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Introduction ~ Aberffraw ~ Brecon ~ Fishguard
Aberffraw: The Royal Court

Today Aberffraw is a small sleepy village on the west coast of the Isle of Anglesey separated from the mainland of north Wales by the Mania straits, it is perhaps hard to imagine that here was situated the ancient royal court of the kings of Gwynedd and later of the the medieval princes of Wales.

Map: South west corner of Anglesey South West Corner
The Island of Anglesey

An indication of where the Royal Llys or Mansion of Aberffraw stood, can be gained from the map opposite.


The very heart of today's village sits upon an old Roman fort that once occupied the site, upon that fort the great Royal Court was built. Sadly nothing remains above ground to indicate where it once stood. However, the earliest evidence of man in Aberffraw belongs to the Mesolithic period around 7 000 BC. This evidence comes from excavations in the village which found primitive tools and other artifacts and has been confirmed by carbon dating. It was Cunedda “The Burner” who first established a court on the Island. A Celtic chief, he came south to the island from a region around Strathclyde in Scotland to remove Irish Celts who had made a decision to settle there. However, It was his grandson Cadwallon who, in a pitched battle in AD470, finally defeated them.

The Royal estates of the Princes of Aberffraw were governed from the Llys, or the Royal court, and as Aberffraw was the central one, so the palace grew. It was from it that the officials of the princes court sallied forth to gather taxes and rent from the surrounding commotes. The land on all of the commotes was fertile rich and many a heavy grain crop was recorded after a hot Summer sun had ripened the fields of corn, and it was those that lived in the commotes, usually in payment of taxes, which did the harvesting. They were also required to work on the Llys as well, repairing the manor house and outhouses.

Anglesey was the granary of Gwynedd, it not only fed the population but also any army that took to the field, and on many occasion through history it was proved that whoever controlled Anglesey, controlled both those that lived in the mountains and Gwynedd itself.

By 1086 the Norman lord Robert of Rhuddlan had advanced west from Chester and established himself on the east bank of the river Clwydd. Within the next four years with the assistance of his cousin Hugh of Avranches; the Earl of Chester, he had crossed the marsh to the west of Rhuddlan, captured Gruffydd ap Cynan, constructed castles at Deganwy, Bangor, Caernarfon and Aberlleniog on Anglesey. The Royal Court now became abandoned and soon began to fall into disrepair. The roof was the first to cave in, then the elements began to do there worst.

The initial Norman advance into Gwynedd was a short lived one. Gruffudd on succeeding in his escape from Rhuddlan in 1094, helped by his mother's Irish relations, drove the Normans out after many bloody and bitter battles. For the next seventy years Gwynedd remained free from Norman occupation, as first Gruffudd then his son Owain ap Gruffudd; Owain-Gwynedd, ruled the kingdom.

Having forced the Normans to quit all but one of their gains in the north Owain, after succeeding to Gwynedd after the death of his father, began the reconstruction of Aberffraw. Stone was quarried from the east coast of the island, while slate came down from Snowdonia and shipped across the Menia straits. Soon it was a palace of splendour once again, but it was the Vikings which were a problem, for they often used the island as a place to restock there ships. Many times Owain was forced to call his men to arms as they raided the north Wales coast.

As time passed so Owain sort closer ties with that of the kingdom of Deheubarth, indeed his daughter was none other then the mother of the great Rhys of Deheubarth.

Aberffraw: Cunedda until 1170
Cunedda Wledig the Imperator fl, the Burner.
Early 5th century Einion Yrth the Impetuous fl.
Mid 5th century Cadwallon Lawhir Long-Hand ?-517.
Maelgwn Gwynedd 517-549
Rhun Hir the Tall 549 -586
Beli ap Rhun 586-599
Iago ap Beli 599-613
Cadfan ab Iago 613-625
Cadwallon ap Cadfan 625-634
Cadafael Cadomedd the Battle-Shirker 634-654
Cadwaladr Fendigaid the Blessed 654-664
Ifwr ap Cadwaladr c.664
Idwal Iwrch the Roebuck664-712
Rhodri Molwynog the Bald & Grey 712-754
Cynan Tindaethwy 754-c.795 (joint) Hywel ap Rhodri 754-c.795
Caradog ap Meirchion c.795-798
Cynan Tindaethwy (again) 798-816 (joint) Hywel ap Rhodri (again) 798-825
Merfyn Frych the Freckled 825-844
Rhodri Mawr the Great 844-878
Anarawd ap Rhodri 878-916
Idwal Foel the Bald 916-942
Hywel Dda the Good 942-950
Ieuaf ab Idwal 950-969 (joint) Iago AB Idwal 950-979
Hywel ap Ieuaf 979-985
Cadwallon ap Ieuaf 985-986
Maredudd AB Owain 986-999
Cynan ap Hywel 999-1005
Llywelyn ap Seisyll 1005-1023
Rhydderch AB Iestyn 1023-1033
Iago AB Idwal 1033-1039
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn 1039-1063
Bleddyn ap Cynfyn 1063-1075
Trahaearn ap Caradog 1075-1081
Gruffydd ap Cynan 1081-1137.
Owain ap Gruffudd 1137-1170
Graphics by Ole R.D. Copyright © 1999-2005 / All Rights Reserved
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