Canolfan Owain Glyndwr CentreCYMRAEG  

Owain Glyndŵr's Wales


The letter written by Owain Glyndŵr to King Charles of France is given ‘at Pennal’, without any further indication of a court or chancery. It describes itself as having been written as the consequence of deliberations amongst a council called by Owain Glyndŵr of ‘the nobles of our race, the prelates of our Principality and others called for this purpose’. There seems to be no reason to doubt that the location is Pennal in the southern part of Gwynedd, now a small village near the northern banks of the Afon Dyfi.

Prior to the Edwardian conquest, Pennal had been one of the llysoedd (courts) of the princes of Gwynedd. There were 21 of these in Gwynedd (including Anglesey), of which at least eleven were associated with a motte (earthwork castle), including Pennal.

It is probable that Glyndŵr and his retinue made their way to Pennal because it was royal land, associated with the pre-Edwardian dynasty of Gwynedd, part of the Welsh royal inheritance which Glyndŵr claimed, and because of its convenient location near a crossing of one of the major rivers of west Wales.

It has been suggested that the convenience of a river crossing was a more important factor than the survival of royal land as a locale for any meeting, much as the sealing of Magna Carta took place at Runnymede, not at Windsor. However, it is also possible that the focus of his residence was the area adjacent to the surviving motte, Domen Las, but it is not clear whether any buildings survived to accommodate them. It may be that some sort of temporary pavilion was erected. Again, it is probable that a village was already in existence and it is therefore possible that some of its buildings were pressed into service to accommodate the royal party. It is likely that the royal party would have attended mass at the church, and it seems certain that this was a structure which stood on or immediately adjacent to the present church, though there is no reference to the church itself in the Pennal letter.

Pennal, its motte and llys, its church and its village settlement are therefore associated with the writing of the single most important document of the uprising, the Pennal letter, though the precise location at which it was written cannot be determined.

Pennal from the south-east
Image © Copyright Nigel Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
This pleasant Welsh village lies on the main A493 road between Machynlleth and Tywyn and is located within a strongly Welsh part of Wales, within easy travelling distance of the other Glyndŵr destinations of the Owain Glyndŵr Centre Machynlleth, Aberystwyth Castle, and Harlech Castle. The Church of St Peter in Chains or St Peter ad Vincula is proud of its associations with the writing of the Pennal letter, one of the most significant documents in the history of the Welsh nation. The church is open 365 days a year.

Pennal Letter

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