Dolwyddelan Castle

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Dolwyddelan Castle
Part of Conwy County
Dolwyddelan, North Wales
Dolwyddelan Castle Cadw.jpg
Dolwyddelan Castle is located in Wales
Dolwyddelan Castle
Dolwyddelan Castle
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Type Enclosure castle
Site information
Controlled by Cadw
Condition Partially ruinous
Site history
Built Early 13th Century
Built by Llywelyn the Great
In use Open to public
Materials Siltstone
Events Welsh Wars
Prince Madoc's Rebellion
Listed Building – Grade I

Dolwyddelan Castle (Welsh: Castell Dolwyddelan) is a Welsh castle located near Dolwyddelan in Conwy County in North Wales. It is thought to have been built in the early 13th century by Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd and North Wales. Though the castle was then only one tower with two floors, a second tower was built in the late 13th century and a third floor was added to the first during the late 15th century repairs.


The castle was built, using mostly local grit and slate rubble, as one of the Snowdonian strongholds of the princes of Gwynedd.[1][2] Though there are no records of the exact construction date, it is thought to have been built in the early thirteenth century consisting of one rectangular tower with two floors.[1][3][4] The first floor would have consisted of a main chamber with a fireplace, with a trapdoor for entrance to the basement,[5] and the main keep's doorway was covered by a porch or forebuilding.[6]

The second two storey tower was added by Edward I during the repairs in 1283-1284 and linked by an irregular curtain wall with a courtyard in the centre, with further work undertaken in 1290-2.[7][6] This second tower contained a fireplace on the top floor reached by internal stairs.[6] A third storey was added to the main keep in the late 15th century,[8] resulting in it now reaching a height of 40ft.[9] The castle was heavily restored between 1848 and 1850 by Baron Willoughby de Eresby during which time the battlements were added.[1][3]


The Welsh castle, built in the early 13th Century, functioned as a guard post along a main route through North Wales.[8] It was reputed to be the birthplace of Llywelyn the Great, though it is now thought that he was born at Tomen Castell, a small tower that previously stood on a nearby hill, and was the one to build Dolwyddelan Castle.[1][10][11] On 18 January 1283 it was captured by Edward I of England's forces during the final stages of his conquest of Wales.[12]:194-195 Some historians have suggested that there may have been a deal between the defenders of the castle and Edward I in which its surrender was negotiated.[12]:195 The castle was then modified and strengthened until at least 1286 for occupation by an English garrison with recorded repairs including carpentry, the bridge, and the water mill.[7][13][14]

Edwardian troops maintained a military presence here until 1290.[15] As the long-term strategy of control in Wales began to rely on military and administrative centres accessible by sea, the inland castles became obsolete.

In the 15th century, the upper storey and drainage system were added to the keep by local lord Maredudd ap Ieuan who acquired the lease in 1488.[16] It was restored and partly re-modelled in the 19th Century by Lord Willoughby de Eresby, who added the distinctive battlements.[3] It was reported that in around 1810 one of the towers may have collapsed.[17]

In 1930 the building was placed under the guardianship of the Ministry of Works.[18][15] The castle is now under the protection of Cadw, which is part of the Welsh Assembly's historic environment division.[19]

Media appearances

In 1980 the location was used for all the outdoor shots of Ulrich's castle during the making of the film Dragonslayer.[20]

Dolwyddelan Castle's keep. The stairs lead to an entrance on the first floor.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Stephen Friar (2003). The Sutton Companion to Castles. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0750927445.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Ernest Neaverson (1947). Mediaeval Castles in North Wales. The University Press of Liverpool. pp. 31–33.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dolwyddelan Castle (Sign inside castle). Dolwyddelan Castle: CADW.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Thomas Roscoe (1844). Wandering in North Wales.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Britain's Medieval Castles. Praeger Publishers. 2006. p. 102. ISBN 0275984141.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 John Kenyon (2010). The Medieval Castles of Wales. The University of Wales Press. ISBN 9780708321805.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Arnold Taylor (1986). The Welsh Castles of Edward I. The Hambledon Press. ISBN 0907628710.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Simon Jenkins (2011). Wales - Churches, Houses, Castles. ISBN 978-0-141-02412-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. The Snowdonia Tourism Association. The Villages of Snowdon.
  10. Jeffrey L. Thomas. "Tomen Castell". Retrieved 2 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Geraint Roberts (2006). Welsh Castles. Y Lolfa. ISBN 0862435501.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Michael Prestwich (1988). Edward I. University of California Press. ISBN 0520062663.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Dolwyddelan Castle". CADW. 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Prestwich, Michael (2005). Plantagenet England 1225-1360. p. 155.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 Lise Hull (2008). Great Castles of Britain and Ireland. New Holland Publishers. p. 122. ISBN 9781847731302.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Michael Senior (1984). The Conwy Valley - Its Long History. Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. p. 23. ISBN 0863810357.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Barnwell, E.L. (1883). "Dolwyddelan Castle". Archaeologia Cambrensis. 38: 51. Retrieved 9 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (1956). An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Caernarvonshire: I East: the Cantref of Arllechwedd and the Commote of Creuddyn. 1. pp. 80–82.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Mike Weil (1994). The Hidden Places of North and Mid Wales. M&M Publishing. p. 84. ISBN 1871815568.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Dolwyddelan Castle". North Wales Daily Post. 18 September 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links