Built in 1185 for the last of the Welsh princes, Dolwyddelan Castle in Snowdonia, North Wales is a ruin today, with only its tower still intact. It is a small castle, notable for being a Welsh stronghold rather than an oppressing Norman or English fortress. And it was the first castle I have every really seen, the first castle I got to walk up to and explore.
As we got further and further up the path (“It’s a castle,” I kept saying, “We have to earn our way up there!”), my attention became divided between gawking at the castle and dodging sheep droppings. Once we were nearly level with the castle, we could see sheep everywhere. Not only did they act as if they owned the place; one sheep even posed for our cameras in front of the tower, its front leg curled up delicately.
Once up there, we had a free reign to scramble up and around the ruins. We even got to climb up into the tower, and up a narrow, pitch dark set of steep stone steps (say that five times fast!) to look out over the ramparts. The view was great, though misty.
Most of all, I just kept marveling that I was walking on, posing near, and touching a building that had been around since the 12th century, older than anything human-made I had been around before. Imagining the people who lived and worked and fought and died there was incredible. Most incredible of all, the castle remains to this day; though only part of it survived to see a pack of over-excited American college kids in 2014, it has still lasted far beyond the lives of its builders and occupants.