For many years, Archaeology Cymru has debated the true origins of a castle to be found hidden behind houses in Dinas Powys.
The castle, which is now inaccessible, is visited by very few people, but holds a vital secret to the origins of native Wales.
The walls – practically complete at Dinas Powys – are more than 10 metres high and encircle an area just under the size of a football pitch, yet were not built by the Normans, but by a local lord before the Norman conquest of 1066, probably around 1050.
The published history of the site at Dinas Powys tells of its origins under the rule of the Normans, who had made the English suffer so much; then it was the turn of Wales, some time in the 1090s.
It also states that the Normans built in the area, with no church, no village, and very little access. However, under examination, this narrative falls apart. This type of landscape was the typical inaccessible type site found that native rulers used elsewhere in Wales.
The castle at Dinas Powys, except for a later Norman tower, was all built by the native people of Wales. It is a Welsh-built castle: as such, it has no gateway tower – a feature of most native castles – the walls are built in the Welsh style, and it lacks any windows (fenestration) in its walls.
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Karl-James Langford PGDipAH (Leics)