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Flint, Flintshire. The county of Flint has the distinction of being in two parts, separated by a wide arm of Denbighshire. The larger and western section was known in Welsh as Tegeingl (or, as Giraldus Cambrensis wrote it in the 12th century Tegengel), in which has been found a perpetuation of the name of the Celtic people the Romans found in North Wales, the Deceangli. The smaller and eastward part the Welsh call Maelor, sometimes Saxon Maelor. There is some interest in this word, since it has been thought that Malory, the knight who immortalized his own name by writing the Morie D'Arthur, drew it from the area in which his family was founded. The division was created largely by the bitter fighting from the 7th century onwards between Wales and England for control of this key sector, a contest in which it can be said that neither completely won.

Flint, the town, has given the whole county its name, though no longer the most important of its townships. Mold has succeeded it as capital. As a town, Flint seems to belong more to the England of the industrial belt than to the Wales of the North. We must not suppose, however, that this is in any way a breach of long tradition. The coaching-maps of the early 19th century record the district as rich in lead-mines, as it still remains, and in the 12th century Gerald de Barn, the Welsh cleric already mentioned as Giraldus Cambrensis, noted that it was a country rich in silver, where money was sought in the bowels of the earth. He also mentions a place he terms Coleshulle (Mountain of Coal), which was worked there at the same period. He was not able to note the castle, still set on the strand of sea, though now in much ruin, for it was not established until 100 years later than his visit to the North when, in 1277, Edward I made it the easternmost and first of the chain of strongholds he built, from Flint, through Conway, Denbigh, Rhuddlan, Caernarfon, Beaumanis, and Criccieth to Harlech, as a means of subjecting the territory he had wrested from the last Llywelyn. The simple, four-square plan of Flint Castle, with its drum-towers at each angle, is remarkable for one thing: the keep, or main system of defence, is not, as in all other such fortresses, centred within the enceinte or walled surround of the place. It is outside the battlemented square on a separate islet of its own, and was connected with the rest of the fortifications by a drawbridge of its own. As a point from which the passage to Ireland could be maintained and controlled, Flint played its part in the politics of Britain, first when it received Piers Gaveston, the suspect favourite of Edward it, on his recall as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, shortly before both he and his master were removed from all authority; and again when Richard II, attempting a dictatorship against the principles on which Magna Carta had been issued, was forced to surrender to the man chosen by the Parliament of England his supplanter and successor, Henry Bolingbroke, the fourth Henry to reign. Shakespeare's reference to this event, in his Richard II, makes the King speak of the Castle's tattered battlements. This may have been some sort of poetic foresight, since the Castle was not reduced to its ruinous state until the Civil Wars of the 17th century. Sir Roger Mostyn held it for the King, Charles I, but was starved into surrender in 1643. Royalists recaptured it in 1645, but it fell again in the following year. Since then, Flint has turned its attention to unwarlike matters. But, in view of its earlier history of conflict, a further note from Gerald de Barn is worth making.

He points out that Henry II of England, actuated by youthful and indiscreet ardour (as Gerald puts it), made a hostile irruption into Wales through the Tegengel, and suffered signal defeat. Indeed, both in 1157 and 1165 Henry was driven back from the North, as he was in 1162 from the South. Gerald blames him for not taking advice from those skilled in the matter of Welsh wars, in which the Welsh long-bow, drawn back to the ear, far surpassed the English weapon, which in the 12th century was still taken back only to the breast. But during these campaigns an incident occurred that is best recounted as Gerald himself wrote of it.

In the wood of Coleshulle, a young Welshman was killed while passing through the King's army. The greyhound that accompanied him stayed by his master's body for eight days, though without food, faithfully defending it from the attacks of wolves and beasts of prey. What son to his father, asks Gerald, would have shown such affectionate regard? As a mark of favour to the dog, the English, though bitter enemies of the Welsh, ordered the young Welshman's body, now nearly putrid, to be buried with the accustomed offices of humanity.

Nearby cities: Chester

Nearby towns: Holywell, Mold, Prestatyn, Ruthin, St Asaph

Nearby villages: Bagillt, Bebington, Bromborough, Broughton, Buckley, Caerwys, Cilcain, Connahs Quay, Greenfield, Halkyn, Hawarden, Heswall, Ledsham, Little Neston, Llangynhafal, Llannerch-y-Mor, Llong, Lower Bebington, Mostyn, Nannerch, Northop, Northop, Padeswood, Port Sunlight, Puddington, Queensferry, Rhydymwyn, Sandycroft, Shotton, Shotwick, Thurstaston, Whitford

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