Carmarthenshire is full of castles, with history of princes, legend and heritage. Here are some you can visit as a complete destination or part of a walking routes that take in a castle.
Built around 1105 the castle occupies its perch on an outcrop above the River Tywi. The original motte was augmented by stone defenses in the early 13th century. The curtain wall was added later in that century, and a gatehouse and south-west tower in the 14th century. Carmarthen was sacked by Owain Glyndwr in 1405, and later passed to Edmund Tewdwr, father of the future Henry VII. In the late 18th century the castle was converted to use as a prison.
Carreg Cennen Castle Tir Y Castell Farm, Trapp, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, SA19 6UA, Wales
Probably the most dramatically sited of all the Welsh castles on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is a stiff walk to the top, but certainly worth the effort. It is possible to hire torches in the shop at the bottom, which if you want to explore the caves underneath are a must. This is a privately owned castle due to an oversight in ownership during the disillusion of the monasteries by Henry 8th
Built around 1250 by one of the princes of the kingdom of Debheubarth 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 and is a Grade I listed building. The castle is an open site five miles west of Llandeilo, B4297 from A40 or B4300. Cadw. The views from the top across the Tywi Valley are spectacular and you can see over to Paxton Tower. There are picnic benches next to the river at the car park at the bottom.
The castle is sited on a hilltop overlooking the Tywi valley, providing wonderful views. Legend tells that the first castle at Dinefwr was built by Rhopdri Mawr in the 9th century. That early fortress may have been dismantled at the orders of Llewelyn the Great and the present stone castle built in the early 13th century.
Dinefwr passed to the English crown in 1276. A large round keep stands within a curtain wall, and a round tower in the north-west of the inner ward also survives relatively intact, while some of the residential buildings within the inner ward have been partly restored.
on the site is also Newton House, the centrepiece of the estate and following extensive remodelling, visitors can experience new displays allowing them to see and hear about Edwardian life in the servants’ quarters. It is a great ‘hands on’, experience where you really get a feel of what it must have been like to live or work there. Good cafe too and I can strongly recommend the cake.
You can also explore the eighteenth Century landscape park enclosing a medieval deer park with more than 100 fallow deer and a small herd of Dinefwr White Park Cattle.
The house also has a good cafe and very good cake.
Kidwelly Castle has an inner ward with four round towers that provided domestic rooms. Later it was added onto and become a concentric castle with walls within walls. A hall block, chapel and outer stone curtain wall were added. A twin-towered gatehouse guarded the entrance. Guardrooms, a dungeon and other rooms were located here. In the 1500’s more rooms were added in both the inner and outer wards. The castle fell into decay less than a hundred years later.
Laugharne is perhaps best known for its associations with Dylan Thomas, so a visit could incorporate the Boat House where Dylan Thomas lived and wrote and the castle.
There was probably a Norman castle here by the early 12th century, though the upstanding remains can be traced back no further than the work of the de Brian family in the late 13th century. From the de Brians and their descendants, in 1488 the lordship and castle passed to the earls of Northumberland. In 1584, Elizabeth I granted Laugharne to Sir John Parrott, said to have been the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. The medieval castle that was transformed into an Elizabethan mansion. The outer ward has a large diamond-shaped curtain wall. A gatehouse is on the north side. The inner ward has two large round towers, connected by a Tudor hall. There is a small garden.
Llansteffan Castle is an impressive, dramatically sited stronghold crowning a hilltop overlooking the estuary of the River Tywi overlooking Carmarthen Bay. This ruined 12th century castle shares the history of its site with an Iron Age fort built in approximately 600 BC. Much is in ruins, but the twin towered gatehouse are still very much in evidence.
You can access the castle from a steep climb from the beach. It is worth the climb because the views are outstanding.
Built by the Welsh in 1240 on a high point with the river on three sides, it was captured in 1287 by King Edward 1. It was strengthened in the 14th century but was then rebuilt as a residence in the 15th century. During the Civil War it was captured by Parliament in 1644 and then slighted, the outer walls being destroyed.
The castle is free and open to the public and part of a very pretty walk. The little town is worth a wonder round too.