Today was another day out in the Welsh landscape for me and three of my children. Later in the today we explored Ty Mawr and Chirk Castle discussed in previous blogs. First though, I scaled Castell Dinas Brân, a site of an Iron Age hillfort and subsequently a castle of the late thirteenth century, when the castle being destroyed soon after its construction during the Edwardian compaigns. In between, it is possible, but not proven, that the site was occupied during the early medieval period.
The ruins of the castle, together with the ruins of nearby Valle Crucis Abbey, have attracted many stories and inspired romantic artists and poets. A useful narrative about the castle’s landscape context can be found on the CPAT website here.
I have always previously approached Castell Dinas Brân from the west, ascending from the town of Llangollen. This time I approached from the opposite direction, from the east, having parked at the foot of Creigiau Eglwyseg: the limestone escarpment to the north and north-east of the castle. This allowed me to ascend with (relative) ease with three small children, one in a rucksack generously given to me last year by my compadre Dr Niall Finneran.
Last time I ascended the hill was in August 2012. I was then in the company of Kansas’ most famous son, Scott Chaussée, geophysicist and expert in early medieval Sussex. Upon that visit, we marvelled at the ruins of the castle, the castle ditch and the hillfort ramparts further down the slope. Also upon that visit, we observed the fabulous efforts of workmen restoring the path on the eastern approach using a brilliant micro-dumper truck that I wish I could own.
On this visit, I got the chance to see their hard work on this path further down the hill. The name of the castle might be translated as ‘crow fort’ or ‘raven fort’, and so now as one approaches, one is greeted by a fabulous raven on one of the gates.
Well done Denbighshire County Council for this excellent work.
We also got a chance to see the ditch and rampart of the Iron Age hillfort, explore the castle ruins and eat some crackers. On the way up, we found a memorial bench while my son conducted his own version of sheep-herding.