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Tomen y Bala, Bala

In the community of Bala.
In the historic county of Merioneth.
Modern authority of Gwynedd.
Preserved county of Gwynedd.

OS Map Grid Reference: SH92803609
Latitude 52.91151° Longitude -3.59546°

Tomen y Bala, Bala has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Palace.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


A medieval castle mound, one of the largest in Wales, later adapted as a garden feature with a spiral pathway to the summit. This is a steep sided circular mound, about 40m in diameter and 8.0m high, with a level summit some 16.5m across. This would originally have had timber breastworks and perhaps a high timber tower. The mound would have been ditched about. It is not known whether there were any other fortifications. The castle can be associated with a manor or llys, a princely court, the head place of Penllyn commote. Its conquest is recorded in 1202 and it may have remained active into the thirteenth century. Edward I was present at Bala in 1284. In about 1310 a borough was laid out south-west of the mount (NPRN 58040/33151). In the early fifteenth century a garrison was present in the town with no mention of the castle. (Coflein–John Wiles 09.07.07)

Bala is likely to have been the maerdref or administrative center of the commote of Tryweryn, and it was still fortified in 1202, when Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, who was extending his power towards Powys, drove out Elis ap Madog, Lord of Penllyn. Llywelyn reduced the defences and very probably built the more modern castle at Carndochan, but Bala must have retained at least some of its symbolic and administrative importance because an English borough was established beside it in 1310. (Lynch 1995)

The ditch and bailey evidence have been lost beneath the towns subsequent development of this area. All that now remains is a well-defined motte that has been planted with a number of ornamental tree and shrub species and is cared for by the council and used as a public recreation area. (Scheduling Report)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 06/07/2016 19:05:33