Castell Dinas Bran (Denbighshire, Wales)
Updated: Jan 15, 2019
Also known as 'Crow Castle', Castell Dinas Bran had a very short but turbulent history.
The castle was constructed on top of what was once an iron age hillfort built around 600BC, likely consisting of an earthen rampart topped with a wooden palisade encircling a village of roundhouses.
The castle that is visible today was built in the 13th Century. It is thought that the castle was constructed by Gruffydd ap Madoc Maelow in the 1260s and is first mentioned in historical records at his death in 1270. When the English invaded the district in 1277 the castle was abandoned and burnt by the Welsh. It seems likely that this deliberate attempt to stop the castle falling into English hands only damaged the timber structures on the site, as afterwards it was reported to Edward I that the castle defences were mostly intact. However after this point the castle was abandoned by new owner John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, in favour of his a new castle built at Holt.
Apparently after Madoc's death the custody of his two sons was given to John de Warenne and Roger Mortimer. The boys drowned, possibly deliberately, in the River Holt in 1281. I wish I could find some more information about this event, because all I have to go on is the entry on Dinas Bran in 'The Castles of North Wales' by Mike Salter and a vague recollection of being told about it upon a visit to Chirk Castle, where Roger Mortimer was Lord! But I digress...
I parked down in Llangollen in the short stay carpark (Market Street). Llangollen is a very pretty town. To reach the castle you walk along Castle Street, over the river and railway station, over the canal and then follow the signs that take you up a footpath to the castle. It's a steep walk, so take a drink with you and be prepared for some steep hill walking! The castle and the view make it well worth it, though.
The castle is maintained by Denbighshire Council with help from CADW, and is free to access at any time.
Pictures were taken in May 2018.