The Welsh princes built castles of their own to defend their land from invasion and to protect important routeways. The earliest castles built by Welsh princes were like those of the Norman invaders in design, and were also of earth and timber. But in the thirteenth century the Welsh princes began to build their castles in stone and the design was very different.
The castles were generally built on sites with strong natural defences (for example, on a hill-top site or next to a river). The shape of the castle varies, to take advantage of its position. The towers formed the main strong points in the castle, with a curtain wall linking them, and they were usually two storeys high. The towers were often D-shaped.
Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great, died 1240) built both Dolwyddelan Castle and Dolbardarn Castle in the early thirteenth century. Dolwyddelan had a rectangular keep but the later castle at Dolbardarn was designed with a round keep.
Llywelyn ab Iorwerth also built Criccieth Castle (Gwynedd) about 1230, with an inner ward and a twin-towered gatehouse, and Ewloe Castle (Flintshire), with an inner ward and a strong D-shaped keep.
Castles of the Welsh princes cared for by Cadw
Castell y Bere
Caergwrle Castle (Caergwrle Community Council)
Dinas Bran (Denbighshire County Council)