Corwen, the crossroads of North Wales, has significant connections with Owain Gwynedd. Here five river valleys meet on a wide flood plain and each marks the route to the next habitation. Henry II and his troops could penetrate no further and stopped at Corwen before returning unsuccessful to England, harassed by Owain Gwynedd’s troops and the weather.
The Dee Valley down to Corwen is much wider than the section to Llangollen. Corwen had its heyday in Victorian times. It’s still a market town and it has a 6th Century mission established by St. Mael and St. Sulien. Carreg-y-Big, a 6-foot stone monolith, forms part of the East wall. In the South porch there’s a rough cross cut into a lintol, it’s supposed to be an impression of Owain Glyndwr’s dagger which was thrown from Pen-y-Pigyn – a high lookout rock over the town. Look out for low foot stones on some of the graves with kneeling hollows to encourage praying for the departed.
Caer Drewyn, high on the other side of the valley is an early circular stone fort with a large site and high, very thick, walls with inner raised walkways and curved stone entrance gateways with shelter for the guards. There is a well-marked walk to this little known but very significant historical site from an entrance a few yards uphill from the Corwen Leisure Centre. The views are excellent and the situation of the camp is very memorable once you’ve walked around it and imagined how it used to be hundreds of years ago.
The Ruabon to Dolgellau GWR Railway Line and the Ruabon to Denbigh and Rhyl LNR Railway Lines met at Corwen. It was the hub for road and rail access to the North and West coasts of North Wales. The town centre is a conservation area, and an area of special architectural and historical interest. A lot of development stopped at the end of the Victorian era and little progress was made afterwards because improved rail and road facilities meant fewer people stopped in Corwen, it became another small town straddling the main routes.
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