Battle of Crug Mawr

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Battle of Crug Mawr
Part of the Norman campaigns in Wales
Date October 1136
Location Crug Mawr, two miles from Cardigan
52°05′46″N 4°37′16″W / 52.096°N 4.621°W / 52.096; -4.621Coordinates: 52°05′46″N 4°37′16″W / 52.096°N 4.621°W / 52.096; -4.621
Result Decisive Welsh victory
Belligerents
Welsh forces from Gwynedd and Deheubarth Norman forces from all the south Wales lordships
Commanders and leaders

Owain Gwynedd Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd

Gruffydd ap Rhys

Robert fitz Martin, Robert fitz Stephen and

Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan
Strength

6000 infantrymen

2000 cavalrymen
Several thousand
Casualties and losses
Said to be light 3,000 killed

The Battle of Crug Mawr ('Great Barrow') took place in September or October 1136, as part of a struggle for control of Ceredigion which had been captured by the Normans.

A Welsh revolt against Norman rule had begun in South Wales, where on 1 January 1136 the Welsh won a victory over the local Norman forces at the Battle of Llwchwr between Loughor and Swansea, killing about 500 of their opponents. Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare, the Norman lord of Ceredigion, had been away from his lordship in the early part of the year. Returning to the borders of Wales in April, he ignored warnings of the danger and pressed on towards Ceredigion with a small force. He had not gone far when he was ambushed and killed by the men of Iorwerth ab Owain, grandson of Caradog ap Gruffydd (the penultimate prince of Gwent).

The news of Richard's death led to an invasion by the forces of Gwynedd, led by Owain Gwynedd and Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd, sons of the king of Gwynedd, Gruffudd ap Cynan. They captured a number of castles in northern Ceredigion before returning home to dispose of the plunder. Around Michaelmas (11 October in the Julian Calendar used at the time) they again invaded Ceredigion and made an alliance with Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth. The combined forces headed for the town of Cardigan. This army was said to include hundreds of armoured horsemen, a style of warfare which the Welsh had learnt from the Normans.

The battle[edit]

Two miles outside Cardigan the Welsh army encountered a Norman force and battle was joined. The Normans were led by Robert fitz Martin, supported by Robert fitz Stephen, constable of Cardigan Castle, with the brothers William and Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan. After some hard fighting, the Norman forces were put to flight and pursued as far as the River Teifi. Many of the fugitives tried to cross the bridge, which broke under the weight. Hundreds are said to have drowned, clogging the river with the bodies of men and horses. Others fled to the town of Cardigan which, however, was taken and burned by the Welsh even though Robert fitz Martin managed to successfully defend the castle and it was the only one in Ceredigion to remain in Norman hands at the end of the war.

Aftermath[edit]

Ceredigion, which had been part of Deheubarth before the Normans had conquered it, was now annexed by Gwynedd as the more powerful member of the coalition. Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth won it back for his kingdom by during the war of 1165-1170.

The battle was a significant setback to Norman expansion in Wales. Owain Gwynedd became king of Gwynedd on the death of his father the following year and further expanded the borders of his kingdom. In Deheubarth Gruffydd ap Rhys died in uncertain circumstances in 1137 and the resulting disruption allowed the Normans to partially recover their position in the south.

References[edit]

John Edward Lloyd (1911) A history of Wales from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest (Longmans, Green & Co.)