Castles of the Welsh PrincesHistory, Non-fiction
The Medieval castles built and occupied by the native princes of Wales hold a special place in the imagination of the Welsh and have an unique historical appeal. The 500 and more castles of Wales testify to the remorseless military ambitions of the Normans and the English but also to the tenacious resistance of the Welsh and their unswerving belief in Welsh independence. In this fully illustrated book, Paul Davis guides the reader to some of the most awe-inspiring and romantic castles in Wales and describes their construction and history.
Paul R. Davies’ book leads with a little potted history of the Welsh princes, to contextualise the castles described and pictured. It’s not all full-colour — sometimes castles are illustrated by sketches and plans, or not pictured at all where we know very little — but the plans provided give a nice visual guide to some of the structures and layouts mentioned. Each entry includes a little section explaining how to visit the castle (if at all possible).
The thing I found most interesting was actually the discussion of why certain castles are built the way they are — for instance, with towers that are unusually placed compared to Norman-build castles of the period. The theory is basically that the builders had no idea why you wanted towers, or how to best make use of them at least, so they didn’t always position them “correctly” (leading to stuff like blind spots that are perfect for an attacking enemy).
It’s a short volume, but worth the read if you’re interested in Welsh castles. It confines itself to castles built and occupied by the Welsh princes, rather than Norman castles, though sometimes it will mention sites where both sides had a period of occupation enough to make changes to the fabric of the site.