Strategic fortress with a volatile history
Castell Deganwy has been associated with Maelgwn, a powerful 6th-century ruler of Gwynedd. Maelgwn was famously dubbed ‘the dragon of the Isle’ by English chronicler Gildas – a reference to a beast of the Apocalypse and the king’s strong connections with Anglesey. In 812, the fortress was struck by lightning and burned. Ten years later it was destroyed by Saxon invaders. And the following centuries saw a succession of powers occupy, fortify and then destroy Castell Deganwy, in several cases to prevent it falling into enemy hands.
The fortress became the seat of Robert of Rhuddlan, the hated Norman overlord who ruled Gwynedd during the late 11th century. It was from Deganwy that he rode out to meet his death under a rain of Welsh spears in 1093. In 1213 Llywelyn the Great rebuilt the castle, and a finely carved stone head dating from this period is thought by many to be a portrait of Llywelyn himself. The sculpture can now be seen at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.
Castell Deganwy was rebuilt for the last time between 1245 and 1250, this time by the English king Henry III; he also established a borough here in 1252. If you walk up to the castle today, it is the remains of Henry’s stronghold that you can see: the bases of a pair of towers, one on each of the twin peaks, and a wall connecting the two.
Henry’s walls were not destined to stand for long, however. In 1257 Llywelyn ap Gruffudd attacked, besieging the castle for three years before its eventual destruction in 1263. When Edward I conquered Gwynedd in 1282, he gave up on the site at Deganwy and built a new castle on the other side of the river. This marvellously preserved stronghold, Conwy Castle, is visible from the ruins of Deganwy.
A good spot for a bracing walk, with fine views over to Conwy and the Great Orme
Itinerary - Up the Conwy Valley and around the Castles
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Cynllun Castell Deganwy Castle Map
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Download Audio Tour
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- Accessible by Public Transport
- Good Walks Nearby
The remains of the castle can be reached via a footpath that leads off York Road in the centre of the village of Deganwy.
A short walk from Deganwy railway station
Several buses serve Deganwy. Call Traveline on 0871 200 2233 or go online at http://www.traveline-cymru.info for the latest public transport information.
The remains of the castle can be reached via footpath that leads off York Road in the centre of Deganwy village
The remains of the castle can be reached via a footpath that leads off York Road in the centre of Deganwy village.
Medium. Walking boots required. Dogs allowed.
Full Figure Grid Reference: NGR SH78207950
Coordinates for Garmin satnav users: -3.829669, 53.297854
OS explorer map sheet: OL17
- Deganwy, LL31 9PJ