• Lucy

Deganwy Castle (Gwynedd, North Wales)

Lesser known but a very important site historically, Deganwy Castle is located on a pair of natural hillocks on the eastern side of the mouth of the River Conwy. Robert de Rhuddlan fortified the site in the 1070s and likely built a stone keep. Llewelyn ab Iorwerth took possession of the castle around 1200 but destroyed the standing buildings there in 1210 in the face of an invasion from King John.

Briefly held by the Earl of Chester, it was quickly recaptured by Llewelyn in 1213. The castle was rebuilt, then destroyed by Llewelyn's son Dafydd in 1241 in expectation of an invasion from Henry III (see a pattern here?). The castle came into possession of Henry III as part of peace terms and he refortified in 1244. The castle subsequently resisted an attack from Llewellyn ap Gruffydd in 1257, but fell to his forces in 1263 and was destroyed. The castle and castle site was consequently abandoned in favour of nearby Conwy.

In the present day there is very little left of the castle and what does remain belongs mainly to Henry III's castle; the largest standing remains are part of wall on the western hill. In its heyday the castle likely consisted of the upper ward on the western hill, a bailey that straddled between the hillocks, and a lower ward on the eastern hill. The upper ward would have had a barbican, keep, and hall. The lower ward would have had the main gatehouse and wooden buildings.

The site is managed by the council and is open access at all hours. There are public footpaths around the castle site. I parked in a residential area called Gannock Park, where one of the footpath entrances is located. There are no road lines, and there were not many cars so parking there did not cause any inconvenience. The other car that was there was a dog walker visiting the castle too!

Wear good walking shoes and prepare to dodge nettles and thistles if you want to climb to the top.

Pictures taken May 2018

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