Dolbenmaen Castle

With its bailey partially overlain by a derelict public house, first mentioned in 1662, the only real remnant of the castle is now the powerful ditched motte above the banks of the river crossing.  The pub occupies the enigmatic traces of the bailey, while recent excavation work has shown the bailey interior to be made up of clay and gravel.  The bailey was small, but has now been heavily mutilated by the pub garden and roadworks feeding the ancient and modern bridge over the Afon Dwyfor.  Almost certainly the site commanded the Roman crossing of the river on the route between Tremadog and Segontium.   The castle has no known medieval history, but logically it should be one of the Norman mottes built by Robert Rhuddlan and his followers in their overrunning of North Wales in the 1070s or 1080s.  If this were so it was certainly destroyed in 1094 when all the castles of Gwynedd were destroyed.  There is no evidence that this was a Welsh built castle and, being a lowland site, it seems more possible that it belongs to the group of castles commanding lower-lying positions in North Wales of the late eleventh century, see the castles of Gwynedd.

The motte is roughly 130 feet in diameter and 20 feet high.  On the motte top several partially buried stones of what appears to have once been a shell keep or tower can still be made out.  This was 45 feet in diameter with walls about 6 feet thick.  Recent clearing work on the motte has revealed that core work of the walls still stand some 5 feet high on the interior sides.  The motte ditch, some 15 feet across and up to 6 feet deep, is well preserved, but heavily silted, to the north and west.


Copyright©2016 Paul Martin Remfry

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