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Site 18

Castell Dinas Brân

Near Llangollen

Directions:

(On foot from Llangollen.) Take way marked footpath beginning at north end of canal bridge.

Note: This site is only accessible via a steep climb: boots necessary.

Crowning an isolated hill 750 feet above Llangollen, the dramatic ruins of Castell Dinas Brân are visible for many miles around. (Those who want a closer look must tackle a steep climb.)

Unlike many castles in Wales, it was not built by invading Normans or English, but by a native Welsh ruler (probably the local prince Gruffydd ap Madoc).

He adapted the site of a prehistoric hill fort, strengthening its defences by hewing deep rock-cut ditches to the south and east: the north and west sides are naturally protected by steep drops.

At the east end (furthest from the footpath entrance) is a rectangular keep, with a gatehouse beside it. The keep is joined to a ‘D-shaped’ tower - a type favoured by Welsh builders - by a hall, whose twin windows (now worn o gashes) figure prominently in distinct views.

Constructed in about 1260, Dinas Brân had a very short active life. In May 1277, during Edward I’s initial Welsh campaign, it was deliberately abandoned and fired by its Welsh garrison to prevent its use by the invaders. The English did nevertheless occupy the site, but never rebuilt the fortress. All the same, a visit to Dinas Brân is well worth the effort: the grandeur of its setting is unmatched, and the views over the Vale of Llangollen are breathtaking.

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Dinas Brân Castle

Dinas Brân Castle

Dinas Brân Castle

Dinas Brân Castle