For the first time, Dinas Emrys was settled and fortified during the late Roman period. In the 5th and 6th centuries there was a seat of a wealthy leader, powerful enough to afford wine from distant parts of Europe. This is evidenced by the found fragments of amphoras from the eastern region of the Mediterranean. Again, the fortifications were built in the twelfth or thirteenth century, this time in the form of a keep. Perhaps its founder was Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, the greatest of the castle builders, among the Welsh princes.
Tradition and legends link Dinas Emrys to king Vortigern, who was to flee to Wales due to the Saxons. His people worked hard every day trying to build the towers of the castle; but after returning the next morning, they found everything collapsed. This lasted for many weeks until Vortigern was advised to find a young boy born to a sorceress. The king sent his troops, and they eventually found him in Caer Myrddin (Carmarthen). The boy called Myrddin Emrys, today we know better under the name Merlin. He told Vortigern about dragons fighting on the hillside. When they were discovered, he explained that the white Saxon dragon who won the battle, would soon be defeated by the Welsh red dragon.
The hill was fortified with an irregular defensive wall, 2.5 to 3 meters thick, enclosing an area of approximately 10,000 m2 and dimensions around 100 x 200 meters. It was erected from a stones not bound by any mortar. The original entrance was accessible on a steep path on the west side of the hill, above which there were two more lines of walls. At the highest point of the hill, a tower – keep was built on the square plan with dimensions of 9.7 x 7.1 meters and a wall thickness of 1.1 meters. Its walls were made of stones joined with clay.
Only modest relics of defensive walls and foundations of the tower, still 1.1 meters high but buried in stone rubble, have survived to this day. Entrance to the ruins area is free.
Davis P.R., Castles of the Welsh Princes, Talybont 2011.
Pettifer A., Welsh castles, Woodbridge 2000.
Salter M., The castles of North Wales, Malvern 1997.
Website coflein.gov.uk, Dinas Emrys.