Caer Cynan is similar in design to other early Norman castles, such as the Tower of London and Dover castle. The huge stone keep was constructed in 1120 and the outer curtain wall was built ten years later. The castle features a large central three-story keep. The upper portion is open to allow easy access to the interior. The castle entrance is on the second floor and is reached by a flight of stone steps. A 70 foot tower is located at each corner of the keep.
The bailey is reached by two gates, a fairly large front gate and a much smaller postern gate. The outer curtain wall has two towers guarding each gate, one tower at each corner, and one mural tower along each side of the bailey.
A view of the overall castle plan is provided on page 3. The numbers on the plan refer to the pages upon which the various features of the castle are illustrated in detail. The letters on page 3 refer to individual castle pieces. Pages 4-6 contain specific drawings of individual castle pieces.
The castle can be created in one of two ways. It can either be mounted on a plywood base or left in separate pieces to be assembled during each use and taken down after. If the castle is to be mounted it is recommended that it be mounted on two separate pieces of plywood. Cut a ¾” piece of plywood the same size as the outer curtain. Cut a notch in each end of the plywood, one for the front gate and one for the postern gate. The second piece of plywood can be cut from either ¾” or thinner plywood. This piece should be somewhat larger than the first piece. A small piece of ¾” pine or a small piece of ¾” plywood can be attached to the second base about 2” from the front gate, thus creating a moat in front of the castle. A small set of steps can be placed on the back of the castle giving access to the postern gate.
If the castle is mounted, the front gate can be fixed with a drawbridge. The illustration to the right depicts the construction of a drawbridge for the front gate.
If the castle is not mounted, the keep and its stairs are to be glued together as a unit. Each gate with its flanking towers also are to be glued together as a unit. Glue both of the curtain sections at each end to the mural towers. Glue each curtain section beside the gate to a corner tower. As a result, each mural tower will have one curtain section glued to each side and each corner tower will have one curtain section glued to one side (caution: set the whole curtain up before gluing to be certain that the walls all fit correctly). Gluing the walls to the towers will help the walls stand better. An alternative is to cut the walls from thicker stock than shown in the plans, such as 1 ½” stock. The battlements are then cut ¾” thick, but the lower part of the wall is 1 ½” thick. This will allow the wall to stand on its own, without being attached to a tower. A third alternative is to extend the walks behind the battlements all the way to the bottom of the wall, achieving the same effect as above.