Dowlyddelan Castle

Dolwyddelan is traditionally the birthplace of Llywelyn the great, though the actual site was perhaps the vanished castle of the rocky knoll in the valley floor. There is no evidence for any building at the present castle site earlier than the early 13th century, when the area came under Llywelyn's control. The site covers two routes into Snowdonia, and admirably demonstrates Llywelyn's scheme of defense and control. Dolwyddelan remained an important stronghold for his grandson, Llywelyn AP Gruffydd, and its capture by the English, perhaps through treachery, on 18 January 1283 was a turning point of the Edwardian campaign. It was immediately repaired and garrisoned by Edward with a force kitted out with white tunics, camouflaged for a winter campaign in the mountains. The English maintained a military presence here until 1290, but their long-term strategy of control relied on military and administrative centers accessible by sea, and inland castles became increasingly irrelevant.

Let’s talk about the castle! The castle consists of two rectangular towers linked by an irregular curtain wall set on the highest point of a narrow rocky ridge. It is isolated from the ridge by rock-cut ditches with counterscarp banks; access was originally by a wooden bridge at the northeast corner. The keep and the curtain wall are judged to be the work of Llywelyn the great. The keep was then only two storeys high. A basement was accessible by trapdoor. The great room was heated by a large fireplace and provided with a latrine in a narrow wall-chamber. This room had a steeply pitched roof; the gable line can be seen on the inner face of the south wall. Its doorway at first-floor level was strongly defended, with a drawbridge at the top of the outer stairs. The collapse of its defensive porch has exposed the drawbridge pit.


The first thing you should know about is Dolwyddelan, like most of the castles of the native Welsh princes, is set amidst spectacular scenery. The castle guards a mountain pass through the Vale of Conwy, and it's the beauty of the surrounding countryside that visitors first notice. First of all, if you ever find yourself around Conwy about to head south for Betws-y-Coed or Dolwyddelan Castle, do take a route which will take you straight through the heart of the beautiful Vale of Conwy.  Before coming to the castle you first pass through the pleasant village of Dolwyddelan. A white animal with a ‘bleating’ sound will greet you once you reach the castle.

There are wonderful walks all around Dolwyddelan, and the area is very popular with hikers. So if you don’t want to missing a spectacular survey of the surrounding countryside from the top of Dolwyddelan, so I would recommend you to brave yourself and start hiking with the sheep that been all over the places!

Even a gloomy day cannot diminish the majestic views Dolwyddelan offers from this vantage, and quietly one of the most beautiful places to visit in this area of Wales. So next time you're in the Snowdonia Mountains, make sure you allow time for a side trip to Dolwyddelan Castle. It will be a Welsh castle experience you'll not soon forget!

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