Deganwy

Deganwy is one of those castle-forts that has become part of the legend of Wales, although very little of it remains. This plan http://www.castlewales.com/deganwy1.html shows a reconstruction of the early medieval fort.  It was the seat of “Maelgwyn Gwynedd, the foremost historical figure of the 6th century in north Wales, patron of St Cybi and St Seiriol, but reviled as a drunken tyrant by the chronicler Gildas. Excavations on the western summit in 1961-66 confirmed occupation in the 5th and 6th centuries.”  http://www.castlewales.com/deganwy.html “The area below the castle is called Maesdu Read More…

Castell y Bere

  My daughter says that Castell y Bere is in ‘the freaking middle of nowhere’ which is why King Edward couldn’t convince any English settlers to live there after he conquered Wales.  Plus ‘it’s really, really windy.’ Potentially, that is all you need to know about Castell y Bere, but if that turned you away from visiting, that would be unfortunate.  Historically, Castell y Bere was also one of the most important castles of the Welsh Princes–certainly it is one of the largest and most elaborate.  It sits on elongated Read More…

Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle is a World Heritage Site and one of Edward I’s Iron Ring of Castles that he built after the Welsh defeat in 1282. It is also linked to Welsh myth, in the story of the tragic heroine of Branwen, the daughter of Llyr, of the Mabinogion, who marries the King of Ireland but whose marriage is ultimately destroyed by the trickster/psychopath god, Efnysien. From CADW: “‘Men of Harlech.’ The nation’s unofficial anthem, loved by rugby fans and regimental bands alike, is said to describe the siege which took place here Read More…

Dolbadarn Castle

Dolbadarn Castle is only 6 1/2 miles as the crow flies from the Menai Straits, and yet, the topography of the area is such that it was built by Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great) to guard the mountain pass from Caernarfon to the upper Conwy Valley.  ‘Its position at the tip of Llyn Padarn allowed the garrison to blockade anyone’s movement through that part of the north, then as now a main link to the rest of Wales. The military worth of the spot was evidently recognized as early as Read More…

Houses and Nails

How long have we been using nails to hold pieces of wood together? The answer is … a long time. “Bronze nails, found in Egypt, have been dated 3400 BC. The Bible give us numerous references to nails, the most well known being the crucifixion of Christ. Of course we should not forget that model wife in Judges who in 1296 BC drove a nail into the temple of her husband while he was asleep, “so he died.”” http://www.fourshee.com/history_of_nails.htm “In the UK, early evidence of large scale nail making comes from Read More…

Ewloe Castle

Very little is known about Ewloe Castle, other than it appears to have been built by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd to counter the English fortresses in eastern Gwynedd of Hawarden and Flint.  It was built in a hollow beneath a field, that actually set on a small hill overlooking two creeks:  the Wepre and the New Inn Brook. “Ewloe castle rises at northwest of the town of Hawarden and is one of the symbols of the brief triumph of the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Last that began its construction in 1257 Read More…

The Conquests of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth

Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, born around 1172, was the grandson of Owain Gwynedd and ruled Wales from the late 12th century (certainly by 1200) to his death in 1240 AD.  He married Joanna (Joan), the eldest (albeit illegitimate) daughter of King John of England. Llywelyn “proved to be the greatest and most constructive Welsh statesman of the Middle Ages. In his long career he succeeded, by constant warfare, by tactful yielding under pressure and by masterly resilience the moment that pressure was relieved, in bringing under his control most of Pura Wallia. When he died in Read More…

A Question about Rhuddlan Castle (Twthill)

A reader of the Gareth and Gwen medieval mysteries asked me a question today and I thought it and my answer was worth sharing … Question: Rhuddlan is an important component of the plot [of The Uninvited Guest]. A sentence in Wikipedia (yes, I know Wikipedia has its limitations, but I notice that, on occasion, even your blogs have referenced Wikipedia) brings up a question. Wikipedia states that Owain Gwynedd did not conquer Rhuddlan until about 1150. It appears that the Welsh/English border was somewhat fluid during the reign of Read More…

Sharing some pics from Wales …

My husband has kept these hidden on his drive until now, so I hadn’t even seen them!   These two pictures were taken on a nothing of a road from Devil’s Bridge (east of Aberystwyth) through the Elan Valley to Cilmeri.  The road was protected by a cattle guard on either end, was really only one lane (albeit paved), and we saw two cars and a million sheep for the two hours we were on it.   The rock is broken over the English translation and at first I couldn’t Read More…

Brecon Castle

Brecon Castle was begun in 1093 by Bernard de Newmarch, when (as my book ‘Welsh Castles’ puts it) ‘he established his lordship of Brecon.’  The Normans had only come to Britain in 1066 and it was a wild time on the borders between England and Wales as they tried to gain control over the Welsh lands.  The Chronicle of the Princes (Red Book of Hergest version) says (for 1093)  “the French devastated Gower, Cydweli, and the Vale of Tywi; and the countries remained a desert.” The lands had been occupied Read More…

Carreg Cennen Castle

The present castle at Carreg Cennen dates to the thirteenth century and Edward the first’s program of castle building.  The site itself, however, has been occupied since Roman times  (a cache of Roman coins and four prehistoric skeletons have been unearthed at the site).  The first to build a castle here were the Welsh princes of Deheubarth. “The first mention of a medieval castle is in 1248 when Rhys Fychan regained control after his mother had handed the castle over to the English out of hatred for her son. Nothing Read More…

Crickhowell Castle

“Crickhowell Castle, also known as Alisby’s castle, is a conspicuous feature of the small market town and occupies a vantage point with commanding views along the Usk valley. It began life as a motte and bailey with timber buildings, probably built by the Turberville family in the 12th century. In 1272 it was rebuilt in stone, still to the basic plan, by Sir Grimbald Pauncefote, who married Sybil, a Turberville heiress.”  http://www.castlewales.com/crickhwl.html “The castle as you enter the town from the east can be seen from the A40 road, which Read More…