Newcastle Emlyn Castle

Newcastle Emlyn, United Kingdom

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.

The 13th-century castle of Newcastle Emlyn was mentioned in the chronicle Brut y Tywysogion, as having been seized by Llywelyn the Great (Welsh: Llywelyn ap Iorwerth), but this was probably an older structure. The stone building was probably built by Maredudd ap Rhys around 1240, and if this is correct, it is one of the few castles in West Wales to be built by the Welsh out of stone. In 1287, his son Rhys ap Maredudd rebelled against the English and was besieged at Dryslwyn Castle, and when that stronghold eventually fell, fled to Newcastle Emlyn Castle. The English forces hauled their siege engine from Dryslwyn to Cardigan with the help of forty oxen, and then continued up the Teifi Valley to Newcastle Emlyn, now needing sixty oxen to haul it; the castle managed to hold out for some time but eventually fell and passed into English hands, bringing Rhys ap Maredudd's revolt to an end.

Newcastle Emlyn Castle is one of 26 castles, mostly in Wales, that were owned by Edward, the Black Prince. He became the owner as part of the estates acquired when he was made Prince of Wales in 1343. Under his ownership, the castle passed through a period of stability, and one custodian, Richard de la Bere, was in post for nineteen years.

Newcastle Emlyn Castle was captured by the Welsh in 1403 as part of the Glyndŵr Rising. The building was repaired in the 15th century, and was documented as being in good condition in the early 17th century. The castle also played a part in the English Civil War when it changed hands several times and was besieged in 1645 by parliamentary troops.


The inner ward is triangular and is approached through the twin-towered gatehouse. The towers on either side of the gateway are semi-octagonal on the outside but rectangular inside. There is a well-preserved vaulted cellar under the north tower. The upper floor of the gatehouse was accessed by an external staircase on the east wall next to the north tower, and this may have also provided access to the walkway on the curtain wall which contoured round the site but of which little trace remains today. Latrines on both sides of the gatehouse towers may have been added later, and larger windows were added by Sir Rhys ap Thomas around 1500. A square tower lies just south of the gatehouse and remnants of this are still visible. The great hall was nearby, as was an adjoining chapel and a kitchen and larder, and another building seems to have been present to the east of the gatehouse, but none of these buildings remains visible above ground today.



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Founded: c. 1240
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gareth & Linda (9 months ago)
There is a Pay and Display carpark, but spaces are limited. Not much is left of the castle and the ruins leave a lot to your imagination, but notice boards dotted around give plenty of information to help you with this. There is a path that allows you to walk around the outer grounds of the castle and the river is relaxing to watch from one of the number of seating areas provided in the grounds. Plenty of dog walkers use the grounds, which is a good place to allow your dogs to run around. For bird watchers, take your binoculars and enjoy the numerous birds that inhabit the area. The only downside is the grass area that when cut the clippings are left and cover the path, which can be slippery when wet.
Rebekah J Stone (11 months ago)
On the doorstep of the little town, ideal for young families and low mobility. Some paid parking right by or park a little further out around town and walk there. Lovely views, good signage giving historical info. Climb a little up to the castle ruins, and take the path down and round the foot of the castle for a riverside walk via the picnic area. See if you can find the weir, the human-made fish pass and the wooden beam footbridge hidden in the shrubs.
Marie Cook (12 months ago)
A quick stop here left me a bit sad.. This castle ruin is steeped in history, yet very scruffy.. There was dog mess everywhere,, all the signs where weather worn, the light to shine on the castle front was broken. Granted not a lot to see, but still the first stone castle to be built by a Welsh man,, This could be so much better..
Tim Davies (14 months ago)
Although little remains above ground some useful interpretation and marked walks mean you can envisage the turbulent history and enjoy the green tranquility, with a healthy dollop of Welsh legend!
Carlton Kmt (2 years ago)
A great place to visit. I enjoyed walking around the castle grounds and often try to imagine what life was like here in those days.
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