Battle of Crogen circular walk
Find the 'Gate of the Dead' and Battle of Crogen on this circular walk from Chirk Castle. Walking alongside Offa's Dyke you will stumble across 1,000 years of history and conflict.
Chirk Castle car park
Exit the car park, go past Home Farm, and turn right when you get to the driveway.
After 100 yards, turn right following the path down through the woodland.
This path to the right of the driveway leads off of National Trust owned land and onto land still owned by the Myddelton family, who bought the castle in 1595. This is a permissive path open from March to October.
Walk down the path, continue over the stile, and follow the white marker posts through the field. This field used to be known as 'the chase' and is thought to have been part of the old deer park. There is a well preserved section of Offa's Dyke on your right. Continue to the bottom of the field and climb over the stile.
Bisecting the estate is a section of the remarkable 8th century defensive earthwork Offa's Dyke, built by King Offa of Mercia to mark the ancient border with the kingdom of Powys. The area of Offa's Dyke along the old deer park is one of the best preserved sections in the area. Across other parts of the estate large sections of Offa's Dyke were flattened by William Emes in the 18th century as part of his landscaping works.
Continue down the slope through the trees to the bottom of the valley. You will see the enormous Oak at the gates of the Dead on your left. This tree is believed to date back to the 11th century so would have been standing in 1165 at the time of the Battle of Crogen. There is also information about the Battle of Crogen further down the path on your left. Continue down the path. Don't cross the road, instead turn right for 10 yards (9m) then take the track to the right.
The Battle of Crogan
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 troops from across Wales assembled 16 miles from Chirk at Corwen. Hugely outnumbered, the Welsh tactics were 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, which runs across the Chirk Castle estate. 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 (including two Owain Gwynedd’s sons) were publicly mutilated: this action then led to anti-Norman retaliation throughout Wales.
After 500 yards (457m) turn right at the fork, heading uphill with the woodland on your right.
Continue uphill, passing a farm, for another 600 yards (548m).
Take the right track via the signposted metal kissing gate into the field following the marker posts. Continue through the fields.
After 250 yards (229m) go through the metal kissing gate, heading to the left of the houses. Continue along the fields. There is a fantastic view of Chirk Castle on your right.
Turn right through the next kissing gate, taking the National Trust path to the right of the houses.
Continue to follow the path through the field back to Chirk Castle car park.
Chirk Castle car park
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