where to go, what to see, and where to stay in Wales

Owain Glyndwr, the rebellion. The rebels attack the towns of North East Wales including Ruthin, Denbigh, Flint, and Rhuddlan.
Follow the Glyndwr trail through Wales

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The town of Ruthin was the first to feel the full force of Glyndwr's army. This is not surprising as the town belonged to Owain Glyndwr's protagonist the Baron Reginald de Grey. On September 18th 1400 the Welsh army marched the ten miles from Glyndyfrdwy and burnt Ruthin to the Ruthin Old Court Houseground, reputedly leaving only the castle and a few other buildings standing. Encouraged by their success they proceeded to attack the other Anglo Norman boroughs of Denbigh, Flint, Rhuddlan and Hawarden. They moved quickly on to Holt, Oswestry and Welshpool but eventually the English rallied their troops and confronted the rebels on the banks of the Severn on the 24th September. The fighting men of the English Border counties stopped the Welsh in their tracks and after the defeat many Welshmen left for home thinking the war would soon be over.

But Owain Glyndwr and his small "band of brothers" had other ideas and headed for the Welsh hills. These guerilla warfare tactics were to prove to be the making of the campaign, and several times during the following war torn decade the English would invade only to find Glyndwr could not be found. The minor rebellion in north east Wales was to become a full scale war threatening the very existence of the State of England

Henry IV had sensed the importance of the revolt and having mustered an army arrived in Shrewsbury on the 26th September. By early October he reached Bangor in north west Wales threatening the Anglesey lands of the Tudurs of Penmynydd, who, being cousins of Glyndwr, had expressed support for the revolt. (The Tudurs, ancestors to the English Tudor dynasty, had previously served King Richard II in Ireland before Richard's crown had been usurped by Henry).

The general population of north Wales submitted to the English but the Tudurs' guerilla forces harassed Henry's army and he returned to Shrewsbury by mid October with little to show for his efforts.

Owain and his associates including his in-laws the Hanmers were by now suffering badly for their treasonable actions. Their lands and properties were confiscated and they faced execution on capture. The English Parliament passed laws to restrict the Welsh, and Welsh men in turn began to return to Wales to join the rebellion. The usual line is that Welsh scholars voluntarily left their desks at Oxford and Cambridge and Welsh labourers dropped their tools and rushed back to Wales. I wonder myself whether they would have been treated as illegal immigrants with the scholars getting kicked out of college and the Welsh labourers getting the sack ! For whatever reasons it seems the Welsh returned home and many joined Glyndwr's rebellion.

Henry's son, Prince Henry, and Henry Hotspur, one of the Percys of Northumberland, had taken control of the north Wales campaign. They offered pardons to some but unfortunately not to Owain or the Tudurs.

By the turn of the year support for the rebellion was again growing and the whole of northern and mid Wales went over to Glyndwr. English towns and castles were attacked. And on Good Friday 1401 the Tudurs with a force of only 40 men took the "impregnable" Conwy castle in north Wales. It was an act of imagination and daring to compare with the legends of Robin Hood or King Arthur and if it had been an act of English men would no doubt have been celebrated in history books and been the subject of numerous Hollywood movies.

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The Glyndwr rebels capture Conwy Castle >

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Caernarfon Castle and walled town
Conwy Castle and walled town
Ruthin Old Court House
Criccieth Castle
Dolwyddelan Castle
Harlech Castle
Cardiff Castle Keep


Heritage map showing Owain Glyndwr trail .
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Main Roads
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For a holiday Wales on the Owain Glyndwr trail choose from this list of accommodation providers in Llangollen, Ruthin and North East Wales. Please note the properties listed are not specifically offering Heritage holidays.
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