Saturday, 18 April 2015

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my own reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Manorbier Castle

Q2. Lamphey Bishop's Palace

Very very tricky this week and thus also entertaining, lots of misdirection and red herrings to research and resolve. The Eastender initially thought that the clues were pointing to 'Top Castle' medieval mound, near the Pembrokeshire coast path, about a mile or so north east of Amroth castle but could not find any legends about miracles or injuries relating to this medieval period earthworks. After a lot more digging, he found a mound called 'Sentence Castle', at the village of Templeton (allegedly named after the medieval squaddies who ended up in charge of the world banking system, after rooting around in the mines under mount Moriah and finding something incredibly valuable there (although the 'mines of Moriah' story may of course, be a metaphor for some sort of esoteric initiation ceremony or trial), aka 'The Templars'). A battlefield is marked 1081 on the OS map, near the castle mound, in the middle of a disused airfield, though I could not find any lore relating to injuries or miracles for this grĂ¼n haufen.

The battle of Mynydd Carn, if it was indeed fought here (and there is a lot of uncertainty about the location, which is where some of the author's clever misdirection comes in, as some sources claim it was fought north of St Davids, which also has a bishop's palace and a chapel by the sea) was between Trahaearn ap Caradog and Gruffud ap Cynan. Cynan's team apparently won this one, with Trahaearn getting killed, as they had some Norman arbalists on their side.

Driving nine miles south south west of Templeton, would bring us to the birthplace of Gerald de Barry, who according to some of the bios I checked, was born in Manorbier Castle c 1146. Gerald de Barry appears to have been the youngest son of William Fitzodo de Barry. Some of the aforementioned bios say he was appointed archdeacon of Brecon c 1174, after reporting bishop Brennan to the authorities, for having a mistress. He was also a writer and academic.

Three miles north east or so from Manorbier, lies the village of Penally and this is said to be the birthplace of St Teilo, c 6th century AD. St Teilo's feast day is February the 9th. Travelling six miles or so south west from Manorbier, would likely take us to St Govan's chapel, near St Govan's head.  St Govan  (feast day 26th March) was a hermit who legend has it, may also have been one of king Arthur's men (Sir Gawain) who retired there to get over his PTSD, after locking horns with the Green Knight. I did find a reference which stated that the number of steps counted on the way up, can be different from the number counted on the way down. St Govan lived in a fissure in the rocks, with the chapel being built later.

On the way to St Govan's chapel, the puzzle writer most likely passes close to Lamphey Bishop's palace, which was apparently some sort of Kublai Khan style pleasure dome, for stressed out high ranking clergy of the period, to chill out in. It was constructed by Henry de Gower, who was bishop of St Davids, c 1328 to 1347. It was of course no surprise, trashed by our old friend ' 'enry the Eighth'. The area around St Govan's chapel is used by modern day 'arbalists' to throw artillery shells around and is thus marked Danger Area, in red on the OS map.

N.B. The Eastender has moved to moderated comments due to the number of people who normally write letters in green ink, posting on his page. Rest assured though, if you have a non abusive comment relating to solving the puzzle and possible solutions, he will publish it.


  1. I believe the first castle is Narberth Castle, though it sounds as if the mound (The Mound of Arberth) is a hill near the castle rather than being the castle itself. "Near to the castle of Narberth, where Pwyll (Prince of Dyfed) had his court, there was a mound called the Mound of Arberth, of which it was believed that whoever sat upon it would have a strange adventure: either he would receive blows and wounds or he would see a wonder." Pwyll tried it out and saw his bride-to-be, Rhiannon.

  2. This may be a duplicate post as my first one may or may not have disappeared into the ether!
    I believe the first castle is Narberth Castle, though the mound (The Mound of Arberth) seems to be separate from the castle itself. "Near to the castle of Narberth, where Pwyll had his court, there was a mound called the Mound of Arberth, of which it was believed that whoever sat upon it would have a strange adventure: either he would receive blows and wounds or he would see a wonder." Pwyll (Prince of Dyfed) tried it out and the wonder he saw was a woman called Rhiannon, who ended up as his wife.

  3. Having just done a little more digging I found this: "Legends as recorded in the 13th century Mabinogion mention the area of Arberth and a place called Gorsedd Arberth, thought by some authorities to be Sentence Castle." Gorsedd Arberth is another name for the Mound of Arberth so you were right after all! |Though it would be nice if they'd make their minds up about where the Mound of Arberth actually was...

  4. Many thanks for taking the trouble to dig up that information Jane, I have to admit that I did not see Narbeth castle when pouring over the maps and noticed that Sentence castle was a relatively short distance north east of Templeton airfield and the alleged Mynydd Carn battlefield site. From looking at the pictures of it, there seem to be quite substantial stone remains at the Narberth castle site and the author says in the clues, that the one he is at, is little more than a mound. Very, very tricky this week.....

    1. The point concerning substantial stone remains at Narberth Castle is well made. Evidence from various pictures of the location appear to support this. As the puzzle author states, "the castle, marked clearly on the map, is little more than a mound," then that might also endorse the view that Narberth Castle itself may not be the initial location. Whilst it may be thought that the "Mound" is near to the castle, some sources suggest that one, (but not the only), location of Gorsedd Arberth is on Camp Hill, (approx 1 mile South), the site of an Iron Age Fort. The OS Map shows it "marked clearly" but as a Fort - not a Castle. Curiously though, travelling from this location one mile SW "as the crow flies" one would arrive very close to Templeton Airfield, the site marked as the suggested location of the Battle of Mynydd Carn. That in itself, as we now know, is also conjecture, since some sources suggest that the fight occurred at a location which was "a day's march North of St David's, - possibly, at Mynydd Carningli? 'Tis indeed . . . very tricky!