Dinefwr Castle

Llandeilo, United Kingdom

Dinefwr Castle lies on a ridge on the northern bank of the Tywi, with a steep drop of one hundred feet to the river. Dinefwr was the chief seat of the Kingdom of Deheubarth.

The present castle is entered via a fortified entrance protected by a restored length of battlement. The short path from the car park gives an extensive view of the Towy valley. The door admits the visitor to the main space enclosed by the walls, from which there are several stairs to the main battlements and towers. A narrow spiral staircase leads to a high tower, which gives extensive views of the deer park to the north and the Tywi valley to the south and west. The castle keep is entered via the cellar at its base, but access to the circular walkway at the top can only be made via the battlement walk. Details such as the well and several garderobes are visible in the structure. There is a path around the base of the main structure to the north.


Tradition relates that a castle was first constructed on this site by Rhodri the Great, but no archaeological remains have been dated from this period. Dinefwr later became the chief seat of Rhodri's grandson Hywel Dda, first ruler of Deheubarth and later king of most of Wales. Rhys ap Gruffydd, ruler of Deheubarth from 1155 to 1197, is thought to have rebuilt the castle. Giraldus Cambrensis tells a story about a plan by King Henry II of England to assault the castle during a campaign against Rhys. One of Henry's most trusted followers was sent on reconnaissance, guided by a local Welsh cleric, who was asked to lead him to the castle by the easiest route, but instead took the most difficult route he could find, ending the performance by stopping to eat grass with the explanation that this was the diet of the local people in times of hardship. The planned attack was duly abandoned.

Rhys ap Gruffydd also built the spectacular castle at Carreg Cennen, about four miles away to the south. It is not visible from Dynefwr, but Dryslwyn Castle can just be seen on a hill blocking the Tywi valley to the south-west. Rhys also founded two religious houses during this period. Talley Abbey was the first Premonstratensian abbey in Wales, while Llanllyr was a Cistercian nunnery, only the second nunnery to be founded in Wales and the first to prosper.

On Rhys ap Gruffydd's death the castle passed to his son Rhys Gryg, and the earliest parts of the present castle are thought to derive from this period. Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd was now extending his influence to this area, and Rhys, finding himself unable to resist, dismantled the castle. Llywelyn however had it restored and held it until his death in 1240. In 1255 Llywelyn the Last gave Dinefwr to Rhys Fychan, then later gave it to Maredudd ap Rhys before later returning it to Rhys Fychan. Maredudd now allied himself to King Edward I of England, and his son Rhys ap Maredudd helped Edward capture Dinefwr in 1277. This Rhys had apparently been promised Dinefwr in return for his help, but Edward did not keep his promise and had Rhys executed in 1291.

The castle now came into English hands, though it is recorded to have been burnt during the rebellion of Llywelyn Bren in 1316. In 1317 it was given to Hugh Despenser, the king's favourite. It was unsuccessfully besieged by the forces of Owain Glyndŵr in 1403. Towards the end of the 15th century the castle was held by Sir Rhys ap Thomas, who carried out extensive rebuilding. In 1531 his grandson Rhys ap Gruffydd was executed for treason and the castle was confiscated by the crown, though the family were later able to recover it. In 1660 Newton House was built nearby and the castle keep modified as a summer house. The remains of the large windows can be seen at the top of the keep, but it burned down in the 18th century. The castle is now owned by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and managed by CADW on their behalf.

Public access

Visitors who wish to see the castle and are driving there, may park in the town and walk up to the Castle using the free Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales access route. If visitors walk or park in the National Trust site and are not National Trust, Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales or Cadw members there is a site entrance charge. There is a small free car park near the castle for disabled badge holders, but it can only be reached by a rough track through a field. Permission can be gained at the National Trust office to drive over the field up to the castle, weather and conditions permitting.



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

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jonathan Wilson (2 years ago)
Stunning place, absolutely a must to visit, the staff were fabulous and highly knowledgeable.
Charlotte Gibson (2 years ago)
Great little castle with panoramic views. Set in beautiful parkland. Well worth a visit conjunction with the Dynevor Estate. Great day out for the family
Winee Thomas (2 years ago)
Love the old history. So beautiful, I'm so lucky to be here , outdoor local.Thank you mother nature xxxx
Armelle Dignam (2 years ago)
Absolutely love it here, plenty of different walks to choose from and plenty of space for a picnic.
Sebastian Cavill-Frysol (RapscallionEsq) (2 years ago)
Do you like Castles? Do you like beautiful views (even on 'bad' days)? Do you like lots of information about the historical location you're visiting? Well 2 out of 3 ain't bad! The castle is splendid with a fair amount of the castle still extant. There's plenty to explore, run around in and climb (steps and stairs up and down and all around). It's not got tall towers left but the old keep is still there from which you can see up and down the towi valley and sunsets up there are quite something to behold. There are information boards about but are not all well maintained, however Newton House in the same grounds has plenty of information in a dedicated section to the grounds and castle although the house is a separate attraction within the grounds its well worth its own price of admission (operated separately to the castle and grounds, as such is a different review) The grounds are superb and worth a full afternoon to themselves, with lots of little locations around and about to find and plenty of woods to explore. Parking is currently charged by the car and there is lots of space, free parking can be found in the town or a cheaper council car park and the grounds are free to walk ins. However! It's a damnable long drive to walk and the parking price helps with the upkeep of house and grounds so is worth the not usually expensive price. We'll worth a visit to the grounds and the short trek up to the castle. If you enjoy hikes a walking this place has plenty of options and places for you to trek round but won't offer any great challenge. If you're less keen on the hiking of have smaller children, don't worry the routes to the ice house, church, pond and castle are all well posted and on convenient unpaved roads that aren't challenging but are quite rewarding and there's plenty of shade in the woods and round about. There's also a cafe attached to the house and a small visitors centre for refreshments and rest. Between the grounds, house and cafe the area is worth a day out!
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