Cri'r Dylluan - T. Llew Jones

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Nofel hanesyddol am y 'Merched Beca'

Historical fiction about Rebecca Riots


Genre: hanesyddol, ffuglen / historical, fiction

Negeseuon positif/positive messages: ◉◉◎◎◎

Themau trist,anodd/upsetting, tough themes: ◉◎◎◎◎

Trais, ofn/violence, scary: ◉◉◉◎◎

Iaith gref/language: ◎◎◎◎◎

Rhyw/sex: ◎◎◎◎◎

Hiwmor/humour: ◎◎◎◎◎

Her darllen/reading difficulty:: ◉◉◉◉◎

Dyfarniad/Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dwi’m yn siŵr pam, ond ron i’n nerfus iawn wrth feddwl am ddarllen llyfrau T Llew Jones. Dwi’n meddwl fod hyn yn deillio o fy nghyfnod yn yr ysgol, yn astudio un o’i nofelau. Ar y pryd, dwi’n meddwl fod y llyfr braidd yn anodd i mi a doeddwn i ddim cweit wedi deall y plot. Beth bynnag, fe welais fod Gomer wedi ail brintio rhai o’i glasuron, felly mi benderfynais roi ail-gynnig ar un o lyfrau Brenin Llenyddiaeth Plant Cymru… Tybed os ga i fwy o lwc yr ail dro?



Mae Cri’r Dylluan yn nofel sy’n dilyn hanes Merched Beca yng nghanol yr 19eg ganrif, rhwng 1839-1843 yn Ne Orllewin Cymru. Nofel hanesyddol ydi hon, sy’n golygu fod y digwyddiadau yn rhai go iawn, ond maen nhw’n cael eu hadrodd drwy stori ffuglen. Roedd ffermwyr tlawd Cymru’n cael eu cosbi’n ariannol gan fod rhaid iddynt dalu er mwyn cael croesi’r tollbyrth ar hyd a lled Cymru. Roedd y ‘turnpike trusts’ yn rheoli’r ffyrdd a chawsent eu sefydlu gan y gwŷr bonheddig, er mwyn codi tollau ar y ffermwyr tlawd pob tro roeddent angen defnyddio’r ffyrdd. Roedd y dynion cyfoethog yn elwa ar draul y werin dlawd. Yn y pen draw, cafodd y ffermwyr lond bol, ac felly dechreuodd sefydliad ‘Merched Beca.’ Grŵp o ffermwyr oedd y rhain, oedd yn gwisgo dillad merched, yn duo eu hwynebau ac yn mynd allan ganol nos i chwalu’r tollbyrth yn racs mewn protest.



I’r bobl gyffredin, roedd ‘Merched Beca’ yn arwyr - yn amddiffyn hawliau’r ffermwyr, ond i’r gwŷr bonheddig, roedden nhw’n drafferthus iawn- yn cael eu gweld fel terfysgwyr a throseddwyr. Galwyd y ‘troops’ i’r ardal i geisio atal y difrod.


Mae’r stori yn dechrau’n syth wrth i un o’r ffermwyr, Tomos Bryn Glas, golli ei dymer gyda Mitchell, un o swyddogion y tollbyrth am fod o wedi ceisio hawlio toll dwywaith mewn diwrnod. Yn ei ddicter, mae Tomos yn ymosod ar ŵr y tollborth ac yn ei anafu’n ddrwg. Hyn yw’r digwyddiad sy’n cychwyn y stori, wrth i’r awdurdodau chwilio am y ffermwr sy’n euog o sefyll i fyny yn erbyn y tollau annheg.


Rydym ni’n dod i gyfarfod dau fachgen lleol, Guto’r Gof a Huw Parri, wrth i’r ddau gael eu tynnu’n ddyfnach i fywyd giang y “Merched Beca”. Mae’r ‘merched’ wedi clywed am yr ymosodiad ar ddyn y tollborth ac yn awyddus i recriwtio aelodau newydd yn yr ardal. Cyn bo hir, mae’r ddau yn dod i gyfarfod rhai o arweinwyr dirgel y mudiad, fel Twm Carnabwth ac yn ymuno gyda nhw i ymosod a dinistrio tollbyrth yr ardal.


Maen nhw’n mynychu cyfarfodydd cyfrinachol ac yn gwneud difrod troseddol yn enw’r ‘merched.’ Mae hyn yn beryglus iawn achos mae’r gwŷr bonheddig yn gandryll ac yn barod i wobrwyo’n dda i geisio cael y ffermwyr i droi ar ei gilydd. Ydy eu cyfrinach yn saff neu oes 'na fradwr yn eu mysg?



Mae Huw Parri mewn sefyllfa anodd iawn - er ei fod o’n un o ferched Beca, mae o’n perthyn i Gyrnol Lewis, y sgweier cyfoethog sy’n gyfrifol am y tollbyrth. Mae’r ‘merched’ hynod o ddrwgdybus ohono oherwydd y cysylltiad peryglus yma. Yn ogystal â hyn, mae’r ferch y mae o’n ei garu yn meddwl fod o wedi bradychu ei thad, ac mae ffrae fawr gyda’i fam yn achosi iddi fynd yn ddifrifol wael. Fydd Huw yn gallu parhau i fod yn fab, yn gariad acyn un o’r ‘Merched Beca’?


Mi wnes i fwynhau’r nofel oherwydd mae’n amlwg fod yr awdur wedi gwneud ei waith ymchwil, gyda nifer o gyfeiriadau at ddigwyddiadau a phobl go iawn. Mae’r “Merched Beca” yn defnyddio trais ac yn ‘cosbi’ un o ddynion y tollbyrth gyda’r “geffyl pren” - rhywbeth sy’n swnio’n beth cas iawn! Fe wnaeth y nofel wneud i mi fynd i ddarllen ac ymchwilio ar y we am hanes diddorol y merched Beca.


Dwi’n hoffi’r ffaith fod T Llew Jones yn defnyddio dipyn o Saesneg yn y llyfr, yn enwedig ar gyfer y deialog. Mae hyn yn amlygu’r gwahaniaeth rhwng y werin a’r bonedd ac yn teimlo’n fwy credadwy. Roedd y stori’n gwneud i mi deimlo’n flin ar ran y ffermwyr yn erbyn y bobl dlawd ac roeddwn i’n sicr ar ochr y werin!


Mae ‘na ddigon yn digwydd yn y stori i ddal diddordeb y darllenydd, ond roeddwn i braidd yn siomedig gyda’r diweddglo. Efallai fod yr hanes go iawn yn brin, ond dwi’n siŵr fod modd o orffen y stori’n well na hyn – dipyn bach yn frysiog. Meh.


Dwi’n meddwl y byddai darllenwyr profiadol/hyderus yn ffeindio’r stori’n ddifyr ond efallai ei fod o braidd yn anodd i ddarllenwyr newydd/ifanc. Pan ysgrifennwyd y llyfr yn wreiddiol, roedd yn addas i blant top yr ysgol gynradd, ond erbyn heddiw, mae o’n fwy addas i blant Bl.7-9 ar y cyfan. Yn sicr yn llyfr defnyddiol yn yr ysgol fel rhan o’r Cwricwlwm Cymreig wrth astudio hanes Cymru.


Doedd hynny ddim mor ddrwg ac yr oeddwn i wedi disgwyl -dwi’n meddwl rof i gynnig ar lyfr arall gan T Llew!


I'm not sure why, but initially I was a bit reluctant about reading one of T. Llew Jones’s books. I think this stems from my time at school, studying one of them. At the time, I think the book was a bit difficult for me and I didn’t quite understand the plot. In any case, I saw that Gomer had re-printed some of his classics, so I decided to try again. The author was hailed as the King of Children’s literature in Wales.... I wonder if I’ll have more luck the second time?



Cri’r Dyllan (The Owl’s cry) is a novel that follows the history of the Rebecca Riots in the mid-19th century, between 1839-1843 in South West Wales. This is a historical novel, which means that the events are real, but they are told through a fictional story. The poor farmers of Wales were being penalized financially because they had to pay in order to cross the toll gates throughout Wales. The 'Turnpike trusts' were in control of the roads and were set up by the gentry, in order to charge the peasant farmers every time they needed to use the roads. The wealthy men benefited at the expense of the poor folk. In the end, the farmers grew tired of this shameless exploitation, and so “Merched Beca” (Beca’s Girls) was formed. These were a group of farmers who went out at night to destroy the toll booths. They blackened their faces and wore women’s clothing to protect their identities.


For the ordinary people, 'Merched Beca' were heroes – defending the rights of the farmers, but for the gentlemen, they were very troublesome-seen as terrorists and criminals. The "Troops" were called to the area to try to halt the riots and put an end to lawlessness.


The story begins straight away as one of the farmers, Tomos Bryn Glas, loses his temper with Mitchell, a toll clerk because he tried to claim a toll twice in one day. In his anger, Tomos attacks the man and injures him badly. This is the event that gets the story going as the authorities search for the farmer who is guilty of standing up against the unfair tolls.


We come to meet two local boys, Guto’r Gof (the blacksmith) and Huw Parri, as the two are drawn deeper into gang life as part of "Beca girls". The 'girls' have heard about the assault on the toll gatekeeper and are eager to recruit new members in the area. The two soon come to meet some of the mysterious leaders of the movement, such as the infamous Twm Carnabwth. They soon join with them in attacking and destroying the area’s tollhouses.


They attend secret meetings and do criminal damage in the name of ‘Rebecca.' This is very dangerous because the wealthy landowners are furious and willing to dish out handsome rewards for anyone willing to give them the names of the members. Is their secret safe or is there a traitor amongst them?

Huw Parri is in a very difficult position – even though he becomes a committed and fully-fledged member of ‘Beca’, he is in fact related to Colonel Lewis, the wealthy Squire who is responsible for the toll gates. The gang leaders are extremely suspicious of him because of this dangerous connection. In addition to this, the object of his desires, Elin, mistakenly thinks he has betrayed her father. A big row with his mother causes her to become seriously ill and this begs the question: Can Huw maintain the two sides to his life – can he be a fine upstanding citizen, a son and a lover as well as being part of ‘Beca’?



I enjoyed the novel because it is clear that the author did his research, with numerous references to real events and people. The ‘Rebecca’ movement uses violence and 'punishes' one toll keeper with a particularly unpleasant and humiliating device, “Y Geffyl Bren” (The wooden horse) The novel sparked my interest to do some further online research about the riots.


I like the fact that T Llew Jones uses a bit of English in the book, especially for the dialogue. This highlights the difference between the common folk and the wealthy landowners and feels more credible. The story is successful in getting me to empathize with the downtrodden, oppressed farmers against the gentry! I was definitely on team Rebecca!!


There's enough going on in the story to maintain the reader's interest, but I was a bit disappointed with the ending. Perhaps the author ran out of real historical source material, but even so, I'm sure there was a better way of wrapping up the story. A little bit rushed, finishing all too sudden and happy ever after. Meh.


I think experienced/confident readers would find the story engaging but it may be a bit difficult for new/younger readers. When the book was originally written, it was aimed at top primary age, but nowadays I feel it is more suitable for children in early secondary school, perhaps yrs.7-9. It’s certainly an useful book in schools during studies of Welsh history.

Well, that wasn't so bad - I think I’ll try another book by T Llew!


Gwasg/publisher: Gomer

Cyhoeddwyd/released: 1974, 1975, 1988, 2005, 2019

Pris: £7.99

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