History of Aberystwyth


King Henry

Henry I becomes King of England (till 1135)


Church Destroyed

The church at Llanbadarn was destroyed by Ithel and Madoc[16]



The Norman Conquest brought with it a feudal system where all lands belonged to the King. Cardiganshire was held by the Welsh Prince Cadwgan ab Bleddyn who refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of King Henry I.


Owain ap Cadwgan abducted Nest and her children. This act so enraged Henry I that he threatened to attack. Cadwgan ab Bleddyn tried to persuade his son to return Nest, but he fled with her to Ireland.

Nest had 2 children with Owain before being returned to her husband.


Gilbert Fitz Richard (aka Gilbert Strongbow, Gilbert de Clare) was given Cardiganshire on the understanding that the peoples would be brought under the control of the King.

Castle #1 - Norman Control

As part of this campaign Gilbert Fitz Richard built a fort of a ringwork and bailey design opposite Llanbadarn near the mouth of the river Ystwyth. The earthworks can still be seen on the ridge called Tan-y-Castell to the south of Tan-y-bwlch beach). This came to be known as Aberystwyth Castle.
[Aber- mouth of the river -ystwyth Ystwyth.]


Chapel, Church re-founded

A chapel is recorded in the castle
Llanbadarn church re-founded by Gilbert de Clare[16] Tower and porch added to the church at Llanbadarn Fawr



The clas at Llanbadarn is broken up and the church was given, along with the tithes, offering etc, to the Benedictine monks of St Peter at Gloucester,. A group of monks were sent over to form a priory, but it seems not all the Welsh clergy were sent away.


Castle Under Siege

The New Aberystwyth Guide - TJL Pritchard, 1824,[15]

Griffith ap Rhys laid seige to it [Aberystwyth Castle], but was dreadfully handled by Ralph Steward:

Cattle Rustling

encamped his forces at Glâs Grûg, in this parish, previously to his unsuccessful attempt on Aberystwith castle : his failure in this enterprise was by some superstitiously attributed to an act of impiety, of which he was guilty, in taking some cattle to refresh his forces from within the limits of the extensive sanctuary attached to the church of Llanbadarn.



Al-Khazini describes force of gravity in text on hydrostatics. Merv Turkmenistan


December 1: King Stephen

King Henry I of England dies and his nephew Stephen of Blois seizes English Throne, by-passing Henry's daughter, Matilda. The Anarchy a 20 year civil war ensued over control of the throne.

Castle #1 Burnt Down

As part of their campaign to drive the Normans and their Flemish allies out of this area, Aberystwyth Castle #1 was burnt down by Gruffudd ap Rhys, Owen Gwynedd and his brother Cadwalader around the year 1135

Castle #2 Welsh Control

Cadwalader rebuilt the castle and moved in. He also married Alice de Clare, daughter of the Norman Gilbert Fitz Richard



With the Normans no longer holding the area the Benedictine monks loose control of Llanbadarn Fawr leaving the clas to return.

John (Ieuan), arch-priest (arch-offeiriad) of Llanbadarn canonized for this great piety.

Ieuan, archpriest of Llanbadarn died.




Portugal Formed


Civil war

Civil war in England as Matilda lands an army in Sussex to reclaim the throne.


Queen Matilda

Matilda regains English crown for 6 months.



5 years of anarchy ensues after Matilda is forced out of Oxford

Castle #2 Burnt Down

At the beginning of 1142 Cadwalader's is living with his Norman wife Alice in Aberystwyth Castle (#2) that he rebuilt in 1135. Later that year Anarawd ap Gruffydd was killed by Cadwalader's men after a dispute concerning Anarawd's support for acts against the Normans. (Anarawd supported Cadwalader's older brother Owen Gwynedd in several campaigns against the Normans and was about to marry Owen's daughter.) In exasperation Owen marched an army up to Aberystwyth castle driving Cadwalader out and burning the castle to the ground.

September 22: College of Llanbadarn

Sulien ap Rhythmarch (grandson of Sulien the Wise) died. Described as: a man of great knowledge, clerk of Llanbadern, a teacher, a peacemaker between Welsh and English and one of the College of Llanbadarn.



The first insurance policy (for fire and plague) is issued in Iceland



After his own son dies King Stephen is forced to recognise his nephew (Matildas Son) Henry Plantagernet as heir to the English throne


Mercenary Army

Henry II converts the 40 days military service that everybody owed him into higher taxes. With this money he is able to maintain a full time army of mercenaries.


Castle #3 destroyed - Welsh Control

At the beginning of the 1164-1170 Welsh uprising, the castle was destroyed by Lord Rhys (= Rhys ap Gruffud) returning this area to Welsh control.


Norman Ireland

Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke invades Ireland with Norman adventurers, this is the beginning of Norman-English rule in Ireland.


King of Leinster

Suspicious of Strongbow's growing power after he's proclaimed himself King of Leinster, Henry II lands in Waterford to claim Ireland for himself




In 1188 Welsh born archdeacon Giraldus, accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury, Baldwin of Exeter, on a tour of Wales recruiting soldiers for the Third Crusade. He was unimpressed at the informality of the place, noting that Llanbadarn is ruled by a 'lay-abbot' (Ednowain bishop of Llanbadarn) whose only clerical attribute was to take ecclesiastical revenues.
He also noted that the churches income was 100 marks, which was a huge amount for the time.

Itinerarium Cambriae, 1191

Having rested that night at Llanpadarn Vawr, or the church of Paternus the Great, we attracted many persons to the service of Christ on the following morning. It is remarkable that this church, like many others in Wales and Ireland, has a lay abbot; for a bad custom has prevailed amongst the clergy, of appointing the most powerful people of a parish stewards, or, rather, patrons, of their churches; who, in process of time, from a desire of gain, have usurped the whole right, appropriating to their own use the possession of all the lands, leaving only to the clergy the altars, with their tenths and oblations, and assigning even these to their sons and relations in the church. Such defenders, or rather destroyers, of the church, have caused themselves to be called abbots, and presumed to attribute to themselves a title, as well as estates, to which they have no just claim. In this state we found the church of Llanpadarn, without a head. A certain old man, waxen old in iniquity (whose name was Eden Oen, son of Gwaithwoed), being abbot, and his sons officiating at the altar. But in the reign of king Henry I., when the authority of the English prevailed in Wales, the monastery of St. Peter at Gloucester held quiet possession of this church; but after his death, the English being driven out, the monks were expelled from their cloisters, and their places supplied by the same violent intrusion of clergy and laity, which had formerly been practised. It happened that in the reign of king Stephen, who succeeded Henry I., a knight, born in Armorican Britain, having travelled through many parts of the world, from a desire of seeing different cities, and the manners of their inhabitants, came by chance to Llanpadarn. On a certain feast-day, whilst both the clergy and people were waiting for the arrival of the abbot to celebrate mass, he perceived a body of young men, armed, according to the custom of their country, approaching towards the church; and on enquiring which of them was the abbot, they pointed out to him a man walking foremost, with a long spear in his hand. Gazing on him with amazement, he asked, "If the abbot had not another habit, or a different staff, from that which he now carried before him?" On their answering, "No!" he replied, "I have seen indeed and heard this day a wonderful novelty!" and from that hour he returned home, and finished his labours and researches. This wicked people boasts, that a certain bishop of their church (for it formerly was a cathedral) was murdered by their predecessors; and on this account, chiefly, they ground their claims of right and possession. No public complaint having been made against their conduct, we have thought it more prudent to pass over, for the present, the enormities of this wicked race with dissimulation, than exasperate them by a further relation.


Castle #4

In 1196 Lord Rhys, (son of Lord Gruffudd ap Rhys,) died. He had large territorial possessions, and was, it would seem, Feudal Chief, or Lord Paramount of Cardiganshire. His son Gruffudd, who resided in Aberystwyth Castle, was appointed to succeed him, to the exclusion of his other son Maelgwn, who was disinherited.
Castle #4 is most likely at the same location as castles #1 & #2.


Castle #4 Overrun
1st Aberystwyth Town

Maelgwn in conjunction with Gwenwynwyn (Price of Powys and the son of Owain Cyfeiliog (= Owen Cyfeiliawc), collected a great force and fell suddenly upon his brother at Aberystwyth Castle, taking it and the town from him.
Gruffudd was handed over to the Normans who confined him in Corfe Castle.
This is the first historical notice of any town of Aberystwyth.


Gruffudd Released

In 1198 Gruffudd was released by the Normans and regained most of his land in Cardiganshire


New Numbers

Introduction of Hindu-Arabic number system into Europe


Gruffudd dies

Gruffudd dies leaving 2 sons, Rhys and Owain


Castle #4 Destroyed then Abandoned

Gwenwynwyn becomes a prisoner of the English and Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (= Llewelyn ap Iorwerth) (prince of North Wales) advances an army to take his lands and return them to Rhys and Owain the sons of Gruffudd. Maelgwn ap Rhys, fearing a hostile visit, razed to the ground his own castle at Ystradmeuric, and also burnt his castles at Aberystwyth and Dinerth.

Castle #5 Started

Finding on his arrival that Aberystwyth Castle was destroyed, Llywelyn ab Iorwerth immediately set about building another for himself. The ditches excavated to protect Castle can still be seen today.
The castle was given over to Rhys and Owain.


Welsh Threat

Maelgwn ap Rhys along with his brother Rhys Grug (= Rhys the Hoarse) and King John combined to succeed Llewelyn ap Iorwerth. Rhys and Owain refused to submit, so the King John ordered Foulke, viscount of Cardiff and warden of the Marches (= Falkes de Bréauté = Falkes of Breauté) along with Maelgwn and Rhys Grug to compel them.

Faced with such a force Rhys and Owain sued for peace and, after doing homage and relinquishing the lands between the Dovey and Aeron, were allowed to keep their remaining territories.

Castle #5 Norman in peace deal

Foulke, strengthened the castle and garrisoned it with the Kings troops.

Castle #5 destroyed

Disappointed with the leniency shown to their nephews Maelgwn and Rhys Grug changed allegiance and laid siege to Aberystwyth castle. Eventually, they took the castle and razed it to the ground.


Seeing a chance for retaliation on their uncles, Rhys and Owain put the lands of Maelgwn to the sword in a act of support for King John.


Castle #6

Rhys Grug, on the run from Faulke, was obliged to flee with his wife and children to Maelgwn at Aberystwyth Castle


First Barons' War

King John gets the Pope to annul the Magna Carta and brings in French mercenaries to help with his battles with his Barons


Mongols reach Europe

Mongols reach Europe


Rocket weapons

Chinese use rockets against Mongol invaders, soon they would be used by the Mongals in their invasions.


Barons vs King

Earl on Pembroke leads barons to insurrection against King Henry III



Theodoric of Lucca (Italy) uses wine as an antiseptic and narcotics in sponges under the nose of patients undergoing operations. The start of anaesthetics.


Mongols capture most of Eastern Europe

Mongols use gunpowder to capture most of Eastern Europe.


Mongols leave Europe

Having taken Eastern Europe and moved down as far as Silesia, Mongols return from Europe on hearing of the death of Ôgedei Kahn


Plas Crûg

A poem makes the 1st known reference to the Palace of the Rheidol (Plas Crûg), a castellated mansion/stronghouse surrounded by a moat on the Eastern edge of Aberystwyth (the last tower was pulled down in the 1968 and is now a School)



The start of the building of Alhambra Palace in Granada (Spain) it would be completed in 1354
Moors forced out of Seville and in the following year out of Portugal


Oxford Science

Bacon fights to make science part of the curriculum at Oxford University


December 4: Llanbadarn

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, with a large army, recovered Llanbadarn from Norman control.




1st use of propelled bullets. The Song armies of China fend off Mongol invaders by shooting bullets from bamboo tubes


May 12-14: Barons battle King

In refusing to honour the terms of the Provisions of Oxford (1258) the King came to battle with the barons. Having lost the Battle of Lewes the King and was captured along with his son Edward


Simon de Montford proposes that a council of 9 be appointed to advise the King on his choice of Ministers.

Simon de Montford is, in effect, the uncrowned King of England



Simon de Montford is powerful enough to call together a Parliament against the wishes of the King, This was the first Parliament to summoned elected representatives from some boroughs.

Prince Edward escapes

Prince Edward escapes from custody and gains support from the Lords of the Welsh Marches

August 4: Barons battle King

The King sought revenge on the barons at the Battle of Evesham. After losing, the barons (including Simon de Montford) where killed, rather than the usual custom of holding noblemen to ransom.


November 21: Edward I

After his farther died five days earlier Edward becomes King. Edward refused to recognise the treaty of Montgomery of 1267.





Wales conquered

Edward I conquers Wales, The wars of 1277 fragment Wales, culminating in the war of 1282 which ended Welsh independence. To consolidate his gains King Edward I started building various castles around Wales.


July 25: Norman Army

Edwards army, commanded by this brother Edmund (who was Lord of Cardigan since 1265), moves up from the south and occupies the site, immediately starting work on the foundations for a new castle built on a small hillock (15m) by the sea (so that it could be supplied by ships) near the banks of the river Rheidol and with a marsh to the north (which restricted lines of attack).

Castle #7 - Llanbadarn Castle

Henry de Lacy (Earl of Lincoln), superintendent, gets £918 for work on the castle. Later William de Valence is in command and gets £1400 to pay the masons before they desert and a further £200 for a town wall. It will not be until 1289 before the castle is complete.

December 28: Builders & Charters

King Edward I issued a charter making the settlement near the castle a free borough. 1300 men from as far away as the South-West of England were recruited to come and construct the castle. Soon after King Edward grants trading and municipal privileges and a small town starts around the castle.


Constable Roger

Roger de Molis becomes the 1st Constable of the growing castle


Mongol China

Mongols under the rule of Kublai Khan defeat the Sung dynasty in China and form the Yuan Dynasty which rules of Mongolia and China.


Constable Bogo

Bogo de Knoville takes over as Constable

Town Walls

By 1280 the small town around the castle is protected by a stone wall with 4 gates. At this time the population is all English


March: Trap

The Constable of the Castle is invited to dine with the Gruffydd ap Maredudd (the local Prince). This turns out to be a trap and part of the Welsh rebellion against Edward I. Much of the incomplete Castle is destroyed along with the town walls. Many of the townsmen were slaughtered.

May: Castle #7½ Reconstruction

James of St George is sent by the King to reconstruct the Castle.


King at the Castle

Edward I stays in the castle for 6 days


Castle Attacked

Local Prince Rhys ap Maredudd had assisted the English in the 1277-81 war, but now, resenting the imposition of the Shire system, rebelled and captured several Castles. By this time Aberystwyth Castle was sufficiently strong that he only managed to damage some of the town walls

Castle Tour

At this time the castle is known to have a Kings Chamber, Stables and a Bakehouse.


Ville de Lanbadarn

Edward I incorporates the town of Aberystwyth under the name 'Ville de Lanbadarn' and allows it to have ditches and walls to protect it.


Castle #7½ Completed

Aberystwyth Castle was finally completed, and is strong enough to withstand a siege in 1294-5.



Famine in England



Angry at the extra taxation levied for Edward's campaigns in France, Welsh forces again siege Aberystwyth castle. The siege is broken with sea borne supplies sent from Bristol.



Town has 111 occupied holdings (144 in 1311)