April 05, 2021
Wales has a storied landscape. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that it is home to numerous ruins of note. One excellent example would be Dolbadarn Castle, which once secured the Llanberis Pass in northern Wales. It has been uninhabited ever since the 18th century. However, Dolbadarn Castle still stands as one of the best-preserved round towers in the Welsh style.
The 50-foot tower of Dolbadarn Castle
Traditionally speaking, Welsh rulers were not known for their castle-building. However, that started to change in the 11th century when the Normans took over Anglo-Saxon England before proceeding right into Wales, thus increasing the need for strong fortifications. It is known that Dolbadarn Castle was built in either the 1220s or the 1230s at the command of Llywelyn the Great, who had managed to become the dominant power throughout the whole of Wales in spite of considerable opposition from both England and other Welsh rulers.
Unfortunately, Llywelyn's heirs were not as capable. As a result, Dolbadarn Castle played various roles in their gradual decline, with an excellent example being its use for imprisoning a beaten contender. Eventually, it fell into the hands of the Normans when Edward I of England defeated the last independent ruler of Wales Dafydd ap Gruffydd in 1282. The Normans were not satisfied with just taking over the Welsh administration. Instead, the Normans built new fortifications for themselves, thus replacing Dolbadarn Castle as well as other Welsh centers of power. In a very real sense, the importance of Dolbadarn Castle to the Welsh rulers was exactly why it had to be made irrelevant.
In fact, it should be mentioned that timber from Dolbadarn Castle was used to make Caernarfon Castle, which served as the new Norman center of power for the surrounding region. Still, the remaining parts of the castle were in good enough condition to be used as a manor into the 14th century. Even so, Dolbadarn Castle retained some of its previous appeal, as shown by how it was a very popular subject for Sublime as well as Picturesque painters in the 18th century.
Nowadays, the ruins of Dolbadarn Castle are protected by the Welsh government itself. It remains a site of interest, both for people with an eye for beauty and for people with an appreciation for Welsh history. As such, Dolbadarn Castle is a good choice for anyone looking to create a list of Welsh destinations to visit.
December 30, 2023