When it comes to medieval monuments, our cross-section of Welsh castles certainly have the wow factor. But on the rarity scale, they don’t come close to Welsh courts.
While Wales houses over 400 castles within its borders, there is only one royal Welsh court open to the public – a relic that is the latest site to come into the care of the Welsh Government's historic environment service, Cadw.
Llys Rhosyr, located in the south of the isle of Ynys Môn (Anglesey), was a royal court used by the Princes of Gwynedd during the 13th century, including iconic Welsh leader, Llywelyn The Great. The court building, known as a llysoedd in Welsh, served as the de facto headquarters of rulers when they visited a town or region to perform tasks like chairing meetings, collecting taxes or doling out punishments.
Llysoedd were believed to have once been common around the country, but Llys Rhosyr is the only such site with visible remains open to the public today, with visitors able to clearly make out the outlines of the court’s walls and foundations.
Despite its important role in Welsh medieval society, the court was abandoned during the attempted conquest of Wales by the English king, Edward I, and quickly fell into ruin. In the 14th century it is thought a ferocious sandstorm largely buried the structure, before it was excavated by archaeologists in the early 1990s.
So unique is the monument that a reconstruction of two of the court’s buildings, styled to look as they did in the 13th century, were added to the open-air St Fagans National Museum of History in 2018. The museum is home to over 50 historic buildings from around Wales.
Speaking about the Llys Rhosyr site coming into the care of Cadw, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, said, ‘I’m delighted that we’ve been able to purchase this significant site in Welsh history. Cadw will now start work to ensure the site is properly conserved and accessible for all to appreciate.’
‘Llys Rhosyr retains great archaeological potential and also has an important sense of place, with views outwards across the Menai Strait to the mountains of Eryri,’ she added.
Check out some other amazing attractions on the isle of Ynys Môn.