The doors of the home of one of Wales’s greatest heroes will be thrown open to the public as Owain Glyndŵr gets the Through The Keyhole treatment in Corwen this month.
The miracle of modern technology will give visitors to the inaugural two-day Gwyl y Fflam – Festival of Flame – the chance to tour the bijou residence of Wales’s last true Prince of Wales.
The video experience will be one of the highlights of a festival which takes places this Saturday and Sunday, September 14 and 15, on the former Pavilion site off London Road.
Glyndŵr’s home at Sycharth, near Llansilin, a mile from the English border and close to Oswestry, has been recreated on a video tour by digital technology experts Vivid Virtual Reality.
VVR’s Toby Niesser, from Buckley and now living in Warrington, used source material from a poem by bard Iolo Goch and his own knowledge of medieval housing and buildings to recreate Glyndŵr’s home digitally using a video gaming engine.
The great Welsh hero also had a home at Glyndyfrdwy, close to the A5 and still known as Glyndwr’s Mount, near Corwen where he was proclaimed Prince of Wales in September, 1400.
Toby, whose previous work includes video recreations of the castles at Criccieth and Beaumaris as well as the little-known Liverpool Castle, said: “I went along to Sycharth and had a look – it looks like a mound now but it was interesting to see and imagine what it must once have been like.
“I used Iolo Goch’s poem as a reference along with my knowledge of late medieval building techniques and how the homes of local lords like Glyndwr were constructed.
“They were comfortable and well-appointed but these were turbulent times and they also had to be easily defended against attack so there would have been wooden palisade walls and a ditch and towers as well.”
Visitors to the stand at the festival can view a screen as if wandering around Owain’s home which, along with his property at Glyndyfrdwy, was razed to the ground by the future King Henry V.
That was after Glyndŵr had led the forces of Henry’s father, Henry IV, a merry dance after he was proclaimed Prince of Wales near Corwen on September 16, 1400.
He went on to set Ruthin on fire, took control of much of North and Mid Wales and called his first Parliament at Machynlleth where he was crowned Prince of Wales before holding out against the English forces until 1409.
He disappeared into mythology and possibly into the border counties home of one of his daughters before reputedly dying in 1415 – the year his adversary, Henry V, won his great victory at Agincourt.
Gwyl y Fflam organiser Dylan Jones said: “Owain Glyndŵr is part of our history and heritage in Corwen and we wanted to celebrate and commemorate his proclamation as Prince of Wales in 1400.
“We set about looking at what we could do with the support of the South Denbighshire Community Partnership and the event has grown and grown so that we have two fantastic days lined up.
“I think the recreation of the home of Owain Glyndŵr will be particularly interesting for people but we will also have a huge amount going on over the two days.”
Gwyl y Fflam has been chosen to host the British Medieval Combat Championship Heritage Cup, the first time Wales has staged this new form of martial art which pits armoured warriors, male and female, against each other in individual and group combat in a 25-metre ring.
The medieval reenactors, including the Freemen of Gwent and the House of the Black Star, from Whittington in Shropshire, will set up camp on site to offer a glimpse of what life was like in medieval Wales.
The organisers are also promising a feast with a hog roast, market stalls selling locally-produced food and crafts, a jester, jugglers, historical exhibitions, live medieval music and dancing, a Bayeux-style tapestry, story tellers and children’s activities.
Dylan added: “It should be a fantastic occasion and a real celebration of the life and times of Corwen’s most famous son.
“It’s a fantastic coup to have the Medieval Combat Championships here and to have 35 armoured fighters taking each other on over two day.
“We knew there was a Welsh group based in Newport and I contacted them six months ago and at first they were going to send up two fighters for an exhibition but then it turned out they were looking for a venue for the British Championships and we fitted the bill.
“But we also have lots of other organisations getting involved from the Powys Society which celebrates the life and work of the novelist and poet John Cowper Powys who lived in Corwen for many years, to the Owain Glyndŵr Society.”
For more information on the event, which takes place over the weekend of September 14 and 15, from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sunday, click here.