Friday, September 12, 2008

Remember Cadfan?

from the beeb

Bloody Battlefields of Cadfan

Dinefwr Castle

Last updated: 03 December 2005

Idris Davies of Swansea writes about the Battle of Cadfan and the interesting field names that reflect the history of the area.

Cadfan Farmhouse in the Towy Valley is a listed ancient building and through the years has had many historical claims. As well as boasting an upper medieval banqueting hall, it also purports that 'Cromwell slept here'. However as its name implies, Cadfan means the 'place of battle'.

The battle in question occurred during the reign of Henry III of England in 1257. It transpired that Henry's forces came by sea and landed near Carmarthen. Later they marched by Towy Valley suppressing the Welsh opposition. When they arrived at Llandeilo they laid seige to the Dynevor Castle which was then under the control of the Welsh Princes.

The English thought they could easily defeat the Welshmen but they made a grevous mistake, for the Welshmen hemmed them in, and by nightfall had dismounted the English from their steeds. The following day in a strident mood of vengeance the English regrouped and pursued the Welsh westwards towards Broad Oak. At this time the countryside was heavily wooded, and the natural geographical ravines were ideal territory for the Welsh to hide and ambush the marauding English soldiers.

The main conflict lasted a whole day and the fighting arena stretched from Llangaethen to Broad Oak and Northwards towards Capel Isaac and Llanfynydd.

It has been said that the Welsh fell on the enemy with such fury that most of Henry's army was killed. Some writers state that Llewelyn the Welsh Prince was present at the battle and he later returned to north Wales laden with booty and the spoils of war.

It is claimed that 2000 of Henry's soldiers were killed and many notable persons were taken prisoner. The leader of Henry's army was Stephen Bayzan later anglicized to 'Bacon'. He was a close friend and confidant to King Henry III. He fell by the stream at Pentrefelin and the small bridge Pont Steffan nearby is named after him.

The fields surrounding Cadfan Farmhouse recall this bloody battle: Cae Ochain or 'the field of groans'; Congl y Waedd, 'the place of shouting'; Cae Tranc, 'field of death'; Cae Dial, 'field of vengance'; Cae Ffrainc, 'field of Normans'.

Cae Cerrig means 'field of stones'. Stones were discovered here when fields were compulsorily ploughed during the 1914 Great War. The stones were of a rounded formation and were alien to the soil's topography and strata formation of the area.

Castell y Gwreichion broadly means the place where flaming spears were directed towards the enemy. Rhiw Dorth or Rhiw Cymorth reflect the hill where the wounded were given help and comfort.

The field and place names have been handed down through the ages and have rolled off the tongues of generations of Welsh farmers throughout the centuries.

Idris Davies

  • Click here to read Phillip Terry's Kidwelly's Heroine - Princess Gwenllian.

  • your comments

    merlin Astley-Jones, Taihape, New Zealand
    Coming from this area I am pleased to see that Welsh history is still alive in some. However can the Ordnance Survey please mark these historic battle sites on the maps please for all of us to visit? Thank you.
    Tue Jan 2 11:27:18 2007

    Bob Hinton, Kidwelly
    If Mr Morgan of Cardiff finds this sort of History unaccessable and 'blatantly played down' then I'm afraid the fault lies with the Welsh. When I was researching this Battle about fifteen years ago ( also known as Cymeri) I found that no one, from the Archives, to the Universities to the Museums were the slightest bit interested in their own history. They didn't seem to know where the battle was fought or any of it's details. I can't see the English taking the same attitude with the Battle of Bosworth, the Scots with Bannockburn or the Irish with the Battle of the Boyne. ! It's your history - do something about it!
    Tue Jul 18 16:18:50 2006

    J Morgan - Cardiff,
    Very refreshing! Finally history not written by the 'victor's' school of thought or a 'British' national agenda. Let's see some more pieces and education on matters that don't consider the English monarchy as the B all and end all of the British Isles (As we see in other Nations of Scotland and Eire). Having lived here all my life I have never found this sort of history accessible and is blatantly played down.
    Mon Jun 19 15:43:14 2006

    Vince from Swansea
    Fascinating piece - I'd always wondererd about some of the past battles in South Wales. Thank you for infomation of this fascinating sounding battle. Amazing the fields still being named as there's so much insight in these alone.
    Wed Aug 4 20:32:42 2004

    Have you any another tales associated with this battle? Send in your comments here.

    Your name, surname and location (e.g. Joe Bloggs from Carmarthen):


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