Dolforwyn Castle - Sarah Woodbury

Dolforwyn Castle

Dolforwyn is a medieval castle built by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last prince of Wales, between 1273 and 1277 for a recorded cost of £174. It is located in Powys above the
village of Abermule with commanding views of the Severn Valley. It was constructed in order to counter the power of the Mortimer family, whose castle of Montgomery is two miles to the northeast near the current Wales/England border.

Dolforwyn castle was designed more as an outpost of Llywelyn’s domains rather than as a luxurious seat, as was the case with some other of Llywelyn’s castles, like Criccieth or Castell y Bere. It covered an area 240 feet by 90 feet, and consisted of two wards divided by a rock cut ditch. A rectangular keep sat at the southwest end with a circular tower on the northeast. These were connected by a wall and battlement, making a rectangular enclosure with a D-shaped tower on the northern wall. In conjunction with the castle, Llywelyn also established a Welsh town, located to the west, which has not been excavated. At one time, a drawbridge led from the town across the south-western ditch to a simple gate in the curtain wall.

Because of its location and the threat it posed to the Mortimers, the castle was attacked by the English and taken early in the war of 1277. It fell on April 8th, in large part because a well hadn’t been dug within the castle and the occupants ran out of water. The English suppressed the adjacent Welsh town so it wouldn’t compete with the Mortimer’s town of Montgomery. Subsequently, the castle was held by the Mortimers until 1322, when they lost their lands due to the treason of Edmund Mortimer. At that time, an inventory of rooms was taken, which recorded an armory, a pantry, buttery, kitchen, brewhouse, bakehouse, chapel, great hall, a lady’s chamber and two granges for the storage of grain. By the end of the 14th century, the castle was in disrepair and was never used again.

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