Battle of Crug Mawr

Battle of Crug Mawr

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Crug Mawr
partof=the Norman campaigns in Wales

date=October, 1136
place=Crug Mawr, two miles from Cardigan
result=Decisive Welsh victory
combatant1=Welsh forces from Gwynedd and Deheubarth
combatant2=Norman forces from all the South Wales lordships
commander1=Owain Gwynedd
commander2=Robert fitz Martin
strength1=Several thousand
strength2=Several thousand
casualties1=Said to be light
casualties2=3,000 killed

The Battle of Crug Mawr took place in September or October 1136, as part of a struggle for control of Ceredigion which had been captured by the Normans.

A Welsh revolt against Norman rule had begun in south Wales, where on 1 January 1136 the Welsh won a victory over the local Norman forces between Loughor and Swansea, killing about 500 of their opponents. Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare, the Norman lord of Ceredigion, had been away from his lordship in the early part of the year. Returning to the borders of Wales in April, he ignored warnings of the danger and pressed on towards Ceredigion with a small force. He had not gone far when he was ambushed and killed by the men of Iorwerth ab Owain, grandson of Caradog ap Gruffydd (the penultimate prince of Gwent).

The news of Richard's death led to an invasion by the forces of Gwynedd, led by Owain Gwynedd and Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd, sons of the king of Gwynedd, Gruffydd ap Cynan. They captured a number of castles in northern Ceredigion before returning home to dispose of the plunder. Around Michaelmas they again invaded Ceredigion and made an alliance with Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth. The combined forces headed for Cardigan. These troops were said to include hundreds of armoured horsemen, a style of warfare which the Welsh had learnt from the Normans.

The battle

At Crug Mawr, two miles outside Cardigan, the Welsh forces were confronted by Norman troops drawn from all the lordships of South Wales. The Normans were led by Robert fitz Martin, lord of Cemais; Robert fitz Stephen, constable of Cardigan Castle; and William and Maurice fitz Gerald, uncles of Gerald of Windsor.

After some hard fighting, the Norman forces were put to flight and pursued as far as the River Teifi. Many of the fugitives tried to cross the bridge, which broke under the weight, with hundreds said to have drowned, clogging the river with the bodies of men and horses. Others fled to the town of Cardigan, which however was taken and burned by the Welsh though Robert fitz Martin successfully managed to defend and hold the castle; it was the only one to remain in Norman hands at the end of the rebellion.


Ceredigion, which had been part of Deheubarth before the Normans had conquered it, was now annexed by Gwynedd as the more powerful member of the coalition. Years later, Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth was able to win it back.

The battle was a significant setback to Norman expansion in Wales. Owain Gwynedd became king of Gwynedd on the death of his father the following year, and further expanded the borders of the kingdom. In Deheubarth, Gruffydd ap Rhys died in uncertain circumstances in 1137, and this enabled the Normans to recover their position in the south.


John Edward Lloyd (1911) "A history of Wales from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest" (Longmans, Green & Co.)

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