History of Wales, Welsh history, links to historic sites featured on the Walesdirectory

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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 Click to enlarge Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, Llewelyn the Greatthat'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" dynasties.

Another example:
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 of Anglesey.

Another example:
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 souls.
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:

225,000 BC Warm period between Ice Ages. First evidence of man in Wales
100,000 BC Axes found in South Wales dating from this period
26,000 BC Evidence of man in Gwynedd. Kendrick's Cave in Llandudno occupied .Onset of last period of Ice Age
15,000 BC Ice retreats and man returns to Wales
10,000 BC Nomadic Hunter gatherers in Anglesey and Lleyn peninsula. Evidence of microlithic flints used as tips on arrows and spears for hunting
6000 BC Evidence of settlements in uplands and lowlands
3500 BC First Farmers. Megalithic tombs built in fertile low lying parts of Gwynedd. First evidence of pottery, stone axes produced in Graig Lwyd Penmaenmawr, Forest clearances.
2500 BC Ceremonial henges built, and communal tombs decline in importance. Farming spreads to marginal uplands. Beaker pottery.
2000 BC 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 previously
1100 BC Population pressures, deterioration of climate and soil degradation lead to abandonment of upland farming. First appearance of defensive settlements in Gwynedd
600 BC Hill forts, concentric circles farms and hut groups. Iron tools appear. Formation and consolidation of tribal groups.
43 AD Romans conquer North Wales. Forts established and roads built. Industry and agriculture flourish under Pax Romana
410 AD 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)
878 AD 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
1039 The last of the Welsh high-kings, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, assumes the throne. His short, 20 plus years, rule brings unity to Wales.
1063 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
1066 AD

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 1066.
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,

1276-83 Edward 1 of England invades Wales and crushes Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn the Second 1255-82),
1283-92 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 Castle
1349 The Plague, or Black Death, sweeps through Wales, leaving up to 40 percent of the population dead.

Owain Glyndwr 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.

1485 Welsh conquer England. Welsh man becomes King of England. Henry V11 becomes first Tudor monarch.
1536-43 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.
1642-48 Civil War between Royalists and Parliamentarians brings many medieval castles back into use for the last time. Harlech Castle

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