The Celts in Wales

The Irish, Welsh, and Scots all have a Celtic ancestry, but they settled their respective regions before the Roman conquest of Britain.  There is an amazing amount of debate as to the origin of the Celts:  were they Phoenician?  stocky and dark?  tall and blonde?  as culturally cohesive as the label suggests?   The standard theory is that the Celts were an Indo-European group that gradually migrated across Europe and Asia, with an identifiable, distinct culture by 750 BC.  As a group, they were well-known to the Greeks and Romans.  The map to the right shows the migrations of the celtic (or proto-celtic) groups around 1000 BC.   Note the expansion of the Celts in particular between 500 and 200 BC into the British Isles.  The Welsh tribes in particular consisted of the Ordovices, the Deceangli, the Gangani, the Demetae, and the Silures. http://archaeology.suite101.com/article.cfm/archaeology_and_the_celts “History Read more…

European Invasions

Throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, different groups moved from one location to another.  Sometimes, the purpose was conquest, sometimes raiding, and sometimes it involved a quest for a better life and the intent was to settle, rather than conquer, new lands. But usually somebody was already there.  The map at right show the paths of various groups from Roman times to through the Middle Ages. After the sack of Rome in 410 (see my post here: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/the-fall-of-rome/) tribes were on the move all through Europe: Angles/Saxons/Jutes:  These three groups derived from Denmark and Germany.  “Following the departure of the Romans in A.D.410 and after the sacking of Rome, Britain was left unprotected. The distant dominions frantic call to Rome went unheard. Mutiny spread through the ranks of the British defenders remaining who were now descendants of Roman stock. Britain Read more…

A Question about Rhuddlan Castle (Twthill)

A reader of the Gareth and Gwen medieval mysteries asked me a question today and I thought it and my answer was worth sharing … Question: Rhuddlan is an important component of the plot [of The Uninvited Guest]. A sentence in Wikipedia (yes, I know Wikipedia has its limitations, but I notice that, on occasion, even your blogs have referenced Wikipedia) brings up a question. Wikipedia states that Owain Gwynedd did not conquer Rhuddlan until about 1150. It appears that the Welsh/English border was somewhat fluid during the reign of Owain Gwynedd, and other online sources are not clear on whether Rhuddlan was part of Wales or England in 1143. It is my perception that your research is thorough, and I am guessing that there is a historical basis for your describing Rhuddlan as part of Gwynedd in 1143. Can Read more…

Medieval Planned Communities

When Edward I conquered Wales, he did more than build castles.  He also built townships.  These were villages associated with one of his castles.  In most cases, he imported English people to live in them, ousting the native Welsh.  Caernarfon, Rhuddlan, Conwy, Flint, Harlech and Beaumaris were among these combined castles/villages. “The strategy of building Welsh Medieval Castles was combined with King Edward’s ambition to build and integrate fortified towns with the great castles. These purpose-built townships were designed to predominantly house the English conquerors. The towns were defended by the city walls and, of course, the castles. The Constable of the castle would often perform a dual role as Mayor of the town. Not only did the English have control over the local Welsh population they also had control of commerce and finance. The townships were established as trading Read more…

Caerhun (Canovium)

The Roman fort of Canovium (Caerhun) sat at an important ford on the Conwy river that connected the Roman center at Caernarfon (Segontium) with Chester (Deva).  The following site has an extensive discussion of viritually every aspect of the Roman fort:  http://www.betws31.freeserve.co.uk/Kanovium_Index/kanovium_index.html “Situated on the west bank of the River Conwy, the Roman fort at Caerhun, known to the Romans as Kanovium or Conovium, is believed to have been established at this point to control a network of trackways already in existence at the time of the forts founding in the late 70’s A.D.  Basically known as a ‘route blocker’ a fort situated at an area of strategic importance with the aim of restricting native movement.  These tracks which ran N-S, and E-W had been dictated by the nature of the land which North Wales consisted of, basically the N-W area was Read more…