Dinas Bran Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameDinas Bran Castle
Alternative NamesCrow Castle; Chastiel Bran
Historic CountryDenbighshire
Modern AuthorityDenbighshire
1974 AuthorityClwyd
CommunityLlangollen

Castell Dinas Bran (OS national grid reference SJ222430) is both a hillfort and medieval castle. The Iron Age defences and medieval castle are located high above the valley of the Dee overlooking Llangollen. The castle is sited on a long rectangular platform which may have been artificially levelled. The ground drops away steeply on all sides but particularly to the north with its crags and cliffs. The site is a scheduled ancient monument.

The hillfort has a single bank and ditch enclosing an area of about 1.5 hectares. To the south and west the defences are most considerable being up to 8 metres high in places. The entrance lies in the south-west corner of the fort and is defended by an inward curving bank. To the north the fort is defended by the natural steepness of the land and no earthwork defences were required.

The castle was built towards the later part of the 13th century by the princes of Powys Fadog and was the site of a meeting between the sons of Gryffydd Maelor in 1270 when they granted the lands of Maelor Saesneg for the upkeep of their mother, Emma Audley. During the wars between Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales and Edward I of England the castle was burnt by the Welsh before it was captured in 1277 by Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln. It was not repaired and ceased to be used after the 1280s.

The castle consists of a courtyard with the main buildings being ranged along the east end and with a tower built partway along the south curtain wall. The tower is the most impressive part of the standing remains, originally it protruded south of the curtain wall. A large rectangular building with windows looking southwards lay to the east of the tower. This may have been a hall or chapel. The keep is a large square building set in the south-east part of the castle, only the west wall and part of the south survive to any height. On the outside of the south wall is a wide buttress housing the chutes of a pair of latrines

The original entrance to the keep lies on the west side where the remains of stairs can be seen. The gatehouse is in the north-east corner and is flanked by round towers. The castle is defended by a deep rock-cut ditch on the east and south sides. (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust)

Crowning the summit of Dinas Bran (NPRN 165276) are the ruins of a thirteenth century castle of the Princes of northern Powys. The castle is thought to have been built in about 1270, if not rather earlier. Although the ruins are stark, the castle seems to have been magnificent and sumptuous, as befitted the principal residence of a prince. It was burnt by its own garrison in 1277 in the troubles of the late thirteenth century. The castle was abandoned after 1282, when the castle of Holt on the Dee was built as the centre of a new lordship. The castle consisted of a rectangular court, about 82m east-west by 35m, enclosed by a stone curtain wall and with a massive rock-cut ditch and counterscarp bank except on the north where there are headlong slopes. On the short east side there was a great rectangular tower, isolated from the court by a rock cut ditch, and an ornate twin towered gatetower. Midway along the long south side a D-shaped tower projected from the court wall and there appears to have been a hall between this and the tower ditch. There was a further stone built range on the west side of the court. All this is now greatly ruined. The castle stands within the earthworks of what appears to be an Iron Age hillfort (NPRN 93290). There is a slighter outer circuit of earthworks of unknown date and purpose. (Coflein–John Wiles 26.07.07)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ222430
Latitude52.9792404174805
Longitude-3.1592800617218
Eastings322240
Northings343060
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright John Hudson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 40-41
  • Butler, L., 2009, 'The Castles of the Princes of Gwynedd' in Willams, D. and Kenyon, J. (eds), The Impact of the Edwardian Castles in Wales (Oxbow) p. 27-36
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 110-2
  • Gravett, Christopher, 2007, The Castles of Edward I in Wales 1277-1307 (Osprey Fortress series 64)
  • Davis, Paul R., 2007, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Y Lolfa) p. 87-89
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 59-60
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 50-2
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles of North Wales (Malvern) p. 52-3
  • Burnham, H., 1995, A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales: Clwyd and Powys (Cadw, London)
  • Davis, Paul R., 1988, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Swansea)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 103
  • Avent, Richard, 1983, Castles of the Princes of Gwynedd (Cardiff)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 348
  • Neaverson, E., 1947, Mediaeval Castles in North Wales: A study of Sites, Water Supply, and Building Stones (London) p. 36-7
  • Lowe, W.Bezant, 1927, The Heart of North Wales (Llanfairfechan) Vol. 2 p. 217-8 (slight)
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 225-7
  • RCAHMW, 1914, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Denbighshire (HMSO) p. 120-1 no. 429 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 422-5 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy [online copy > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=47888#s16]
  • King, Edward, 1804, Munimenta antiqua or Observations on antient castles (W.Bulmer and Co) Vol. 3 p. 125 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathenial, 1774, Buck’s Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 385

Antiquarian

Journals

  • John Kenyon, Chris Jones-Jenkins and Neil Guy, 2015-16, 'The Castle Studies Group Conference 'Castles of North-East Wales' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 29 p. 118-120
  • Brodie, Hugh, 2015, 'Apsidal and D-shaped towers of the Princes of Gwynedd' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 164 p. 231-43
  • Jones, W.B., 2000, 'The building of Castell Dinas Bran' Clwyd Historian Vol. 45 p. 1-8
  • Avent, Richard, 1994, 'Castles of the Welsh Princes' Château Gaillard Vol. 16 p. 11-17
  • Jones. E P. 1984. ‘Castell Dinas Bran’. Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions 33. 69-74 (in Welsh)
  • Cathcart King. D J. 1974. ‘Two Castles in Northern Powys: Dinas Bran and Caergwrle’ Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 123 p. 113-139
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Forde-Johnston, 1964, Flintshire History Society Vol. 21 p. 9-12 (on the outer enclosure)
  • Hemp, W.J., 1935, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 90 p. 323-6
  • Tregellas, W.H., 1865, ‘Castell Dinas Bran near Llangollen’ Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 20 p. 49-58 (reprint of The Archaeological Journal article) online copy
  • Tregellas, W.H., 1864, ‘Castell Dinas Bran near Llangollen’ The Archaeological Journal Vol. 21 p. 114-20 (plan) online copy
  • 1864, The Builder Vol. 22 p. 545, 636 (letters, the first probably from Clark)

Guide Books

  • Kightly, C., 2003, Dinas Brân, Langollen/Castell Dinas Brân, Llangollen (Ruthin: Denbighshire County Council)
  • Cole, J., 2003, Castell Dinas Bran (Llangollen: J.Cole) (New guides to old places)
  • Hewitt, R.S., 1977, A history of Castell Dinas Brân with notes on Valle Crucis Abbey (Privately published)
  • Grenter, Stephen and Berry, Andre, n.d., Castell Dinas Bran Llangollen (Clwyd Archaeology Service)

Primary Sources

  • Seebohm, F., 1895, Tribal Systems in Wales (London) p. 102 (1270) online copy
  • Edwards, G.E. (ed), 1935, Calendar of Ancient Correspondence Concerning Wales (Cardiff) p. 83
  • Lyte, H.C. Maxwell (ed), 1912, Calendar of various Chancery Rolls - Welsh Rolls 1277-1294 p. 240 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 162