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all the aids of advanced science and skill, now admit to be the best line of road to the westward through these hills.
A farther consideration connected with the rapid developement of the railway system in our day will be apt to force itself on the mind of the antiquary, and, in the present instance, tinge it with a painful feeling, which is, that the projected railway from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth, if carried out, will pass through the very centre of the quadrangle at Carno, and thus efface from our view one more object of interest to the topographer and antiquary, for at this very time are the surveyors busily engaged in levelling and mapping the sections of the railway, both at Carno and Llanbrynmair.
It is rather singular that no notice in print appears to have been anywhere taken of the Gaer at Carno, except in the Ordnance map, where it is accurately laid down, and whereby my attention was first called to it. It is a matter of regret that our learned topographer and antiquary, Mr. Pennant, in his tour through North Wales, did not extend his researches in this direction further than Caersws, (vol. iii. p. 197,) being deterred by information he received that there was nothing interesting in the region around Plynlimon. On the contrary, the most casual observer, in surveying a map or chart of Wales, cannot fail of having his attention arrested by that central group of hills, with its subordinate ranges, which forms the confines of North Wales and South Wales, and with its capabilities of offence and of defence in warlike operations which, in point of fact, often proved a sort of debateable land between the different portions of the Principality when at variance with one another, and which a reference to history will show to have been the scene of many severe contests, the evidence whereof is still discernible in the numerous carneddau and remains of military posts to be found therein.
In the parish are two British posts, opposite one another, on the high grounds that skirt each side of the valley: the one to the south of the village is on the farm of Castell, the other on the north side, under the Allt Vawr Hill, which seem to have been occupied by opposing parties watching each other's movements.
During the commotions that arose in Wales on the death of Howell the Good, A.d. 948, and the long war which followed between his sons and the sons of Idwal Foel, late prince of North Wales, this parish became the scene of one of those fierce contests that occurred betwixt the contending parties. The sons of Howell had divided amongst themselves the principalities of South Wales and Powys, laying no claim to North Wales; but Ieuaf and Iago, the sons of Idwal Foel, putting aside the pretensions of their elder brother Meyric, claimed the right to the principality of all Wales, as descending from the elder branch of the house of Roderic the Great, which the sons of Howell resisted. Ieuaf and Iago were indeed descended from the elder branch; but since Roderic the Great, in the tripartite division of Wales, had conferred the Principality of South Wales upon Cadell the father of Howell, the right of the heirs of those princes to that division of the Principality seems unquestionable, however open to remark, and however short-sighted may have been the policy, of Roderic, in authorizing the partition amongst his descendants.
This battle of Carno was fought between Ieuaf and Iago at the head of an army consisting of North Wallians on the one hand, and their cousins, Owen, and his brethren Rhun, Roderic and Edwin, at the head of the South Wallians on the other side. It took place in the year 949, upon the hills of Carno, and in its issue Ieuaf and Iago were the victors. The contest had been for the absolute sovereignty of the whole of Wales, and entailed upon the Principality a series of desolation and of slaughter which must have greatly weakened its resources; "and this," adds the Brut, 0. C. 949, with its emphatic brevity, "was called Gwaith Carno," (the exploit performed at Carno); and farther says, that "the sons of Idwal thereupon laid waste thoroughly South Wales."
A second battle, arising from the same unhappy civil commotions respecting the succession, was fought at Carno in the year 1077, or 1078; and this is also called, in the same Brut, 0. C. 1080, by the same title of Gwaith Carno. The government of Wales, both North and South, had been for a long time previously detained from the right and legal owners, when Rhys ap Theodore claimed the kingdom of South Wales, as right inheritor of the same from Howell the Good, and the people received him with the greatest willingness, and made him their prince.
In the year following Griffith the son of Conan, and grandson of the Iago above mentioned, brought a great army of Irishmen and Scots into Wales, and joined with Rhys ap Theodore, as the two right heirs of the whole country, Griffith of North Wales, and Rhys of South Wales, being both descended from Roderic the Great; against whom came Traherne ap Caradoc, the reigning but usurping prince of Gwyneth, and with him his kinsmen Caradoc ap Gruffydd, and Meilyr the son of Rhiwallon ap Gwyn ap Blethyn, his cousin-german, (for Gwyn ap Blethyn was their grandfather,) which latter were in those days the chief rulers of all Wales.
The hostile armies met on the mountains of Carno. The engagement that ensued was long, hotly, and fiercely contested, and every inch of ground disputed with that valour and obstinacy natural to rivals who had everything to hope and everything to fear from the result. But the victory fell to the lot of Griffith and Rhys; for Traherne ap Caradoc, together with his cousins, were slain, and most of their people. This is said to have been the most sanguinary battle recorded in the Welsh annals; and the result was that the government of Wales came under the right rulers, and Griffith ap Conan ruled North Wales, and Rhys ap Theodore South Wales.
The spot on or near which both these battles of Carno took place is said, in the traditionary accounts handed down in the neighbourhood, to have been on part of a high chain of mountains that proceed from Plynlimon, betwixt Carno and Tref Eglwys, towards Llanbrynmair, on the north-west, which part of the hilly range is locally called Tarannon, but more generally the "mountains or hills of Carno."
On this hilly ridge is an immense earn, beneath which it is said Traherne ap Caradoc and his two cousins lie buried. It measures sixty feet in diameter, and is called Twr gwyn mawr; and these traditions are somewhat strengthened by the finding, near the spot, javelin heads, battle-axes, and the infantry bills of that period. Coins of the Lower Empire have also been found within the parish. About a quarter of a mile farther on the same ridge is a smaller earn called Twr gwyn vach.
A contemporary bard has left elegies on the fallen princes, one of which, having been beautifully paraphrased by a modern poet, is subjoined, on account of its local reference, and its poetic merits:—
"On Carno's hills, with nimble feet,
The deer were wont to bound;
The baying of the hound.
In battle have been slain;
Those sounds shall come again."For Carno's groves lie dark and still,
These two battles of Carno have been transferred by some writers to Mynydd y Cyrn, either in Brecknockshire or Monmouthshire, between Crickhowel and Abergavenny, but erroneously, or by confounding it with an engagement which did take place in that region between Roderic Molwynog and Ethelbald the Mercian prince in the year 728, when Roderic claimed the victory, and the
5 Cambro-Briton, iii. 315.
waters of the Usk proved fatal to the cause of Ethelbald; for, as many of the Mercians endeavoured to make their escape through its flood, they were swept off and drowned. The more accurate Price, in his History,6 describes this as a single mountain near the Usk, and it is now called Mynydd y Cyrn. This lies in the ancient principality of Gwent, which was then a neutral territory, nowise concerned in the struggles between the princes of North and South Wales. These Montgomeryshire mountains, too, are always termed in the plural, "the mountains or hills of Carno."
T. 0. Morgan.
Aberystwyth, August, 1852.
LEOMINSTER PRIORY CHURCH.
It has been my fate on several occasions, both before this and other similar societies, to undertake the examination of buildings illustrating the essential difference between ordinary parochial architecture and that of cathedrals and similar great churches, as well as the manner in which we sometimes find the two types intermingled or influencing one another. Of the essential difference between the two, I have on one occasion1 endeavoured to put together something like a rationale; the practical exhibition of this difference, as well as of the way in which they may be combined, I have done my best to trace out at Llandaff, at Dorchester, and at Monkton; and it has now fallen upon me to work out the same line of thought with regard to a church well worthy of forming a member of the same series, the Priory of St. Peter and St. Paul at Leominster.
6 Hanes Cymru, p. 372.
ARCH. CAMB., NEW SERIES, VOL. IV. C