had
attacked and burnt the town that day, and were
confronted by a ‘small force’ led by Gilbert Talbot, William Newport and John Greyndor.
He described the battle as a major victory for his men but, as
the letter was sent from Hereford on the same day, it is more than likely that
his account was second-hand.
Gethin was probably killed in this battle - which was a major blow to Owain’s
Llewelyn ap Hywel was better known as Dafydd Gam (or Davy Gam in Shakespeare’s
‘Henry V’). The name ‘Gam’ is taken from a Welsh word for lame or deformed.
A member of a
prominent Welsh family in Brecon, his ancestors had supported the de Bohun family for many years and, when Mary de Bohun married Henry Bolingbroke, his allegiance transferred
to Henry as the new Lord of Brecon.
Dafydd Gam’s Coat of Arms
He owned the manor house ‘Hen Gwrt’
near White Castle, and provided local information to the
English forces before the battles in the area.
Gwrt, Llantilio Crossenny
Dafydd was captured by Owain in 1412, but Henry IV paid a
large ransom to have him freed. He died in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and
is commemorated in a stained-glass window in the church in Llantilio
On August 20th, 1404, Owain’s forces
moved north through Monmouthshire and encountered a large English contingent on
Campstone Hill near Grosmont.
Here the English were led by Richard Beauchamp, the Earl of
Warwick, but this battle is often confused with that at Grosmont
It was a
foretaste of later battles in the area where the Welsh were often surprised by
the strength of the English army. Glyndŵr’s
standard was captured here and its bearer, Elis ap Rhisiart
ap Hywel ap Morgan Llwyd, was killed.
regrouped, however, and moved south to achieve success at Craig y Dorth.
Abergavenny Castle had been the scene of an infamous massacre
in the 12th century, after which control of it passed back and forth
between the English and the Welsh.
A large amount of building work was done to fortify it in the
13th and 14th centuries, and the gatehouse was built to
counter the threat posed by Glyndŵr’s uprising.
In 1404 Abergavenny was besieged by Owain’s forces, and a
small number of his men were allowed entry to the town by a local woman. She
was sympathetic to his cause and they entered through a small postern gate
situated at the bottom of Market Street.
This small force then opened a main gate so that the rest of
the invading party could gain entry. They set fire to the town and plundered
its churches and homes, although the castle remained intact.
For many years afterwards, Market Street was referred to as
PRIORDY SANTES FAIR &
Church of St. Mary in Abergavenny was originally a Benedictine priory, and is said to have been plundered by Glyndŵr
Priory Church and Tithe
Most of the town
was burnt and, when the Tithe Barn was being renovated recently, scorch marks
were revealed on its walls.
Upstairs in the
Tithe Barn is a tapestry which was made to celebrate the new millennium. It
depicts Owain on a horse looking towards Abergavenny.
SIR FYNWY - MONMOUTHSHIRE
3 Pwll Melyn
4 Craig y Dorth
7 Y Grysmwnt
Camstwn (Campstone Hill)
9 Castell Gwyn (White Castle)