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Deganwy Castle

The site of Deganwy castle, on the tip of a peninsula to the east of the Conwy estuary, dates from at least the 5th century. During the 6th century it became a major royal court of Maelgwyn Gwynedd, and it is believed that Maelgwyn imprisoned his nephew, Elphin, here. The site remained a royal court until the 9th century when the Saxons destroyed it. The area below the castle is called Maesdu (Black Meadow) and was, doubtless, the site of many bloody battles. The lower ground of the later bailey may have been the site of a settlement of serfs and bondmen; while Maelgwn's stronghold stood atop the higher of the later castle's twin peaks. It would have been largely of wood, although the defences included some dry stone walls.

History of Deganwy Castle

517 - The fearsome Maelgwn Gwynedd, Lord of Anglesey, has a castle built at Deganwy.

547 - The yellow plague takes another victim in the great warlord Maelgwyn.

810 - Lightning destroys part of the castle.

822 - The Saxon king Cenwulf of Mercia, successor to Offa, invades north Wales. The castle of Deganwy is destroyed. (more in the History section)

Castle today

Deganwy is a lesser known castle that is overlooked by the mighty castle of Conwy. Most tourists will understandably flock to the Edwardian castle and unknowingly look out across the bay to two hills which is Deganwy Castle, as I did upon my own visit.

The castle is not the easiest to find and will involve driving round some very nice residential streets looking for a footpath that takes you behind the lovely homes across a field to the two hills.

We can honestly say the determined castle-finder will be well rewarded, as the climb up both hills to explore what remains of this one important castle, provides magnificent views in all directions. You will find stone walls partially hidden in the undergrowth, but these discoveries all adds to a special experience.

Text by Fred Vincent