December 11, 2022 4 min read

Cilmeri - What happened on 11th December 1282?

Introduction

Cilmeri (Cilmery or Kilmery as it is often mis-spelt) is a small village in mid-Wales of great historical importance – it was here on 11th December 1282 that the last Welsh-born Prince of Wales, Prince Llywelyn (Llewelyn as it is sometimes mis-spelt) ap Gruffudd was killed in battle with King Edward of England’s soldiers. The place where Llywelyn fell was marked in 1902 by a stone obelisk, but this was replaced in 1956 by a block of granite (from Trefor Quarry in Llywelyn's native Caernarfonshire) embedded in a plinth set on a low mound.

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Cilmeri Monument Words

It is a most hallowed and sad place, for it was there, in a quiet meadow just outside the town of Llanfair ym Muallt (Builth Wells) that the last Welsh-born Prince of Wales, Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was killed in the battle of Irfon (or Orewin) Bridge. Llywelyn died in a minor skirmish with King Edward of England's soldiers, on 11th December 1282 - (Prince Llywelyn, c. 1223 – 11 December 1282).

Cilmeri Memorial Monument - Prince Llyewelyn
Cilmeri Memorial Monument - Prince Llewelyn Cilmery

(translated, “near this place, Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf (Llywelyn the Last") was killed)

 A memorial to Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf, (often mis-spelt in anglicised texts as Llewelyn or Llewellyn) a fifteen feet monument of Caernarfonshire granite (from Trefor Quarry in Llywelyn's native Caernarfonshire) now known as the Cilmeri Stone, was erected on the site in 1956. Earlier in 1902, a memorial was erected by Squire Blyth. This was dismantled and incorporated in the steps leading the monument site, and the current Cilmeri Memorial was erected in its place in 1956. At the back and to the right side of the grounds is a gate and short set of steeps leading to a capped well where legend has it that Llywelyn’s head was washed after it had been decapitated.

Since then, it has served as the focal point for an annual day of remembrance on the anniversary of his death, the 11th of December each year. An increasing number of Welsh people now understand and appreciate the history of Cilmeri, and so the greater has been the remembrance on 11th December each year. His grave is nearby in a Cistercian Abbey, Abbeycwmhir that was once the largest abbey in Wales.

Where is the Cilmeri Monument?

Where in mid-Wales is the Cilmeri Monument
The Cilmeri Stone is in the village of Cilmeri, near to Builth Wells

 

In the quiet green meadow on the road from Llanfair ym Muallt (Builth Wells) to Llanymddyfri (Llandovery), beside the little brook, there is a tall granite monolith, the Cilmeri Stone. At first glance, it looks like one of the ancient standing stones erected thousands of years ago by our Neolithic ancestors, yet a closer inspection reveals it to be a monument erected in 1956 to the memory of Prince Llywelyn, the last Welsh-born ruler of Wales. The granite monument is encircled by 13 oak trees to represent the ancient historic thirteen Welsh counties.

 

He became to be known as Llywelyn Ein Lyw Olaf, or "Llywelyn our last ruler". Llywelyn ap Gruffudd is the last Welsh born Prince of Wales; those who have come after him should not claim this title - Cymru am byth...

Gerallt Lloyd Owen and the Cilmeri Poem

Gerallt Lloyd Owen who died aged 69, was the foremost Welsh poet of his generation was a prize-winning Welsh language bard who used the ancient metre of cynghanedd to project nature and nationalism.

Owen became a national coach as referee of the radio programme on BBC Cymru called Talwrn y Beirdd, a long-running poetry contest which draws followers in their thousands at the National Eisteddfod.

Gerallt wrote this poem about Cilmeri and the death of Prince Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf - it is full of emotion and sadness.

Cilmeri Poem

English translation to below:

Fin nos fan hyn
Lladdwyd Llywelyn.
Fyth nid anghofiwn hyn.

Y nant a welaf fan hyn
A welodd Llywelyn,
Camodd ar y cerrig hyn.

Fin nos, fan hyn
O'r golwg nes i'r gelyn.
Fe wnaed y cyfan fan hyn.

Rwyf fi'n awr fan hyn
Lle bu'i wallt ar welltyn,
A dafnau o'i waed fan hyn.

Fan hyn yw ein cof ni,
Fan hyn sy'n anadl inni,
Fan hyn gynnau fu'n geni.


A literal translation...

In the evening here
Llywelyn was killed.
We won't forget this.

The stream I see here
Did Llywelyn see,
He stepped on these stones.

In the evening, here
From view until the enemy.
It was all done here.

I am here now
Where his hair was on straw,
And drops of his blood here.

Here is our memory,
Here is our breath,
Here are guns that were born.

 

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Last update 22nd January 2023

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