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Castell Dinas

3 miles southeast of Talgarth, Powys, Mid-Wales SO 179 301
aka Bwlch y Dinas

Map link for Dinas Castle

Text copyright © by Paul M. Remfry 1997
Photographs copyright © 2002 by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Above: remains of a mural tower marking the former entrance to the castle.

As has been mentioned so many times before it is virtually impossible to date any castle remains with a great deal of accuracy. All that can really be done is to suggest plausible chronologies. At Castell Dinas there does not seem to be any doubt that the masonry construction of the castle occurred early in the Norman period. Indeed I would go so far as to suggest that its building would fit easiest into the period of conquest by William fitz Osbern in his campaign in Brycheiniog in the summer of 1070 and expansion by his son in the period 1071 to 1075. The castle would to an extent then have become obsolete with the building of Brecon Castle, the new fortress of Brecknock, in 1093.

The remaining standing ruins of the castle, the northern gatetower, probably dates to after October 1233 when the castle was sacked, but soon re-garrisoned. It also seems likely that the great unfinished rock-cut ditch on the west side of the castle was made at this time. A similar great ditch was probably begun and never finished at New Radnor Castle, again during this period of emergency. After this flare up of activity the castle would seem to have succumbed to Prince Llywelyn in the winter of 1262-63 when Brecknock was invaded and largely annexed by the Prince. Presumably it was recovered and refortified in the period 1266 to 1274 and most likely earlier rather than later. Leland describes the castle as "a goode mile from Blaen Leveni (Blaenllyfni) upon the toppe of a notable hille, it is now ruinous almost to the hard ground, there be manifest tokens of three wardes, waulled about..." He goes on to say that the castle was destroyed by the local inhabitants of these parts during the reign of Henry IV. Destruction of this Duchy of Lancaster castle by local adherents of Owain Glyndwr seems most likely. In 1741 Buck included a long distance representation of the castle in his view of Bronllys. This shows that the castle has not changed its appearance much in the past 250 years!

The site of Dinas keep is today marked by the huge pile of grass grown rubble which overlies the masonry remains of this once proud structure. The mound of debris is about 5 metres high and seems to indicate a masonry hall keep about 22 metres by 14 metres externally. Until recently the wall of this tower, uncovered by an unofficial excavation made before 1950, protruded through the rubble at the south west corner. Surrounding the ruin of this great tower was a further wall, or chemise which was about 34 by 26 metres. Again the tentative excavations of many years ago had uncovered the face of this wall. Unfortunately there is no reliable evidence as to the thickness of the keep walls, but these must have been 2 metres thick or more if the structure was over 2 storeys high. The photograph shows the ruins of the keep from the north.

Below: approaching the northern gate tower from below the castle

Below: ruins of the keep seen from the northern gate tower and across the upper bailey.

Below: view of the upper bailey north from the area of the keep.

Below: view of the middle bailey at Castell Dinas

Below: interior view of the northern gate tower at Castell Dinas

Site map below provided by Laurie Oliver


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Additional photos of Castell Dinas
Other Titles by Paul M. Remfry

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