A Castle On A Hill

Another week and this weeks challenge is about containers. Now there’s a subject that is open to interpretation, if ever there was, so here’s mine and trust me this is a very wide interpretation of the theme.

This weeks photograph is of Dolbadarn Castle which lies at the bottom of the Llanberis pass and was built by the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great.

Dolbadarn Castle

No definite date can be given for when the castle was built but it is considered that around the 1220’s or the 1230’s is a good estimate. Up until this time the Welsh princes had not constructed castles. But with the advance of the Normans into Wales, occupying territory in the south called the Welsh Marches, some timber and earthwork castles began to be built, but only in small numbers.

Originally Llywelyn the Great controlled the princedom of Gwynedd, but as his reign progressed he became more powerful, extending his influence over much of Wales during the early years of the 13th century. These were difficult times for Llywelyn. He had the threat from the kings of England trying to increase their influence in Wales, but he also had to maintain his authority over the native Welsh population. Llewellyn’s answer was to build Castell y Bere around about 1220, and unlike the undefended palaces that previously had been built Castell y Bere was constructed of stone and well fortified. Not long after this Llywelyn began the first phase of construction of Dolbadarn which included two stone towers.

Militarily, the location of Dolbadarn was important. The castle controlled the Llanberis Pass which gave a route through the mountains. More importantly though Llewelyn had claimed authority as “Lord of the Mountains and Coasts of Wales” and the construction of Dolbadarn and later other castles served to emphasise this political symbolism.

Llywelyn arranged a marriage between his eldest son Dafydd to Isabella the daughter of William de Braose, a powerful lord in the Welsh Marches, effectively making allies of the lords in the south. Following the marriage, Llywelyn started a second phase of building at Dolbadarn, probably around the 1240’s, incorporating the circular keeps and curtain walls that the Marcher Lords had in their castles. In doing so Llywelyn was creating a castle of equal prestige to his allies in the Welsh Marches, more importantly, though, he was using the latest military technology.

By the 18th century Dolbadarn was a ruin mainly visited by painters who had an interest in the fashionable landscape styles of the time. Turner painted Dolbadarn in 1802, other painters such as Richard Wilson and Paul Sandby have created important artistic works of the castle from this period.

The castle is now maintained by CADW after Sir Michael Duff donated it to the state in 1941

So where’s the link to Containers. Well I did say it was tenuous to say the least. But the castle and it’s inhabitants controlled access to the Llanberis Pass, in a way containing them. I know, I know, that is a bit tenuous. So maybe this is better. The inhabitants of the castle, mainly soldiers were contained (there’s that word again) with the walls of the castle.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. So you know what to do….


6 thoughts on “A Castle On A Hill

  1. Marie July 21, 2014 / 3:07 am

    Awesome photo.


  2. Cindi July 21, 2014 / 1:55 pm

    I enjoy experiencing history, and your description (with the wonderful image) takes me right there!

    And I like your “tenuous connection” to this week’s challenge — it’s difficult in that it’s really too easy to come up with a container. I really like those responses such as yours that show a little stretching of the mind/imagination!


    • Mike Hardisty July 22, 2014 / 1:20 pm

      Hello Cindi. We’ve got a lot of history around here, castles, churches, mining to name a few. Tenuous is right. But why go with the flow as they say.


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