In 797 AD, King
Coenwulf of Mercia seeks to re-assert his domination of Gwynedd. In his
defense, King Caradog gathers his Welsh forces which include those of Powys and
Dyfed. The battle proves to be indecisive as both forces meet again the
following year in Snowdonia.
Ordnance Survey map of 1871 sites the battle in a field to the North West of
Rhuddlan. This location is described as marshland bordering the river Clwyd to
the east and by steep hills to the west. Our battlefield will have two
difficult hills on one side and two boggy grounds placed facing each deployment
III/19a, an option, represent Powys and Dyfed as allies of two elements each.
Due to the
limited amount of open ground, King Coenwulf reinforced his flanks with extra
troops; these would fend off Welsh flanking attempts as he pushed his line
forward. The Welsh line was noticeably broken by the boggy ground offering an opportunity
for the Mercians to destroy one flank.
Both armies marched cautiously forward and sensing some confusion on the Mercian side, King Caradog quickened the pace of his left.
As the main battle lines clashed, King Caradog deployed Welsh skirmishers to harass the Mercian right while wheeling his own bodyguard to turn the Mercian line.
The battle quickly cascaded into a slaughter as King Coenwulf fell as did other thegns of Mercia sending a tremor of despair among their ranks. Further losses incurred by Mercia forced them to flee the field. Welsh losses were insignificant (3g-1).
subsequent test, the Welsh proved tenacious winning the majority of their
battles with the Mercian commander thrice succumbing to a Welsh axe. Other Dark
Age battles will follow.