#111 Dinefwr Castle
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first appears in history when it is recorded that in 1165
the fabled Lord Rhys ap Gruffudd "took...the castle
of Dinefwr", maintaining it until his death in 1197.
While the castle obviously existed before he captured it,
it is presumed that the powerful conqueror and
consolidator of the ancient Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth
would strengthen and enhance his capitol seat in a manner
commensurate with his stature. For this reason and
because Dinefwr Castle is defined on three sides by the
rocky promontory upon which it rests, I have dated the
current castle approximately with its date of acquisition
by Lord Rhys. By 1190 Dinefwr is described as one of
three ancient Welsh royal seats, along with Aberffraw [Gwynedd]
and Pengwern [Powys]. Notably in September 1220, Llywelyn
the Great refers to Dinefwr in a letter to King Henry III
as the "once famous, now ruined" castle.
However, additions continued to be built from the middle
of the 13th century until well into the 14th. The
atrocious "summer house" atop the donjon and
the stone staircase (see photos) were added in 1750 and
of course are excluded from the model.
death of Lord Rhys in 1197 saw Deheubarth quarreled over
by his sons. Maelgwyn ap Rhys held Dinefwr just until
1204, when his nephews Rhys Ieuanc and Owain took it from
him. By 1213 Rhys Ieuanc was again trying to capture the
castle, this time from another uncle, Rhys Gryg. The
quarreling weakened the kingdom and both Rhys Gryg and
his son Rhys Mechyll paid homage to Henry III to keep the
peace. Dinefwr continued mostly in Welsh hands, even
through the collapse of Dafydd ap Llywelyn's revolt of
1246 and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's invasion of southwest
Wales in 1257. When Edward I gained the English throne in
1272, he soon tired of Llywelyn's defiance and invaded
Wales in 1277. Despite early submission by several Welsh
princes, Dinefwr was confisticated by the King. In 1287
Rhys ap Maredudd, the only powerful decendent of Lord
Rhys (great grandson) attacked and captured Dinefwr,
killing the constables and others. English retribution
was swift as an English army of 11,000 laid seige to
nearby Dryslwyn Castle, where Rhys was headquartered.
Dinefwr remained a royal castle thereafter, though it was
seriously damaged by fire in 1316 during a Welsh revolt.
of the Lego Model
Built August-October, 2006
The model is meant to look like Dinefwr would have looked after the repair and strengthening of 1330.
began August 29. The
modest barbican is in the forground
with the great tower outlined.
northwest the corner
tower, hall and chamber block
begin to take shape (Sept. 8)
the finished castle from
the south, with the guarded
barbican and huge donjon.
west the strategic
importance of the hilltop location
can be appreciated.
north, the northwest
tower is the most prominent
feature of Dinefwr Castle.
from the northeast displays
the impressive residential range.
slope approaching the
east side of Dinefwr adds to the
castle's military advantage.
view of the courtyard
featuring the residential range.
Your Own Lego Castle
the Residential Range
Other Dinefwr Castle pages:
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