Brwydr Afon Menai - The Battle of Moel-y-don 6.11.1282

On Palm Sunday [21.03.1282] Dafydd’s soldiers attacked Hawarden Castle, and the following day put Rhuddlan Castle under siege. Within three days of the attack on Hawarden Edward I appointed commanders to specified centres in north, central and south Wales in preparation for his final campaign to conquer Wales.Naval forces were alerted on 10 April 1282 for service and plans were laid for the construction of a bridge of boats which would enable the Edward’s forces to cross the Menai Straits and establish a bridgehead on the mainland. Early in June Edward was advised to summon men from the Cinque Ports to build the boats at Chester.

Stephen Pencester was required to find the carpenters with the necessary skills and get them to Chester by 23 June. Pontoons were then built to be linked together to form a deck over which the body of troops and horsemen could cross.

A bridge of boats

By the second half of July 1282 the campaign was launched for the capture of Anglesey by an amphibious assault. By the middle of August, at the latest the island was garrisoned by a substantial force under the command of Luke de Tany. Llan-faes was now the centre of an extensive encampment which became a base for military operations on the island.

Starting point from Angelsey side

It is likely that by late September, or shortly afterwards, the bridge was completed and Luke de Tany, and the several senior officers with him, awaited their orders for the assault upon the mainland.

However, it was not until 6 November that the English cavalry and infantry launched their attack upon the mainland across the bridge of boats. Walter of Guisborough gave an account of the events on St Leonard’s Day - when Edward was still not ready to order a crossing, but “the English knights and armed men crossed the bridge at low tide eager for glory and renown.”

Veynol Estate the landi ng side

Veynol Estate the landing side

The landing area, sufficiently large to muster an army after crossing the river

“When they had reached the foot of the mountain and, after a time, came to a place at some distance from the bridge, the tide came in with a great flow, so that they were unable to get back to the bridge for the debt of water. The Welsh came from the high mountains and attacked them, and in fear and trepidation, for the great number of the enemy, our men preferred to face the sea than the enemy. They went into the sea but, heavily laden with arms, they were instantly drowned.”

Many of the English killed there had were close to the Edward. Luke de Tany himself and Roger Clifford were among those killed as were Philip Burnell and William Burnell, nephews or perhaps sons of the chancellor Robert Burnell. Sixteen English knights and many esquires and 300 infantry also perished, and Otto de Grandson only escaped drowning only with difficulty

This was a great Welsh victory which matched that at Coed Llathen in 1257.