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Amazing Ruins Of Dolbadarn Castle

Have You Heard of Dolbadarn Castle?

Wales has a storied landscape. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that it is home to numerous ruins of note. One excellent example would be Dolbadarn Castle, which once secured the Llanberis Pass in northern Wales. It has been uninhabited ever since the 18th century. However, Dolbadarn Castle still stands as one of the best-preserved round towers in the Welsh style.

Why Is Dolbadarn Castle Such a Notable Site in Welsh History?

Traditionally speaking, Welsh rulers were not known for their castle-building. However, that started to change in the 11th century when the Normans took over Anglo-Saxon England before proceeding right into Wales, thus increasing the need for strong fortifications. It is known that Dolbadarn Castle was built in either the 1220s or the 1230s at the command of Llywelyn the Great, who had managed to become the dominant power throughout the whole of Wales in spite of considerable opposition from both England and other Welsh rulers.

Amazing Ruins Of Dolbadarn CastleToday the site is dominated by the sturdy round tower, very different in style to the unmortared slate slabs which make up the castle’s curtain walls.

Amazing Ruins Of Dolbadarn CastleThe finest surviving example of a Welsh round tower
Amazing Ruins Of Dolbadarn CastleThe tower reaches 40 feet in the air, is 40 feet in diameter, and is still girded by walls 8 feet thick.

Unfortunately, Llywelyn’s heirs were not as capable. As a result, Dolbadarn Castle played various roles in their gradual decline, with an excellent example being its use for imprisoning a beaten contender. Eventually, it fell into the hands of the Normans when Edward I of England defeated the last independent ruler of Wales Dafydd ap Gruffydd in 1282. The Normans were not satisfied with just taking over the Welsh administration. Instead, the Normans built new fortifications for themselves, thus replacing Dolbadarn Castle as well as other Welsh centers of power. In a very real sense, the importance of Dolbadarn Castle to the Welsh rulers was exactly why it had to be made irrelevant.

Amazing Ruins Of Dolbadarn CastleToday, only the round tower survives intact but the remains of enclosure buildings, including the hall, can also be seen.

Amazing Ruins Of Dolbadarn CastleThe keep of Dolbadarn Castle perches on a small, rocky hill at the foot of the dramatic Snowdon Massif.

In fact, it should be mentioned that timber from Dolbadarn Castle was used to make Caernarfon Castle, which served as the new Norman center of power for the surrounding region. Still, the remaining parts of the castle were in good enough condition to be used as a manor into the 14th century. Even so, Dolbadarn Castle retained some of its previous appeal, as shown by how it was a very popular subject for Sublime as well as Picturesque painters in the 18th century.

Nowadays, the ruins of Dolbadarn Castle are protected by the Welsh government itself. It remains a site of interest, both for people with an eye for beauty and for people with an appreciation for Welsh history. As such, Dolbadarn Castle is a good choice for anyone looking to create a list of Welsh destinations to visit.


Address: A4086, Caernarfon LL55 4UB. Situated above the town of LLanberis, it’s a short walk from the town car park. It is open and free to visit with no pre-booking required.

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