Majestic solitude and a Romantic painter – Dolbadarn Castle

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The castle looking towards Llanberis Pass…

Perched on a small, rocky hill at the foot of the Snowdon Massif, Dolbadarn Castle overlooks Llyn Peris. Built in the 13th century by the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great, it was quite important as it guarded and protected Llanberis Pass, the main route through Snowdonia between north and south Wales.

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and towards Llyn Peris.

After Llywelyn’s death, his grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffudd gained control over Gwynedd and imprisoned his brother Owain Goch for more than 20 years (most likely) in Dolbadarn’s tower. Edward I captured the castle in 1283 and it gradually fell into disrepair.

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The entrance to the tower gives you an idea how thick the walls really are.

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You can still see where chimneys, fireplaces and the floors of the different levels used to be.

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And climb some really narrow steps for a better view.

This, however, proofed to start the castle’s second ‘career’ as the ruins became quite popular with artists in the 18th and 19th century, most famously Romantic landscape painter JMW Turner. Inspired by Owain’s imprisonment he made several sketches of the castle. His finished oil painting ‘Dolbadarn Castle’ was exhibited in 1800 with the following lines of poetry referring to the incarceration of Owain Goch:

“How awful is the silence of the waste,
Where nature lifts her mountains to the sky,
Majestic solitude, behold the tower
Where hopeless Owen, long imprison’d pin’d,
And wrung his hands for liberty, in vain”

 

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