On finding Edward II’s missing plaque

It was whilst giving talks on my book Forbidden Lives: LGBT Histories from Wales (which contains a piece on Edward II) that a member of the audience asked if I knew of a plaque commemorating the king’s capture at Pant-y-Brâd in South Wales. He knew of it from his daily bus commute and, as it paused to collect passengers, he would often read the plaque and wonder what had taken place.

I hadn’t heard of it, so set off in search. However, having travelled the length of Pant-y-Brâd no plaque could be found, so I sought other evidence.

There is a reference in Gwyliedydd Newydd (New Watchman) in Trip to Llantrisant by Aelfryd in 1910. Aelfryd was watching a woman drawing water from a well and:

“… ar garreg oedd wedi ei chodi gan Mosien fel cofadail uwchben un o ddrysau tai Pant y brad. Dyma y geiriau oeddynt yn gerfiedig yno, “Pant y brad, Nov. 16, 1326 Opposite on was captured King Edward 2nd, Ed. of Caerna, the guide of captors was Rev. Rhys Hywel (Rhys o’r Mynydd)”

“…we were staring at the stone that had been erected by Mosien as a monument above one of the doors of the houses Pant y brad. Here are the words that were carved there, “Pant y brad, Nov. 16, 1326 Opposite on was captured King Edward 2nd, Ed. of Caerna, the guide of captors was Rev. Hywel Rhys (Rhys o’r Mynydd)”

‘Mosien’ is a misspelling of ‘Morien’ aka Owen Morgan a journalist for the Western Mail and a prominent lay historian. He had the marble tablet, or plaque, set in the wall of an old thatched cottage on 16 November 1909.

Despite Morien taking it upon himself to erect the plaque at Pant-y-Brâd we cannot rely on his research. He was often challenged in his own time, and later, on the accuracy of his histories, but having committed himself to Pant-y-Brâd he was reluctant to let go. It is evident from my own research that Edward II and his party were not captured at Pant-y-Brâd.

In 1945 the cottage fell into ruin and the plaque was lost.

It was then apparently found by Edgar Llewelyn the Headmaster of Gellidawel County Secondary School and, at some point, was supposed to have been at the ‘new Tonyrefail Bi-lateral School.’[2] There are no existing records of the plaque at either school.

Sometime later, again it is not known when, it was re-erected on a gatepost leading to a new house where the ruined cottage had once stood. In 2009 a car crashed into the gatepost (probably taking the sharp bend too fast) and the plaque was removed, its subsequent location unknown.

At a meeting in December 2012 of the Tonyrefail & District Community Council it was resolved to place an ad in the Observer asking if anyone knew the whereabouts of the plaque.[3]  To, apparently, no effect.

As I searched the archives my mother, Pamela Shopland, took up the challenge making numerous phone calls, and together we managed to track the plaque down.

Today it sits safe and protected in the back of a shed but in a filthy condition. The owner of the property on which the gate post stands lives abroad and there are no current plans to have the plaque returned to its original spot or taken into the care of a heritage organisation.

Perhaps now is the time to try and safeguard it.

Norena Shopland

 

[2] A page entitled Castellau Hamlet photocopied from a book was sent to me by the custodians of the plaque. Unfortunately they have no record where the page came from and I have been unable to locate the book.

[3] Tonyrefail & District Community Council ‘Minutes of the Monthly Meeting’ (2012) http://www.tonyrefail.cc/html/2012_minutes.html The original retrieval was in August 2016 however an attempted retrieval on 13.09.2017 resulted in a ‘Not Found’ error message

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