My trip to Dolbadarn Castle

Ah, time for some more reminiscence, I think!

Today, I was looking into going camping (my sense of adventure knows no bounds), specifically to Snowdonia, which got me back to thinking about a trip I took there last summer. I’d actually gone to Holyhead, but it was so misty there I decided to come back, via the Llanberis Pass. Lots of stunning scenery there, plus it wasn’t quite so foggy either. As well as all that, there’s a very scenic ruined castle to be seen, Dolbadarn:

Dolbadarn Castle

I’ve said before how I enjoy a good abbey, which is perfectly true of course, but I also enjoy a good castle, I must say! Dolbadarn is quite stark now, at the foot of Snowdon and overlooking Llyn Padarn. It was built in the 1220s by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, ‘the Great’, at the same time he was building his stronghold near Cadair Idris, Castell y bere. Llywelyn was the Prince of Gwynedd, though his territory expanded across most of Wales, which brought him into contact with the Norman lords of the Welsh March, and in turn into contact with castle technology. Following this, the circular keep was introduced:

Dolbadarn Castle

Following the death of Llywelyn, there was something of a power vacuum until his grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, ‘the Last’, consolidated his power, imprisoning his brother Owain in a castle with a round tower, widely believed to be Dolbadarn. During the conflict with Edward I, following the death of Llywelyn in 1282 his brother Dafydd assumed power and was driven back into Snowdonia, eventually governing from Dolbadarn. Dafydd was eventually caught, and the capital punishment of hanging, drawing and quartering was invented for him. Edward built a series of castles across Wales to assert his dominance over the region, centred on Caernarfon, and while some effort was made to maintain these native castles, eventually English rule was centred on the new castles and these smaller buildings were forgotten.

Dolbadarn Castle

The castle ran to ruin following this, and formed a popular subject for painters during the Romantic revolution of the nineteenth century. It’s easy to see why, too, given how picturesque it is today!

Dolbadarn Castle

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