Dolwyddelan Castle, Gwynedd
~ History ~
1094 - Gruffudd ap Cynan 'king of kings of Wales', destroys the timber Norman strongholds of Earl Hugh -the Fat- of Chester. His son, Owain Gwynedd builds on his father's successes and by the time of his death in 1170, Gwynedd is prominent amongst the Welsh native princedoms.
1173 - Llywelyn the Great, grandson to Owain Gwynedd, is born into a Welsh kingdom torn apart by internal strife between the rival sons of Owain.
1201 - Llywelyn sweeps aside all opposition of his uncles and cousins 'like a whirlwind' and emerges as clear ruler to the princedom of Gwynedd. His position is further strengthened later in the year by a treaty with King John, who recognises Llywelyn's title to all the land which he rules.
1205 - Llywelyn marries Joan, King John's illegitimate daughter.
1210 - Gwynedd's supremacy over all native Wales is now fully established.
1211 - Llywelyn's growing power leads to King John leading a devastating campaign against his son-in-law. Llywelyn is only saved from total defeat by King John's political problems back in England and he is forced to abandon his campaign.
Llywelyn begins building Dolwyddelan Castle, replacing the earlier castle located lower down in the valley.
1218 - Llywelyn has now established himself as ruler of all native Wales.
1221 - In consolidating his position, Llywelyn seizes lands held by his son Gruffudd and begins the building of Castell y Bere on the important trade route in the heart of Snowdonia on the borders of the princedom of Gwynedd.
1230's - Llywelyn builds further castles at the strategically important sites at Criccieth and Dolbadarn.
1240 - Death of Llywelyn 'the Great'.
1247 - Llywelyn's son Dafydd does not fare so well against the English culminating in the treaty of Woodstock the year following his death in 1246, which sees all Welsh lands to the east of the River Conwy handed over to King Henry III.
1255 - The young Llywelyn 'the Last', Llywelyn 'the Great' own grandson, defeats his brothers Owain and Dafydd in the battle of Bryn Derwin. Owain 'the Red' is imprisoned by Llywelyn in Dolbardarn Castle for the next 22 years until forced to be release by the English.
1267 - After years of internal fighting Llywelyn manages to reassert his authority over much of Wales and is recognised by King Henry III in the Treaty of Montgomery as Prince of Wales. Llywelyn builds the West Tower at Dolwyddelan.
1277 - Following the succession to the English throne by King Edward I, Llywelyn suffers a humiliating defeat and the ensuing Treaty of Aberconwy sees his lands and power much diminished.
1282 - Llywelyn's insubordinate brother, Dafydd, attacks Hawarden Castle and so sparks of the war with Edward I. Before the year is out Llywleyn the Last is killed in a skirmish at Irfon Bridge, near Builth Wells and so effectively ends the Welsh rebellion and line of native Welsh Princes of Wales and the ensuring domination of the Welsh under King Edward I.
1283 - Just weeks after Llywlyn's death King Edward's army crosses the Clwyd and lays siege to the castle. It's capture within the mountain fastness of Snowdonia secures a crucial routeway for the conquest of the rest of Wales. 3 months later, with no hope of relief, the Welsh surrender Castle y Bere to the 3,000 strong army of King Edward I. The fleeing Dafydd is later captured and handed over to Edward 'by men of his own tongue'. He is mercilessly hanged, drawn and quartered at Shrewsbury
Dolwyddelan, 6 miles Southwest of Betws-y-Coed
Dolwyddelan Castle overlooks the Lledr valley, and stands on a rocky knoll commanding the important medieval mountain pass from the heart of Snowdonia through to the Vale of Conwy. This sturdy three-storeyed tower appears almost insignificant among the sweeping hills of the Welsh countryside, especially next to the rugged slopes of Moal-Siabod that lie to one side.
Traditionally the birth place of Llywleyn the Great, it is likely the true location is a little lower down the valley. Although peaceful in its solitude now, it was once key to Welsh strategic defence of North Wales until its capture by Edward I in 1283.