Cwmhir Abbey, near Llandrindod Wells, is a Welsh Cistercian monastery founded in 1176 by Cadwallon ap Madog. A spurious tale was later recorded that the abbey was founded in 1143 by Meredudd ap Maelgwn at Ty-faenor, and then refounded at the present location near the village of Abbeycwmhir in 1176. There does appear to be a site movement from Ty-faenor, but Maredudd ap Maelgwn was prince of Maelienydd in 1215 under Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth of Gwynedd, who then controlled the district. The later charter to the abbey in 1215 caused the confusion and led to the belief that Maredudd had founded the abbey in 1143.
The original lord of Maelienydd, a Welsh prince, Cadwallon ap Madog, was killed by the English Sir Roger Mortimer of Wigmore on 22 September 1179. Mortimer later made a charter as lord of Maelienydd in 1200. The community subsequently suffered over many years due to the blood feud between the descendants of Cadwallon ap Madog and the Mortimers. The princes of Gwynedd gave the monastery their patronage, and twice in the 13th century the abbey granges were burnt by English soldiers and in 1231 the abbot was also fined £200 for aiding the Welsh cause in helping Llywelyn ab Iorwerth destroy an English force near Hay on Wye. The headless body of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, last native Prince of Wales by direct descent, was buried in the abbey after his death in battle nearby in December 1282.
In the early 13th century, the construction of what would have been a spectacular and spacious abbey church were embarked upon, equal in scale to many a cathedral probably by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth. But this project was abandoned shortly after the completion of the 14 bay nave. The ongoing political and social troubles were undoubtedly the cause and the abbey fortunes diminished even further during the significant damage inflicted during the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr from 1401. The monastery intended to support 60 monks at the outset, only had three in residence by the time of the dissolution.
The abbey was closed in 1536 and became the possession of the Fowler family who built a house on the site. In 1644, during the English Civil War, the house and any surviving monastic structures were wrecked and probably destroyed in the fighting. What little remains was excavated in the 19th century and is open to the public. Only fragmentary stretches of the nave of the church remain visible and a modern grave slab within such commemorates Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, who was killed in 1282 and was buried in the church.
In the parish church of St Idloes, Llanidloes, there are a series of 13th-century arches, and other features, believed to have been taken from the abbey church and re-erected there in 1542.References:
Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.
King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.
The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.
It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.