A Snowdonian stronghold of the Princes of Gwynedd, Dolwyddelan Castle was thought to have been built around 1210 by Llywelyn the Great, who served as Prince of Gwynedd and Wales. The original stone castle consisted of a two-story tower. It was utilized as a guard post, protecting the main pass through North Wales, a popular route between Conwy and Cricieth. It was reputed to have been the birthplace of Llywelyn the Great, but historians now believe he was born at nearby Tomen Castell and eventually built Dolwyddelan Castle.

Dolwyddelan Castle

On January 18th, 1283, the castle was captured by the army of Edward I of England during the final stages of Edward's conquest of Wales. At this time, Edward added a second tower to Dolwyddelan Castle, extended the original keep, and installed a siege engine that launched stone balls. The castle was used as a troop garrison. The two towers were surrounded by a curtain wall with a courtyard in the center, surrounded by the wall. The English would maintain a presence at the castle until 1290.

Nearly two centuries later, in 1488, Lord Maredudd ap Leuan acquired the lease to the castle and added a third story to the original tower and a drainage system.

It was reported one of the towers may have collapsed around 1810. The castle was restored and partially re-modeled, including the addition of battlements in the 19th century by Baron Willoughby de Eresby. In 1930, the castle was placed under the guardianship of the Ministry of Works and is now under the protection of Cadw, which functions as the Welsh Government's historic environment service.

Castle Highlights

Dolwyddelan Castle resides high atop an outlying ridge facing the rugged grandeur of Moel Siabod. The original tower represents the most impressive feature of the castle. It also includes an exterior stone staircase leading to the first floor of the tower, which Edward built. It is still partially intact, along with fragments of the curtain wall. It is possible to conduct a thorough visit to Dolwyddelan Castle in only an hour or two. Spectacular views of the Snowdonian Mountains exist.

If you want to explore more nearby castles, the ruins of Dolbadarn Castle are approximately 10 miles away. The castles of Conwy or Caernarfon may also be visited on the same day. I recommend starting at one of these castles and finishing the day at Dolwyddelan Castle.