Wednesday, 26 February 2014

"The Total Annihilation of the Welsh Race."

On my walks around Chirk and the Ceiriog Valley I came across the site of the battle of Crogen where King Henry the 2nd of England came a nasty cropper in 1165. Stating that Henry was determined to "totally annihilate the Welsh race", the information board at the site qualifies this by explaining that Henry had raised a mighty army of 30,000 soldiers who were determined to bring the Welsh Princes to heel after a rebellion. At that time the Ceiriog Valley was heavily wooded and 2000 wood cutters were needed to make a path through the valley. At a place where the valley narrows, known as the Crogen, the army was ambushed. It was the perfect killing ground for Welsh archers and lightly armed soldiers. King Henry himself narrowly escaped death. One of his knights sacrificed his own life by taking an arrow intended for the king. The king's mounted soldiers could not manoeuvre as the Welsh foot soldiers attacked with bow, spear, sword and axe, and there were heavy losses on both sides. Eventually Henry forced his way through, only to fail in the wilds of the Berwyn mountains due to continued Welsh guerilla tactics. He never tried to conquer Wales again and Welsh independence survived nearly 120 years after this event. The Welsh buried the Anglo-Norman dead at a spot known to this day as Adwy'r Beddau - the gap of the graves.

The site of the Battle of Crogan (1165)
There are some lovely walks to be had on the hills overlooking the site of the battle. Offa's Dyke runs through the area and there are many permissive paths owned by the National Trust.

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