Episode Three: The Warpath to Wales…

Commanded by some of Edwards foremost Marcher lords, hostile advances into Wales began in January 1277 from the south, the middle and north of the border in preparation for Edward’s main advance. Helping out in this initial attack was Llywelyn’s own younger brother, a perfidious young man called Dafydd ap Gryffudd. And he had his own grievances against his big brother.

The system of inheritance in medieval Wales was different from that in England. Instead of everything going to the eldest son, the system of partibility meant that the ancestral estate would be divided between the sons, and this could take sibling rivalry to a different level. Llywelyn himself kept his older brother Owain in captivity for 22 years to ensure his supremacy. But his younger brother, Dafydd, received more lenient treatment, even after siding with the opposition in previous conflicts. But Dafydd coveted what he saw as his fair share of lands in their native Gwynedd, something that Llywelyn had denied him, offering him instead lands elsewhere in his domain. So he threw in his lot with the opposition, and when Edward later promised him help in retrieving what he saw as rightfully his, he nailed his colours to the mast of the English king.

Dee landscape.JPG

The River Dee saw the army march into Wales with Edward at its head

Llywelyn’s forces, although meagre in comparison to the large and well-equipped English armies, prepared to resist. Assisted by the challenging Welsh geography with its mountains, forests and marshland, the plan was to hide out under cover of the harsh terrain and mount surprise attacks on the English troops before melting back into the landscape, a tactic the Welsh had used for centuries to repel invaders. But Edward was prepared.

Arriving at Chester on 15th July 1277, Edward mustered his great army with 800 cavalry and huge numbers of foot soldiers, and a week later he led them out of the city towards the Dee estuary – just as we did yesterday. But he didn’t just have the military advantage; he also took with him an army of craftsmen. Stonemasons, carpenters, woodsmen and diggers had been recruited for the ride because Edward had his own plan to resist the Welsh attacks: he was going to build some new castles.

The first stop they made was at a rocky outcrop along the estuary of the River Dee which they called ‘the Flint’, and it was here that work began on the first new castle that was to form Edward’s ‘iron ring’ of fortresses. And he had grand plans for it…

And our day: Questing round a Castle

After our long trek yesterday, today was an exploring part of the Quest. Having reached the same first destination as Edward and his troops, it was time to explore his enduring legacy that now gazes out to the Dee estuary from that same rocky outcrop…

Dee estuary.JPG

The Dee estuary, where Edward chose to build the  first new castle of his ‘iron ring’

So join me tomorrow on a quest to discover Flint Castle…

 

 

 

19 thoughts on “Episode Three: The Warpath to Wales…

  1. What an epic adventure – brother against brother because of an inheritance . Similar thing happened my family…
    Your walk sounds like a great way to structure a holiday. I have only ever dipped ny toe into Wales so I’m enjoying exploring it through your eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great, Suzanne, I’m glad you’re enjoying a look at Wales. It gets better and better, so watch this space for mountains and some of the most stunning castles in the world.
      And as for inheritance, the methods may change, but I guess human nature never does. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t been to the castle before so that was a treat. Post about it tonight.
      We’re doing the ship stretch today, but I have seen it from the road before, so we’ll get a better look at it today. My daughter is bonkers on the sea and maritime history (she wants to be a maritime historian), and she’s learning to sail, so she’ll be interested in it. I’ll let you know. 🙂

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  2. Enjoying reading your adventures. I think my initial interest in Welsh castles came at aged 7 with Ronald Welch’s timeslip novel The Gauntlet. And you are very much following in the steps of one of my literary heroes George Borrow in his book Wild Wales.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying our adventures John. Sounds like I should have a look at those books – they sound like my kind of literature. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a few years ago to remember all the places you’ve been. I struggle to remember where I went last month! 🙂

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    • Well observed, Amy. 🙂 The water originally went right up to the castle walls, so they’d have approached from firmer ground inland. But either way, I guess the land has changed over the centuries, although I wish it hadn’t… 🙂

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