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Dinas Powys Castle

Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales

Map link for Dinas Powys Castle

Take the A4055 Cardiff to Barry road to Dinas Powys. In the village turn right at LH bend. Turn left at T-junction into Mill Road, and take 1st right into The Lettons Way. Path up to the castle on right-hand side.

While some Welsh castles fit neatly into the category of "medieval," others are more difficult to classify, often because the castle site was used by a succession of settlers or invaders over the centuries. Both Norman and native Welsh castle builders at times built their castles or strongholds over the remains of earlier Iron-Age, Roman, post-Roman British or Saxon fortifications. Such is the case with the castle at Dinas Powys.

This multi-purpose site lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Glamorgan, one end of the hill having been fortified in the early Christian period by a bank and ditch dating from the 5th to the 7th century. In the Norman period a new bank and ditch were added and the scarp of the new bank was revetted in stone. Whether in wood or stone, the purpose of a revetment was to prevent a bank or mound of earth from collapsing, either into the ditch or the interior enclosure. (Kenyon 1991)

A double row of postholes at Dinas Powys indicated that the bank was surmounted by a palisade and fighting platform, and there may have been a timber tower at this point; a similar feature was revealed at Penmaen. The entrance at Dinas Powys was on the north-west side, with a timber gate at the end of the passage. This phase has been dated to the 11th century, but there is a question as to who was responsible for building the defences. We do not know whether it was a Norman or a Welshman who refortified the site. A little later the site was strengthened by the addition of banks and ditches, now forming a formidable stronghold. Although this phase cannot be dated precisely, it may have been built by the Normans as part of their general advance into south Wales in the early 12th century. (Kenyon 1991)


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