Prince Madog departure site
Site of Prince Madog’s American departure 1170, Glan-y-Môr Road, Rhos-on-Sea
The golf course south-west of here occupies flat land where the Conwy estuary once flowed. There was a harbour where the estuary flowed into the sea. Fragments of a quay remain in the garden of the house opposite.
Prince Madog ab Owain Gwynedd set sail for America from here in 1170, or so legend has it. Having become disullusioned with never-ending power struggles in Wales, he led a small fleet of ships to explore the western ocean. It is said that when the fleet reached America – possibly Florida or Alabama – 100 men disembarked to form a new colony. Madog and some of his men returned to Wales to recruit settlers. Gathering together 10 ships of men and women, he sailed west, never to return.
Although no witness ever came back to report, folklore has it that he travelled widely in America, befriending some of the native American tribes and teaching them the Welsh language. Stories from later travelers tell of Welsh-speaking native Americans and even some tribes that used coracles similar to Welsh ones. The legend has provided inspiration for generations of poets and storytellers, while the search for evidence to prove the events still goes on in the United States!
Since 1965 the research vessel of Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences has been named Prince Madog. The current ship, Prince Madog II, entered service in 2001 and can often be seen at its berth in Menai Bridge.
In 2017 a granite “postcard” celebrating the legend of Prince Madog was installed on the prom at Colwyn Bay.
With thanks to John Lawson-Reay, of the Llandudno & Colwyn Bay History Society
Postcode: LL28 4HU