When I wrote my first book in the early 90's, I chose as my hero a historical king, Maelgwn the Great. Most of what we know about Maelgwn is from the writings of a 6th century monk named Gildas. His work is not really a history but a denouncement of the leaders of his era, particularly Maelgwn. Although Gildas refers to Maelgwn by the unforgettable epithet, o thou dragon of the island, he also calls him a "tyrant among tyrants" and recounts his numerous sins.
Being a romantic, I glossed over Gildas's accounting of Maelgwn's less than savory nature and used the dark age king's larger-than-life reputation to create a hero who was complex and enigmatic enough to be featured in two books (or four, if you count the two books I wrote about his sons).
Although it is was built some 800 years later, Dolweddylyn Castle in North Wales makes for a credible stand-in for Maelgwn's formidable stronghold.
|Deganwy seen from Conwy Castle across the bay.|
But the climb was more than worth it for the fabulous views.
You can see why Maelgwn chose Deganwy, as it surveys a huge swath of the North Wales coast. Important in a time when you are regularly being raided by the Scotti, also known as the Irish.
And Maelgwn himself still maintains a fierce hold on the Welsh imagination...and on my heart.
|Near Dolweddylyn Castle, 2011|