Castell Dinas Bran and the story of Myfanwy.
The welsh castle of Dinas Bran is located about the wonderful welsh town of Llangollen in Denbighshire, Wales.
This Castle is a magical place to visit , its the location of a hill fort and remains of a later castle. The walk out of Llangollen to the top of the hill is sort but very steep yet well worth the effort. The views of the horse shoe pass and the surrounding hills is just wonderful.
Whilst the historical record for Dinas Brân is sparse, there are many myths and legends associated with the ancient site.
The popular Welsh song ‘Myfanwy’ was composed by Joseph Parry and first published in 1875. Parry wrote the music to lyrics written by Richard Davies (‘Mynyddog’; 1833–77). The lyrics were probably inspired by the fourteenth-century love-story of Myfanwy Fychan of Castell Dinas Brân, and the poet Hywel ab Einion. That story was also the subject of the popular poem, ‘Myfanwy Fychan’ (1858), by John Ceiriog Hughes (1832–87).
The castle first literary appearance is in a 12th century historical document entitled “Fouke le Fitz Waryn,” or “The Romance of Fulk Fitzwarine.” In this tale the castle, named “Chastiel Bran,” is referred to as a ruin during the early years of the Norman Conquest. The tale continues to tell of an arrogant Norman knight, Payn Peveril, who hears that no one has had courage enough to stay overnight inside the castle ruins, for fear of evil spirits. Payn and 15 ‘knightly followers’ determine to stay the night. A storm blows up and an evil, mace-wielding giant called Gogmagog, appears. Payn defends his men against the attacks of the giant with his shield and cross, then stabs Gogmagog with his sword. As the giant is dying he tells of the earlier bravery of King Bran who had built the castle to try to defeat the giant. Despite King Bran’s attempts against Gogmagog the King had been forced to flee and since then the giant had terrorised all the land around for many years. The giant also tells of a great treasury of idols buried at Dinas Bran which includes swans, peacocks, horses and a huge golden ox but dies without revealing its location.(Oman 1926, 1989)
The Story of Myfanwy
The brooding site is the backdrop for the sad love story of Myfanwy. She is a princess and renowned for her beauty throughout Powys in Wales. Myfanwy is proud of her looks and wants her many suitors to proclaim her beauty in song and verse. Many come to court her but are not able to compose songs that truly reflect her looks. She rejects them all.
However, in the valley beneath the castle lives a poor bard Hywel ap Einion. Taking his courage in his hands the young bard goes to the castle and sings and plays for Myfanwy. Whilst he performs his song to her she is captivated and will look at no other. Hywel ap Einion believes his love for her to be reciprocated because of this.
His hopes and dreams are thwarted when a rich, handsome and more articulate man comes to seek her affection. The dejected Hywel then wanders the forests and lands of Difrdwy and recites this sad poem to his unrequited love:
“Oh fairer thou, and colder too,
Than new fallen snow on Arran’s brow
Oh lovely flower of Trevor race,
Let not a cruel heart disgrace
The beauties of thy heavenly face!
Thou art my daily thought each night
Presents Myfanwy to my sight.”