« AnteriorContinuar »
shire ; enters Montgomeryshire between Bishop's Castle and Newton; passes over Mynydd Digoll, through Liner-park, to the Severn, at Ruttington, just below the conflux of the Bele and the Severn; it
appears again passing by the churches of Llandysilio and Llanymynech, over the horse-course above Oswestry; whence it descends to the Ceiriog, near Chirk; crosses the Dee, and the Rhiabon road, near Plas Madoc; and forms part of the turnpike road from Wrexham to Pentre Bychan ; leaves Minera on the left, crosses Cegsdog river; and at a farm near Treyddm chapel, in the parish of Mold, Flintshire, ceases to be visible. This great work still retains the name of Offa's Dyke, and is an evidence of the ignorance and barbarism of the age; having been raised with immense labour ; but directed to no important use, at least as a line of defence between two hostile nations. As a mark of the boundaries, it answered no bencficial purpose ; and Offa only betrayed his ignorance, when he supposed this prohibitory line would restrain the incursions of the Welsh. They smiled at his folly, despised his toils, and irresistibly carried their ravages far and wide on the English marches. So formidable were they for a long season, that a sanguinary law was made by the victorious Harold, that any Welshman who was found on the eastern side of Offa's Dyke should have his right hand cut off:-Vide Speed's Chron. 401.
I have been thus particularrespecting this celebrated boundary, because most authors have mistaken the line, and confounded it with another, but similar dyke,
equal in depth, but not in extent, * to that of Offa's, called Wat's Dyke. It attends it at unequal distances from five hundred yards to three miles or more, till the former disappears. Even Camden describes part of one and part of the other, for Clawdd Offa. Vide Vol. II. p. 698. Both are accurately delineated on Mr. Evans's map of North Wales. I am at a loss to conjecture for what purpose Wat’s was made, unless, as the foss of the other was on the side of Wales, the Welsh might have used it as an entrenchment; and the English or Danes might have formed the other as a counter barrier. .. Old Churchyard notices the distinction:
Within two miles there is a famous thing,
This is another inducement to think that Wat's Dyke was made by the Danes; that in time of
peace the inhabitants might be permitted to barter their respective commodities for mutual benefit; and the space between the two dykes be considered as neutral ground, like the frontier fortified towns on the banks of the Rhine.
* It is only discoverable at Maesbury, near Oswestry, and ends at the Dee, near Basingwerk.
An infringement of the laws of hospitality on the part of the Welsh, it is said, led to the sanguinary statute of Harold ; and the Welsh prohibited in future the privilege of putting a foot beyond Clawdd Offa. On the right of the village of Chirk, on the summit of a lofty hill, projecting from the Berwyn Chain, stands
The present edifice stands upon the scite of one more ancient, belonging to the Lords of Dinas Bran, called Castell Crogen. It was built by Roger Mortimer, * who seized upon Chirk and Nanheadwy, as Warren did upon Bramfield and Yale. By purchase it went to the Fitz-Alans, by marriage to the Mowa bı ays; and, after seeing a number of owners, it was sold by the son of Lord Bletso to Sir Thomas Mydi dleton, in whose family it still continues. The two Miss Myddletons inheriting, as coparceners, on the demise of their late brother:
The castle is square, having two courts and a magnificent gateway, strengthened at the corners with four round bastions, ending in small turrets. The entrance is between two round towers, by a high
* A communication to the Antiquary Society imports, “that it was begun 1011, and finished 1013. The repair of the wing, destroyed in Cromwell's time, cost 28,0001.; the front is 250 feet long ; the court 103 by 100; and five round towers, 50 feet diameter ; Adam's Tower, 80 feet high; the wall near the dungeon 9 feet deep; and the dungeon as deep as the walls of the castle are high."
narrow arch, not exactly in the centre of the front and a pair of gates of exquisite beauty, wrought in so rich a style as to be considered a wonder of Wales. The first appearance is grand, but on a nearer view the building is heavy. Among the chief rooms are a very large saloon, bandsome drawing-room, and a picture gallery, abounding with scarce and valuable portraits, one hundred feet by twenty-two, with a variety of other handsome apartments; but all are dull, owing to the windows principally looking towards the areas of the castle. Part of it was demolished during the civil wars. Sir Thomas was long a strenuous advocate of the Parliamentarian side of the question, and a very successful officer in' that cause. But, towards the decline of life, like
many more embarked in the same unconstitutional business, perceived that he had been spilling the blood of his countrymen to establish the power of a faction, whose tyranny was far worse than that which he rose in arms to oppose. He now, but too late, endea, voured to make restitution, and, in conjunction with Sir George Booth, endeavoured to restore the ancient constitution and laws. But the forces under Sir George were quickly defeated by the active and vigilant Lambert. Sir Thomas took refuge in his castle of Chirk, where Lambert pursued him ; 'and, after a few days' shew of defence, he was constrained to surrender at discretion. One side, and three towers, which Lambert destroyed, Sir Thomas afterward rebuilt in one year. The damage occasioned by the civil wars was estimated at £80,000. On the
Restoration, Sir Thomas was offered a coronet for his services and his sufferings, which he refused. This venerable pile, though its history is not so interesting as many other castles, yet, when we take into the consideration, that it has withstood the storms of warfare and of time, for five centuries, has much to boast of; and is, perhaps, the most perfect castellated mansion of its age in the kingdom..
The park is very extensive, reaching to the foot of the Berwyn mountains; and covered in places with lofty forest trees. The pleasure-grounds are well laid out, and the different plantations disposed with great taste. But what arrests the attention of the traveller is the incomparable and almost inconeeivable view from the elevation near the house. It is impossible to imagine any thing more extensively grand ; -seventeen counties, as a natural map, spread their varied beauties before the eye of the speetator, Towards England, the plain and town of Shrewsbury, its towers and spires ; the range of table land, called the Clay Hills, extending towards the Malvern Hills, in Worcestershire; the solitary Wrekin; the high land that bounds the Vale Royal of Chester : towards Wales, Llangollen Vale, Castell Dinas Bran, and the boisterous Dee; the range of mountains dividing the counties of Merioneth and Montgomery, the Clwyddian hills, and the Snowdon Chain ; with mountains appearing piled upon mountains, till height and distance give them the semblance of the neighbouring clouds. Indeed, nothing can exceed the variety and extent of scenery disco