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Castell y Bere

Deep in the mountainous heart of mid Wales, nestling at the foot of Cader Idris, lie the ruins of Castell y Bere. An atmospheric site, it is an outstanding example of a stronghold of the native Welsh princes. Situated in the upper Dysynni valley, the shape of the castle is dictated by the isolated rocky outcrop on which it stands. Castell y Bere once controlled one of the primary routes through central Wales and was built by Llywelyn the Great in the 1220's, not against the invading Normans, but to secure his position as Prince of Wales against his warring compatriots. Once a formidable fortress with towers at each angle, defended by an impressive array of ditches, as as well as a drawbridge and a portcullis, today the scenes of siege and warfare seem centuries away from the tranquility and beauty of this location. View historic sites in Wales can compare with the special atmosphere experienced exploring this very special ancient site.

History of Castell y Bere

1221 - Construction of the Middle Tower (probably the original keep) is built by Llywelyn the Great. Additional towers and curtain walls are added during the following 60 years. The castle, built on the summit of a rocky outcrop on the eastern side of the Dysynni valley, controls the important route-way running from the coast to Dolgellau.

1282 - In December 1282 Llywelyn the Last, leader of the Welsh opposition to Edward I, is killed in a skirmish with English troops near Builth in mid Wales. With Welsh support collapsing all around him, his brother Dafydd retreats into the mountain fastness of Gwynedd. On 18th January the English capture Dolwyddelan Castle in the heart of Snowdonia. As winter recedes, and with Welsh resistance all but crushed, Dafydd moves south to the wilds of Cader Idris mountains and the castle of Bere. Edward's forces advance on the stronghold from two directions. Robert L'Estrange marches west from Shrewsbury and William de Valence moves north with over 3,000 men. Although Dafydd manages to avoid getting himself trapped inside the castle, he is unable to take any action to lift the siege. The garrison surrender on 25th April. Two months later, after a massive manhunt, and betrayed by his fellow countrymen, Dafydd falls into the hands of the English. On the 3rd October 1282 he is gruesomely put to death in Shrewsbury. (more in the History section)

Text by Fred Vincent