'ABERYSTWYTH 700' ADDRESS DELIVERED BY EMERITUS PROFESSOR E. G. BOWEN, M.A., D.litt., LL.D., F.S.A., AT THE OPENING OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF WALES ANNUAL EXHIBITION, 21 JUNE 1977 [1277] Y vlwydyn honno, wyl Iago Ebostol, y doeth Edmwnt, vrawt y brenhin, a llu gantaw hyt yn Llan Badarn. A dechreu adeilat castell Aber Ystwyth a wneath. Brut y Tywysogion. THERE can be no doubt that the castle referred to in this extract from the Chronicle of the Welsh Princes is the one of which the ruins still stand on the rocky headland west of the town. By the end of the same year (December 28) a little settlement had grown up under its shadow fortified by a ditch and a wall, and granted a royal charter, which provided for a gild merchant and two fairs, a Monday market and the usual liberties possessed by such bastide towns. A printed copy of the original charter may be seen in the show cases in this Exhibition. In this way exactly seven hundred years ago, the town we know today came into being. What lay behind the move by 'Edmund the King's brother' to establish the castle and town is well known. Ever since the death of the Lord Rhys in 1197 the political affairs of Ceredigion were chaotic while the power of the Princes of Gwynedd was rapidly increasing. The latter were pressing their power south- wards and thereby increasing the troubles in Ceredigion. It was only to be expected, therefore, that the territory would fall an easy prey to Edmund when the King decided to solve the Welsh problem by force and arrest the power of Gwynedd. The northern native stronghold was magnificently defended by nature — a succession of lofty mountain arcs and wide estuaries encircled the rich core of Venedotia based on Aberffraw. Two things in northern Ceredigion were essential for Edward's success, namely, to base an army there to block the coast road to the North and so help besiege the natural fortress, and secondly, to build a strong castle to consolidate this objective. The castle should be on an easily defended site, preferably a small hillock, and as near as possible to the water's edge, so that supplies could be imported from abroad and the castle act as a rallying point should the Anglo-Normans be forced to make their escape by sea. The site chosen satisfied all these conditions admirably. Furthermore, it should be noted that the Chronicle says that Edmund and his force came 'hyt yn Llan Badarn' which Professor Thomas Jones translates simply as 'came to Llan Badarn'. The site chosen for the castle and the little bastide town was, indeed, but two and a half miles away from the very ancient and highly honoured sanctuary itself It was reputed to have been in former times a Bishop's See and served later by a 'clas' or monastic community at the head of which was an Abbot. It is indicative of the age and