Chirk monthly blog - September Invasion!
It’s 1165 and the mighty Henry II is gathering his forces, ready to expand his enormous empire even further... “thinking to annihilate all Welsh,” he leaves Oswestry and marches west, into Wales...
News of his approach swiftly reached a temporary alliance of Welsh princes, led by Owain Gwynedd, and a united army of Welsh troops gathered from all over Wales assembled at Corwen.
Hugely outnumbered, Welsh tactics had to be to raid and ambush, and as the English army cut through the dense forests of the Ceiriog Valley, they were repeatedly attacked by the Welsh.
Henry’s counter plan was to order 2000 woodsmen to clear a way through the dense woodland, to allow his army easier access. These woodsmen were protected by a powerful vanguard of pike-men, but they were heavily ambushed near a gap in the ancient earthwork of Offa’s Dyke.
The troops of Owain Gwynedd inflicted severe losses om the English, at a place now known as ‘The Gates of the Dead.’
This skirmish, known since as ‘The Battle of Crogen’ would have cost Henry II his life, had it not been for the action of Hugh de St Clare, who threw himself in front of his king, saving him from certain death.
The English army retreated, and abandoned the campaign when the Welsh forces cut off their supplies.
Henry ordered hostages to be brought to him at Shrewsbury, where twenty two of them (two of them Owain Gwynedd’s sons) were publically mutilated: this action then led to anti-Norman retaliation throughout Wales.
To commemorate this action Chirk castle is delighted to once again welcome the renowned Cwmwyd Ial and Les Miles des Marches, who will give us a fascinating look at life in the early Medieval period, and re-enact part of the battle right outside the castle!
Taking place over the weekend of 17th – 18th September, all are welcome – normal admission costs apply. National Trust members are free.