Archive for November, 2007

Brwydr Moel-y-don taith

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

Leaders: Kathryn Gibson, Bryan Davies and John Davies

1. 12.30 Neuadd Pritchard Jones (institute), Newborough, Anglesey SH 425657

The short meeting will commence at 12.30p.m. followed by a picnic lunch, indoors or out weather permitted.

2. approx. 13.30 Moel y Don SH 518677

The most obvious crossing point is from the ‘lodge bungalow’ point SH 520680 to the point on Bryn Adda estate SH 525681

a] This is locally the narrowest point, where the estuary is almost exactly 500m wide. If the decking planks were 10m long, there would have needed to have been 49 pontoons. That is a lot of boats and a lot of man-hours of craftsmanship.

b] On the east side is a large, flattish area where the English army could have mustered

c] Behind that area are steeper slopes where the Welsh army could have appeared as in the description.

3. approx. 3.15 Garth Celyn [Pen-y-bryn], Aber at SH 659728

Those who wish, are invited to visit Garth Celyn, Aber. to see the home of the Princes, as guests of Katherine and Brian Gibson. There, we will be able to see an exhibition of the battle with multimedia and refreshments.

See press-release:


A new Society was formed on 3 rd June 2007 ‘to study, commemorate and mark’ Welsh Battlefields, and ‘to research battle strategy and tactics’. (3 rd June 1257 was the Welsh victory at Coed Llathen, Carmarthen).

The Society is having its second meeting on Saturday 3 rd November, to examine the site of the Battle of Moel y Don, on the Menai Strait near Bangor, fought on 6 th November 1282.

The meeting and discussions are open to all.

In 1282, Edward Longshanks, king of England, surrounded Snowdonia with a massive army.

In August and September 1282, Edward moved a detachment of troops onto Anglesey. The intention was to build a bridge of boats to enable the invaders to cross to the mainland.

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd had as his headquarters, and centre of resistance, the royal home at GARTH CELYN , Abergarthcelyn (now Abergwyngregyn) on the north coast of Gwynedd.

Edward had issued an order on 24 th May to Stephen of Penchester, the warden of the Cinque Ports, to select 10 or 12 strong carpenters, discreet and skilled in making the necessary boats and barges, to set out for Chester with their tools, and to arrive there not later than 23 rd June. The structure was to consist of linked boats, with a decking of poles and flat sections wide enough to allow a body of troops to cross in column.

The boats were prefabricated at Burton on the Wirral and then ferried across to Rhuddlan where they were stored before being shipped across to Anglesey.

On 18 th August Luc de Tany, the former seneschal of Gascony was sent to Anglesey with instructions ‘to provide and make a bridge there.’

Between 16 August and 15 September, Ralf of Broughton, king’s receiver for the Anglesey works purchased 14 boats for use in constructing the bridge. On 20 th August the keeper of the Wardrobe paid out £25 in wages to carpenters (200 ‘strong and agile’ men from the Cinque Ports) going to work on Anglesey. 23 rd August Master Richard the Engineer and 60 carpenters went to Anglesey. On 30 th August Master Henry of Oxford took another 100.

(Not all these carpenters were involved in building the bridge itself; some erected stockades, store sheds etc.)

When the work was completed the men were given casks of wine to celebrate. In addition, Luc de Tany also gave Bartholomew Godard and Robert Pauline, the wardens of the bridge ( custod’ pontem ) a gift of a ‘tun’ of wine each.

On 3 rd of November Archbishop John Pecham travelled to Garth Celyn, to negotiate between Prince Llywelyn and Longshanks. He stayed until the 6 th November. During that time, a truce was arranged. Llywelyn was offered a bribe; one thousand pounds a year and an estate in England if he would surrender his lands and people to the crown of England. Llywelyn totally rejected the bribe.

Early in the morning of 6 th November, with the truce still in place, and without the authority of Longshanks, Luc de Tany led his men across the bridge of boats.

The Welsh army watching and waiting on the hillside on the opposite shore above Moel y Don, waited for the right moment then swooped down, forcing the invaders back onto the bridge. The tide had turned; in the confusion of men and horses trying to retreat, the bridge tilted. Luc de Tany, sixteen knights and their squires, Godard, the bridge warden and 300 infantry all drowned.

It was an overwhelming victory for the Welsh army.

A month later, on 11 December 1282, Prince Llywelyn was lured into a trap and murdered.

Bridge of Boats: Moel y Don, Anglesey to Felin Heli (Port Dinorwig), Gwynedd.

The Battlefields Society, and anyone who cares to join in the discussions.