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 the 6th century but surviving masonry dates no earlier than the 1200’s.’ http://www.castlewales.com/dolbd.html Llywleyn Fawr built the castle in the early 13th century and it was one of the last defenses of Dafydd ap Gruffydd–Llywleyn Fawr’s grandson–in 1283 after Edward had defeated Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Dafydd’s brother (Paul Davis, Castles of Read more…

Eryri (Snowdonia)

Eryri, Snowdonia in English, was the place in Gwynedd to which the Princes of Wales retreated, and their final stronghold when the English pressed on them from every side.  Mt. Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) has always been at its center, but it traditionally included the Carneddau range and essentially all the land west of the Conwy River. It is the land the Edward allowed Llywelyn ap Gruffydd to keep in the 1277 treaty.  Today, as a national park, it includes 838 square miles. From John T Koch, Celtic Culture: An Historical Encyclopedia: “The first literary mention of Eryri occurs in the 9th century Historia Brittonum, where an account is given of the downfall of the semi-legendary 5th century king Vortigern.  Pursued by his revolted Anglo-Saxon mercenaries and hated by his Brythonic countrymen, the king’s magi direct him to build a stronghold Read more…

Mt. Snowdon

Mt. Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa in Welsh, is the largest mountain in Wales, at 3560 feet and one of the wettest, receiving upwards of 180 inches of precipitation (from the picture, not just rain). It is a focal point of much of the culture of Gwynedd in the Dark Ages. In the Welsh version of the Arthurian tales, Arthur sleeps in a cave in the mountain, to one day rise again and lead his people to victory against their enemies. ‘Snowdon’ comes from the Saxon words ‘snow dun’, meaning ‘snowy hill’, but the Welsh word ‘Yr Wyddfa’ means ‘the tomb’. Cadair Idris, a southern mountain in the Snowdonia range, translates to “Arthur’s Chair”, while Dinas Emrys, where Myrddin prophecied about the red and white dragons, rests on Snowdon’s south-western flank. Some modern pagans have a theory about ‘ley’ lines: hypothetical Read more…

The Weather in Wales

When my son took his American History class, he read to me from the diaries of Lewis and Clark when they wintered on the Oregon coast after coming all the way across the country.  Mostly what they did was complain about the rain: “Rained again today.” “Rained all night long and into the morning.” “Rained all day for the third day in a row.” Having grown up in western Washington State, I know all about this problem.  Having lived through the last two years in Eastern Oregon, I am intimately familiar with this problem.  We had frozen rain and hail on May 17th.  Wales, climate-wise, is nearly identical to the Pacific Northwest coast. This was our experience. Here’s Dolbadarn Castle. In the rain. This is the forecast for Bangor, Wales for the rest of the week: Five-day forecast (Details) Tomorrow 19 MayFair Read more…