The next incident in my story is set in North Wales in the year 635 in the fortress of Deganwy. Consequently, I have been going through my files looking at all the background information that I have collected to help put together a picture of Deganwy in the early seventh century.
The site lies at the mouth of the River Conwy, adjacent to the modern town of Llandudno. There is evidence of occupation since at least Roman times and although the main surviving ruins date from the 12th-13th centuries, it appears to have been a significant royal site from the 6th to 9th centuries.
Traditionally, the 6th century occupation phase is associated with Maelgwn Gwynedd, one of the tyrants attacked by Gildas in his: On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Excidio_et_Conquestu_Britanniae
I thought that it was entirely reasonable to place the man who was king of Gwynedd in 635 (almost certainly Cadafael) in a stronghold on the twin hills of Deganwy. However, at least one of my sources has suggested that the River Conwy was the eastern border of Gwynedd in the early medieval period. (‘Degannwy Castle, Report on an Archaeological Assessment,’ GAT report no 2068, March 2009, section 4.2.3). http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/95282/details/DEGANWY+CASTLE/
I have to say, I find this somewhat puzzling. If the sway of the early medieval kings of Gwynedd did not run east of the Conwy, what did? The cantref of Rhos appears as a part of Gwynedd on all the maps I have been able to find. The cantrefs of Tegeingl and Rhufoniog may have been semi-independent and may have come under the influence of Powys at various times, but surely Rhos was within the sphere of influence of Gwynedd?
If anybody can help with this, I would be very grateful!
Oh, and apropos of ‘words, words’, I have not managed 2,500 words a week over the Christmas/New Year period, but I have managed about 2,000. Perhaps 400 words per working day should be my new goal.