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Crug Mawr, Site Of Battle, Near Cardigan

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Map ReferenceSN24NW
Grid ReferenceSN2060047400
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCeredigion
Old CountyCardiganshire
To inform the consideration of The Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Wales , documentary and historical research was commissioned on the 1136 battle of Crug Mawr and the resulting research report provides a detailed overview (Border Archaeology).

The battle of Crug Mawr marked the culmination of a series of separate revolts by the Welsh against Anglo-Norman rule immediately following the death of Henry I. Here the Welsh emerged victorious, resulting in the re-establishment of Welsh lordship over a significant proportion of southern and central west Wales at the expense of the Anglo-Norman and Flemish lords.

The events of the battle are documented in a number of English and Welsh chronicle sources (Border Archaeology). The Breviate Chroncle for the year 1136 provides one of the main accounts of the battle:

'owinus et catwaladrus iterum ad karedigean uenerunt ? quibus in adiutorium ? Grifinus filius Resi et resus filius ? hoeli et madocus filius idnerth et filii hoeli ad abertewi potenter venerunt quibus ex alia parte resisterunt ? stephanus constabularius et fili geraldi et omnes franci ab hosti sabrine usque ad meneuiam et flandrenses de Ros et prelio coram castello inito franci et flandrenses in fugam uersi capti sunt occisi sunt combusti et equorum pedibus conculcaci 189 et in fluuio tew? submerse' (Gough-Cooper, b1158.3).

Translation: 'Owain and Cadwaladr [ap Gruffydd] again came to Ceredigion, this time with the help of Gruffydd ap Rhys, Rhys ap Hywel, Madog ab Idnerth and the sons of Hywel they came powerfully to Cardigan. To resist them came Stephen the Constable, the sons of Gerald and all the French host from the River Severn to St David's as well as the Fleimings from Rhos; and they gave battle before the castle. The French and the Flemings were put to flight, some were captured, some were killed and some were burnt. The horse trampled down the foot and they were drowned in the River Tywi' (Remfrey, 178).

With the exception of the Itinerarium Kambriae by Gerald of Wales and the Breviate Chronicle , the majority of chronicle sources are somewhat vague in their location of the battle. The traditional location of the battle site at Crug Mawr, north-east of Cardigan is based on a passage by Gerald of Wales. Gerald's family were leading participants in the battle and he specifically states that from Cardigan Castle:

Translation: 'we made our way towards Lampeter, leaving Crug Mawr, that is the Big Hill, on our left soon after riding out of Cardigan. It was on this spot that...Gruffydd son of Rhys ap Tewdwr, gained a great victory over the English in a pitched battle' (Thorpe, 177).

It should be noted however that the precise location of Crug Mawr is not altogether clear and is assumed to refer to the steep conical hill referred to as `Banc y Warren? (SN 2042 4750) as marked on modern Ordnance Survey mapping. Another possibility which should be considered is that Crug Mawr may not simply refer to Banc y Warren but to the massif of which Banc y Warren forms a part, extending north-east from Cardigan towards Aberporth (Border Archaeology).

The account of the battle in the Breviate Chronicle offers a different location to that given by the Itinerarium Kambriae and suggests it was at some point close to Cardigan Castle and the river Teifi (SN 178 460). It is perhaps worth noting that skulls `cleft by battle axes? are reported to have been dug up in the vicinity of Cardigan Bridge (Pritchard, 35).

RCAHMW (Battlefields Inventory), Jan 2017

Border Archaeology, Crug Mawr (1136): Documentary and Historical Research Report (2009).
Gough-Cooper, Henry (ed.) The Breviate Chronicle: Annales Cambriae, The B Text from London, National Archives, MS E164/1, pp. 2?26, online edition.
Pritchard, E.M., Cardigan Priory in the Olden Days, London (1904).
Remfry, Paul M. Annales Cambriae: A Translation of Harleian 3859: PRO E. 164/1: Cottonian Domitian, A1: Exeter Cathedral Library MS.3514 and MS Exchequer DB Neath, PRO E. 164/1 (Castle Studies Research, 2007).
Thorpe, Lewis (trans.), Gerald of Wales The Journey through Wales and The Description of Wales (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1978).