Carndochan – castle


   Carndochan Castle was probably built by Llywelyn the Great in 1215-1230. The stronghold defended the eastern border of Gwynedd and the important route that ran between Bala and Dolgellau, and also provided protection for the royal herds grazed on upland pastures. It is not known when the castle was abandoned. Excavations from the nineteenth century discovered blackened earth, bones and charcoal, which suggests that the end of the stronghold was related with a fire and violent destruction.


   The castle was situated on a rocky hill with steep and high slopes on the north, east and south-west sides. The circumference of its defensive walls, about 1.8 meters thick, was roughly oval. It was strengthened by a horseshoe (apsidal) tower on the south side and a more extended beyond the perimeter of the walss horseshoe-shaped tower on the south-western side. The latter, in addition to defending the most convenient approach to the hill, probably also performed residential functions due to the large space occupancy measuring 10 x 17 meters. In front of it, a ditch was carved in the rock, which is why perhaps there was the original access road to the castle and the gate leading to the courtyard, flanked by the tower extended in front of the perimeter. The north – eastern part of the fortifications was protected by a cylindrical tower, towering over the slopes descending towards the Lliw valley. The central location of the castle was occupied by a square building of sides approximately 7 meters, probably a tower or a keep. Its walls presented better masonry quality, which is why they may have been erected at a different stage of the construction of the castle, or better qualified bricklayers were hired to build it. There are no traces of the entrance gate, but it can be hypothetically placed in the part where the slope was milder, near the southern tower.

Current state

   Only the relics of the walls and the southern tower with a maximum height of up to 2 meters have survived to the present. Admission to the ruins of the castle, placed at Snowdonia National Park area, is free.

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Davis P.R., Castles of the Welsh Princes, Talybont 2011.
Salter M., The castles of North Wales, Malvern 1997.

Website, Castell Carndochan, Dolhendre.
Website, Carndochan castle.