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

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

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

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

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

Manorbier Castle

Manorbier Castle  is a Norman castle founded in the late 11th century. The land was granted to Odo de Barri, a Norman knight. Initially, he constructed a motte-and-bailey castle on the site which had a wooden keep defended by a palisade and earthworks embankments. In the early part of the 12th century, William de Barri, Odo's son, used locally quarried Limestone to strengthen the fortification. In the castle's history, ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Manorbier, United Kingdom

Cardigan Castle

Cardigan Castle overlooks the River Teifi in Cardigan, Wales. The first motte-and-bailey castle (ca. 1093) was built a mile away from the present site, probably about the time of the founding of the town by Roger de Montgomery, a Norman baron. The castle was later recaptured by the Normans, and was held for Earl Roger of Hertford. In 1166 it was captured by Rhys ap Gruffydd, who rebuilt it in stone in 1171. In 1176 the f ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Cardigan, United Kingdom

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran Castle (Welsh: Castell Cilgerran) is a 13th-century ruined castle located in Cilgerran, near Cardigan. The first castle on the site was thought to have been built by Gerald of Windsor around 1110–1115, and it changed hands several times over the following century between English and Welsh forces. In the hands of William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, the construction of the stone castle began after 1223. Af ...
Founded: 1223 | Location: Cardigan, United Kingdom

Llandovery Castle

Llandovery Castle is a late thirteenth-century ruin which occupies a knoll overlooking the River Towy and the land surrounding it. The Normans built a castle in the current location in the early twelfth century and this was rebuilt in stone. It was burnt in the early sixteenth century and never repaired. A Norman knight, Richard Fitz Pons, received the lordship of Cantref Bychan in 1116 and he probably began construction ...
Founded: 1116 | Location: Llandovery, United Kingdom

Oystermouth Castle

The first Oystermouth castle was founded by William de Londres of Ogmore Castle soon after 1106 following the capture of Gower by the Normans. In 1116 the Welsh of Deheubarth retook the Gower Peninsula and forced William to flee his castle which was put to the torch. The castle was rebuilt soon afterwards, but was probably destroyed again in 1137 when Gower was once more retaken by the princes of Deheubarth. The ...
Founded: 1106 | Location: The Mumbles, United Kingdom

Coity Castle

Coity Castle in Glamorgan, Wales, is a Norman castle built by Sir Payn 'the Demon' de Turberville, one of the legendary Twelve Knights of Glamorgan supposed to have conquered Glamorgan under the leadership of Robert FitzHamon (d. 1107), Lord of Gloucester. The castle began as a late 11th-century ringwork. A rectangular stone keep and the main curtain wall were added by the Normans in the 12th century, under the de Turber ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Bridgend, United Kingdom

Dryslwyn Castle

Drysllwyn Castle stands on high ground overlooking the Tywi Valley with extensive views. It was built in about the 1220s by one of the princes of the kingdom of Deheubarth, and changed hands several times in the struggles between the Welsh and English over the ensuing centuries. It is considered one of the most important remaining structures built by a Welsh chieftain. Drysllwyn was seized by Owain Glyndŵr in the summer ...
Founded: 1220s | Location: Llandeilo, United Kingdom

Newcastle Emlyn Castle

Newcastle Emlyn Castle is a ruined castle strategically located on a steep-sided promontory overlooking the River Teifi. It was probably built by the Welsh lord Maredudd ap Rhys in about 1240. It changed hands many times over the years in battles between the Welsh and English, and during the English Civil War. The remains of the gatehouse and adjacent towers, and some fragments of wall are all that remain visible now. Th ...
Founded: c. 1240 | Location: Newcastle Emlyn, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.