History of Wales
I am not a historian by any means, but I know what I like! I like the
ancient burial chambers scattered about the Welsh countryside, The many
medieval castles, be they built by the Normans, the English or the Welsh.
There are thousands of historic buildings in Wales of which I can only
visit a small proportion. I must admit to appreciating the ancient structures
most when they are in a wild landscape. I suppose that's
why I love the cromlechs and burial chambers.
I have until recently added the historic sites in a rather haphazard way
and this page is the start of my attempt to make it more structured and
more easily navigated.
You may also notice that I interpret Welsh history in a different way
to the usual "Woe is me" style
of down trodden Welshman. The way I see it, for example, .. the English
were defeated in 1 day in 1066 by William the Conqueror (OK it took
another 4 years to mop up the whole country), yet the Welsh were still
fighting the Anglo Normans over 300 years later under the leadership
of Owain Glyndwr, and indeed eventually captured the throne of England
with the Tudors becoming the most successful of all "English"
The English rightly have pride in Boadicea or Boudicca in her fight
against the Romans, but what most history lessons fail to point out is
that Boadicea was only able to achieve her early successes in the uprising
against the Romans in the South of England because the Roman legions under
Suetonius Paulinus had exited England and left the South of England unprotected.
In fact according to the Roman historian Tacitus the elite Roman legions
had marched into North Wales to fight what they saw as their most fearsome
enemies the Welsh / British tribes whose leadership was based on the Isle
A Welsh website, a "Woe is me"
Welsh website, recording the fact that Glyndwr's rebellion of 1400 was
eventually put down.
"Owain Glyndwr's short rebellion ends as he disappears. Henry IV
and his son suppress the rebellion. Defeat means second class citizenship
for the Welsh and humiliation"
Where is the humiliation for the Welsh? Where does that come from?
Where do you find in the English history books that the English were
"humiliated" after the defeat of the English army by the Norman's?
Yet 7,500 Norman soldiers had taken over a country of one and a half million
There was no "humiliation" for King Harold of England, he had
fought a good fight and maybe would have won the battle of Hastings had
he not just fought the battle of Stamford Bridge just weeks before.
Likewise the people of Wales were not "humiliated" when eventually
Owain Glyndwr lost his fight against superior forces. Indeed Glyndwr's
campaign can be said to have been one of the first examples of a successful
guerilla war, albeit short lived.
Please read on:
||Warm period between Ice Ages. First evidence of man in Wales
||Axes found in South Wales dating from this period
||Evidence of man in Gwynedd. Kendrick's Cave in Llandudno occupied .Onset
of last period of Ice Age
||Ice retreats and man returns to Wales
||Nomadic Hunter gatherers in Anglesey and Lleyn peninsula. Evidence of
microlithic flints used as tips on arrows and spears for hunting
||Evidence of settlements in uplands and lowlands
||First Farmers. Megalithic tombs built in fertile low lying parts of
Gwynedd. First evidence of pottery, stone axes produced in Graig Lwyd Penmaenmawr,
||Ceremonial henges built, and communal tombs decline in importance. Farming
spreads to marginal uplands. Beaker pottery.
||Burial mounds, cairns, stone circles, and standing stones erected in
upland areas of Gwynedd. First evidence of metallurgy, mining of copper
and manufacture of bronze tools. The Mold
Cape, found near Mold in Flintshire,
is evidence of a much more technologically advanced society than thought
||Population pressures, deterioration of climate and soil degradation
lead to abandonment of upland farming. First appearance of defensive
settlements in Gwynedd
||Hill forts, concentric circles farms and hut groups. Iron tools appear.
Formation and consolidation of tribal groups.
||Romans conquer North Wales. Forts established and roads built. Industry
and agriculture flourish under Pax Romana
||Romans withdraw. Irish and Viking raids increase. Separate Welsh kingdoms
achieve unification under Rhodri Fawr (844-78), Hywel Dda (942-50) and Gruffudd
ap Llywelyn (1055-63)
||The most notable Welsh figure before the arrival of the Normans is slain.
Rhodri Fawr was the first Welsh ruler to unite the Welsh tribes and kingdoms
under one rule. During his reign, the Vikings increase their raids
||The last of the Welsh high-kings, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, assumes the
throne. His short, 20 plus years, rule brings unity to Wales.
||The English, under future king Earl Harold, drive their army into Wales.
His own men kill Gruffydd ap Llywelyn and relatives and England's ascendancy
is reaffirmed albeit for a short time
At the Battle of Hastings King Harold of England is killed. The Norman
conquest of England is assured after just one day. OK it may have taken
another four years before the Normans could say they had finally conquered
England but the defining day was and still is remembered as 14th October
Marcher Lords are established along the Welsh borders.
Normans invade Gwynedd (1086-94) but are repulsed by Gruffudd ap Cynan
(1081-1137). Reigns of Gruffudd and his son Owain Gwynedd (1137-70) mark
high point of Welsh independence; monasteries founded, churches built
and social and economic life developed. Expansion of Gwynedd under Llywelyn
ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great, Llywelyn Fawr) 1195-1240.
Castles built by Llywelyn, Dolwyddelan
Castle, Criccieth Castle,
||Edward 1 of England invades Wales and crushes Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn
the Second 1255-82),
||Edward 1 undertakes massive Castle building program (under supervision
of Master James of St George) in vain attempt to subdue the Welsh. Conway
Castle, Beaumaris Castle, Caernarfon Castle, Rhuddlan Castle, Harlech
||The Plague, or Black Death, sweeps through Wales, leaving up to 40 percent
of the population dead.
leads another Welsh rebellion. The town of Ruthin
is sacked. The English, who were conquered by the Norman's in just one
day in 1066, find the 300 year resistance of the Welsh perplexing
to say the least.
||Welsh conquer England. Welsh man becomes King of England. Henry V11
becomes first Tudor monarch.
||Henry VIII enacts the first Act of Union which completes the political
and legal union of England and Wales. Wales falls under the English shire
system.The first dissolution of the monasteries begins.
||Civil War between Royalists and Parliamentarians brings many medieval
castles back into use for the last time. Harlech