|Tenby Castle/Town Walls
Tenby, SA70 7BP. Only a small tower remains of Tenby Castle, perched on top of Castle Hill, which is almost surrounded by the sea. The old town walls, however, are remarkably complete, containing a maze of narrow streets that make up the picturesque old town of Tenby. The castle was built by The Normans in the 12th century.There is a record of its capture by the Welsh in 1153.Tenby was also attacked in 1187 and again in 1260, when Llewellyn the Last, sacked the town during his campaigns. Most of the town walls were built in the 13th century. In 1328, the D-shaped barbican was added to defend the gate.D-shaped towers north and south of the gate were also added at this time. In 1457, the moat, which ran outside the walls where St Florence Parade is now, was widened to 30ft, the walls were heightened and a second, higher series of arrow slits was built, reached by a new parapet walk. In 1648, a unit of Royalist rebels held the castle for 10 weeks but were starved into surrendering.
Castle Terrace, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire SA71 4LA Tel:01646 681510. An enormous oval castle, mostly surrounded by a serene mill pond. Extensively restored in Victorian times, it's dominated by the complex gatehouse on the outside and the huge circular keep once you're inside. The walled town of Pembroke which grew up around the castle also contains many ancient and interesting Norman buildings. Established by Roger Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury in 1093 as a timber structure.The first stone structure was erected by William Marshal after he became Earl of Pembroke in 1189.His third son, Gilbert, was responsible for enlarging and strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241. The castle then passed into the hands of William de Valence, a half-brother of Henry III through his marriage to Joan, granddaughter of William Marshal.Valence family held the castle for 70 years, strengthening it by building the walls and towers around the outer ward. They also fortified the town, creating a ring of walls with three main gates and a postern. On the death of Aymer, William de Valence's son, the castle passed through marriage into the hands of the Hastings family. In 1389, the castle reverted to Richard II. It was granted out in a series of short tenancies and began to fall into disrepair. In 1400, the castle was attacked by Owain Glyndwr, but escaped a siege because the Constable at the time, Francis ? Court, bought off Glyndwr with the Welsh equivalent of danegeld. Eventually Pembroke Castle passed into the hands of a new Earl, Henry VI's half-brother Jasper Tewdwr. He was the first to make it more of a home than a fortress. In 1457 Henry Tewdwr was born in the castle. He later defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field to become the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty, Henry VII. In 1648, Cromwell laid siege to the castle during The English Civil War. Pembroke Castle remained an ivy-covered ruin until 1880 when a Mr J R Cobb of Brecon spent three years restoring what he could. Nothing further was done until Major-General Sir Ivor Phillips of Cosheston Hall acquired the ruins in 1928 and started an extensive restoration of the castle, restoring the walls and towers as nearly as possible to their original appearance. Pembroke Castle remains in private hands. It also stands guard over the town's Main Street, which has an interesting variety of shops. Another attraction is the beautiful Mill Pond Walk and the swans which decorate the water.
Narberth. SA67 7BE. A rectangular castle with towers on each corner but, unfortunately, not much remains today. The most fascinating thing about Narberth Castle is the legends that are attached to it. The castle's exact origin lies back in the mists of time but it is believed the site may once have been occupied by a palace spoken of in the Mabinogion, a collection of ancient legends and myths. It was supposedly the home of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, whose adventures make up one of the four branches of the book. The first recorded Norman castle is mentioned in 1116. The current stone structure was raised by Andrew Perrot in the 13th century. Thomas Carrewe was rewarded with the lordship in 1404, after defending the Castle during the Glyndwr rebellion. It was forfeited by Sir Edmund Mortimer, when he made common cause with Glyndwr after his capture in June of that year. By courtesy of Henry V, the lordship of Narberth reverted to Edmund Mortimer but he died childless in 1425. Narberth then reverted to royal possession. The Castle ruins were renovated and opened to the public in 2006.
|Carew Castle & Tidal Mill
Carew, Nr Tenby, SA70 8SLTel:01646 651782. An enormous stone castle in a picturesque location next to the mill pond, which powers the tide mill. The castle is ruined now, but was once a powerful stronghold and a grand Elizabethan mansion. The first fortification on the site was an Iron Age fort with 5 ditches. An earth and timber castle that was built here by the Norman Gerald of Windsor around 1100. He was given the site of Carew Castle in a dowry when he married Nest, the most beautiful woman in Wales. Owain ap Cadwgan, son of a Welsh Prince, was so overwhelmed by Nest's beauty that one night in 1109 he is said to have scaled the walls of Carew Castle and captured her. 6 years later, Gerald killed Owain in battle and retrieved his wife, along with two new children. When Gerald died the following year, Nest then married Stephen, Castellan of Cardigan, and had yet more children by him. A stone structure probably stood in its place in 1212, when for some reason, King John seized it for a short time when passing through Pembrokeshire on his Irish expedition. The castle remained in the hands of the Carew family who built the strong medieval castle that stands today. In about 1480, Sir Edmund Carew disposed of it to Rhys ap Thomas who set about converting it into a home worthy of an influential Tudor gentleman. The castle was granted to Sir John Perrot, by Queen Mary, in 1558 after the downfall of Rhys ap Thomas's grandson, who was executed for treason. Sir John converted the castle into an Elizabethan mansion but was himself convicted of treason in 1592 and died (of natural causes) in the Tower. Sir John's son, Sir Thomas Perrott (d.1594) and Lady Dorothy (1564-1619), younger daughter of the deceased Sir Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, were secretly married in July 1583 at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. For eloping with Dorothy, Sir Thomas was imprisoned in the Fleet prison; Dorothy's guardian William Cecil, Lord Burhgley, arranged his release. The castle was abandoned about 1686. It is now owned and run by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
|Haverfordwest Castle Haverfordwest, SA61 2EF. The shell of the castle dominates the small riverside town, which huddles around its base. Although it's impressive from the riverside, very little remains other than the outside wall. It's probably more interesting as an example of how castles can withstand repeated attempts to destroy them! It is first mentioned by Giraldus Cambrensis (See Manorbier Castle) as one of the places he visited in 1188 with Archbishop Baldwin. The castle, then, was only an earth and timber construction. The castle was probably a strong stone castle by 1220, when it withstood an attack by Llewelyn the Great, who had already burned the town. It was acquired by Queen Eleanor (wife of Edward I) in 1289, who immediately began building on a large scale. In the 14th century the castle was held by a series of owners, including Edward, the Black Prince, from 1359-67. In the hands of the crown from 1381-85, the castle was repaired. It was strong enough to repulse an attack in 1405 during Owain Glyndwr's War of Independence. By the 16th century, however, the castle was derelict, but was hastily re-fortified during the Civil War. It was occupied successively by Royalists and Parliamentarians, changing hands four times. Cromwell ordered the castle destroyed in 1648. Copies of his letters are on display in the town museum, which is inside the keep. The demolition was only partially succesful. Part of the castle was converted to a prison in the 18th century. This building now houses the County Archives.
|Lamphey Bishops Palace Lamphey, Nr Pembroke, SA71 5PETel: 01443 33 6000. Extensive remains of a lavish country retreat used by the bishops of St Davids, with buildings dating from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries. Lamphey was a seat of the last of the Welsh, pre-Norman, Bishops, according to Giraldus Cambrensis (See Manorbier Castle).Subsequent Norman Bishops embellished & extended the site considerably.They added The Old Hall, The West Hall and The Great Hall.After the Reformation, Lamphey passed into secular hands and was acquired by the Earl of Essex and his descendants but quickly fell into ruin. The palace was more recently acquired by CADW, the Welsh historic buildings agency, who have restored it.
|Manorbier Castle Manorbier, SA70 7SYTel: 01834 871394. he castle's basic plan is almost rectangular, and consists of a sturdy battlemented curtain wall with niches and powerful corner towers, impressive gatehouse, a complex hall-range, and a huge barn. The Norman knight Odo de Barri was granted the lands of Manorbier, Penally and Begelly in gratitude for his military help in conquering Pembrokeshire after 1003. He built an earth and timber fortification, which was gradually replaced with a stone structure. His fourth son was Gerald de Barri. Known commonly as Gerald of Wales (the great twelfth century scholar, known as Giraldus Cambrensis) who was born at the castle. Renowned today for his chronicles and descriptions of life in his time. The de Barris owned the castle until 1359, after which time ownership changed hands on several occasions, becoming property of the monarchy in the late 15th century. By 1630 Queen Elizabeth sold the castle (then considered "ruynous ... quite decayed) to the Bowen family of Trefloyne. The Philippses of Picton Castle bought the castle in 1670 who leased it to J.R. Cobb in the late 19th century. It was Cobb who undertook much of the restoration work. The castle only suffered two minor assaults: the first, in 1327, when Richard de Barri stormed Manorbier to claim what was rightfully his, and, then, in 1645 during the English Civil War, when the castle was seized and slighted by Cromwell's Roundheads. This was the birthplace of scholar and writer Gerald of Wales, whose major works remain in print, and other writers to find inspiration here included George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf. Opposite the castle, on the slopes of the wooded vale, is the equally impressive Norman church of St James.
Llawhaden, SA67 8HL Tel: 01443 33 6000. A fortified Bishops Palace rather than a castle, but impressively located on high ground overlooking The Vale of the Eastern Cleddau. This would have been a grand residence rather than a more functional fortification, but very castle like in appearance. Most likely, Llawhaden began as an earth and timber castle in the 12th century, the prize of the Norman Bishop Bernard. The defences were refortified with stone, in response to a siege led by the Welshman, the Lord Rhys, in the late 12th century. In the 13th century, Bishop Thomas Bek (1280-93) established and expanded the village, added the hall block, with its kitchen and stone-vaulted undercrofts, and the bishop's elaborately adorned chambers above. During the next century, the bishops added the twin-towered gatehouse, the most impressive structure at Llawhaden Castle. At the same time, a fine range of domestic buildings was added on the southern side of the castle including apartments and a chapel. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, Llawhaden was abandoned. It is now managed by CADW, the Welsh historic buildings agency. Today it is a ruin, but close by are two other historic sites a restored medieval hospice and Holgan Camp, an Iron Age fort.
Cilgerran, SA43 2SS Tel: 01239 621339. A small castle that is approximately triangular in shape. It was built in a commanding position, perched on a craggy promontory, high above The River Teifi. The current stone structure was probably built by William Marshall, son of the Earl of Pembroke in about 1223, after he captured a previous fortified structure from the Welsh. This earlier structure had been captured and recaptured several times in the previous 40 years. The castle changed hands first to the de Cantelupes, and then to the Hastings family during the 14th century. In the 1370s an invasion from France was feared, and Edward III ordered that the now rather derelict Cilgerran be refortified. After 1389, when the Hastings family died out, the castle passed to the Crown. It may have been captured and held for a short time in 1405 during Owain Glyndwr's War of Independence. In the Tudor period, the Vaughan family were granted the castle by Henry VII, and they continued to occupy it until the early 17th century. The artist Turner painted and sketched the ruined castle several times. It is now managed by CADW, the Welsh historic buildings agency.
|Picton Castle & Woodland Gardens
Rhos, Nr Haverfordwest. SA62 4AS Tel: 01437 751326. Built in the 13th Century and set in 40 acres of magnificent woodland and walled gardens, Picton Castle is a grand day out. Entrance to castle by guided tour. Look out for special events, including Family Fun Days, Outdoor Theatre, Garden Tours and Music Evenings. Until the late 11th century South-West Wales formed part of a Welsh kingdom named Deheubarth, which was ruled by Rhys ap Tewdwr. About Easter 1093 he was killed in battle near Brecon by Normans, who then undertook a general invasion of South Wales. in 1108 Henry I attempted to bolster up his position by settling Flemings in the area around Picton. It must have been about this time that the first castle was built. By the end of the 13th century Picton was in the hands of the Wogans, barons of Wiston. The current castle was built between 1295 and 1308 by Sir John Wogan. The Wogan line of Picton ended in an heiress who married Owain Dwnn, and the Dwnns in turn ended in an heiress, Jane, who in the late 15th century married Sir Thomas Philipps of Cilsant, esquire to the body of Henry VII. The Philippses have held Picton Castle since then. Big traceried windows replaced smaller ones in the hall about 1400. In 1697 Sir John Philipps made extensive alterations, as did Sir John Philipps between 1749 and 1752, when he remodelled the interior of the castle. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the Philippses of Picton Castle were the most powerful family in Pembrokeshire and their country seat reflects their status.
|All text content above courtesy of Visit Pembrokeshire
Market St, Laugharne, SA33 4SA. Think Laugharne, think Dylan Thomas. A bittersweet love affair between townsfolk and resident poet, conducted via prickly poems and supremely clever short stories. Think Laugharne, think castle too. The magnificent medieval castle turned Tudor mansion later became the perfect antidote to writers block. Both Dylan and author Richard Hughes put pen to paper in the castles garden summerhouse. Looking out over the estuary, like an eagle nesting on its eyrie, this impressive relic of ancient times demands you stand and stare. It will simply take your breath away. Brown as owls as Mr Thomas put it so eloquently in his Poem in October. Built in the 13th century by the de Brian family, probably atop an earlier Norman ringwork castle, the solid mansion we see before us is the lasting legacy of Sir John Perrot. It didnt fare too well during the Civil War. Once captured by Parliamentary forces after a siege, it was partially dismantled. Make time to stroll through the castles Victorian gardens before heading for the foreshore to take in the views. Pop in at the Boat House before you call in at one of Dylans watering holes for some liquid refreshment. Cheers. Laugharne Castle is one of eight sites chosen by Cadw as a hub for community projects in support of the Cultural Olympiad celebrations in Wales.
Laugharne Castle text content courtesy of CADW
|Carreg Cennen Castle
Tir-y-Castell Farm, Trap, Llandeilo, SA19 6TS Tel: 01558 822291. An attack on this castle must have presented a daunting prospect. Drop dead gorgeous and also very clever. A killer combination. Attackers scaling the steep cliffs might as well have signed their own death warrants. The chances of returning alive were slim. Carreg Cennens defences exploited the natural environment to great effect, glued to the sheer cliff-face on all sides. The stronghold led a chequered life however, falling into Welsh and English hands during the troubled medieval period. The first masonry castle on this site was probably the work of the Lord Rhys in the late 12th century, but it is more than likely John Giffard, handed the fortress by Edward I in 1283, that we should thank for the castle we see today. The end came in 1462 during the War of the Roses when the castle was vandalized by 500 Yorkist men brandishing not swords but picks and crowbars. It had been a Lancastrian hideout.
Carreg Cennen Castle text content courtesy of CADW
|Aberglasney Historic House & Garden
Aberglasney, Llangathen, SA32 8Q. Tel: 01558 668998. The Gardens Lost in Time - this house, set in the beautiful Tywi Valley of Carmarthenshire, and the gardens, which are one of the finest in Wales - have been an inspiration to poets since 1477. The story of Aberglasney spans many centuries, but, the house's origins are still shrouded in obscurity. With ten acres of garden including three walled gardens at the heart of which is the Cloister Garden, probably Aberglasney's most extraordinary feature, with three sides edged by giant stone arcaded structures supporting a parapet walkway. The fourth side made up by Aberglasney House itself, standing a little further away, creates a loosely formed rectangular garden. The side opposite the house forms a long arcaded walkway - the cryptoporticus or cloister after which the garden is named. This wonderful type of formal raised terrace was popular in its time - late Tudor and early Stewart era, but almost all have been lost to the ravages of time or taste, and this lovingly restored feature is one of the few surviving examples. The discovery of a silver Long Cross Penny dating back to Edward 1 make its origins possibly as early as the thirteenth century. Other gardens at Aberglasney are the Pool Garden, the Stream Garden and Pigeon House Wood, the Lower and Upper Walled Gardens which were once used to grow the fruit and vegetables required by the inhabitants of the mansion. The newest addition to the gardens is the Ninfarium (named after the amazing gardens at Ninfa, south of Rome), a unique garden created in 2005 within the ruined walls of the central rooms and courtyard of the mansion. The ruins were stabilised and covered with a huge glass atrium and planted with warm temperate and sub-tropical plants including Orchids, Palms, Magnolias and Cycads.
Castle Rd, Kidwelly, SA17 5BQ Tel: 0155 489 0104. We all get our moments. But if you want a truly medieval moment, catch a glimpse of Kidwelly shrouded in early morning mist. Spine-tingling stuff. So complete and well-preserved its a match for any of the great castles of Wales. The earliest castle on the site was Norman and made of earth and timber. The town itself is equally ancient, established around 1115 AD. By the time the 13th century had come along the castle had been rebuilt in stone, following the half-moon shape taken by the Normans. The Chaworth family built the compact but powerful inner ward and the castle was later modified by the earls (eventually dukes) of Lancaster. Kidwelly benefited from the latest thinking in castle design. It had a concentric design with one circuit of defensive walls set within another to allow the castle to be held even if the outer wall should fall. The great gatehouse was begun late in the 14th century but it wasnt completed until 1422, thanks in part to Owain Glyn D?rs efforts to stop it going up in the first place. As with any old building of this nature, access will always be an issue but in replacing the timber framed footbridge at the main entrance we have created a much more wheelchair-friendly environment. The works also threw up one other unexpected bonus in the shape of a mysterious underground passage!
Kidwelly Castle text content courtesy of CADW
Aberystwyth Castle New Promenade, Aberystwyth, Dyfed. 01970 612125. What little remains of the once great Aberystwyth Castle upon the summit of Pen Dinas hill is truly lovely to behold. Although little can be seen of the once magnificent Norman stone construction, a wonderful sense of history can still be felt throughout this now open-air site. Prior to Aberystwyth Castles Norman construction in the 12th Century, Pen Dinas Hilltop was the site of a remarkably sophisticated earth and timber Iron Age fortification that was to set the precedence of this site for centuries to come. In the early 15th Century Aberystwyth Castle was held by the famed Owain Glyndwr, and was later used as both a prison, and in the 17th Century, as a Royal Mint. Unfortunately, over the years, due to the surrounding rough coastal weather, and stone being removed to build other town structures, all that remains of Aberystwyth Castle today are the remnants of an inner and middle wall. The castle is open all year round, is free of charge, and now plays host to a pleasant grassy childrens play area as well as splendid views across Aberystwyth and the breathtaking Ceredigion Coastline.
Dinerth Castle Aberarth, Ceredigion Just a short walk from the picturesque seaside village of Aberarth lie the ruins of the medieval castle of Dinerth, situated atop a majestic hillside heavily populated by a woodland of ancient oaks, beeches and a diverse array of native plant life. This timber castle was originally built on this site in the early 12th Century, and throughout the following ninety years held many occupants and was indeed destroyed and rebuilt a total of three times. Dinerth Castle met its final demise in the early 13th Century when it is believed that it was destroyed by its then current owner to prevent it from falling into the possession of a rival. Although very little can be seen today of the historic medieval timber castle of Dinerth, three individual raised areas can still be distinguished to allow visitors a glimpse into what once was, and the resident ancient woodland is truly lovely to behold. Enjoy walking around this pretty area of rural Wales, but bear in mind that there are no toilet or refreshment facilities on site, these can however be found along with many other enjoyable attractions in the popular and vibrant Welsh town of Lampeter just a short car journey away.
Upton Castle Grounds & Gardens (near Cosheston). Managed and maintained by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, these gardens are home to more than 250 species of trees and shrubs. They occupy a secluded wooded valley which runs down to a tributary of the Carew River.
Tudor Merchant's House (Tenby). This 15th- century National Trust property is the town's oldest furnished residence, authentically recreating the style in which a successful merchant of the Tudor age would have lived. It is virtually on the doorstep of the FBM Holidays headquarters.
St Govan's Chapel. This tiny and remarkable building is hidden in a fissure in the cliffs of St Govan's Head, close to the car park. It nestles at the bottom of narrow stone steps and occupies the site of a 5th-century hermit's cell, though the age of the chapel is unknown.
Colby Woodland Garden (near Amroth). In a secluded woodland setting, this beautiful National Trust attraction hosts one of the finest collections of rhododendrons and azaleas in Wales, and open wooded pathways make for very pleasant walks through the valley. The National Trust also owns and protects many of the most important sections of the Pembrokeshire coast, including Barafundle beach, Marloes, St David's, Porthgain and Dinas.
Foel Drygarn. A Bronze Age hill fort in the wild Preseli Hills, which are rich with legendary tales of King Arthur and the more solid remains left by early settlers, such as Neolithic burial chambers, Bronze Age cairns, stone circles, standing stones and Iron Age forts.
Gors Fawr. More than 70 feet in diameter, this stone circle near Mynachlogddu in the Preseli Hills comprises 16 stones and 2 large outlying pointer stones.
Pentre Ifan. A Neolithic burial chamber with a large capstone in a very evocative setting near Newport.
St David's Cathedral. The most religious monument in Wales, dedicated to the principality's patron saint and built on a secluded site chosen for the original 6th-century church. Much of the cathedral as it stands today dates from the late 12th century and has been extended and altered over the centuries, and the cloisters have been restored only recently. Food is served in the refectory and there is a Cloister Gallery.
Castell Henllys Iron Age fort. Another historic National Park Authority attraction, this is set in a stunning hilltop location between Newport and Cardigan in the north of the county. The authentic roundhouses have been recreated exactly where they originally stood more than 2,000 years ago after archaeologists uncovered the old foundations. Well worth a visit, this fascinating and award-winning slice of real history is an education in itself.
Carew Control Tower. Less than a mile from Carew Castle, at Carew Cheriton, is a recreated RAF control tower. The airfield here saw active service in the Second World War.
Carreg Samson (near Abercastle). A coastal Neolithic cromlech in a setting which enjoys tremendous panoramic views over land and sea.
Cardigan Castle. The ruins that remain date from 1240, which means that the very first National Eisteddfod, in 1176, must have been held in an earlier castle. Today the eisteddfod is the major cultural event in the Welsh calendar and the largest festival of its kind in Europe. The present castle was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell during the years of the English Civil Wars in the 17th century. In the 19th century the town of Cardigan was one of the most important ports in Wales, with a thriving shipbuilding industry and 300 ships registered here. Export warehouses lined the busy waterfront and emigrant ships sailed to the USA and Canada. This prosperity faded with the combined effects of the development of ever-larger ships, the silting up of the Teifi estuary and the coming of the railways.
Devil's Bridge & Mynach Falls. In a very picturesque setting at the head of the Rheidol Valley, among the wooded hills of Plynlimon, Devil's Bridge is one of the most famous and spectacular beauty spots in Wales. The bridge which gives the small village its name is in fact three bridges stacked in a pile! Bottom of the stack is the original and simple medieval stone structure, built it is thought by either the Knights Templars or the monks of Strata Florida Abbey. On top of this is another stone bridge, dating from the early or mid 18th century, and on top of that is the present iron road bridge, spanning 60 feet, built in 1901 and modernised in 1983. Below Devil's Bridge is the River Rheidol, into which tumbles the River Mynach, crashing down from the narrow gorge 300 feet above and creating a much-photographed waterfall. Devil's Bridge is also famous as the eastern terminus of the wonderful Rheidol Valley Railway (to Aberystwyth).
Strata Florida Abbey. About 7 miles north-east of Tregaron, which is the most easterly town in Ceredigion and close to the source of the Teifi, is the site of the 12th-century Cistercian abbey which in its day was a centre of great influence and learning. Very little remains apart from the magnificent west door - a highly decorated Celtic-Romanesque arch. The abbey was founded in 1164 by monks from Whitland Abbey, in Carmarthenshire, and their business enterprise was very impressive: successful sheep and cereal farmers, owners and operators of corn and woollen mills, brewers and pub landlords, fish breeders and accomplished fishermen, silver and lead miners, wool exporters, and road and bridge builders. Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries closed Strata Florida in1539. Many of the last native Welsh princes are buried here. There is a small museum on site.
National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth). This magnificent classical building stands on a hillside overlooking the town and coastline. It is an absolute treasure trove - a vast and priceless collection of books, manuscripts, maps, pictures, letters, public records and many other items representing a nation's heritage. For example, you can see the remarkable Black Book of Carmarthen (the oldest known manuscript in the Welsh language), the earliest complete text of The Mabinogion (a collection of ancient Welsh folk tales), the first atlas of Wales and the earliest known Welsh photograph.