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The revolt of Owain Glyndwr
Pilleth: the battle of Bryn Glas, 1402

In June 1402 Owain Glyn Dwr led a force into Radnorshire. He was intercepted by "almost all the militia of Herefordshire" under the command of Edmund Mortimer, which would have been largely made up of tenants from the Mortimer estates. The two armies met near the village of Pilleth, a few miles from Presteigne. The chronicles imply that the battle took place on the hill above Pilleth church, Bryn Glas ("Green Hill"). As with all accounts of battles in the middle ages it is impossible to be sure of the numbers involved, but Mortimer’s army could not have consisted of more than 4,000 men.

This section from an early 19th century Ornance Survey map shows the topography of the Lugg Vale and Bryn Glas vey well

Powys County Archives Office 

It seems probable that Owain’s forces took up a position on the hillside, and that Mortimer’s army advanced up the hill to meet them. At the crucial moment, however, their own archers turned on them and they were utterly defeated. The slaughter was said to be horrendous, and accounts put the numbers killed at between 200 and 1,100. This was one of the most significant moments of the rebellion: an English county levy had been utterly overwhelmed by the Welsh. Reports also quickly circulated that the Welsh women accompanying Owain’s army had "obscenely mutilated" many of the bodies of the fallen.
  Mortimer was captured, and when the English government procrastinated over his ransom he threw his lot in with the Welsh, marrying Owain’s daughter on 30 November 1402. As his claim to the throne was arguably better than that of the king, Henry IV, this was a serious development.
  Local tradition indicates that the bodies were buried in mass graves on the hillside and six Wellingtonia trees were planted to indicate one of the sites; although no records exist to substantiate this claim, it is quite possibly true. (This photograph shows the parish church of Pilleth and the Wellingtonia trees marking the grave site on the slope of Bryn Glas).
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