Dinefwr - Sarah Woodbury


Dinefwr Castle is located in South Wales, on a ridge on the northern bank of the Tywi, near Llandeilo. It was the chief seat of the Welsh Kingdom of Deheubarth. Tradition says that the first castle was built by Rhodri the Great in the 800s, but the first evidence of a castle is from a hundred years later during the time of Hywel Dda (Hywel the Great). The castle was also the main seat of another great leader of Deuheubarth, the Lord Rhys (who happens to be my ancestor). He ruled starting in 1155.

Legend tells the story of King Henry II’s plan to assault the castle during a campaign against Rhys. One of Henry’s men asked a local Welsh cleric to lead him to the castle by the easiest route. Instead, the cleric took the most difficult route he could find and the planned attack was abandoned.

Later, Dinewfwr became a pawn in the war between Llwelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales, and King Edward I. Another Rhys, this one Rhys ap Maredudd, feeling slighted by Llywelyn, allied with Edward and helped the king capture Dinefwr in 1277, on the promise that the castle would become his afterwards. Edward did not keep his promise, resulting in Rhys’s rebellion and ultimate execution by Edward in 1292.

Still visible today are the great entrance, the battlement, and towers, all of which are accessible. The castle is known for its glorious views of south Wales.

Dinefwr is the setting for The Worthy Soldier, one of the Gareth & Gwen Medieval Mysteries. In addition, Math, a character from the Welsh Guard Mysteries, who is the son of the man Rhys ap Maredudd betrayed when he allied with Edward.

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