Castell Y Bere

Castell Y Bere was a prominent fortress built at Cadair Idris's base, a mountain in Wales’ Snowdonia National Park. It was built in the early 13th century, and both Llywelyn the Great and Edward I’s forces occupied it. Today, the ruins of the castle are a popular tourist destination.

Visiting Castell Y Bere

Parking

There are parking and bike storage facilities available outside the site.

Price

Free

Opening

Open to visitors through most of the year. It is closed on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of December and on the 1st of January.

On all other days, it is open from 10 am to 4 pm, with the last admission being 3:30 pm.

Location & Access

Llanfihangel-y-pennant is two mi (3.22 km) northwest of Abergynolwyn, Gwynedd, in Wales:

Llanfihangel-y-pennant

Tywyn 

LL36 9TT

United Kingdom

To reach Castell Y Bere by road, turn off the B4405 6.52 mi (10.5 km) North-East of Tywyn. 

To reach the castle by rail, stop at Tywyn station and then hike North East. The castle is approximately 7.02 mi (11.3 km) from the station. 

Know Before You Go

  • Dogs are allowed on the Castell Y Bere site, but they must be leashed at all times. 
  • Drones are not allowed on or around the Castell Y Bere site. 
  • Smoking is not allowed on the Castell Y Bere site - visitors found smoking may receive large fines. 
  • There are no restrooms at the site. 
  • There are no official tours of Castell Y Bere, but visitors can equip themselves with Cadw's information to understand more about the castle as they explore.

History of Castell Y Bere

Castell Y Bere was built in 1220 and was used until the late 13th Century. Built by Welsh leaders, it was taken over by the English before being re-captured by the Welsh in 1294. The Welsh abandoned it until archaeological excavations in the 19th Century yielded a collection of historical relics.

Time Line

 


-1220 (Castell Y Bere Was Built)

Llywelyn the Great commissioned Castell Y Bere in 1220. It was originally a courtyard with several stone towers surrounding it. 

Castle Y Bere was built to protect Gwynedd and guard Llywelyn the Great’s castle range. The land it was built on initially belonged to Llywelyn the Great’s son, Gruffudd ap Llywelyn. However, his father took it over because of its strategic location. 

-1255 (Addition of Another Tower)

After Llywelyn the Great passed away in 1240, Castell Y Bere's control passed on to his grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. He added another tower to the south of the courtyard to increase the castle's accommodation capacity. 

-1283 (Taken Over by the English)

In 1283, English forces were invading Wales due to continuing conflicts between the English and the Welsh. They laid siege to several castles in the Snowdonia area, including Castell Y Bere. On the 25th of April 1283, English forces officially took control of Castell Y Bere. 

Edward I commissioned several improvements to Castell Y Bere and assigned five masons and five carpenters to carry out the works. They repaired much of the damage caused during the siege.

-1284 (Visited by Edward I)

Edward I visited Castel Y Bere several times in 1284 and established a small settlement at the castle's base. 

-1284-1290 (More Enhancements to the Castle)

In 1284, Edward I appointed Walter of Huntercombe as the constable of the castle. Edward I allocated a significant budget to continue to improve the castle, possibly hoping that the settlement he had established would continue to grow. 

Between 1286-1290, the constable spent £262 and built walls that linked the south tower to the rest of the castle and external gate towers. 

-1294 (Taken by Welsh Forces)

In 1294, Madoc ap Llywelyn led an uprising against the English across Wales. His forces laid siege to the castle in late 1294 and eventually took over the castle. The Welsh forces burnt a significant amount of the castle to ensure that it wouldn’t be used by the English again. 

After this, the castle was abandoned for a significant period of time. Some historians suggest it was abandoned because it was too expensive and cumbersome to bring supplies to such a remote location. 

-16th Century (Mentioned by Gruffydd Hiraethog)

In the 16th Century, Gruffydd Hiraethog recorded his impression of Castell Y Bere, noting that it had once been a substantial building but that it had now fallen into ruins. 

After this, there are no historical records of Castell Y Bere until the mid 19th Century. 

-1851 (Archaeological Excavations)

Ownership of the castle passed through several people and families over the centuries. In 1851, the castle’s owner, William Wynne, commissioned archaeological excavations of Castell Y Bere. Archaeologists found several artefacts in the well, including Roman coins, pieces of ceramic pottery, and pieces of leather. 

-1949 (Given to State Care)

In 1949, Castell Y Bere was given to the state for care. 

Today, the castle is a scheduled monument which is maintained by Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh government.  

-1981 (Castle in Popular Culture)

In 1981, the Welsh folk group Plethyn released a song called Castell Y Bere. 

Castell Y Bere Occupants

 

  • 13th Century - late 13th Century- The castle was built by Welsh leader Llywelyn the Great (Welsh monarch control).
  • Late 13th Century - The castle was temporarily taken over by English forces but was taken back and destroyed by the Welsh. 
  • Late 13th Century - mid 20th Century - It was passed through several owners.
  • 20th Century - The castle was given to state care.

Images of Castell Y Bere

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Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Castell Y Bere Q&A

What Kind of Castle Is Castell Y Bere?

Castell Y Bere was initially built as a defensive stone fortress. It was considered one of the most advanced castles built by the Welsh in the 13th Century. Unlike other castles in the area, it had two gate towers, each with its own drawbridges. 

What Was the Primary Use of Castell Y Bere?

Castell Y Bere was initially used as a defensive castle. Its isolated location on a flat-top rock was intended to act as a guardian for the surrounding valley. The stone castle was built into the landscape and fortified to ensure its defences against the English.

It has several accommodation facilities and has hosted royalty such as Edward I. 

What Is Castell Y Bere Used for Today?

Though left to ruin, visitors can still see the outline of the structures, including the barbican, which can be accessed by wooden stairs.

Today, Castell Y Bere is maintained by Cadw and is a tourist destination. It has also been a valuable site for archaeological excavations. 

Can You Visit Castell Y Bere?

While most Castell Y Bere has fallen to ruins, the site is still open to visitors. Visitors can see remnants of the castle, including: 

  • The Chapel Tower. The chapel tower sits at the north of the crag. Only the tower's ground floor remains, but the carved stone found in the base indicates that the tower was used as a chapel. 
  • The Great Keep. Only the ground floor of the Great Keep remains visible today. 
  • D-shaped Tower. This tower is not attached to the other structures and has 10-foot (3.05-metre) walls. Historians suggest that this may have functioned as a second keep. 
  • A round tower. This tower's remains indicate that it was placed at the castle’s entrance as the first line of protection. 
  • Castle well. The castle well is much larger than the wells in other castles in the area. Archaeologists were able to find several historical objects in the well, including pieces of ceramic jugs and pieces of leather. 

There are also remains of stained glass windows and stone carvings of soldiers, an unusual feature for Welsh castles. 

Castell Y Bere is considered to be one of the most sophisticated Welsh castles of its time. Cadw maintains Castell Y Bere today. It is open and freely accessible to visitors on most days of the year.  

What Are Some Other Attractions Around Castell Y Bere?

There are several other historical attractions around the Castell Y Bere area. Sites of particular interest include the Tal-y-Llyn Heritage Centre, the Fairbourne Railway, and the Cadair Idris Visitor Centre.

Visitors may also enjoy visiting the nearby Cymer Abbey, the Dyfi furnace, and the Dyffryn Ardudwy Burial chamber. 

Location of Castell Y Bere

Castell Y Bere is near Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, a small village in Wales’ Gwynedd region. It’s on the Eastern side of the Dysynni valley and appears very isolated, standing alone in the valley. 

Most guests follow the castle walls on the outside for a stark look at the old stone alongside the beautiful views of the Welsh countryside. 

Much of the ruins are located in one spot; however, the southernmost tower is not a part of the original structure. It is believed to be an addition from the English and was built to be self-sustaining and a defensive outpost to act without the force of the rest of the castle.