Llywelyn The Last – 5 Sites To Visit In Mid Wales

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd – or Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf – was the last prince of an independent Wales before its conquest by the English.

He was a Prince of Gwynedd, but there are several sites in Mid Wales (my home patch!) associated with this important figure from Welsh history that you can visit today.

Want to learn more about Welsh history? Then check out one of my most popular posts all about the best Welsh history books to buy today.

Llywelyn’s Cave, Aberedw

Legend say Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s final night was spent in a small cave near Aberedw. There is another story that says he asked a local blacksmith to put the shoes on his horse to face backwards to confuse his enemies, and another that the local people betrayed his whereabouts to the English army. Either way, this is an atmospheric place to visit.

Aberedw is situated on the B4567 south of Builth Wells. You can find the cave on the opposite bank of the River Edw from the earthwork known as Llywelyn’s Castle.

Llywelyn's Cave

St Cewydd’s Church, Aberedw

St Cewydd’s is a mostly medieval church situated in the village of Aberedw, which is dedicated to the Welsh patron saint of rain. According to tradition this is where Llywelyn attended mass on the morning of his death.

You can find St Cewydd’s Church in the middle of Aberedw, 5 miles south of Builth Wells.

St Cewydd's Church, Aberedw

The Llywelyn Monument, Cilmeri

Llywelyn was killed near this spot on the 11th of December 1282 at the Battle of Orewin Bridge. Contemporary accounts say the prince was tricked into separating from his army, before being attacked and killed. The spot 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 Gwynedd).

Llywelyn Monument Cilmeri

Don’t forgot to take the stairs down to the well too – legend has it this is the well where Llywelyn’s head was washed before being sent to London.

The well at Cilmeri

The monument is on the south side of the A483 at the western edge of Cilmeri. There is a layby with space for a few cars.

St David’s Church, Llanynis

A true hidden gem of a church you will find hidden down country lanes at the end of a dirt track, St David’s Church, Llanynis, also (rather awkwardly) lays claim to being the church where Llywelyn took his last mass before the battle.  On the Saturday nearest to December 11th a service to commemorate the death of Prince Llewelyn is held early in the morning.

The Church is located south of the River Irfon on the road from Builth Wells to Llangammarch Wells, but you will definitely need a Sat Nav to find St David’s! There is parking space for several cars at the end of track, before you make your way across the fields to the church.

St David's Church, Llanlynis

Cwmhir Abbey, Abbeycwmhir

Nestled in the hills outside of Rhayader is the village of Abbeycwmhir, home to what was once the largest Cistercian Abbey in Wales. This important religious house was where the body of Llywelyn (minus the head – that had been sent to London) was buried after he was killed at the Battle of Orewin Bridge.

There are several roads you can take to reach Abbeycwmhir, but not all of them are good! I recommend taking the road leading from the A483 north of Llanbister. The abbey site is open access, and is sign posted from the centre of the village by the church. There is also a small exhibition about the abbey in the nearby farmyard.

Abbey-cwm-hir

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd grave

TOP LOCAL TIP – If you’re spending a day exploring this beautiful part of Mid Wales and are looking for a lunch spot, you could do no worse than Georgie Porgie’s Coffee Shop in Builth Wells (it really is a well-kept local’s secret). This cafe is 99% responsible for my waistline being the size it is. Think generously portioned ‘light bites’ and home baked brownies – their speciality.

If you’re a Welsh history lover like myself, then exploring these important historical sites is a must-do. How often can you say you are walking in the footsteps of the last Prince of Wales?

While you’re in Mid Wales why not visit one of our many hidden historical sites? I’m a big fan of church crawling and there are some great historic churches to visit in Radnorshire. 

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