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Gravestone of Siwan
(Princess Joan)
Wife of Llywelyn the Great

St. Mary’s Church, Beaumaris

All photographs Copyright © 2006 by Jeffrey L. Thomas

 

 

Gresham, Cadw

This is one of the finest memorials made by the north Welsh school of carvers during the 13th century. Other fine examples can be seen at Valle Crucis Abbey, near Llangollen. The slab is traditionally identified as that which covered the grave of Siwan, the wife of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, who died in 1237. She was the illegitimate daughter of King John of England and, thought their marriage had not been without troubles, Llywelyn buried her in style in the Franciscan friary at Llanfaes. When the friary was dissolved in 1538 many of the monuments were destroyed, but this one was brought to Beaumaris. The effigy shows the head and shoulders of the princess, wearing a wimple and a coronet, with hands raised in prayer. The rest of the slab is covered with more conventional floriated decoration. The foot of the stem is held in the mouth of a wyvern, a mythical heraldic bird whose tail is knotted and intertwined with the foliage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more about Joan's husband, Llywelyn the Great

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Copyright © 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas