Battle of Crogen site, Castle Mill
At Castle Mill, in the Ceiriog Valley, the Offa’s Dyke Path passes the site of a battle in 1165 between Welsh soldiers and the army of King Henry II.
Henry took control of large areas of Wales after he took the throne in 1154. In part, this was down to Powys landowners seeking protection from their neighbours further west in Wales. Henry was a powerful king, ruling a large swathe of France as well as England.
Henry’s authority was later undermined by his dispute with Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury who defied the king to protect the Church’s interests. The Welsh leaders saw their opportunity to recapture the lands they had yielded to Henry, who responded by sending a full-strength army to the Oswestry area.
For once, the Welsh forces were united. Led by Owain Gwynedd, they waited until Henry’s army had entered the narrow Ceiriog Valley and then attacked. They had the advantage of local knowledge and may have used to their advantage the remains of Offa’s Dyke – built to defend England from the Welsh. In the ensuing battle, many soldiers on both sides were killed. Eventually Henry’s forces had to retreat in defeat.
You can read more about the battle on the interpretation boards near Castle Mill bridge, which dates from the early 19th century.