« PreviousContinue »
ten years later, 1251,1 to assign ten acres of land to Gronow and his brothers in recompense for their land taken in the construction of Dissard Castle. Mr. Edwards pointed out that, though the present Castle had but a brief existence of twenty-two years, its share in the record of the Welsh wars was considerable.
Canon Morris quoted from the Report of the Royal Commission on Welsh Monuments, and referred to the distress felt by the Cambrian Archæological Association at the destructive results of the quarrying. It was feared that in a very short time the Castle with such an interesting record would be entirely swept away. Archdeacon Thomas observed that he noticed how rapidly in the space of a very few months the work of destruction had advanced. He felt that no time should be lost in making a plan of the ruins, with the contour of the hills, so that should the Castle itself disappear, they would have some record preserved. That was the only thing which, in his opinion, could be done under the cir
From the Castle the Vicar of Dyserth led the party down the hill to a ruined building known as Siamber Wen. This ruin stands on property belonging to the Earl of Plymouth, who very kindly allowed excavations to be made with the object of ascertaining its original purpose. Mr. Longueville Jones submitted, Arch. Camb., 1847, a conjecture that it was a building erected over a holy well, as at Holywell and Wigfair. In Arch. Camb., 1858, it was declared that there were no traces of a domestic edifice. Against this stands the clear statement of Edward Lhwyd, Parochialia, 1699. "Siamber Wen is the name of an old ruin where Sir Robert Pounderling lived." "Pennant, sixty years later, adds that "Sir Robert Pounderling [was] once Constable of the adjacent Castle." An effigy in Tremeirchion Church is traditionally said to be Pounderling's, representing a Knight in armour, legs crossed, on shield a griffin rampant within a bordure. This effigy Baron de Cosson assigns to 12701280.3
The students of St. Beuno's College had for some time been making excavations, and the Rev. Kenelm Digby Beste, S.J., gave a short report of the work done.
When the work originally commenced the whole place was covered with thicket, and a very large quantity of rubbish had to be cleared away. The building ran from east to west, and on the western side there appeared to have been a doorway. To the left of the opening there was a stone which slanted at an angle of 45 degrees which seemed to have been the beginning of an arch way. In the ground outside the building there was a large gap, but they did not know how far it extended. On the other side of the opening there was a socket hole which extended to a depth of about 5 ft., and it seemed as if some bolt or bar entered there, for there was a similar hole on 1 Close Roll, 35 Hen. III.
'Enw hên vyrdhyn lhe by S1 Robert Pounderling yn byw."
3 Pennant II, 118, 131; Arch. Camb., 1890, p. 180.
the opposite side. There was also a well in the building. From the formation of the clay it appeared that one portion of the floor was much higher than the other. The west wall was twice as thick as the other walls, and outside the original wall there was another type of wall with buttresses.
Dr. Cochrane, President of the Royal Irish Society of Antiquaries, said that if the building was in Ireland they could easily decide what it had been used for. They found near Wexford a building which was almost identical as to measurements, and a number of Welshmen had settled there. From comparison he was inclined to say that Siamber Wen was used for the same purpose as that in Ireland, namely, as a house for the seneschal or steward of the estate, who, in the days in which it was built, was a very important personage. He thought it was a domestic rather than an ecclesiastical building.1
Archdeacon Thomas said that with all due deference to the opinion of Dr. Cochrane he thought it was an ecclesiastical building, because he did not think any chieftain would select such a place as a residence. Comparisons were useful however, and he thanked Dr. Cochrane for his remarks. There was great similarity between the well and that of St. Mary's at Cefn, and he was of the opinion that it was the well of St. Cwyfan.
Subsequently it was stated that reports were circulated, during the time the students of St. Beuno's were excavating, that many houses in the district had been erected from stones taken from both the Castle and Siamber Wen, and that one end of the building was actually demolished by means of gunpowder. As the stone was ready prepared for building it saved those who were erecting houses the trouble of quarrying them.
Dyserth Church. Archdeacon Thomas gave a brief account of the Church, celebrated for its beautiful East Window and Celtic Cross. At one time the parish of Dyserth included the whole of Newmarket parish. The Church has two dedications-1. S. Cwyfan, and 2. S. Ffraid, who is also the saint of another Dyserth, Llansantffraid Glan Conwy. The Cross, which has been brought from the Churchyard into the Church, has the same Celtic ornamentation as Maen Chwyfan. It once bore, according to Gruffydd Hiraethog, an inscription not very correctly given (Peniarth MS., 134).
"Hock si petatur lapis ysti[?] causa notatur
Enion oxi'[occisus] Ririd Vlaidd filius hoc memoratur."
It is traditionally said to have been brought from Bryn Einion, where Einion, son of Rhirid Flaidd, was slain by an arrow during the siege of Dyserth Castle, 1263. The ornamentation, however, shows the Cross itself to have been of much earlier date, probably the eighth century. The base of a cross with similar carving is placed near. In the south wall is a stoup for holy water, and in the wall
1 See Note by Dr. Cochrane, ante pp. 33 to 38.
2 "Mae hen groes mal karreg nodhva yn y vynwent," E. Lhwyd, i, 53.
near the pulpit is inserted a coffin lid, found under the chancel floor at the restoration in 1875, inscribed "Hic jacet Robert F. Ryn. F. Bled. F. Mad.," temp., Hen. IV.
In the Perpendicular East Window, of five lights, are preserved considerable portions of the "Tree of Jesse," representing Our Lord's genealogy, with the apostles and their emblems in the headtracery. The glass is richly toned with a large admixture of the ancient white glass. It was renovated in 1875, in memory of Mr. Shipley-Conwy of Bodrhyddan and his sister, Mrs. Rowley. The lower portion is made up of scattered fragments.
The window formerly bore inscriptions of the fifteenth century: Orate pro bono statu parochianorum ad faciend' istam fenestram MCCCCL, and Orate pro bono statu Johannis Tubney Archid'.
In the Register is an interesting entry of the triple marriage on the same day of the widow, son, and daughter of Bishop Parry to Thomas Mostyn of Rhyd, and his son and daughter respectively.
Thomas Mostyn Esq' and Gwen Parry
Richard Parry and Marry Mostyn
William Mostyn and Anne Parry
wearr maried the 27th day of November, anno domini, 1624."
A memorandum is also inserted at the end of the following year, "Here somme indiscrete personne, finding the Church coffer oppen, did with a knife cutt out all that was written from Anno Dom. 1625 until ann. 1635, all which wanteth in this book."
In the Churchyard are some seventeenth century canopied tombs with a curious arrangement of pendants from a shield, in memory of the Hughes' of Llewellyd.
Rhuddlan Castle was described by the Rev. W. Mac Mahon, S.J., who gave an admirable summary of the chronological points in its History.
Twt Hill, about 200 yards to the S. of the present castle-ruins, probably marks the site of the stronghold of the Earls of Mercia, who, from the time of the building of Offa's Dyke, were masters of the country between the Dee and the Conway. Sir Edward Anwyl cites Dr. Murray as authority for connecting-the word Twt with "tout," and explaining Twt Hill to meet Look-out Hill.
On this mound it is likely that Llywelyn ap Seisyllt, King of Gwynedd, built c. 1015 his castle. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn incurred the enmity of Harold for helping Alfgar of Mercia against the house of Godwine, and in revenge Harold burnt the fortress here while Gruffydd escaped down the Clwyd and out to sea (1063).
Domesday tells us of a castle lately built at Rhuddlan, "the head of this region," held in equal shares by Hugh of Avranches, Earl of Chester, and his cousin, Robert of Rhuddlan. This would be a timbered fort, and was erected c. 1073. It is impossible to say whether the transference from Twt Hill to the present site was made at this time or later under Edward I. Domesday gives us the tale of the berewicks belonging to the castle, and divides the church,
the mint, the eighteen burgesses, the future iron-mines, mills, and fisheries between the Earl and his kinsmen. It also tells us in concise phrase that Robert of Rhuddlan held North Wales, which
means that the conqueror recognised him as overlord of Gwynedd in succession to Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (d. 1063).
Robert of Rhuddlan had been in the service of Edward the Confessor, and returned to England after the battle of Hastings. The Earl of Chester made him governor on the frontier at Rhuddlan, and from this place he took his surname. We find him aiding Gruffydd ap Cynan ap Iago in 1075, and in the same year the latter
burnt the new outworks at Rhuddlan; so unstable are affairs and relationships on the border. Robert however successfully pushed forward, and erected an advanced castle, c. 1078, at Deganwy. Here he met a gallant death fighting the same Gruffydd in 1088, and the Earl of Chester stepped into the shoes of his late vassal.
Gruffydd gained ground 1093-8, taking advantage of the divisions of Rufus's reign; and the anarchy under Stephen enabled his son Owain to get back the whole of the land between the Dee and the Conway. Rhuddlan became a Royal Castle, no longer held under Chester, after an expedition, 1156-7, in which Henry II made use of both army and fleet.
A house of Templars is said to have been erected at Rhuddlan on this occasion, and it is conjectured that, after passing to the Knights of the Hospital, it survives in the villa standing half a mile to the E. called "The Spital."
Henry II came again to Rhuddlan to recover what he had lost to Owain amid the distractions of the quarrel with Thomas à Becket. But, in 1166, Owain destroyed Basingwerk, and next year burnt Rhuddlan and Prestatyn.
Archbishop Baldwin, accompanied by Giraldus Cambrensis, preached the Crusade here in 1187; he was the guest of the proNorman Davydd, who held Rhuddlan Castle of the King.
Llywelyn the Great surrendered the Vale of Clwyd to King John in person at Rhuddlan in 1211; yet two years later he won all back when the King was at variance with Pope and barons.
Davydd II, in 1241, surrendered to Henry III, at a spot on the Elwy, two miles S. of Rhuddlan.
Dyserth Castle was built in 1241, and superseded Rhuddlan till it was destroyed by Llywelyn, grandson of the Great, in 1263.
Edward I was here in 1275, and again selected Rhuddlan as the point to fortify, and here, at the end of the 1277 campaign, Llywelyn swore fealty to him. However, in 1282, Llywelyn's brother Davydd rose in arms, and Llywelyn put himself at the head of the movement, which brought Edward back to Rhuddlan with his army and his Queen. In November, after the failure at the boat-bridge across the Menai Straits, Edward was cooped up at Rhuddlan, and Llywelyn was free to extend his operations to the S. But the national hero was slain at Builth, and his head brought to Edward at Rhuddlan. Next spring the war was renewed against Davydd, who, in September, was escorted through Rhuddlan on his way to the scaffold.
A century later Richard II passed through Rhuddlan. On August 18, 1399, he was captured near Llanddulas, and dined at Rhuddlan on his way to meet the victorious Henry of Lancaster.
The ruins, as we now see them, are entirely of Edward's building, mainly between the years 1281-1291. The Castle was a simple quadrangle, with single towers at the N. and S. corners and double towers at the E. and W. The inner diameter of the towers is about 19 ft. 1 in.; their height is 42 ft., topped by remains of a