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Plâs Crûg

Plâs Crûg by H Gastineau, about 1830

Plâs Crûg consisted of a large stone building, possibly a farm house with projecting gable-end chimney and a crenellated tower, connected by a single story cottage. These were built on a natural outcrop in the middle of the flood plain of the Rheidol, about ½ mile from the centre of Aberystwyth.

The origins are uncertain but documentation suggests that the site may have been occupied during the early mediaeval period and has been thought to have been the site of the third mediaeval castle of Aberystwyth.

Excavations on the site of the tower in 2009 showed that it was too small for a mediaeval castle and was probably built in the 18th century, possibly as a folly by the Powells of Nanteos, one of the local land-owning families.

A leat was constructed to take water from the Rheidol to the corn mill in Mill Street, either in Mediaeval times or during the 16th century. This passed around two sides of the site with the river forming a boundary on the third side. The forth side was liable to flood.

Plâs Crûg about 1860

By the late eighteenth century the tower in particular had become an attraction for antiquaries and those touring Wales when stories relating it its supposed history abounded. It was described (often with some disappointment), by many antiquaries and illustrated or photographed by at least 30 of them. It is one of the most illustrated sites in the county.

An avenue and footpath were created alongside the leat by 1834, enabling people to walk from Aberystwyth to the church at Llanbadarn Fawr. It passed close to the ruins of Plas Crug.

By the middle of the 19th century the tower was in a ruinous state and was restored. The crenellations were replaced and the first-floor door was converted into a window. The cottage roof was raised, possibly at the same time. The site became the property of the Aberystwyth Town Council who leased it out as a market garden.

In about 1965 it was demolished to make way for a school.

Plâs Crûg about 1870

There are several stories associated with the site:

It was thought to be the site of the castle of one of the Princes of Wales. A castle known as Aber Rheidol was 'breached/destroyed/burned' according to the three versions of the Brut y Tywysogyon (the Chronicle of the Princes) in 1164. This may have been at Plâs Crûg.

There is a reference to a llys (palace) of the Welsh prince Rhys Ieuanc in Llanbadarn by the poet Philip Bydydd. Rhys was ejected from his castle in 1221. If the castle and llys are one and the same, then it seems likely that the castle was near Llanbadarn.

It was said that Owain Glyndwr sealed or ratified his treaty with the French at Plas Crug rather than the main stone castle on 12th January, 1405. There is little doubt that it was signed at the stone castle which he held from 1404 - 1408.

It is said that there were tunnels running from Plâs Crûg to the church at Llanbadarn Fawr and to the stone castle at Aberystwyth, but there is absolutely no evidence for these.

Plâs Crûg about 1890