Dolbadarn Castle stands above Llyn Padarn, between Caernarfon and Snowdonia. Built by the Welsh Princes it dates to the 13th century and built by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth. Of simplistic design it remains in solid condition and predates the English fortresses of the Edwardian conquest and provides evidence of the extent of Llywelyn's influence and ingenuity.
Dolbadarn Castle's strategic position 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 main feature is the round tower enclosing a complex series of chambers. It is 40 feet tall and 40 feet in diameter, and guarded by walls 8 feet thick. The entrance was at first floor level via a wooden movable making access virtually impossible. This first floor entrance was heavily defended with a portcullis and sturdy drawbars barricaded stout doorways.
The castle did not die with Llywelyn the Great in 1240 it was active until nearly 1300 and used for the imprisonment of Owain ap Gruffydd by his younger brother Llywelyn the Last during their struggles for control of North Wales in the 1250's. Owain spent 20 years as a prisoner living on the upper floor of the castle.
During the Welsh princes' revolt against the English monarch, Edward I, Dolbadarn Castle was held by another of Llywelyn's brothers, Dafydd ap Gruffydd. Unfortunately for the princes, the castle in the Llanberis Pass succumbed to more formidable forces led by the Earl of Pembroke, and in 1282 (the year of Llywelyn's death), Dolbadarn was seized by the English army. Within two years, the castle was abandoned, to be further assaulted for its building stone and timber beams. Reid mentions one last gasp at Dolbadarn Castle, when Owain Glyndwr led the Welsh uprisings around 1400. Glyndwr may have used the keep to hold prisoners like Ruthin Castle's Lord Grey.
Below are a selection of photographs from my visit there.