About Gruffudd Maelor II ap Madog, arglwydd Dinas Bran
See Peter Bartrum, http://cadair.aber.ac.uk/dspace/bitstream/handle/2160/5573/Bleddyn%20ap%20Cynfyn%204.png?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (December 26, 2016; Anne Brannen, curator)
Please see Darrell Wolcott: The Ancestry of Owain Glyndwr; http://www.ancientwalesstudies.org/id200.html. (Steven Ferry, May 21, 2017.)
Towering high above the Dee Valley and the bustling town of Llangollen, home of the International Eisteddfod, Castell Dinas Bran occupies one of Britain's most spectacular sites. A rugged, foreboding pinnacle, the hillock was the ideal spot to erect a castle. It seemed completely impenetrable, commanded views for miles around, and offered quick recognition of an approaching visitor, whether friend or foe. Yet, the native Welsh princes of Powys occupied the hilltop for only a few decades.
Today, that same site is open to exploration by the public. Forced to climb to the summit, modern visitors experience the struggle and the exhilaration that the castle's medieval inhabitants - and their Edwardian attackers - must have felt. Without a doubt, the walk is a breathtaking challenge. However, that climb heightens the allure of Dinas Bran. And, it demonstrates the stark reality of medieval castle life.
"Dinas Bran" is variously translated as "Crow Castle," "Crow City," "Hill of the Crow," or "Bran's Stronghold." The castle first appears in 12th century historical documents as part of a medieval piece entitled "Fouke le Fitz Waryn,"or "The Romance of Fulk Fitzwarine." While this work claimed that the castle, known as "Chastiel Bran," was in ruin as early as 1073, the remains we see today date to the occupation of the princes of Powys Fadog in the mid 13th century. Possibly, the Chastiel Bran mentioned in the romance was a Norman timber castle, but nothing of substance supports this conjecture. However, the encompassing ditch and earthen embankments, which enclose the southern and eastern portions of the stone fortress, do date to the Iron Age. They remind us that this hilltop had strategic value long before the princes of Powys, or the Normans, ventured into the region. Interestingly, the word, "Dinas," has its origins in the Iron Age as well, and is found in the names of Iron Age hillforts throughout Wales.
Reid (1973) speculated that the hill at Dinas Bran was occupied in the 8th century by a man named Eliseg. The same Eliseg also gave his name to an ancient pillar that stands just north of Valle Crucis Abbey, near Llangollen. The mystery man may have been an ancestor of the princes of Powys who later dominated the area, but there is no real proof to support this assertion.
The historical record also conflicts over whom really built the remains at Dinas Bran. The most reliable sources state that Gruffydd Maelor II, son of Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor I, began the castle in the late 1260's. The elder Madog founded nearby Valle Crucis Abbey, where both men were buried. Some references offer an earlier date for the castle, placing it in the 1230's, when Madog would have been alive and, therefore, its builder. Regardless of whom actually erected the buildings that now survive in ruin, they were part of the last building effort at Dinas Bran. Incredibly, assuming the later date to be most accurate, the Welsh princes only occupied the site for two decades.
During those final two decades, the castle on the hilltop became a prized possession of the princes of Powys Fadog. Dinas Bran's power did not go unnoticed by English forces. In 1277, during Edward I's initial foray into Wales, the Earl of Lincoln, Henry de Lacy, besieged the castle. The Welsh lord of Dinas Bran was forced to submit to the invading army, which promptly set the site afire, completely destroying it.
Even after its devastation, Henry de Lacy marveled at the vigor of the forlorn castle, and recommended that the king make repairs. Lacy noted that the exterior masonry was still intact and that the restored castle could be used by the English, who faced more battles with the Welsh. The Earl of Lincoln exclaimed to his king that there was no greater Welsh castle, nor one in England that could compare with the might of Castell Dinas Bran. Edward I was not impressed, and the castle was never restored.
Shortly after that, however, Castell Dinas Bran and the lands of Bromfield were granted to John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, a formidable Marcher lord. However, Warenne was more interested fortifying his estates at Holt than in repairing his decaying Welsh stronghold. In 1282, during Edward's second campaign into Wales, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Llywelyn the Last's rebellious brother, held Dinas Bran. But, Edward's armies captured Dafydd soon after Llywelyn's death at Cilmeri, and took him to a painful execution in England.
As late as the 15th century, Castell Dinas Bran still had value. Then the property of Thomas Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, the castle was targeted by the legendary folkhero, Owain Glyndwr, who unsuccessfully attempted to capture the site in 1402. During the reign of King Henry VIII, John Leland, the king's well-traveled chronicler, described Dinas Bran as a total ruin. He claimed that the only living being willing to inhabit the castle ruins was the eagle who returned each year to breed.
In more recent centuries, Castell Dinas Bran was recognized for its dramatic placement high above the Welsh valleys. Painters, like Turner and Wilson, captured the essence of the place on canvas. Wordsworth also visited Dinas Bran, lamenting the castle's fate as follows:
"Relics of kings, wreck of forgotten wars, To the winds abandoned and the prying stars."
From afar, we can readily spot the tumbledown ruins of Castell Dinas Bran. In many ways, it was a typical Welsh-built castle. Surprisingly simple in design, its stone curtain wall traced the outline of the hilltop upon which it stood. Essentially rectangular, the wall enclosed an area about 300 feet long and 130 feet wide. At the eastern end, a plain square keep connected to the curtain wall. Like many other keeps, access was at the first level above the ground floor, using a movable wooden ladder.
Immediately to the right (north) of the keep stood the great twin-towered gatehouse, a primitive structure when compared to its Edwardian counterparts under construction at the same time. This native Welsh gatehouse was rib-vaulted and had a narrow passage into the inner bailey. Little remains except the foundations.
Midway along the southern wall, a characteristically-Welsh apsidal tower protrudes outward from the castle walls. The intriguing D-shaped tower still offers panoramic views of the less-sloping western approach to the castle, the sector which would have been most vulnerable to attack. Adjacent to this tower are the scanty remains of the hall block, once the castle's focal point, where the lord would have entertained his guests. The castle's priest may have offered religious services on an upper level.
TALES OF DINAS BRAN
Legends associate Castell Dinas Bran with the king of Britain mentioned in the "Mabinogion," whose story dates to Arthurian times and whose name (Bran) translates to "raven." The king was killed after invading Ireland, and his head was buried in what may have been London's Tower Hill. Stories then added that, as long as Bran's head remained buried, Britain would be safeguarded. Perhaps, the idea that the head is linked with the Tower of London derives from the ongoing presence of real ravens, creatures also said to have the magical power to protect the kingdom from disaster. Tales also state, however, that King Arthur retrieved the head, choosing to protect Britain himself rather than resorting to the power of a buried body part. Claims have also been made that the Holy Grail or a golden harp are hidden in the hillock at Dinas Bran and that fairies dwell there.
According to "The Romance of Fulk Fitzwarine," the Normans pushed their way into the eastern borderlands of Wales and stopped just beneath the ruins of Dinas Bran. An arrogant knight, Pain Peveril, noticed the crumbling walls and learned that the site was once the home of King Bran. Since Bran's demise, no one had enough courage to stay overnight inside the remains, for fear of evil spirits. To prove their mettle, Pain and some of his cohorts climbed up to the ruins, determined to endure the night. During that night, a storm arose and forced the men to seek shelter.
Suddenly, an evil, mace-wielding giant appeared. This giant was the notorious Gogmagog, a man possessed by an evil spirit who had terrorized the countryside for years. Pain defended his men with his shield, protected with a cross, a shield so sturdy that it withstood the penetration of the giant's mace. His brazen defiance startled the giant and Pain swiftly stabbed him with his sword. As Gogmagog died, the evil spirit recounted KingBran's bravery against the giant's attacks. Bran had even built the palace atop the hillock to thwart the giant and enraged the evil spirit inside Gogmagog. Then, the giant forced Bran and his followers to flee. The dying spirit also claimed that a great treasure, including a golden ox, was buried beneath the hill. The next day, King William learned of Pain's adventure, disposed of Gogmagog's body, and kept the mace as a spoil of battle.
(This tale was paraphrased from Oman's account in the book, "Castles," written originally in the 1920's. It is a classic text on British castles.)
Today, Castell Dinas Bran overlooks the Welsh valleys, as it has done for centuries. It is now in the care of the local authority, and is open freely any reasonable time. One can only wonder if the golden ox is still embedded somewhere inside the hill!
There’s nothing like a medieval castle to exhume one’s sense of romance however deeply it may be buried beneath the mundane. And Wales, that piece of geography that bulges from British soil into the Irish Sea like a full belly, has close to 400 of them in various states of restoration and ruin. But only one claims legendary ties to the Holy Grail: Castell Dinas Bran, which translated into English means ‘castle of the fort of the crow (or raven)’. Some say it is the Arthurian Corbenic Castle itself and the Grail is still there buried deep beneath the rocky remains. The word in old French for raven or crow is Corbenic and the word for raven in Welsh is Bran; same castle name, different tongue. It’s all in the name and based upon French Grail romance manuscripts from the 12th and 13th centuries that tell the story of how the Holy Grail came to rest in a castle in North Wales. Dinas Bran was the physical inspiration for these romances.
Gruffydd II ap Madog, Lord of Dinas Bran
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gruffydd Maelor II, Prince of Powys Fadog 1236 - 1269.
He was the eldest son of Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor and inherited his father's lands and title in partible succession along with his four brothers Gruffydd Ial, Maredudd, Hywel and Madog Fychan.
The Kingdom of Powys Fadog had previously been unified under one leader but now had five and was subjected to outside forces as well.
He married Emma, the widow of Henry Touchet, and daughter of Henry Audley and Bertred Mainwaring.
Death & Issue
He died in 1269 (or 1270) leaving issue:
Madog II, succeeded his father and was killed in battle with the English in 1277.
Gruffydd Fychan I succeeded his eldest brother in 1277 and died in 1289.
Angharad 1308. m (after 1261) William Le Botiler of Wem, Shropshire (-1283).
Powys Fadog was divided in accordance with Welsh custom between his sons:
Cynllaith was divided between Llywellyn and Owain.
Gruffudd had Iâl and Edeirnion, which included Glyn Dyfrdwy.
FMG on the Princes of Northern Powys
^ J. E. Lloyd, Owen Glendower: Owen Glyn Dŵr (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1931), 9-10.
Gruffydd Maelor II ap Madog, Prince of North Powys
b. circa 1181, d. 1269
Father Madog ap Gruffydd, Prince of Powys Fadog1 b. circa 1151, d. circa 1236
Also called Griffith Maelor of Powis.2 Gruffydd Maelor II ap Madog, Prince of North Powys was born circa 1181. He was the son of Madog ap Gruffydd, Prince of Powys Fadog.1 Gruffydd Maelor II ap Madog, Prince of North Powys died in 1269.1
Madog ap Gruffydd o Powys+ b. c 1211, d. 12771,2
[S272] Francis Jones, Jones, F., pg. 22, Chart IV, The House of Powys.
[S215] Revised by others later George Edward Cokayne CP, II:231.
Gruffudd Maelor II ap Madog, arglwydd Dinas Bran's Timeline
Powis, Montgomeryshire, Wales
Wem, Shropshire, England
Merthyr, Carmarthenshire, , Wales
Powys, Montgomeryshire, Wales
Allanegwast Abbey, Yale
Castle Dinas Bran, Lower Powys, Montgomeryshire, Wales