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Tomen Ddreiniog

aka Thorny Motte

Gwynedd, north Wales

Text copyright by Richard Hartnup, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Photographs copyright 2002 by Irma Hale

Very little is known about Tomen Ddreiniog. Its history can be inferred only from what is known of similar constructions elsewhere. It has been linked with Castell Cynfael and Tomen Las near Pennal as one of the Motte and Bailey Castles built by the Normans during the phase of expansion, and destroyed, or taken over by the Welsh towards the end of the 11th Century. It now stands as an impressive and romantic memorial of these distant times, an overgrown hillock on the very edge of the Dysynni. The very marked meander of the river north-east of the motte provides an ideally defended site but presumably, even if the loop was there in mediaeval times, the land inside it was too wet and subject to violent floods to be suitable. It now provides an excellent wetland habitat for wildlife.

Castell Cynfael (is not on Speede's map of Wales but was once an important Llys or court site, - vying with Dreiniog as the main centre in the Cwmwd. Tomen Ddreiniog and Cynfal were probably eclipsed by Castell y Bere (Thehery on Speede), built by the Llewelyn the Great in 1221 - a century before Edward's English castles. It, in turn, became redundant after the construction of Harlech Castle was completed in 1289.

Unfortunately it is not possible to get onto the Motte, but there are good views of it from Dysynni Bridge on the A493. The mound can also be inspected from the lane south of Talybont farm, which passes within 150 m.

 


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