Canolfan Owain Glyndwr CentreCYMRAEG  

Owain Glyndŵr's Wales

Aberystwyth Castle

Aberystwyth was taken by Owain Glyndŵr’s forces in 1404. They were besieged by forces under the command of the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick in 1407, whose artillery failed to make much impression on those besieged, though a cannonball fatally wounded William Gwyn ap Rhys Llwyd of Cydweli.

Glyndŵr had a long standing relationship with Henry IV and a personal rivalry ensued between him and Prince Hal. After several months of siege, the defenders resolved to surrender the castle on 1 November (following negotiations by the Chancellor of the University of Oxford), but when the proposal was put to Glyndŵr, he threatened to execute the Welsh commander, took possession and directed the defence himself.

However Glyndŵr’s lack of sea power proved fatal and the castle finally fell to the besiegers at an uncertain date in the autumn of 1408 or early 1409, after their supplies had run out. From this point onwards, Glyndŵr was effectively no more than a guerrilla leader.

There are certain detailed references to the campaign:

· On the 12th January, 1405, Owain Glyndwr sealed his treaty with the French 'in our castle in Llanpadarn.'

· Prince Henry (Henry V) attacked the castle with siege engines and cannon. This was one of the first times cannon were used in Britain. The English failed to take the castle and Henry complained that he had to pawn his jewels in order to support the expenses of the siege.

· Aberystwyth Castle was garrisoned by a few soldiers during the 15th century (typically one man at arms and 12 archers). After the Castle was regained by the English from Owain Glyndwr, it was not kept in good repair. A man at arms might mean one swords man and three archers.

· The occupants of the Castle surrendered to Prince Henry on the 12th September, 1408 Maredudd ab Owain (Rhys Ddu's son in law) was handed over as a hostage at the siege with Thomas ap Rhydderch. Rhys ap Gruffydd ap Llywelyn ab Ieuan (or Jankyn) was one of the Welsh leaders who garrisoned Aberystwyth castle at the end of the siege. Maredudd ab Owain ap Gruffydd ab Einion also supported Glyndwr and had to pay £300 pledge for hostages who had been taken to secure the surrender of Aberystwyth castle.

Aberystwyth Castle
Image © Copyright Ray Jones and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The castle is within easy walking distance of the centre of Aberystwyth, within a stone’s throw of the seafront university buildings and stands on a route along the promenade. Aberystwyth, nestling between the Bay of Cardigan and the Cambrian Mountains is an exceedingly Welsh town and is already recognised as a cultural tourist destination. It has excellent train and bus connections from Birmingham, London as well as from south and north Wales. It is within easy travelling distance of the other Glyndŵr destinations of Pennal and Machynlleth, and is not too far south of Harlech Castle to travel in a day. The train journey along the north-west Wales coast between Harlech, Machynlleth and Aberystwyth is an added and uniquely spectacular treat for visitors.

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