Six Ashes Noticeboard
In 1405 a Franco-Welsh army led by Owain Glyndŵr, Prince of Wales, entered England and made its way towards the ‘Onennau Meigion’ – now known as Six Ashes – on the road from Kinver to Bridgnorth. It was a significant place for the Welsh because it was on the ancient border between Wales and England, and had been described centuries earlier by Merlin, famous in Arthurian legends.
At the beginning of August in 1405 a large force of French troops landed at Milford Haven in West Wales. They had been sent by the French King, Charles VI, to support Glyndŵr in his campaign against Henry IV of England. Henry had usurped the English throne a few years earlier and proclaimed himself king - and had upset many people in the process, including Glyndŵr.
The army travelled across South Wales, entered England and attacked the suburbs of Worcester. From there they set off for the ‘Onennau Meigion’, but were intercepted by Henry IV’s army near Great Witley. A stand-off then occurred with Glyndŵr camped on Woodbury Hill and Henry IV facing him on the other side of the Teme Valley on Abberley Hill. This impasse lasted for a week until Glyndŵr and his allies eventually ran out of supplies, whereupon both sides decided to retreat.
Glyndŵr had wanted to reach the ancient border at Six Ashes, deep inside the Marcher lands, to reclaim the area for Wales. After defeating Henry, he had planned to split England and Wales into three parts: Owain would control the western part, and the rest would be divided between his allies Henry Percy (the Earl of Northumberland) and Edmund Mortimer. The three of them had agreed this in a document called the Tripartite Indenture, with the northern part of England being controlled by Percy, and the southern part by Mortimer – who happened to be Glyndŵr’s son-in-law.
The Tripartite Indenture
Edmund Mortimer had been captured by Glyndŵr at a battle near Knighton in 1402 but, when Henry IV refused to pay a ransom for his release, he transferred his allegiance to Owain. Henry had already begun to confiscate his lands, however, because the Mortimer family had a better claim to the throne than he did. In 1403 at the Battle of Shrewsbury, Edmund’s brother-in-law – ‘Harry Hotspur’ – was killed, which helped to consolidate the alliance between Glyndŵr and Hotspur’s father, the Earl of Northumberland.
A prophecy attributed to Merlin identified the ‘ash trees of Meigion’ as the place where the Great Eagle would muster the warriors of Wales. It may well have also been the location of a Welsh victory for Cadwallon ap Cadfan against the Saxons in the 7th Century, where he defeated and then formed an alliance with Penda of Mercia. Owain Glyndŵr would have known of the prophecy and made it the destination of his campaign to confront Henry IV.
The Six Ashes pub is now on the site of the Onennau Meigion. The original Ashes were felled many years ago but there is still a line of six trees outside the pub which were grown from their cuttings. Local author Martin Wall approached The Owain Glyndŵr Society to look for a way of commemorating this significant historical site, and a noticeboard explaining its history is the result.
The Noticeboard at Six Ashes
It is hoped that this will increase interest in a little-known part of our history. There are a number of footpaths in the area which let visitors explore the surrounding countryside, and accommodation is being added to the Six Ashes pub which will also allow them to stay near this historic site.