Dolforwyn Castle, Powys
3 miles Northeast of Newtown
~ History ~
1272 - Llywelyn ap Gruffydd is the last independent Prince of Wales, controlling large areas of north-west and central Wales. A major opponent in central Wales continues to be Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, constable of nearby Montgomery Castle, whose constant raids into Welsh-held territory along the disputed border forces Llywelyn to build the castle at Dolforwyn. Construction of the castle begins whilst King Edward I is absent on crusade.
1273 - Edward I writes to Prince Llywelyn forbidding him to build his castle. The prince replies, with a masterpiece of ironic politeness, that he does not require the King's permission to a raise a stronghold in his own principality.
1277 - Roger Mortimer (later earl of the March) and Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, lead an attack against the nearly completed castle. A two week siege ensues which eventually leads to the castle's surrender to the English. The Castle is later given to another powerful marcher family, the Mortimers, who maintain the castle in good repair for some years. Llywelyn's fledgling town on the ridge to the west of the castle is suppressed under the English, who do not welcome competition with Montgomery.
1279 - Roger Mortimer founds a new town (Newtown) just a few miles away on a more suitable site nearby to the suppressed Welsh town.
1282 - Llywelyn is killed in a skirmish by the English and with his death all hope of an independent Wales is lost.
1398 - The Castle continues to be occupied by the Mortimer family for about a hundred years, but by 1398 it is reported as `ruinous and worth nothing'. After that date the castle is left to slowly decay.
Dolforwyn stands on a wooded hill overlooking the fertile Severn valley. It was built by Llywelyn the Last as a forward position in his territory, and overlooking the English lordship of Montgomery. This rectangular castle crowns a ridge along the Severn valley, and was obviously designed to act as a sentinel over Llywelyn's south-eastern frontier.
The site occupies the crest of a steep-sided ridge running north-east to south-west above the Severn Valley. It enjoys wide views except to the east. The castle stands on a rock platform above the bases of the ditches which define its north-east and south-west ends. A drawbridge led from the town across the south-western ditch to a simple gate in the curtain wall.
Dolforwyn was the last castle of the Welsh princes to be built.