Castell y Bere is the largest and most elaborate of the native Welsh castles in north Wales and was built by Llywelyn ap Lorwerth, also known as Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, in the early 13th century. Typically, the Welsh princes had not constructed castles preferring to build undefended palaces called ilysoedd or courts. This tradition changed as the Normans advanced into Wales in the 11th century taking lands in the north and establishing a band of occupied territory in the south called the Welsh Marches.
Criccieth castle was built at the beginning of the 13th century by Llywelyn the Great and sits atop a rocky promontory that dominates Criccieth itself and the waters of Tremadog Bay. Over the years its defences have been extended and improved as ownership swapped between the Welsh and Edward I. As a result, there is some dispute regarding which parts of the castle were built by whom.
Dolwyddelan Castle, like Castell y Bere, is unusual in a land dominated by fortresses in that rather than built by the English, it was built by a Welsh prince, Llywelyn ap Iorweth (latterly known as Llywelyn the Great) between 1210 and 1240. Llywelyn dominated North Wales, and large parts of the rest of Wales, for a period of 40 years and declared himself the first Prince of Wales, a title formally recognised by Henry III in 1267 in the Treaty of Montgomery.
This is a story about a young girl that walked 26 miles to buy a book. She wasn’t being sponsored. She didn’t have a TV crew in tow. She wasn’t travelling in a group. She was on her own. She travelled 26 miles along paths she had never walked; through villages and settlements that she had never visited. She didn’t have a map: just a rough set of directions. There is precious little that would persuade me to make a similar effort. And she walked all that way for a book.
Cymer Abbey is now a ruined Cistercian abbey near the village of Llanelltyd, just north of Dolgellau. Founded in 1158-9 by Cistercian monks and dedicated to the Virgin Mary under the patronage of Maredudd ap Cynan ab Owain Gwynedd, Lord of Merioneth.
On the monk spectrum the Cistercians were definitely towards the pious end hardly ever eating or sleeping eschewing the material world believing in simplicity in all things. Their lives revolved around the Liturgy of the Hours with a mass at midnight and then prayers every three hours around the clock. This did not leave a lot of time for farming, fishing or hard labour – the traditional pastimes of the medieval monk. To accommodate this schedule they would employ lay people to manage their farm holdings.
Machynlleth is a market town to the south of Tywyn that has special significance in the history of Wales because of its connection with Owain Glyndŵr. Owain led the campaign for Welsh independence between 1400 and 1415 and Machynlleth is the site for the first Welsh Parliament held in 1404. This Parliament was held in the Parliament buildings which are still open to the public today. The earliest written reference to Machynlleth relates to a Royal charter granted by Edward I to Owen de la Pole, Lord of Powys, in 1291, giving him the right to hold “a market at Machynlleth every Wednesday for ever and two fairs every year”. This Wednesday market is still a busy and popular day in Machynlleth 700 years later.