Sycharth: A National Treasure Neglected

I hadn’t planned on writing anything for a while, but after visiting Sycharth today, the home of Owain Glyndŵr, I am compelled to put a few thoughts into words.

Fortunately, I took a long way home, stopping here and there; which gave me time to cool down, reflect on what I’d seen, and think about what I was going to write.

First, I’m going to provide a map, for anyone minded to visit. I’m doing this because you’ll see no directional signs of any kind for Sycharth . . . until you’ve found it! I’m not sure if SatNav can cope.

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Sycharth is close to the border, on a narrow road south of the village of Llansilin, and once you’ve found it, you’d better hope you can park your car, for there are just four parking spaces. When I arrived today all four spaces were taken.

(My clutch then took a bit of a hiding as I engaged in some dextrous parking.)

Before heading to Sycharth proper I read the information board put up by Cadw, the ‘Welsh Government’ agency with responsibility for the site.

Talking of sites, and Cadw, I’m writing this on September 16, the day we celebrate the life and heroic deeds of Owain Glyndŵr; and yet the homepage of the Cadw website has not a single mention of him – it’s all Anglo-Norman castles.

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The information board is very light on, well, information. Which results in this rather curious phrase: ‘ . . . yet by 1405 it (Sycharth) had become a burnt-out shell at the hands of Prince Harry (the future Henry V).’

Without the context of a brutal and bloody war of national liberation that reads as if this Harry bloke should have been banged up for being a pyromaniac.

The cars already parked in Sycharth’s miniscule car park seemed to belong to school teachers, up on the mound with a bunch of kids. Once I’d frightened them off I had the place to myself.

But before even getting to the hallowed ground I had to negotiate the stile. Now I’m six foot tall and reasonably fit, but many others would have struggled. One step was missing and the whole bloody thing looked as if it was about to collapse into firewood.

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After negotiating the stile I had to traverse the ground to the remains of the motte and bailey, and that meant dodging cowpats. Yes, I appreciate that Sycharth is on the land of a working farm. But even so . . .

If the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ can find £4.25m to buy flood-prone Gilestone farm – ostensibly for the Green Man Festival – then I’m sure to God it can find a few thousand to buy the field containing the home of Owain Glyndŵr.

It certainly could if it wanted to.

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I’m not suggesting that Sycharth be rebuilt, or that it needs a 500-space car park. (The local roads couldn’t cope.) But the site could be bought, and tidied up. With room for 15 – 20 cars. And it could definitely be better signposted.

The bottom line is that I believe we should show more respect for, and gratitude towards, Owain Glyndŵr. Because if it had all ended in 1283, then there might have been no Wales today.

One job that could be done immediately is to replace that completely uninformative information board! And put up a few bloody signposts.

Because at present the whole site carries an air of neglect, as if certain people wished they didn’t have to bother. As if they don’t really want anyone going to Sycharth.

Another example of this neglect would be the weeds crowning the mound.

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I know Cadw is little more than English Heritage (West) and interested only in Anglo-Norman castles and the income they generate, but things need to change.

Cadw needs to be reminded that it is first and foremost a body celebrating and conserving Welsh history. And to us, as a nation, Sycharth is more important than Caernarfon castle.

It may be humble by comparison, but the princes that lived at Sycharth were our princes.

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As I got back to my car a few other people were arriving. Pilgrims, by the look and sound of them. I hope their faith helped them overcome the disappointment I’m sure they felt at what they found.

Maybe I should have warned them about the stile, and the cowpats, but I was too busy thinking about those anglocentric crawlers at Cadw.

And also thinking about us as a nation, for tolerating what I’d just seen.

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


37 thoughts on “Sycharth: A National Treasure Neglected

  1. Dafis

    Meanwhile back at the most important, most admired, most beautiful city in the world ( yes, you’ve guessed, it’s London in Boris speak) Truss and her boy Kwasi have accelerated the pace of destruction of the UK economy. Economics was never a robust science anyway but these 2 festering cvnts have had a ball burning up the books shredding all kinds of orthodoxies and substituting anarchy. They have stepped up the speed at which wealth gets sucked out of the economy into coffers of the relative few, the wealthy, mostly elitist bloated manipulators who will be laughing their cox off while everybody else’s life is driven into the gutter. We were already on the road to serfdom, now we are flying along freight class just like that other massive campaign of annihilation 80 odd years ago but this time using poverty as a primary tool rather than gas ( cos that’s too expensive !). And our Bay crew worries about how our rural enterprises might be toxic for the rest of the country. How far up their own arses can they jam their heads ?

  2. Pingback: Y Frenhines, y Brenin… a’r Tywysog – Golwg360

  3. David Soutter

    At this stage I find myself agreeing JO’N on the significance of the site. However Owain Glyndwr was not a “Welsh” prince he was an anglo/Norman/Welsh prince. The site in question was built by the Normans Owain was married to a Hanmer and thus related to Charles !!! via the connections to the Tudur’s (Tudor) of Anglesey and thus Henry VII. I agree that this site should be properly maintained AND explained but do expect that from the Labour administration and their pet dogs Plaid Cymru. The latter a party with very dodgy roots

    1. You really are getting desperate now, trying to paint Glyndwr as some Anglo-Norman baron. Yes, he was married to a Hanmer, but her family had been in Wales (Flintshire, I believe) for generations. That’s why her father and brother fought with him. Glyndwr was Welsh; had he not been then he would not have had the support he enjoyed, from all parts of the country and all classes.

      1. David Soutter

        Welsh history claims Glyndwr as descended from lLwelyn Fawr/Llwelyn the Great in fact his own claim to being Prince of Wales arises from that very fact. If he isnt then his claim to being Prince of Wales fails as he is no relation to the royal line. However your assestion re the blood line is incorrect and his claim as Prince of Wales stands. If it does stand then the assertion of Anglo Norman blood also stands. You cant hvae one without the other. Joan of Wales was the Grand Daughter (5 times) of William the Conquerer. Thus Owain Glwyndwr is directly related to William the First as well. He was not a “baron’ as you suggest but a direct descendant of the first Norman King of England. I suspect a great deal opf Anglo/Norman blood coursed through his veins.

        1. The male line of the House of Aberffraw died out when an assassin sent by the English king killed Owain ap Thomas ap Rhodri, ‘Owain Lawgoch’, in 1378 while he was fighting for the French. Glyndwr claimed the title due to his descent from the princes of Powys and Deheubarth. And this claim must have been valid to have been accepted by the great mass of the Welsh people, including those in Gwynedd, a notoriously disputatious class of nobles and barons, plus of course, the church.

  4. David Smith

    Feel free to not publish this comment to avoid defeating its object, but it seems the Eye has published what it’s claiming is a recent pic of you. I thought I’d point it out as I know you’ve been careful to avoid your likeness getting out for obvious reasons of your work ‘upsetting’ some right undesirable sorts.
    https://the-eye.wales/nation-in-a-state/

    1. Yes, that’s me. I normally try to avoid my image being shown like that but it’s on Phil Parry’s blog – which nobody reads!

        1. Dafis

          That Eye article is a few years old unless he’s again up to his old trick of recycling the same old junk several times over. By now Parry should have recognised that IMJ and his N.C platform are mostly a Wales.gov/Plaid hymn sheet with odd snippets of dissent thrown in to keep “beasts” like us interested. Possibly grounds for taking him in and giving him a darkened room with padded walls to reduce chances of self harm.

          Deep down he probably has some unnatural cravings about you, something he has been unable to purge out of his dirty little mind as he has accumulated visions of you strutting your stuff in some exotic Fascist kit, which of course is all the rage amongst the newer generation of young “radicals”- ask Aled and his pals !

          1. Yes, I’m familiar with that fetish: swastika armband, shiny leather jackboots, and of course the whip. When I say ‘familiar’, I do not mean personally familiar.

          1. But how the hell has he got hold of it? Plus the pic of your younger, handsome Jac visage, come to think of it? I of course gathered it was self-taken as I doubt these cretins have that level of infiltration at their disposal.

  5. Border dweller

    You could have called for a cup of tea Jac, living about a mile from Sycarth I’ve never visited, despite, walking, cycling and driving past many times.

  6. David Smith

    The only thing Cadw is interested in keeping is England’s boot on Wales’s neck. Their personification could be Katherine Jenkins, the sickmaking establishment slut. Did anyone see her teary-eyed grovelment the other day? Utterly pathetic.

    1. Cadw does tend to give the game away with the sites it prioritises. Perhaps a chicken and egg situation in that Cadw would say it concentrates resources at the ‘most popular’ sites, which would invite the possibility that these sites are popular because they’re prioritised.

      That said, I wouldn’t want to see hordes of gawping tourists at Sycharth. I’d just like to see it treated with the respect it deserves and made more accessible for those who’ve made the effort to go because they appreciate the significance in the history and development of the Welsh nation of the man whose home it once was.

      1. Yes of course, once it becomes some gaudy tourist trap full of camera-mugging, polyester-clad Americans by the busload in the manner of Snow-Don (highest mountain in England!) and Land-Fare-PG13-Gorbachev-Al-Gore-God-God-Damn then the endtimes are nigh. Their antics, such as the brown ring (tee hee) suggest monumental (boom boom) thickness. Our side will see it as a slap in our collective national chops. The AngloBrit side will see it as a tacky incursion upon a ‘national’ monument.

  7. Dr John Ball

    I really despair at the relevance of the “Welsh” government.
    No nation on earth would allow a site of such national and historical relevance to decay in such a way.
    But wait! Apparently the Senedd’s Llywydd lectured Charles on the history of our princes. Surely this cannot be the same person (a Plaid Cymru member remember) who accepted the rare and significant (English) honour of being one of his majesty’s privy councillors? And is this the same person who accepted an invitation, sent to very few, to attend the formal ceremony of accepting the new king?
    Meanwhile, at Sycharth……such duplicity defies description!

    1. Duplicity, contradictions and sheer hypocrisy are the hallmarks of that shower down Corruption Bay.

      You’re right to single out Plaid Cymru because neglecting Sycharth exhibits a certain consistency from the Labour Party, where many leading lights – N Kinnock included – have averred that there was no Wales worth speaking of until the Industrial Revolution and the creation of a proletariat. The leaders we had prior to that were just robber-barons. So why celebrate them?

      But if as you suggest Elin Jones is eager to remember these leaders, and seeing as Plaid Cymru is in some kind of alliance with Labour, we can doubtless expect the Member for Ceredigion to see to it that Cadw pulls its finger out re Sycharth, and a few other Welsh sites.

      1. Dr John Ball

        Jac. I trust your response was tongue in cheek. Elin Jones is another DET. desperate to please the system. Baroness Jones once her time at Ceredigion is up?

        1. Definitely tongue-in-cheek. That’s been the problem with the upper echelons of Plaid Cymru for some time – trying to run with the hare and the hounds. Do it too often, and in a way that is too obviously self-serving, and you end up being distrusted by both.

          The argument used is that ‘The voice of Wales must be heard in the upper chamber’. OK . . . but is it heard . . . and what has it achieved in tangible terms for Wales?

  8. Mutterings overheard with a Zoom Microphone to motely persons:-
    Underling!!!!! Pass me a Bic Biro!
    Serf !!!!!!! Move the bloody ink!
    Guard! Be ready to shut up that lazy useless yesterday woman Bethan !
    Camilla !!! I’m more popular than Elvis or Tom. If they throw their knickers at me, will you wear them? If not, keep them for Andrew’s girls!
    Equerry! Remind me to confer a better title on Lord DET, something Grand Duke will do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Media! Thank goodness you never resurrected Viscount Tonypandy in all this !!!!!!!!

  9. Dafis

    CADW is there to celebrate the conquest and assimilation of Wales with just a few genuine exceptions. That they have failed to do justice to Sycharth does not surprise me at all. And it seems that lots of our so called nationalist politicians are of the same mind. Last night DET featured again on the extended S4C news coverage of the UK wide competitive mourning events ( that term was coined by someone else,by the way). Only days ago he dismissed the need for the role of Prince of Wales, that the thing could be done away with. Last night he predicted “great things” from our new King Carlo ( or is that Kaiser Carl?) and was in full on modernising enthusiastic loyalist mode. He went on to dismiss Glyndwr as a “mere insurgent” while recognising that the likes of the 2 Llywelyn’s had merit. I guess you could call that back to normal considering the old boy will hang on to his shred of nobility until he too gets carted away in a box. Or does calling Owain an insurgent make him more of a republican hero with an appeal to those not so fixated about blood lines ? DET needs to get off whatever fences he’s got his knickers snagged on.

    1. Charles III could turn out to be a disaster for the monarchy.

      To begin with, the ghost of Diana will forever haunt him. I hate the term, but ‘The People’s Princess’ is as good a way of describing her popularity as any other. The one he’s married to now instead being a replacement only turned people against him more. He can never recover from that and the belief held by many that he treated her badly and / or his family was somehow involved in her death.

      His recent displays of petulance doing the rounds on social media show him to be a bit of a cunt.

      Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, there’s a very strong possibility that he will interfere politically. Knowing his strong views on the environment, to have some twat living in a heated palace and feeding off the fat of the land tell people who are freezing and starving that they must make sacrifices for the environment could be the last straw.

      Both for the monarchy and the Union.

      I pray he lives down to my expectations.

          1. David Smith

            Were there a comment thread it’d be full of sneering Islington pricks who get their gussets moist over BLM or Trans rights but have a blind spot to the *wrong* kind of subjugation.

      1. David Smith

        He seems to be formed from sundry processed meats too doesn’t he? Spam for his face, bacon for ears and sausages for hands.

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