Above The Round tower, half of which as fallen away. Right Ruth Thei excavating a doorway from the north range. Below Masons at work conserving the stonework.
Left Work in progress on the partly vaulted well chamber built during the English occupation. In Llywelyn’s time, the castle had no reliable water supply, and this was claimed by the Welsh to be the cause of their capitulation to the English in 1277.
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weights from nets for fishing or bird-catching). Finally there was the detritus of an abandoned and dismantled site, such as stained glass and lead framing from the windows, scraps of lead sheet from roofs, segments of stone chimney shafts serving the ovens or the hearths, window latches, door lock plates, a single inlaid floor tile and part of an ivory prayer-book cover. In one room-clearance dump near the south entrance were glass vessels, a wooden bowl, an ivory ball and an amber bead. All these items built up a pattern of the castle’s life history, both in their site location and their chronology. In nearly every case it was the discovery of a single specimen which indicated the broader picture of room use and changes through time.
The process of excavation has altered the appearance and ground surface of the castle interior. However it was decided that the ditches and town area should receive minimal interference and that care should be taken not to disturb fauna or flora. Unusual plant species were protected from soil dumping. At the main Mortimer castle at Wigmore, the subject of a recent English Heritage protection exercise, wildlife was left intact (see CA 166). This policy had already been adopted here. As a result the castle slopes continued to be grazed and the vegetation remains. However, unlike Wigmore, the castle interior has been fully excavated and the walls and floors exposed, but vegetation is being allowed to return. As with two other Cadw castle excavations, the English-built Laugharne and the Welsh-built Dryslwyn, the ruins at Dolforwyn have been sympathetically preserved and sensitively displayed to become an eloquent testimony to the changing balance of power on a disputed medieval frontier.
Dr Lawrence Butler, 43 Vicarage Close, Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambridge, CB5 OLY