Castles and Princes
Carreg Cennen Castle
The Marketing & Tourism section of Carmarthenshire County Council has secured £900,000 to deliver a regional Cadw heritage tourism project that will combine and depict the two intertwined histories of the Princes of Deheubarth and Lords of the Southern March into one unique timeline. Castles and Princes has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government’s Target Match Fund (TMF) with over £500,000 going into Carmarthenshire itself and the remainder assisting projects in Swansea and Pembrokeshire. The Heritage Tourism Project will run until December 2014.
As well as benefitting the County Council run castle in Carmarthen other key locations in our County are Dinefwr Castle and Carreg Cennen Castle. The Princes of Deuheubarth had their seat of power here in Carmarthenshire in the The National Trust’s Dinefwr Park.
The Castles and Princes project is part of Cadw’s £19 million Heritage Tourism Project which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Castles and Princes is part of a pan Wales project worth £19million, which will promote Wales as a cultural destination. The project will also help open Wales’s outstanding heritage to a wider audience by making it more enjoyable both for visitors and for people who live in Wales.
Follow the trail...
Swansea Castle’s history includes the story of medieval Welsh warrior William Cragh, known as "William the Scabby", who was apparently miraculously brought back to life after being executed within sight of the castle in 1290 for killing 13 men. Swansea Castle, which overlooked the sea and commanded a major crossing point on the River Tawe originally of earth and timber construction, was strategically placed to spread Norman power. It was built by the Normans just 40 years after William the Conqueror’s famous victory over King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
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. Carreg Cennen’s defences exploited the natural environment to great effect, glued to a sheer cliff-face. The stronghold led a chequered life however, falling into Welsh and English hands during the troubled medieval period. Carreg Cennen Castle had a long and eventful history, having changed ownership numerous times.
A magical land of power and influence for more than 2,000 years, Dinefwr Park and Castle is an iconic place in the history of Wales. Two forts are evidence of a dominant Roman presence. The powerful Lord Rhys held court at Dinefwr and influenced decisions in Wales.The visionaries, George and Cecil Rice designed the superb 18th-century landscape that you see today.The 'hands-on' Newton House gives visitors an atmospheric circa 1912 experience. Exhibitions on the first floor tell Dinefwr's story and inspire visitors to explore the castle and park.
The ruins of Carmarthen castle can be found overlooking the river Towy from Notts Square and along Castle Hill. Carmarthen castle was once one of the largest castles in Wales and was the centre of Norman government in medieval south and west Wales, originally built by the Normans during the 11th century, the castle endured a series of attacks during the 12th and 13th centuries resulting in significant reconstruction and the addition of defensive features including the stone curtain wall. It last saw action in 1642-45, after which it was partly demolished. The remaining buildings continued to be used as a gaol. The gaol was rebuilt by John Nash in 1789-92 but in turn this was demolished in the 1930’s to make way for the present County Hall.
The castle stands on a low cliff by the side of the Coran stream, overlooking the estuary of the river Taf. Laugharne may be the castle mentioned in about 1116 as the castle of Robert Courtemain, but the first definite reference to the Norman castle is in 1189 when, after the death of King Henry II, it was seized by the Lord Rhys, prince of Deheubarth. It attracted further hostility from the Welsh in 1215 when it was destroyed by Llywellyn The Great and later, in 1257, when it was again taken and burnt.
Pembroke Castle has a long and fascinating history, for it was around 1093 that Arnulf de Montgomery built the small inner bailey standing at the end of the promontory. Only a few years later the castle withstood a long siege by the Welsh, although its defenders were near starvation. The late 12th century keep is both an outstanding feature and architectural novelty, for it has a massive cylindrical tower with an unusual stone dome. All the rooms are circular and the keep is nearly 80 ft high. It was the work of William Marshall, son in law of Strongbow, conqueror of Ireland and the man responsible for the wholesale reconstruction of the castle in stone in the late 12th/early 13th centuries.
The Castles & Princes project has been part funded by the European Regional Development Fund & Welsh Government in collaboration with CADW & Carmarthenshire County Council.