Steps Back In Time: Cardigan Castle.
This is my second hub in the series Step Back In Time.
The first was http://eiddwen.hubpages.com/hub/-Steps-Back-in-Time
Today we are visiting Cardigan Castle and at present there is great restoration work going on ; the local council has received a grant of £10,000,000 and I along with many others am looking forward to the finished product.
It has such historical value and today I emphasise on the fact that this is where the first National Eisteddfod was held.
Oh yes in 1176 – Lord Rhys hosted the first National Eisteddfod of Wales in Cardigan.
There is a museum being created too; a museum retracing the history of the National Eisteddfod.
I hope you all enjoy sharing my steps back in time with me today..
Here is our Welsh National Anthem sang in our mother tongue by our beautiful and talented Katherine Jenkins ;Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. (Land Of My Fathers).
The Castle that can be seen today was erected in Cardigan itself in the 1100, by Gilbert de Clare and if he had have realised what trouble this was to cause, he may not have bothered. Over the next 100 years the castle frequently changed hands between the Norman’s and the Welsh
De Clare’s son gained control of the castle in 1136, the same year that Rhys ap Gruffydd, the prince of Deheubarth, or Lord Rhys, led the defeat of the Norman’s in the town at the bloody battle of Crug Mawr. His prize was the castle which he set about transforming from its original wooden structure into stone.
Rhys was the proud owner of the castle, up until his death in 1197, which marked the beginning of another period of conflict. His sons, Maelgwyn and Gruffyd, disputed their inheritance resulting in Maelgwyn surrendering Gruffydd to the Norman’s and selling the Castle to King John.
A variety of Norman owners called Cardigan Castle home until Llywellyn the Great attacked and destroyed the castle in a show of strength. In what now looks like a historical tug-of-war the Norman William Marshal was next to take control, followed by the Welsh and then yet another Norman.
After this final Norman conquest, during the 1240s, the castle was reconstructed. Two towers, a new keep and the town wall were all built to create the stronghold, the ruins of which are visible to visitors today.
By the end of the 13th century it was King Edward 1st who had laid claim to the castle. Peace the reigned for almost four centuries, 1645 and the English Civil War, when Oliver Cromwell took it upon himself to storm the battlements. Such was the damage that the castle lay uninhabited until the early 1800s when a private mansion was built on the property marking the end to the turmoil that has given Cardigan Castle the unique heritage it boasts today.
Yesteryear in Cardigan.
Chronology of the Castle:
1100 – Cilgerran Castle built.
1109– Noted Welsh beauty Nest is abducted from Cilgerran Castle by Prince Owain of Powys, who was in love with her. Her husband, Gerald of Pembroke, escaped through a toilet waste chute in the castle walls
1110 – The second castle at Cardigan is built
1120 – St Dogmaels Abbey is founded on the site of a pre-Norman monastery
1136 – Rhys ap Gruffydd led the battle of Crug Mawr against the Norman’s
1155 – Flemings invade at Mwnt only to be pushed back by the Welsh, this became known as Sul Coch y Mwnt – the bloody Sunday of Mwnt
1165 – Rhys ap Gruffyd conquered Cardigan for the Welsh.
1171 – Cardigan Castle rebuilt in stone and mortar.
1176 – Lord Rhys hosts the first National Eisteddfod of Wales in Cardigan.
1244 – Stone town wall as built by the Norman’s. St Mary’s church was built
1485 – Henry Tudor stays at Cardigan castle during the march to Bosworth Field.
1645 – Cardigan castle attacked by Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers during the English Civil War
1764 – Shire Hall built .
1793 – Cardigan gaol built by John Nash.
1805 – John Bowen Repaired the ruins of Cardigan Castle.
1815 – 300 vessels registered in Cardigan’s seaport.
1922 – Cardigan Priory reopened as a hospital by Mrs Lloyd George.
1976 - National Eisteddfod held in Cardigan.
1987 - Theatre Mwldan opened by Sir Geraint Evans.
1993 – Monument to first Eisteddfod erected near the original site (below).
An eisteddfod (Welsh plural eisteddfodau is aWelsh Festival of literature,music and performance. The tradition of such a meeting of Welsh artists dates back to at least the 12th century, when a festival of poetry and music was held by Rhys ap Gruffudd of Deheubarth at his court in Cardigan in 1176 but, with the decline of the bardic tradition, it fell into abeyance. The present-day format owes much to an eighteenth-century revival arising out of a number of informal eisteddfodau. The word eisteddfod is derived from the Welsh word eistedd, meaning "to sit", and bod meaning "to be" and therefore means "to be sitting" or "to be sitting together"
The date of the first Eisteddfod is a matter of much debate among scholars, but boards for the judging of poetry definitely existed in Wales from at least as early as the twelfth century, and it is likely that the ancient Celtic bards had formalized ways of judging poetry as well.The first Eisteddfod can be traced back to 1176 under the auspices of Lord Rhys, at his castle in Cardigan. There he held a grand gathering to which were invited poets and musicians from all over the country. A chair at the Lord's table was awarded to the best poet and musician, a tradition that prevails in the modern day National Eisteddfod. The earliest large scale Eisteddfod that can be proven beyond all doubt to have taken place, however, was the Carmarthen Eisteddfod, which took place in 1451. The next recorded large-scale eisteddfod was held in Caerwys in 1568. The prizes awarded were a miniature silver chair to the successful poet, a little silver crwth to the winning fiddler, a silver tongue to the best singer, and a tiny silver harp to the best harpist. Originally, the contests were limited to professional Welsh bards who were paid by the nobility. To ensure the highest standard possible, Elizabeth 1st of England commanded that the bards be examined and licensed. As interest in the Welsh arts declined, the standard of the main eisteddfod deteriorated as well and they became more informal. In 1789, Thomas Jones organised an eisteddfod inCorwen where for the first time the public were admitted. The success of this event led to a revival of interest in Welsh literature and music.
The above by courtesy of Eisteddfod Wikipedia.
A crowning of the bard ceremony at a National Eisteddfod many many years ago and a chair which would be won by the successful bard.
We were now walking around totally amazed and quite overcome by the atmosphere that surrounded the castle grounds. Where we were now stood was where all that history took place all those many centuries ago.
"Well hello you two!!" We turned around to see our friend Julian.
The conversation between the two men soon turned to; Cars, motorbikes and fishing!!
"If you two want some catch up time then go ahead as I would like to read a little more about the very first Eisteddfod that took place here many years ago." I asked them.
"Are you sure that you don't mind?" Dai asked.
Dai was always so thoughtful and I would never take advantage of this. I think that we are very lucky in that we must have one of the most well balanced relationships ever. Also I think that the more we are together the closer we have become. Again this brings me to my favourite saying 'Don't ever give up on your dreams!'
We each proceeded in our different directions and I stopped to pick up a book on a small table nearby that was all about the history of our Eisteddfodau many years ago.
I was about to pick up the book but felt very lightheaded all of a sudden and almost instantly I was engulfed by a mist which strangely smelt of roses which then dispersed almost as quickly as it had appeared.
"Oh where have you been, look at the state of you ?? !!!" said my sister as she brushed the leaves and grass from my dress.
It is October 3rd 1967 and my sister and myself were at an Eisteddfod in Llansawel, a very small village in south/west Wales. I was nine years old and my sister Val was twelve years old.
An Eisteddfod is where children and adults gather together to compete for first, second and third place in singing, reciting, piano playing or welsh folk dancing. The smaller Eisteddfodau were held all over Wales and would take place more often than not in their village halls. There would be an judge for each category and each judge would be well known in the Eisteddfod world.
Val would be singing and playing the piano and I would be reciting. i wanted more than anything to sing but I was not allowed so there we were what could I do?? Not a lot!!!!
I had been playing in the park out the back of the hall and as usually got covered in all sorts.
I was not your frilly dress little girl and in my eyes this silly pink dress I had on today looked better roughed up a bit. However Vall did not agree with me and was doing her best to tidy me up before I went on the stage to recite.
Val had already played the piano and was waiting for the judge to announce the winners.Next she was due to go on stage to sing and I would be reciting quite soon after!!!
I now heard the presenter calling out; "Now we have Valerie who will sing 'Ave Maria' for us."
The audience broke out in a great applause as my sister walked on. "Oh I was so proud of her!!"
Her beautiful voice filled the whole hall with sweet wonder and everyone was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop!!
She held the melodius tone to her soprano voice as she reached to those high notes so effortlessly or flowed down to the richness of those low notes.
I looked at everyone around who were mesmerised by Val's talent and I felt like a Queen standing ten foot tall as I thought to myself
"Oh yes I am so lucky to have a sister like Val and I am so very, very proud of her."
Val finished her singing and the applauding that followed was rapturous. There were another couple of singers to compete and then it was my turn to go on and recite;
The next thirty minutes or so seemed to take for ever......................
"The first of the reciters will be Eiddwen and she is going to recite the poem 'Tachwedd' by I.D. Hooson."
The presenters voice broke into my thoughts and I walked on feeling so very nervous but no one would have guessed because I did not show these emotions to others. Oh no that wouldn't happen, not in a hundred years.
I recited the poem remembering what my reciting tutor had taught me. I came to the end and as I walked off the stage the audience broke into another about of rapturous applauding.
'That's because they know Val is my sister.' I thought proudly to myself.
For the remainder of the morning I stayed in the hall with Val waiting for the judges to come to their decisions. Oh dear me I am very nervous but the time flew by and the desicions were out. Val won two 1st prizes. Oh I so proudly hugged her and never wanted to let her go!!
Now then, it was my turn and the reciting judge walked on to the stage; I can remember his name to this very day: The Rev. Dafydd Edwards.
He went through all the competitors and when it came to be my turn he gave me such brilliant praise ,I couldn't believe it wow!!!
He read out the names of the third and second prizewinners and then he said:
"The first prize goes to Eiddwen!!!"
What?! I couldn't believe it and went on to receive my silver cup and nearly felt as proud as what I had been when Val had gone up for hers!!!
I went back out to the park around the back of the hall but didn't want to join in any games that some others were playing !
Oh no I wanted to look at my silver cup. My very first silver cup and the very first time I had won a prize in any Eisteddfod!!!
All of a sudden that woozy almost light headed feeling returned and of that familiar rose scented mist appeared to engulf me and again disappeared almost instantly.
Well this book had been very interesting and thought I might try and buy myself a copy from somewhere.
As I put it down and went to walk away I saw Dai and Julian walking up from the river looking very pleased with themselves.
There we are then!! A good day was had by all !!!
Arm in arm myself and Dai were about to begin our walk home when I took a last glance back at the castle and saw something which made me catch my breath!!!
Through a faint haze a I saw a little girl in a pink dress which was covered with little bits of grass and leaves. She was holding a silver cup and I heard her say:
"Remeber to be proud of yourself as well as those that you love." "You must learn to love yourself!!"
She then disappeared and I felt as if a great weight had lifted from my shoulders. I think that there is a lesson there for many of us!!
Another view of the castle.
I hope you enjoyed your journey with me and that you will join me again next time.
If you would like to travel with me on some more of my journeys, please follow the links below.
Take care and lots of love to one and all from my little corner of Wales.