Dolwyddelan Castle
Castell Dolwyddelan
Part of Conwy County Borough
Dolwyddelan, North Wales
Dolwyddelan Castle Cadw.jpg
Dolwyddelan Castle is located in Wales
Dolwyddelan Castle
Dolwyddelan Castle
Coordinates53°03′11″N 3°54′29″W / 53.05293°N 3.90809°W / 53.05293; -3.90809
TypeEnclosure castle
Site information
Controlled byCadw
ConditionPartially ruinous
Site history
BuiltEarly 13th Century
Built byLlywelyn the Great
In useOpen to public
EventsWelsh Wars
Prince Madoc's Rebellion
Listed Building – Grade I

Dolwyddelan Castle (/dɒlwɪðˈɛlæn/ dol-with-EL-an; Welsh: Castell Dolwyddelan; Welsh pronunciation: [kastɛɬ dɔlwɪð’ɛlan]) is a Welsh castle located near Dolwyddelan in Conwy County Borough in North Wales. It is thought to have been built in the early 13th century by Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd and Wales. Initially comprising just one tower with two floors, a second tower was built in the late 13th century, and a third floor was added to the first during repairs in the late 15th century.


The castle was built, using mostly local grit and slate rubble, as one of the Snowdonian strongholds of the princes of Gwynedd.[1][2] Though there are no records of the exact construction date, it is thought that a single rectangular tower, with two floors, was built in the early 13th century.[1][3][4] The first floor would have consisted of a main chamber with a fireplace, with a trapdoor for entrance to the basement,[5] and the main keep's doorway would have been covered by a porch or forebuilding.[6]

The second two-storey tower was added by Edward I during the repairs in 1283–84 and linked by an irregular curtain wall with a courtyard in the centre, with further work undertaken in 1290–92.[7][6] This second tower contained a fireplace on the top floor reached by internal stairs.[6] A third storey was added to the main keep in the late 15th century,[8] raising it to a total height of 40 feet (12 m).[9] The castle was heavily restored between 1848 and 1850 by Baron Willoughby de Eresby during which time the battlements were added.[1][3]


Dolwyddelan castle, c.1778, in Thomas Pennant's A Tour of Wales
Dolwyddelan castle, c.1778, in Thomas Pennant's A Tour of Wales

The Welsh castle, built in the early 13th century, functioned as a guard post along a main route through North Wales.[8] It was reputed to be the birthplace of Llywelyn the Great, though it is now thought that he was born at Tomen Castell, a small tower that previously stood on a nearby hill, and that he built Dolwyddelan Castle.[1][10] On 18 January 1283 the castle was captured by Edward I of England's forces during the final stages of his conquest of Wales.[11]: 194–195  Some historians have suggested that there may have been a deal between the defenders of the castle and Edward I in which its surrender was negotiated.[11]: 195 

The castle was then modified and strengthened until at least 1286 for occupation by an English garrison with recorded repairs including carpentry, the bridge, and the water mill.[7][12][13] Edwardian troops maintained a military presence here until 1290.[14]

In the 15th century, the upper storey and drainage system were added to the keep by local lord Maredudd ap Ieuan who acquired the lease in 1488.[15] It was restored and partly re-modelled in the 19th century by Lord Willoughby de Eresby, who added the battlements.[3] It was reported that in around 1810 one of the towers may have collapsed.[16]

In 1930 the building was placed under the guardianship of the Ministry of Works.[17][14] The castle is now under the protection of Cadw, which is part of the Welsh Parliament's historic environment division.[18]

Media appearances

In 1980 the location was used for all the outdoor shots of Ulrich's castle during the making of the film Dragonslayer.[19]

Dolwyddelan Castle's keep. The stairs lead to an entrance on the first floor.
Dolwyddelan Castle from Railway Station

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Stephen Friar (2003). The Sutton Companion to Castles. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0750927445.
  2. ^ Ernest Neaverson (1947). Mediaeval Castles in North Wales. The University Press of Liverpool. pp. 31–33.
  3. ^ a b c Dolwyddelan Castle (Sign inside castle). Dolwyddelan Castle: CADW.
  4. ^ Thomas Roscoe (1844). Wandering in North Wales.
  5. ^ Britain's Medieval Castles. Praeger Publishers. 2006. p. 102. ISBN 0275984141.
  6. ^ a b c John Kenyon (2010). The Medieval Castles of Wales. The University of Wales Press. ISBN 9780708321805.
  7. ^ a b Arnold Taylor (1986). The Welsh Castles of Edward I. The Hambledon Press. ISBN 0907628710.
  8. ^ a b Simon Jenkins (2011). Wales: Churches, Houses, Castles. ISBN 978-0-141-02412-7.
  9. ^ The Snowdonia Tourism Association. The Villages of Snowdon.
  10. ^ Geraint Roberts (2006). Welsh Castles. Y Lolfa. ISBN 0862435501.
  11. ^ a b Michael Prestwich (1988). Edward I. University of California Press. ISBN 0520062663.
  12. ^ "Dolwyddelan Castle". CADW. 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  13. ^ Prestwich, Michael (2005). Plantagenet England 1225–1360. p. 155.
  14. ^ a b Lise Hull (2008). Great Castles of Britain and Ireland. New Holland Publishers. p. 122. ISBN 9781847731302.
  15. ^ Michael Senior (1984). The Conwy Valley: Its Long History. Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. p. 23. ISBN 0863810357.
  16. ^ Barnwell, E. L. (1883). "Dolwyddelan Castle". Archaeologia Cambrensis. 38: 51. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  17. ^ The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (1956). An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Caernarvonshire: I East: the Cantref of Arllechwedd and the Commote of Creuddyn. Vol. 1. pp. 80–82.
  18. ^ Mike Weil (1994). The Hidden Places of North and Mid Wales. M&M Publishing. p. 84. ISBN 1871815568.
  19. ^ "Dolwyddelan Castle". North Wales Daily Post. 18 September 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2013.