Castell Y Bere

The castle was apparently built by the Welsh princes of Meirionydd as their capital, although the square keep, which is the heart of the castle, may date to the time of the transient Norman occupation of the land at the end of the eleventh century.  The castle is traditionally said to be the work of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth due to a highly doubtful reading of a late thirteenth century chronicle.  Y Bere resisted the armies of Edward I and Earl William Valance of Pembroke (d.1295) in 1283 until bought into submission for the sum of £60.  The castle was then garrisoned by Edward I until 1294 when it appears to have succumbed to attack by the forces of Prince Madog ap Llywelyn.

The castle is sprawled along a rocky outcrop in the vale of Dysynni and overlooked by Cadair Idris.  On the narrow summit of the rock stands the forlorn remains of a 2? storey rectangular keep, 50'x35', which might be compared with those found at 
Carndochan, Clun, Criccieth, Dinas Emrys, Dolwyddelan I, Dolwyddelan II, Hopton, Moreton Corbet, Usk, Wattlesborough and White Castle.  Behind this is a small rectangular ward separated itself from an elongated D shaped tower by a great rock-cut ditch.  This bears comparison with the towers at Carndochan and Ewloe.  In front of the keep is a large, irregular triangular bailey with another elongated D shaped tower at the end.  Entrance to the upper floor of this tower was protected by its own drawbridge in a long forebuilding and itself protecting a small postern leading down beside the tower.  The main entrance, a series of gatetowers, was watched over by a powerful Welsh round tower which also overshadowed a sallyport on the other side.  Similar round towers set centrally in a curtain exist at Dolforwyn and Llanstephan.

The whole castle was obviously Welsh, apart from the tall central square keep
, which appears to be spear and not Norman crossbow defended.  The same was true of the inner ditch which was far too deep for a spear to be thrust into from the tower rampart above.

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


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