Carreg Cennen Castle

Llandeilo, United Kingdom

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 a permanent basis.

The first masonry castle was probably built by the Lord Rhys, who died in 1197. In 1277 it was captured by the English, recaptured by the Welsh in 1282 and in English hands again the following year. In 1283 Edward I granted the castle to John Giffard, the commander of the English troops at Cilmeri where Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (The Last) was killed. Giffard was probably responsible for the remodelled castle we see today.

In early July 1403 Owain Glyndŵr, together with 800 men, attacked Carreg Cennen, but, although inflicting severe damage to the walls, failed to take the castle. It was defended against Glyndwr's forces, who laid siege to it for several months, with Owain himself present, by a man who was to marry one of Glyndwr's daughters just a few years later, Sir John Scudamore of Herefordshire.

The damage was repaired in 1409. However, in 1461, during the Wars of the Roses, Carreg Cennen became a Lancastrian stronghold. A Yorkist force subsequently captured the castle and set about demolishing it with a team of 500 men.

Today, the castle remains privately owned by Margaret and Bernard Llewellyn, daughter and son in law of the late Mr. Gwilim Morris. The castle is now maintained by Cadw. It is open daily.

Architecture

Carreg Cennen Castle consists of a strongly-walled and towered square court. There are six towers, all of different shapes, including a great twin-towered gatehouse on the north side. A range of apartments on the east side of the inner court, or ward, includes a hall, kitchens, chapel, and the so-called 'King's Chamber'. This chamber has a well-carved stone fireplace, and traceried windows, one facing into the courtyard, the other outwards commanding impressive views to the south. These date from the late 13th or early 14th century.

The castle is protected by limestone cliffs to the south and rock-cut ditches to the west. To the north and east there is an outer ward, and within that a barbican, gatehouse. Three drawbridges over deep pits protected the access to the inner ward. In the south-east corner of the inner ward steps lead to a vaulted passage and a natural cave beneath the castle, which leads deep into the hillside. A freshwater spring rises in the cave, which would have been a useful supplement during dry weather when the castle would have had difficulty harvesting rainwater in filling the rainwater cisterns. The castle is under the care of Cadw, who have stabilised and, to a limited extent, restored some of the remains. The castle is accessed via a steep climb up the hill from Castell Farm, which is near the car park. A large threshing barn has been converted to tearooms and a shop, whilst the majority of the farm buildings, around a traditional farmyard, retain their agricultural purposes. Since 1982 these have been part of a farm park with rare and unusual breeds of cows and sheep. This castle did not have a keep as such; the gatehouse acted as the castle's keep because this was the tallest part of the Castell Carreg.

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Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Adrian Taylor (2 years ago)
One of the most interesting castles in Wales due to its prominent position and amazing views. Perched on the top of a hill with 360⁰ views around the surrounding valleys and mountains, its a place well worth visiting. There is a free car park which can get busy, then a footpath up to the castle. You walk through a farm which has a cafe, then up the hill where halfway is where you pay. Fortunately cards are accepted as well as cash. It's about an hour to visit and explore the castle and area, a little more time if you wish to venture down in to the cave below the castle.
Chris Kinnersley (2 years ago)
Nice little walk up to the castle with great views. Must have been an amazing sight in its day perched high on its rocky outcrop. Loved the passage down to the 'cave' which gets pitch black! Take a torch if you can.
Jane Daniels (2 years ago)
The castle is well worth a visit. The setting, views and general ambience are very special indeed. Recommend the Red Castle circular walking trail which starts at the castle and is a lovely walk through limestone country. Along the way you get to see Carreg Cennen from many angles so you appreciate it's strategic importance. The castle cafe and gift shop are definitely worth a visit. Good food!
Robert Morgan (2 years ago)
Really really enjoyed visiting this castle for the first time since I was a child. Beautiful castle and surrounding countryside. Parking was good, plenty of space. Excellent facilities, great cafe and food. Could have spent a fortune in the gift shop, it was well stocked. All of the staff were super and really kind. Good for dogs on leads. Had a great day here. If you go down into the cave, be aware it is slippery in places. Can't wait to go back. Thank you for the extra coffee ??
Peter Minett (2 years ago)
Brilliant castle. I have been wanting to go for years and it did not disappoint. Great cafe by the entrance , stiff walk up a rocky hill.and s superbly located castle. Don't miss the tunnel and cave over the cliff down to the river and the view over the romantic Black mountain in the distance.
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