The castle lies on an ancient site and consists of an irregular rhomboid shaped fortress of which the defences are mostly reduced to foundations, although some fragments are over 10' high.  The castle, despite modern myths to the contrary, has no known history other than the fact that Prince Dafydd ap Gruffydd attempted to rule Wales from here in May 1283.  The castle was soon taken and abandoned, its contents being systematically stripped by the new royal government of Edward I.

The main remnant of the castle is the superb round tower keep dominating the summit of the site.  This consists of 3 storeys of slate rubble standing 46' high with a powerful plinth encomasing walls 10' thick and 42' in diameter.  Interestingly the keep was entered at first floor level via an entrance reached by steps curving up round the tower and guarded with a portcullis.  This is unusual for a keep, let alone a Welsh one.  There are no portcullises defending the round keeps of Bronllys, Tretower or Pembroke, nor do any defend the D shaped ones like Carndochan, Ewloe or Y Bere.  The only tower that bears resemblance to this arrangement is the gutted basement of Dolforwyn round keep.

Next to the entrance of Dolbadarn keep is a cramped stairway leading to the upper floors.  The top floor is definitely residential as the fireplace and latrine proves.  The rectangular latrine turret to the east appears a different build to the tower and is indifferently joined to it.  This implies that the two are of different builds.

The ward consists of a bow shaped enclosure making use of the craggy summit of the rock for its main defence.  The walls in the northern half are approximately 8' thick compared to the 4'-5' of those to the south.  The earliest part of the castle is probably the northen section.  This consists of an east to west aligned hall towards the north and a rectangular east tower half way down the east wall.  This does provide some flanking which is universally lacking at the rest of the site.  The east curtain running south from this tower peters out on a crag where the original entrance to the site must have been.  At the far south of the site is another rectangular tower, but with the much thinner 5' walls.  This barely projects from the enceinte at all.  The thin curtain then runs north-east from here to make an entrance in the west corner of the site where a later hall has been built over the curtain.  The original wall probably ran further south-east than the current wall foundations and took in the entirety of the crag top.  The keep appears to have no relationship with the thin curtain and there is no trace of any attempt at bonding between them.

Why not join me at other Lost Welsh Castles next Spring?  Please see the information on tours at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2017 Paul Martin Remfry