The Clwydian range from above Holywell


Medieval tomb carvings in the church at Caerwys

Caerwys is worth a visit if you have time: you could even find accommodation there. We stayed at Nest Price's guest house at Plas Penucha, just west of Caerwys, in 1998 and 2005 and it has become the base for our field work in this area.

As the name suggests, Caerwys was once a Roman outpost. It is now most famous for the eisteddfodau or poetry festivals which have been held there. According to tradition, the first was summoned in about 1100 by Gruffydd ap Cynan, the liberator of Gwynedd from the Norman Hugh Lupus. Another was held in 1523, and in 1567 Elizabeth I gave permission for a competitive bardic assembly there. The festival is commemorated in a window in the church.

The wandering bards and musicians of the old Welsh tradition had suffered under legislation designed to curb vagabonds. The 1567 eisteddfod offered the authentic bards an opportunity to prove their status and abilities. Once they had done this they were offered a degree which gave them the right to travel between the houses of the gentry and to be paid for their work. This failed to rescue the moribund Welsh bardic tradition, but at least it gave it a more dignified end. It is perhaps symbolic that the pencerdd, the leading bard acknowledged at Caerwys in 1567 was Wiliam Llyn, a poet best known for his elegies. In some of these written for his fellow poets, he is sorrowing not only for the death of friends and colleagues but for the passing of the whole bardic order.

Places to caerwys


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