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Corwen, Denbighshire. About 10 miles from Llangollen and rather more from Bala, depending on which road you choose, Corwen is set on the junction of the Alwen with the Dee. Northward it looks over the Dee valley, here known as the Dyffryn Edeyrnion, and to what was Corwen's ancient predecessor, the Caer Drewyn, only 1 mile away on a height overlooking the town. Here is the most important of all Welsh prehistoric fortresses. Not less than ½ mile in circumference, with walls about 4 yds thick, and with a North East sector leading to the remains of circular dwellings, (aer Drewyn represents a settlement of a race still mysterious, though the stone circle close to the old track the Cam Elm Way under Cader Fronwen, South of Corwen may relate it to the first Brythonic penetration of the area.

The same hill was occupied by Owain, Prince of Gwynedd, in 1165 against Henry II of England, who encamped on the Berwyns by the Cader Fronwen and was driven off by the violent weather. But Corwen prefers to remember that other Owain, Glyndwr, who wrested the independence of Wales from Henry IV. He got his name from Glyndyfrdwy, one of his estates, which lay round about the village of the same name 5 miles to the West of Llangollen. His other property of Cynllaeth centred on Sycharth, to the South of the Berwyns; and it is said that, standing on the hill Penypigyn close by Corwen, as he gathered his troops before the Battle of Shrewsbury, he could look across 40 square miles of his own land.

According to a picturesque tradition, he left his personal mark on the town: the church has on the stone lintel of its South door, called the Priest's Door, an incised cross that was supposed to have been made by the Welsh King when, in a fit of annoyance, he threw his dagger from the peak of Penypigyn. The sign is more probably a simple mark of consecration.

The church traces its foundation to the 6th century, the heroic age of Christianity in Wales, and is dedicated to Mael and Sulien, who, in that period, accompanied St Cadfan, the saint of Towyn, on his missionary venture from Brittany to Wales. A legend says that the builders at first intended to put up the church elsewhere, but all work done during the day was mysteriously removed by night. At last they decided to have the church on a site already occupied by a great stone; and this was done, the stone being built into the porch, where it still appears. The story may well have some foundation, since Christian sites were often chosen to be where previous cultures had their venerable places, usually associated with time-and-space calculation by monoliths used as sundials. No other relic of the first church remains. The font, with its cable-patterned decoration, dates from about 1100; the grave of a vicar who died in 1350 is at the North side of the chancel. On the opposite side the remnant of a Celtic cross can be seen; this also is said to bear the mark of Glyndwr's dagger.

In 1750 a Mr William Eyton of Shropshire caused a row of almshouses, mainly for clergymen's widows and called the College, to be set up immediately behind the church. Other survivals from the 18th century are gravestones indented with circular shallows to rest the knees of those who came to pray over the buried.

Near Corwen is Rug, the mansion owned by the Welsh family of Salesburys, then by the Vaughans and by the Wynns. Some 5 miles to the North is tiny Derwen, a place with an exceptional rood-loft and one of the most perfect Celtic crosses in Wales. A little further off stands Efenechtyd church, its font carved from a single block of oak and its door with a knocker that may have belonged to a nunnery nearby.

Nearby towns: Bala, Denbigh, Llangollen, Llanrwst, Mold, Ruthin, Wrexham

Nearby villages: Bettws Gwerfil Goch, Bryneglwys, Carrog, Cerrigydrudion, Clawdd-Newydd, Clocaenog, Cyffylliog, Cynwyd, Derwen, Efenechtyd, Glyn Ceiriog, Glyn-Dyfrdwy, Graigfechan, Gwyddelwern, Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, Llandderfel, Llandegla, Llandrillo, Llanelidan, Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, Llandderfel, Llanfor, Llangadwaladr, Llangwm, Llanrhydd, Llansilin, Llantysilio, Pale, Rhewl, Rug, Trevor

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