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Cilmeri (Kill Merry), Builth

Cilmeri
For many who do more than just love Wales, Cilmeri is its most hallowed and saddest spot, for it was here, in a quiet meadow just outside the town of Builth Wells that Welsh-born native prince Llewelyn the Last (Llewelyn ap Gruffudd: Thlew Ellin ap Griffith) was slain. To understand the significance of Cilmeri, we must turn back in history to the Edwardian Conquest of Wales during the latter part of the 13th century.

The ambition of King Edward was to unite the whole of the island of Britain under his kingship, and this meant he had to ultimately conquer Wales and Scotland. Prince Llewelyn had somehow managed to form a unified Wales under his leadership, but faced formidable problems in holding together all the quarrelsome parts of his kingdom. It was therefore not too difficult for Edward's much larger army to eventually wear away the forces of Llewelyn through attrition and to impose harsh restrictions upon the Welsh leader.

At the Treaty of Aberconwy in 1277, Llewelyn was forced to accept humiliating terms and give up most of his recently acquired lands keeping only Gwynedd west of the Conwy River. Edward followed up his successes by building English strongholds around the perimeter of what remained of Llewelyn s possessions and strong, easily defended castles were erected at Flint, Rhuddlan, Aberystwyth and Builth garrisoned by large detachments of English immigrants and soldiers.

Prince Llewelyn was not yet finished. During a period of peace between the two leaders, his wedding to Elinor at Worcester was honored by the attendance of the English king. When the people of Wales, under his brother Dafydd, eventually rose in a massive revolt at the loss of control over their customs and their law and the restrictive and oppressive English rule, Llewelyn was the unanimous choice to lead their cause.

At first, Llewelyn 's revolt was successful, the castles of Builth, Aberystwyth and Ruthin fell into his hands and a large English force was utterly destroyed in the Menai Straights in Gwynedd. Edward was forced to devote all of his kingdom's resources to deal with the "malicious, accursed" Welsh, yet it was a mere chance encounter in a meadow at Cilmeri that ended the Welsh dream.

Llewelyn, separated from his army, found himself in a minor skirmish and was killed by an English knight who was unaware of the Welsh prince's identity. Upon discovery, Llewelyn's head was sent to London to be displayed as that of a traitor. Edward's troubles with the rebellious Welsh, for all practical purposes ended. Henceforth, Wales was to live under an alien political system, playing a subordinate role as an integral part of the kingdom of England. A poignant ballad by modern Welsh songwriter and nationalist Dafydd Iwan expresses the grief of the Welsh nation at the loss of their beloved Llewelyn: "Collir Llewelyn, colli'r cyfan" (losing Llewelyn is losing everything). Cilmeri is indeed holy ground.

In the quiet green meadow on the road from Builth Wells to Llandovery, beside the little brook, you will see a tall granite monolith. At first glance, it looks like one of the ancient standing stones erected thousands of years ago by our Neolithic ancestors, yet a closer inspection reveals it to be a monument erected in 1956 to the memory of Prince Llewelyn "our last ruler" (Ein Lliw Olaf).

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