Archaeologist Set To Reveal Splendour Of Owain Glyndwr's Palace

By David Prudames | 25 February 2003
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Shows a recent picture of Owain Glyndwr's palace from the air.

Left: how Owain Glyndwr's palace looks from the air today. Photo No. 90-C-0030. © Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust.

An archaeologist is set to publish research which could reveal the full size and splendour of Welsh hero Owain Glyndwr's border home.

Lauded by poets and championed in folklore, Glyndwr took up residence at the Welsh border site of Sycharth around 1390, before leading a rebellion against the English in 1400.

“We already know it was his site, but have no idea how extensive it was,” Spencer explained.

Although archaeologist Spencer Smith refuses to reveal at this stage the extent of the findings, he told the 24 Hour Museum that his geophysical investigation, the first at the site, has found the boundary and size of Glyndwr's home.

“He was only there for about 20 years, but his father and grandfather were there. We know from land grants and charters that it is the land given to them after Edward I's conquest.”

“What we really wanted to know was how splendid the house was. We know that he was living in something so splendid that 100 years later poets were writing about it. A letter from Prince Henry, who later became Henry V, found 'a well-built place' and if he thought that we must be looking for a fabulous building.”

Shows a recent picture of Owain Glyndwr's palace from the air.

Right: translating as 'the dry hall' or 'the dry enclosure', Glyndwr's palace was even admired by the future Henry V. Photo No. 87-C-0048. © Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust.

Celebrated in a famous work by Owain's court poet, Iolo Goch, Sycharch is described as a 'mansion of generosity' with a tower, bakehouse, vineyard, deer park and mill. However, despite French assistance, Glyndwr was defeated in 1412 and his home burnt by the aforementioned Prince Henry.

“If you saw the 100 greatest Britons, he got in at number 23, that's one place higher than the present Queen and 25 higher than William Wallace,” said Spencer Smith.

“It's not just about the rebellion, but the changes he intended – two universities, one in the north and one in the south, and a proper system of government. People are trying to find his body, but if they do they have to identify him. The best way to learn about him is to look around his house, his buildings and the homes he lived in.”

Originally excavated in the 1960s, a further, much bigger dig at the site is being planned for summer 2003.

Peter Thomas, a senior archaeologist with Cadw, told the local Daily Post newspaper that he was very interested in finding out more about Spencer Smith's research.

“The known site is relatively small and that was due to restrictions imposed on archaeologists many years ago. The new research has presumably found evidence of more buildings on the site and we would be very interested to know more about the site.”

The extent of the findings is set to be revealed at a lecture in the Llansilin Memorial Hall, near Oswestry, on April 29 at 19.30 almost exactly 600 years since the burning of Sycharth.

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