Dolwyddelan castle sits upon a hill in rural Wales, and it is easy to imagine what it would have felt like to see it as one crosses over a peak to see it looking down accross the valley. It is a smaller structure compared to others we have seen, but it has its own story to tell.
Dowlwddelan was built between 1230 AD and 1240 as part of a campaign by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth to unite all of Wales. He made significant progress and had complete control of all of Gwnydd, the northern segment of Wales, and was on his way to gaining more significant portions of the region. It was a tricky union to hold together, and by no means a perfect one, but Iorwerth gained respect from the other princes by pushing off Norman invaders who had already conquered England by this point. In order to maintain control over the lands, one must control the routes of travel. This was made possible by the construction of little forts and towers along vital paths.
This tower was built to control the travel through what is now called Snowdonia National Park. This is a beautiful part of the Welsh countryside, and contains steep cliffs and tall mountains. It also blocks off almost all land travel to Gwnydd by land. One of the very few ways to make it to the northern region, ruled by the Llywelyns, was through the pass in which this castle is situated.
Pictures not working, update to come soon.
This Castle was built to help consolidate rule, but fell under the seige of Edward I of England. Edward I, also known as longshanks, was determined to take all of Wales, and did so. In the taking of this castle there was remarkably little damage done, making some wonder if there was a traitor. However, the fact that Edward took it signifies that it was an important part of his campiagn in Wales. He had another, now fallen, tower added along with a connecting wall to do the same thing Llywelyn had done before, solidify his rule over the pass. Dolwyddelan went from the defence of the locals to a symbol of the power of the invader.
About 1000 years earlier another invader was creating forts to defend territory, Rome. The Romans had invaded in the early first century AD, but the Welsh were rebellious, so more stern action was needed. Near the island of Angelsey, at a town now called Caernarfon, the Roman Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola established the fort of Segontium to stamp out rebellion in the year 77 AD.
This was the foundation of the fort.
Wecame accross this fort as nothing but foundations, but in its prime this fort would have held close to 1000 soldiers, and was an imposing presence near the Atlantic coast in Wales. The fort did its job. As part of a large push by Agricola a culture of Roman British enthusiasm was birthed and resulted in all sorts of lore. One story described how an emperor married a Welsh princess at Segontium. This fort became part of the British Roman culture, connecting this part of Wales to Chester, a formidable town to the north. It remained in use until the Romans pulled out of Britain in the early 400s AD.
Both sites were the built to maintain power in the region of Northern Wales, and both were taken by either invaders, or the inability to maintain a grasp on the region any longer. Thousands of years after the defeat of the Romans, the local Welsh were struggling to hold onto the autonomy they had cherishished. These land marks not only marked some cool castles, but large events in the history of the Welsh people, both conquered in their own right.