Battle of Crogen

The Battle of Crogen took place in a field in Powys adjacent to Offa’s Dyke and marked by a 1200 year old oak tree. History has recorded this battle as occurring 1165 between a combined Welsh force that included Owain Gwynedd, his nephew, the Lord Rhys, and the sons of King Madog of Powys, for once fighting with Owain instead of against him. They were opposed by an invasion force led by King Henry II, who was attempting to curb the power of the Welsh. To that end, he brought the largest army the Welsh had ever faced: 30,000 men. Henry also hired upwards of 2000 woodcutters to cut a path through the forest. But when the English army tried to force its way through a gap in Offa’s Dyke, the Welsh rained thousands of arrows down upon them from Read more…

Offa’s Dyke

? In 780 AD, King Offa of Mercia was at the height of his authority.  Prior to his rule, in 750 AD, King Eliseg (immortalized by Eliseg’s Pillar near Llangollen) had swept the Saxons out of the plains of Powys.  Offa, in turn, attacked Powys in 778 and 784, and tradition states that he built the dyke, sometime (or throughout) his reign.  Prior to this, Aelthelbald, King of Mercia, had built ‘Wat’s Dyke’, which extends from the Severn Valley northwards towards the estuary of the Dee (A History of Wales, John Davies p. 62). There is a quote from George Borrow, from Wild Wales, that “it was customary for the English to cut off the ears of every Welshman who was found to the east of the dyke, and for the Welsh to hang every Englishman whom they found to Read more…

The Kingdoms of Wales

Wales as a country evolved over a period of time after the Saxons completed their conquest of the rest of Britain. To recap, the Romans left Britain in 410 AD, leaving the ‘Britons’ to fend for themselves against succeeding waves of raiders from the north and east. These includes the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. Historians are not in agreement as to exactly how this worked, but the Britons as a culture and society were driven further and further west until they reached their last bastions in Wales. Regardless of the actual timeline, by 800 AD, the Saxons were well established right up to the border of what is now Wales.  Offa’s Dyke, an earthen wall built in the 8th century, delineated the border for much of the early Middle Ages. “Offa was King of Mercia from 757 to 796 AD. Read more…

Mount Badon / Caer Faddon (part 2)

Mount Badon, if it exists at all, should appear on the map somewhere.  But where? There are many, many possibilities. First of all, we should note where Mount Badon is not.  For all that Geoffrey of Monmouth embellished and expanded the Arthurian legend, he did history a disservice in supposing that King Arthur ruled all of England, Scotland and Wales.  Geoffrey wrote his book under the patronage of Robert of Gloucester, who was trying to justify the rule of England by his half-sister, Maud.  Thus, because Maud had roots in Normandy, so did Arthur; because Maud was hoping to rule all of Great Britain, so did Arthur; because Maud’s power base was in and around Gloucester, so was Arthur’s. Yet even in the twelfth century, for one king to control all of Great Britain by force of arms was extremely difficult.  Read more…