Medieval castles in Wales

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion located in the city centre of Cardiff. The original motte and bailey castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort. The castle was commissioned either by William the Conqueror or by Robert Fitzhamon, and formed the heart of the medieval town of Cardiff and the Marcher Lord territory of Glamorgan. In t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Cardiff, United Kingdom

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle is a medieval fortification constructed by Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century. Surrounded by extensive artificial lakes – considered by historian Allen Brown to be 'the most elaborate water defences in all Britain' – it occupies around 30 acres and is the largest castle in Wales and the second-largest castle in the United Kingdom after Windsor Castle. It is famous for having introduced co ...
Founded: 1268 | Location: Caerphilly, United Kingdom

Aberystwyth Castle

Aberystwyth Castle was built in response to the First Welsh War in the late 13th century, replacing an earlier Motte and bailey castle located a mile to the south. The current castle was rebuilt in its current location by Edward I of England in 1277 after the end of the first war against Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Llywelyn the Great"s grandson. The Welsh took the castle in 1282 at the start of the 1282 war and burned both ...
Founded: 1277 | Location: Aberystwyth, United Kingdom

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle is a late medieval castle located just north of the village of Raglan. The modern castle dates from between the 15th and early 17th centuries, when the successive ruling families of the Herberts and the Somersets created a luxurious, fortified castle, complete with a large hexagonal keep, known as the Great Tower or the Yellow Tower of Gwent. Surrounded by parkland, water gardens and terraces, the castle was ...
Founded: 1432 | Location: Raglan, United Kingdom

Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain. Located above cliffs on the River Wye, construction began in 1067 under the instruction of the Norman Lord William FitzOsbern. Originally known as Striguil, it was the southernmost of a chain of castles built in the Welsh Marches, and with its attached lordship took the name of the adjoining market town in about the 14th century. I ...
Founded: 1067 | Location: Chepstow, United Kingdom

Powis Castle

Powis Castle is a medieval castle, fortress and grand country house near Welshpool. The seat of the Herbert family, Earls of Powis, the castle is known for its formal gardens and for its interiors, the former having been described as one of the most important in Wales. The castle and garden are under the care of the National Trust. Powis Castle is a Grade I listed building. The present castle was built in the 13th centur ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Welshpool, United Kingdom

Newport Castle

Newport Castle was built in the 14th century, probably by Hugh de Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester or his son-in-law, Ralph, Earl of Stafford, with the purpose of managing the crossing of the River Usk. The castle was used as administrative offices for the collection of rent and dues from local tenants, and was also a residence and a garrison. In 1402 it was sacked by Owain Glyndŵr. It was in disrepair by 1522, and was tak ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Newport, United Kingdom

Tenby Castle

Tenby Castle was a fortification standing on a headland separated by an isthmus from the town of Tenby. The castle, which was sited on a rocky promontory, was founded by the Normans during their invasion of West Wales in the 12th century. A stone tower was built on the headland's highest point which was protected by a curtain wall. The walls had a gateway and several small towers on the landward side. A lesser sea wall su ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tenby, United Kingdom

Hay Castle

Hay Castle is a medieval fortification and 17th-century mansion house in the small town of Hay-on-Wye, Wales. Originally constructed as part of the Norman invasion of Wales, the castle was designed as a ringwork overlooking the town in either the late-11th or early-12th centuries. It was rebuilt in stone around 1200 by the de Braose family and then had a turbulent history, being attacked and burnt several times during the ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Hay-on-Wye, United Kingdom

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457. Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only mad ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Pembroke, United Kingdom

Swansea Castle

Swansea Castle is located in the city centre of Swansea. It was founded by Henry de Beaumont in 1107 as the caput of the lordship of Gower. A timber castle existed in Swansea in 1116, when it was recorded as being attacked by Welsh forces who destroyed the outer defences. The castle was besieged in 1192 by Rhys ap Gruffydd, Prince of Deheubarth. Despite 10 weeks of starvation the castle was saved. After various other uns ...
Founded: 1107 | Location: Swansea, United Kingdom

Kidwelly Castle

Kidwelly Castle is a Norman castle overlooking the River Gwendraeth. The origin of this surname traces back to when it was spelled Cygweli which means 'swan.' The present remains of the castle date from the early 12th century. Created as a defence against the Welsh, the castle fell to the Welsh several times in the twelfth century. Later in its history, it was unsuccessfully besieged by forces of Owain Glyndŵr ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kidwelly, United Kingdom

Caldicot Castle

Caldicot Castle is an extensive stone medieval castle, built near the site of Harold Godwinson"s former Saxon castle by the Norman earls of Hereford from about 1100. Humphrey III de Bohun was the probable builder, in about 1170, of the stone keep and curtain walls of the present-day castle. The Bohun family held the manor and castle of Caldicot for more than two centuries, over eight generations. In 1381, Essex was ...
Founded: c. 1170 | Location: Caldicot, United Kingdom

Carreg Cennen Castle

Carreg Cennen Castle near the River Cennen has been in a ruinous state since 1462 and is now in the care of Cadw, the Welsh Government historic environment service. Human remains found at the site date human activity here back to prehistoric times. The site may well have also been an Iron Age hillfort. Roman coins from the 1st and 2nd century have also been found, although it is unlikely the Romans occupied this site on ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Llandeilo, United Kingdom

Carew Castle

The site of Carew castle was used for military purposes extends back at least 2000 years. The famous Carew family, who take their name from this site, still own the castle and lease it to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park for administration. The castle stands on a limestone bluff overlooking the Carew inlet, part of the tidal estuary that makes up the Milford Haven Waterway. The site must have been recognised as s ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Carew, United Kingdom

Laugharne Castle

The original Laugharne castle was established by 1116 as the castle of Robert Courtemain. The castle was also the meeting place of Henry II of England and Rhys ap Gruffudd in 1171–1172, where they agreed a treaty of peace. When Henry II of England died in 1189 the castle, along with St Clears and Llansteffan, were seized by Rhys ap Gruffudd of Deheubarth in the same year. The castle may have been burnt down at that time ...
Founded: 1116 | Location: Laugharne, United Kingdom

White Castle

White Castle was established by the Normans in the wake of the invasion of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. Possibly commissioned by William fitz Osbern, the Earl of Hereford, it comprised three large earthworks with timber defences. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place and in response King Stephen brought together White Castle and its sister fortifications of Grosmont and Sken ...
Founded: c. 1067 | Location: Llantilio Crossenny, United Kingdom

Carmarthen Castle

Carmarthen Castle  was first built by Walter, Sheriff of Gloucester in the early 1100s. It was captured and destroyed on several occasions before being rebuilt in stone during the 1190s. The castle was captured by Owain Glyndŵr in 1405. Henry VII"s father died at Carmarthen Castle in 1456. During the Wars of the Roses the castle fell to William Herbert and, during the Civil War, was captured by Parliamentary forces ...
Founded: 1190s | Location: Carmarthen, United Kingdom

Ogmore Castle

Ogmore Castle construction might have begun in 1106. It was in use until the 19th century for a range of purposes, including a court of justice and a prison, but is now a substantial set of remains and a local landmark. The earthworks were steeply banked and oval in shape, enclosing an area of 50 m in length by 35 m in width. The inner ward was flat and constructed of timber structures. After completion of the ringwork, ...
Founded: 1106 | Location: Bridgend, United Kingdom

Abergavenny Castle

Abergavenny Castle was established by the Norman lord Hamelin de Balun c. 1087. It was built to overlook the River Usk and its valley, and so guard against incursions into the lowland areas south and east of the town by the Welsh from the hills to the north and west. The castle was then the scene of an infamous massacre. Over Christmas 1175 De Braose called Seisyll and his son Geoffrey to his castle, together with othe ...
Founded: 1087 | Location: Abergavenny, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre

Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.

Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.

Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.