Historic Landscape Characterisation

Dysynni Valley – Area 14 Castell y Bere PRN 29773


The medieval Castell y Bere



Historical background

Castell y Bere is a native castle site, a foundation of Llywelyn ab Iorthwerth and probably the castle which the chronicle describes him as building in 1221. Its principal function was probably to guard the upland pastures of Cadair Idris. Though it has been described as quite exceptional that a castle should be built ‘aloft among the hafodydd', Castell y Bere does fall within a pattern of castle building elsewhere in Gwynedd by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in the first half of the thirteenth century. Dolbadarn, Dolwyddelan and the earlier castle at Dinas Emrys are close to the valley floor but are, nevertheless, within the boundaries of the royal hafodydd or ffriddoedd in their respective commotes. Prysor, of uncertain date, and Carndochan, are elevated and are among the ffriddoedd. Castell y Bere is close to and, on the analogy of Dolwyddelan and Dolbadarn may very well be, within the fridd of Pennant. The advantage of these locations lies in control of mountain valley routeways and access and protection of the valuable resource of cattle.

The ground plan is consistent with other native castles of this period. It is possible that the massive curtain walls which enclose an area formerly open and a rock-cut ditch in front of the apsidal tower may reflect work of the year 1287 and the dangers posed by the threat of the rising of Rhys ap Maredudd. The castle may have been destroyed and abandoned in the aftermath of Madoc's rebellion of 1294.


Key historic landscape characteristics

Historic castle site; last stand of Welsh independence

Castell y Bere is situated on a spur of wooded rock in the lowland pastures of the upper part of the Dysynni valley, adjacent to the church of Llanfihangel y Pennant , and at the foot of the lower slopes of Cadair Idris. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument .

It occupies an important place in Welsh nationalist consciousness as the last garrison to surrender to the Anglo-Norman forces, on 25 April 1283 .


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