Episode Six and a really cool walk…

Episode Six: A Sticky End… 

Acting quickly, Edward again appointed three Marcher lords to command forces on the border while he fielded an even bigger army than for the previous war. Setting out again from Chester in early July, he headed for his damaged castle at Rhuddlan which would function as his operations base. But this time he wasn’t interested in submission or homage from Llywelyn. He was past caring about that. Instead he had bigger ideas. Now he intended to conquer the whole of Wales.

As before, a division of Edward’s army secured the vital crops on Anglesey, but this time the king went a step further. Shipping in hundreds of carpenters and materials including timber, rope and nails from Chester, he ordered a unique bridge of boats to be constructed that would link the island to the mainland and give his men access to Snowdonia from the rear. The rebels took refuge in the mountains they knew so well, but Edward was not about to give up.


The mountains gave the rebels cover… for a while

The conflict went on for months. Even the archbishop of Canterbury’s intervention failed to bring about a negotiated settlement. Talks between Edward and Llywelyn conducted through his mediation were a resounding flop, and a reconciliation was now clearly beyond hope. The people of Snowdonia, Llywelyn said defiantly, “do not wish to do homage to a stranger, of whose language, manners and laws they are entirely ignorant”.

So amid more Welsh resistance and uprisings, Llywelyn left his brother in the North to strike out with his army southwards towards Builth to seek help. But either by chance or betrayal, the English were there, waiting for him, and on 11th December at a nearby place named Cilmeri, the ensuing battle saw Llywelyn meet his end. At first, no-one realised who he was, but when the bodies were checked in the aftermath of the fighting Llywelyn’s identity was finally revealed. The commander of the division sent a letter to Edward with the news of the prince’s death, along with his head, which was sent on to London to be displayed as a warning to any other would-be rebels.

Now after Dafydd for his treachery, Edward invaded Gwynedd in March 1283. Dafydd fled to the mountains and then hid out at his dead brother’s castle at Llanberis near Mount Snowdon. But it was all to no avail; he was captured and carted away to captivity to await his sentence. Edward felt that Dafydd’s level of betrayal warranted a new punishment, one befitting a turncoat who had committed high treason, the most heinous crime of all. After some creative thinking it was, therefore, Dafydd ap Gruffud who was the first person to be executed by hanging, drawing and quartering, the ultimate traitor’s death that was to be the go-to sentence for centuries to come.


Dolbadarn Castle, in Llanberis, Llywelyn’s heartland castle, where Dafydd hid out until he was captured

After the defeat of the last of this troublesome dynasty, Edward ordered his master mason, Master James of St George, to build three new castles all at once. To be positioned 20 miles apart, the new fortresses would stamp the king’s permanent badge of ownership on the late prince’s northern territory. The locations chosen were Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech, and these were all begun in 1283. The first two were not only to be castles, Edward instructed, but more ‘bastides’, this time surrounded by formidable defensive walls. The intention now was not only to subdue, but also to colonise the conquered Wales. The Welsh were cut out, allowed access inside the walls only to trade. The work began apace on the new castles, and the shape of North Wales, along with its population, began to be remodelled to a grand English design.

Finally Edward could rest assured that the Welsh had come under his full control. What he couldn’t have seen coming was that the people of Wales had one last trick up their sleeve…

Quest Update: A Bay of Mists

After the searing heat of Thursday, it had been raining when we set out today, making for much cooler and fresher conditions for a walk. After exploring the beautiful, misty landscape of Great Orme, we set off from Llandudno and headed along the coast to Conwy, passing the site of Deganwy, Henry III’s castle that Llywelyn had captured and destroyed prior to the Treaty of Montgomery. There’s nothing left now save a few rocks on the craggy hills the castle occupied, but these dramatic bumps in the land still cut a commanding presence over the surrounding area.

Great Orme Portrait.JPG

The natural grandeur of Great Orme


The path to Conwy with the hills of Deganwy looming ahead

A haunting mist hung over the scenery, making the mouth of the Menai Straits look like a setting for Camelot, and as we rounded the headland and approached Conwy Bay, I caught sight of the next castle on the Quest: the magnificent edifice that is Conwy.

Conwy castle.jpg

A glimpse of Conwy Castle between the hazy hills

I can’t wait to delve into its stories and wander round it’s many walls and towers in what promises to be a wonderful castle questing day. But before I report on my findings, one more chapter of the story needs to be told…

The mists .JPG

The bay of mists…


33 thoughts on “Episode Six and a really cool walk…

  1. I’d love to visit Wales again, especially this part. We spent a few lovely days there in the spring of 1990 visiting three steam railways. Ffestiniog, The Welsh Highland Railway and the Tallylyn. I believe the first two have now become one organisation. I recall them being situated at opposite ends of Porthmadog. We saw the outside of Caernarfon Castle and Conwy Castle we saw from the train. I am very much looking forward to reading about your visits to these two as that was as close as I got..

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ll love the castles to come then, Vanda. They’re the biggies and they’re true stunners. This next four make up a World Heritage Site and you’ll see why over the coming week.
      I don’t know the railways that well, except the locations of them, so you’re one up on me there! Wales is a beautiful country, and I’m hoping to post some mountain pics too at some point, as they’re also stunning. Thanks for your company on my Quest, Vanda.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really enjoy them too, and steam is so special and nostalgic. We’ve got quite a few good steam lines in the UK. Next time you’re over, the Severn Valley Railway is fantastic if you haven’t done it before.
        On another note, have you managed to catch up with Series 3 of The Detectorists yet? 🙂


      • Not yet. I’m not sure if has been on free to air TV yet. A friend downloaded it and I’m thinking of asking for a copy. In the meantime I’ve watched the first two series again. It never gets old.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The stall is almost set. It’s been fascinating to learn of the build-up to Edward’s conquest of Wales and those next three castles will take up quite a bit of your time I would imagine.
    I see that you’ve had rain for the first time, so I should delete the comment I made on Stuart’s post now. Let’s hope you don’t get too much of the wet stuff, but I don’t think the forecast is too bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Malc. Glad you’re enjoying it. Yes, the next few are going to be biggies.
      The rain was welcome yesterday and really freshened up the air. I don’t think the forecast is bad – I’d rather anything than the punishing heat of last week. Hopefully I’ll get airborne at some point later on to fly over Harlech, but we’ll go with the flow as to when it happens. Hope you’re enjoying the cooler conditions too. 🙂


  3. Let’s hope the weather holds up for your flight over Harlech. That’ll be brilliant.
    To be honest the weather’s not been too hot here. We’ve always got a sea breeze to keep the temperatures down. Looking forward to the next instalment 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll get the flight in at some point, even if it’s at the end. I’d really like to get some aerial pics to complete the Quest.
      We didn’t have the heat as bad as they did back home, but it was bad enough for me. We were very thankful for the sea breeze during the worst of the heat – and the castle! Not sure I could have done it without them. I’m just glad it’s over. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I would love that walk and maybe living in a place named “Snowdonia.” ❤ What it would be to be the person who "invented" hanging, drawing and quartering. "So, grandad, what was your life's great accomplishment?"

    "Well, son, I came up with a new torture, evisceration of the enemy AFTER scaring the shit out of them by hanging them. Awesome. The King was SO pleased."

    "Is that why dad ran away from home?"

    "If you're going to talk about that…"


    And behind this drama, people are just trying to live their lives.


  5. I’m really glad I don’t have the kind of imagination which could dream up ‘hanging, drawing and quartering’ – urghh! By the way, minor criticism – Snowdon is never ‘Mount’ Snowdon – that’s kind of European! 😉


  6. Conwy castle and the whole enclosed town is magnificent; the castle looks and feels like its own mountain with commanding views of the whole estuary. Enjoy!!
    More stories and history please😀😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi David, I thought I might hear from you around now! We’re on a long stretch of the walk from Conwy towards Caernarfon today, but it’ll be Conwy Castle that takes centre stage tonight! The place blew me away, and it was very special to have approached it on foot. See you later… 😊


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