The present village church of Bishton is more than 600 years old. Yet its full name – the Church of St Cadwaladr – demonstrates far older origins during the shadowy era following the collapse of Roman rule in Britain after 410 AD. Cadwaladr was the last of the Welsh Kings to claim the title of chief Sovereign of Britain. He reigned from 655-682 AD, at a time for which accurate records are scanty. Myth and reality are intertwined in the mists of our post-Roman past in the area which later became part of the Welsh Marches. Yet we do know that Cadwaladr was a real person, a Celtic king who reigned at a time when the former Roman province of Britannia was dissolving into rival, warring princedoms, most of whom were now led by Saxon (English) invaders and their descendants. The name of the church surely commemorates Cadwaladr's part in this story.
Cadwaladr was the son of a famous father, Cadwallon ap Cadfan, who became the King of Gwynedd in about 625 AD. Cadwallon is documented by Bede as the warlike King of the Britons. He formed a Celtic-Saxon alliance with Penda, king of Mercia, which led to the invasion and conquest of the powerful Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. The army of Cadwallon and Penda killed the KIng of Northumbria at the battle of Hatfield Chase, near Doncaster. However Cadwallon’s dominance was short-lived - a year later in 634 AD he was killed in battle by Oswald at the battle of Heavenfield (near Hadrian’s Wall) which ended Welsh rule in Northumbria, and ushered in the decline of Gwynedd under his successor Cadfael, a commoner.