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Aberdyfi Castle

Near Glandyfi, Ceredigion, map reference SN 686 969

Map link for Aberdyfi Castle

Photographs and text copyright © by John Northall

With acknowledgements to The Royal Commission into Ancient Monuments in Wales
and Castles of the Welsh Princes by Paul R Davis.

Aberdyfi castle was founded by The Lord Rhys in 1156 in response to a threat to his lands from the north. Owain Gwynedd had assembled an army to march on Ceredigion and Rhys 'raised a ditch to give battle', according to The Chronicles of the Princes. After the threat had subsided without battle being joined, Rhys built the earthwork castle in place of his defensive ditch. A motte was constructed at the end of a low ridge running across marshy ground, surrounded on two sides by the confluence of the Dyfi and Einion rivers. The mound is still around 20 feet high with a diameter at the top of about 30 feet and it was surrounded by a deep ditch. The Norman earl Roger De Clare is reported to have captured 'the castle of the Dyfi' in 1158 and it's presumed that he had siezed this site. However, the Lord Rhys recaptured the castle from the Norman invaders later that same year. Llewelyn the Great held an assembly at Aberdyfi in 1216 where he granted land that he had conquered in South Wales to other Princes in return for their homage, and this is likely to have taken place at Aberdyfi castle.

The castle is marked on the Ordnance Survey map as Domen Las (green mound) and there are some references in the Welsh histories that may refer to this site under the name of Abereinion. There is no sign of a castle on another river Einion further to the south, despite an antiquarian account of it having been visited, and this has lead to speculation that as this castle is also close to a river Einion the two sites may be one and the same. Aberdyfi castle is situated on private land around five miles south west of Machynlleth. The motte can just be seen from the A487 road adjacent to the river south of Glandyfi or is more easily observed from the RSPB bird sanctuary of Ynys Hir - turn west off the A487 south of Glandyfi and when parked follow the footpath to Domen Las, but check opening times first as the sanctuary may be closed.

Above: The site of Aberdyfi Castle as seen from the nearby road.

Below: Looking south west across the flood plain of the Dyfi river, the motte can be seen amonst the trees.
The wooden building to the right of the motte is a modern bird observation hide.

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