THE DEATH OF LLYWELYN AP GRUFFYDD: THE NARRATIVES RECONSIDERED 'MUCH uncertainty hangs around the circumstances of the death of the last Llywelyn, with whom ended the independence of Gwynedd and, therewith, of the Welsh people.' These words were written fifty years ago by no less an authority than Sir John Lloyd who, in the pages of the Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, reviewed the chronicle and record evidence relating to the last hours of the prince of Wales.1 Lloyd's enquiry addressed itself to three major problems: the date of Llywelyn's death, its location and immediate circum- stances and, finally, he considered whether the prince's end was brought about by deliberate treachery. On the first and second questions, Lloyd was able to reach what seemed to him to be satisfactory conclusions, whilst on the third problem he was able only to return an open verdict, though with strong suspicions of treachery on the part of the Mortimers. The sources available to the modern historian remain largely those which were used by Lloyd. The main chronicles upon which we must rely were already available in print when he wrote, though two texts, the Hagnaby chronicle2 and a chronicle connected with Hailes abbey,3 which still await the critical editor, yield some additional information on the events of 1282. Similarly, record evidence is singularly unproductive of further details. The financial accounts of the military operations of the second Welsh war reveal little of the dire events of December 1282 and it is particularly unfortunate that the details relating to the crucial area of Builth have not survived. Since Lloyd's survey, Dr. A. J. Taylor has added to the repertoire of our sources a letter written by an excited royal clerk which he considers to be 'one of the most nearly contemporary documents relating to Llywelyn's death now extant' and which underlines the role of Roger Lestrange in the events which led to the death of the prince.4 Nevertheless, the time seems opportune to re-open the discussion of the events of 11 December 1282, not only because 1982 sees the commemoration of the prince's death but also because the narratives themselves deserve a critical re-appraisal. It is still impossible to pronounce with supreme confidence on the incidents in the land of Builth on the 1 J. E. Lloyd, The Death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd', Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, v (1931), 349-53. B. L., Cotton MS. Vesp. B. xi, especially ff, 27, 28. Bodley MS. Laud Misc. 529. « A. J. Taylor, 'The Death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd', B.B.C.S., XV (1953), 207-9.