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Steps Back In Time: Cardigan Castle.

Updated on September 24, 2013

This is my second hub in the series Step Back In Time.

The first was

Today we are visiting Cardigan Castle and at present there is great restoration work going on ; the local council has received a grant of £10,000,000 and I along with many others am looking forward to the finished product.

It has such historical value and today I emphasise on the fact that this is where the first National Eisteddfod was held.

Oh yes in 1176 – Lord Rhys hosted the first National Eisteddfod of Wales in Cardigan.

There is a museum being created too; a museum retracing the history of the National Eisteddfod.

I hope you all enjoy sharing my steps back in time with me today..


Here is our Welsh National Anthem sang in our mother tongue by our beautiful and talented Katherine Jenkins ;Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. (Land Of My Fathers).

The Welsh flag so proudly waves.
The Welsh flag so proudly waves. | Source
Cardigan Castle.
Cardigan Castle. | Source

The Castle that can be seen today was erected in Cardigan itself in the 1100, by Gilbert de Clare and if he had have realised what trouble this was to cause, he may not have bothered. Over the next 100 years the castle frequently changed hands between the Norman’s and the Welsh

De Clare’s son gained control of the castle in 1136, the same year that Rhys ap Gruffydd, the prince of Deheubarth, or Lord Rhys, led the defeat of the Norman’s in the town at the bloody battle of Crug Mawr. His prize was the castle which he set about transforming from its original wooden structure into stone.

Rhys was the proud owner of the castle, up until his death in 1197, which marked the beginning of another period of conflict. His sons, Maelgwyn and Gruffyd, disputed their inheritance resulting in Maelgwyn surrendering Gruffydd to the Norman’s and selling the Castle to King John.

A variety of Norman owners called Cardigan Castle home until Llywellyn the Great attacked and destroyed the castle in a show of strength. In what now looks like a historical tug-of-war the Norman William Marshal was next to take control, followed by the Welsh and then yet another Norman.

After this final Norman conquest, during the 1240s, the castle was reconstructed. Two towers, a new keep and the town wall were all built to create the stronghold, the ruins of which are visible to visitors today.

By the end of the 13th century it was King Edward 1st who had laid claim to the castle. Peace the reigned for almost four centuries, 1645 and the English Civil War, when Oliver Cromwell took it upon himself to storm the battlements. Such was the damage that the castle lay uninhabited until the early 1800s when a private mansion was built on the property marking the end to the turmoil that has given Cardigan Castle the unique heritage it boasts today.

Yesteryear in Cardigan.


Chronology of the Castle:

1100Cilgerran Castle built.

1109– Noted Welsh beauty Nest is abducted from Cilgerran Castle by Prince Owain of Powys, who was in love with her. Her husband, Gerald of Pembroke, escaped through a toilet waste chute in the castle walls

1110 – The second castle at Cardigan is built

1120 – St Dogmaels Abbey is founded on the site of a pre-Norman monastery

1136 – Rhys ap Gruffydd led the battle of Crug Mawr against the Norman’s

1155 – Flemings invade at Mwnt only to be pushed back by the Welsh, this became known as Sul Coch y Mwnt – the bloody Sunday of Mwnt

1165 – Rhys ap Gruffyd conquered Cardigan for the Welsh.

1171 – Cardigan Castle rebuilt in stone and mortar.

1176 – Lord Rhys hosts the first National Eisteddfod of Wales in Cardigan.

1244 – Stone town wall as built by the Norman’s. St Mary’s church was built

1485 – Henry Tudor stays at Cardigan castle during the march to Bosworth Field.

1645 – Cardigan castle attacked by Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers during the English Civil War

1764 – Shire Hall built .

1793 – Cardigan gaol built by John Nash.

1805 – John Bowen Repaired the ruins of Cardigan Castle.

1815 – 300 vessels registered in Cardigan’s seaport.

1922 – Cardigan Priory reopened as a hospital by Mrs Lloyd George.

1976 - National Eisteddfod held in Cardigan.

1987 - Theatre Mwldan opened by Sir Geraint Evans.

1993 – Monument to first Eisteddfod erected near the original site (below).



An eisteddfod (Welsh plural eisteddfodau is aWelsh Festival of literature,music and performance. The tradition of such a meeting of Welsh artists dates back to at least the 12th century, when a festival of poetry and music was held by Rhys ap Gruffudd of Deheubarth at his court in Cardigan in 1176 but, with the decline of the bardic tradition, it fell into abeyance. The present-day format owes much to an eighteenth-century revival arising out of a number of informal eisteddfodau. The word eisteddfod is derived from the Welsh word eistedd, meaning "to sit", and bod meaning "to be" and therefore means "to be sitting" or "to be sitting together"

The date of the first Eisteddfod is a matter of much debate among scholars, but boards for the judging of poetry definitely existed in Wales from at least as early as the twelfth century, and it is likely that the ancient Celtic bards had formalized ways of judging poetry as well.The first Eisteddfod can be traced back to 1176 under the auspices of Lord Rhys, at his castle in Cardigan. There he held a grand gathering to which were invited poets and musicians from all over the country. A chair at the Lord's table was awarded to the best poet and musician, a tradition that prevails in the modern day National Eisteddfod. The earliest large scale Eisteddfod that can be proven beyond all doubt to have taken place, however, was the Carmarthen Eisteddfod, which took place in 1451. The next recorded large-scale eisteddfod was held in Caerwys in 1568. The prizes awarded were a miniature silver chair to the successful poet, a little silver crwth to the winning fiddler, a silver tongue to the best singer, and a tiny silver harp to the best harpist. Originally, the contests were limited to professional Welsh bards who were paid by the nobility. To ensure the highest standard possible, Elizabeth 1st of England commanded that the bards be examined and licensed. As interest in the Welsh arts declined, the standard of the main eisteddfod deteriorated as well and they became more informal. In 1789, Thomas Jones organised an eisteddfod inCorwen where for the first time the public were admitted. The success of this event led to a revival of interest in Welsh literature and music.

The above by courtesy of Eisteddfod Wikipedia.

A crowning of the bard ceremony at a National Eisteddfod many many years ago and a chair which would be won by the successful bard.

We were now walking around totally amazed and quite overcome by the atmosphere that surrounded the castle grounds. Where we were now stood was where all that history took place all those many centuries ago.

"Well hello you two!!" We turned around to see our friend Julian.

The conversation between the two men soon turned to; Cars, motorbikes and fishing!!

"If you two want some catch up time then go ahead as I would like to read a little more about the very first Eisteddfod that took place here many years ago." I asked them.

"Are you sure that you don't mind?" Dai asked.

Dai was always so thoughtful and I would never take advantage of this. I think that we are very lucky in that we must have one of the most well balanced relationships ever. Also I think that the more we are together the closer we have become. Again this brings me to my favourite saying 'Don't ever give up on your dreams!'

We each proceeded in our different directions and I stopped to pick up a book on a small table nearby that was all about the history of our Eisteddfodau many years ago.

I was about to pick up the book but felt very lightheaded all of a sudden and almost instantly I was engulfed by a mist which strangely smelt of roses which then dispersed almost as quickly as it had appeared.


"Oh where have you been, look at the state of you ?? !!!" said my sister as she brushed the leaves and grass from my dress.

It is October 3rd 1967 and my sister and myself were at an Eisteddfod in Llansawel, a very small village in south/west Wales. I was nine years old and my sister Val was twelve years old.

An Eisteddfod is where children and adults gather together to compete for first, second and third place in singing, reciting, piano playing or welsh folk dancing. The smaller Eisteddfodau were held all over Wales and would take place more often than not in their village halls. There would be an judge for each category and each judge would be well known in the Eisteddfod world.

Val would be singing and playing the piano and I would be reciting. i wanted more than anything to sing but I was not allowed so there we were what could I do?? Not a lot!!!!

I had been playing in the park out the back of the hall and as usually got covered in all sorts.

I was not your frilly dress little girl and in my eyes this silly pink dress I had on today looked better roughed up a bit. However Vall did not agree with me and was doing her best to tidy me up before I went on the stage to recite.

Val had already played the piano and was waiting for the judge to announce the winners.Next she was due to go on stage to sing and I would be reciting quite soon after!!!

I now heard the presenter calling out; "Now we have Valerie who will sing 'Ave Maria' for us."

The audience broke out in a great applause as my sister walked on. "Oh I was so proud of her!!"

Her beautiful voice filled the whole hall with sweet wonder and everyone was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop!!

She held the melodius tone to her soprano voice as she reached to those high notes so effortlessly or flowed down to the richness of those low notes.

I looked at everyone around who were mesmerised by Val's talent and I felt like a Queen standing ten foot tall as I thought to myself

"Oh yes I am so lucky to have a sister like Val and I am so very, very proud of her."

Val finished her singing and the applauding that followed was rapturous. There were another couple of singers to compete and then it was my turn to go on and recite;

The next thirty minutes or so seemed to take for ever......................

"The first of the reciters will be Eiddwen and she is going to recite the poem 'Tachwedd' by I.D. Hooson."

The presenters voice broke into my thoughts and I walked on feeling so very nervous but no one would have guessed because I did not show these emotions to others. Oh no that wouldn't happen, not in a hundred years.

I recited the poem remembering what my reciting tutor had taught me. I came to the end and as I walked off the stage the audience broke into another about of rapturous applauding.

'That's because they know Val is my sister.' I thought proudly to myself.

For the remainder of the morning I stayed in the hall with Val waiting for the judges to come to their decisions. Oh dear me I am very nervous but the time flew by and the desicions were out. Val won two 1st prizes. Oh I so proudly hugged her and never wanted to let her go!!

Now then, it was my turn and the reciting judge walked on to the stage; I can remember his name to this very day: The Rev. Dafydd Edwards.

He went through all the competitors and when it came to be my turn he gave me such brilliant praise ,I couldn't believe it wow!!!

He read out the names of the third and second prizewinners and then he said:

"The first prize goes to Eiddwen!!!"

What?! I couldn't believe it and went on to receive my silver cup and nearly felt as proud as what I had been when Val had gone up for hers!!!

I went back out to the park around the back of the hall but didn't want to join in any games that some others were playing !

Oh no I wanted to look at my silver cup. My very first silver cup and the very first time I had won a prize in any Eisteddfod!!!

All of a sudden that woozy almost light headed feeling returned and of that familiar rose scented mist appeared to engulf me and again disappeared almost instantly.

Well this book had been very interesting and thought I might try and buy myself a copy from somewhere.

As I put it down and went to walk away I saw Dai and Julian walking up from the river looking very pleased with themselves.

There we are then!! A good day was had by all !!!

Arm in arm myself and Dai were about to begin our walk home when I took a last glance back at the castle and saw something which made me catch my breath!!!

Through a faint haze a I saw a little girl in a pink dress which was covered with little bits of grass and leaves. She was holding a silver cup and I heard her say:

"Remeber to be proud of yourself as well as those that you love." "You must learn to love yourself!!"

She then disappeared and I felt as if a great weight had lifted from my shoulders. I think that there is a lesson there for many of us!!

Another view of the castle.

I hope you enjoyed your journey with me and that you will join me again next time.

If you would like to travel with me on some more of my journeys, please follow the links below.

Take care and lots of love to one and all from my little corner of Wales.



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    • Eiddwen profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Wales

      Thank you NiaLee.

    • NiaLee profile image


      5 years ago from BIG APPLE

      Eddy thank you for another beautiful mysterious interesting journey in Wales. love and peace to you and all

    • Eiddwen profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Wales




      thank you for all your support and wonderful comments.


    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      6 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Voted up and awesome. Incredible Eddy. Thanks for the wonderful and interesting journey. Hugs. Passing this on.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Awesome and up, Eddy. Thanks for sharing a wonderful piece of your life with us. I want to know more about Welsh history. The language is aso beautiful, and I am grateful for everything that you put in this wonderful story.

    • srsddn profile image


      6 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      eiddwen, Crdigan Castle has a long and interesting history. I liked the way participated in the National Anthem in the video. Thanks for sharing all this. Interesting!

    • Eiddwen profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Wales

      Hi janetwrites thank you so much once again for taking the time to read and comment. Have a great day,


    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 

      6 years ago from Georgia country

      I'm really fascinated by this wonderful hub. A beautiful mix of history and personal story. I also loved to listen to the Welsh national anthem. I would love to visit Wales someday.

    • Eiddwen profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Wales


















      for all these wonderful comments. Here's to so many more for us all to share.


    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      6 years ago from United States

      What a creative hub! It certainly keeps the reader interested! Sounds like you had a great time at the festival, thinking about your past and the past of Cardigan Castle. I'd love to read more about the castle, especially about the battle between Rhys's sons. Crazy stuff! Your article was a great way to start my day. Thanks so much! All the best, Jill

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      An interesting slant on history. I know Cardigan well; I used to live in Abercych and then in Llechryd, in the 80s. Cardigan Castle was always surrounded with the stories of the eccentric lady who used to live there! The river and the estuary are beautiful as is much of the scenery and coastline in the area. We still visit occasionally as we have friends nearby; this reminded me of all the places.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      What fascinating history, Eddy, and such an interesting personal anecdote. Thanks for sharing it all and the beautiful video of beautiful Katherine Jenkins. I noticed that her gown has all the colors of the Welsh flag.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This was fantastic Eddy and I have missed your first one, will pick it up as soon as possible! ^ & shared

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is beautiful Eddy. I am now writing on, so i am not around that much, but i love your hubs...

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      I loved hearing the Welsh national anthem. Beautiful and something I've never heard before. Your personal account against a historical background was a nice touch.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 

      6 years ago

      While this was a 'treasure trove' of incredible facts, figures, and fotos - i absolutely LOVED hearing the welch national anthem!!!

      i listened twice, Eddy! I've not heard it before, and being an 'almost' olympian - i am BIG into national anthems!

      This is a gorgeous series - keep it coming!



    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Eddy- I love reading about this history along with those amazing pictures. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • D.A.L. profile image


      6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hello Eddy, wonderful work transporting us back in time in your unique style. Very informative and very well presented. Voted up

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      A wonderfully researched hub, with a personal story..I went to Cardigan Castle as a child, the castle and the area it is in is a beautiful place to visit :-)

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 

      6 years ago

      What a wonderful read. It was thrilling that you let us meet little Eiddwen. We must always take good care of our inner child.

      When you said you were walking back home, it amazed me. I had

      envisioned that you and Dai had driven a far distance to the castle ruins.

      Yes, I do tend to forget that history is on the very grounds which you stand.

      Eddy, this is a wonderful read, and I enjoyed the history. But, I dearly loved the talent show and 'hearing' your thoughts as a child.

      Great hub, Eddy!


    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Good morning, Eddy!

      I loved the content of this piece, but what I found especially intriguing was the manner in which you fabricated a patchwork quilt of words, illustrations, video, current events, and watching a movie via the power of your words. Thanks so much for sharing, Eddy! Blessings and aloha!


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hey Billy said what I was going to say -- I bow to two masters today. Thanks Eddy, I must say it is our first really cool morning here 65 f and so I was able to put on my charge of the light brigade sweater while reading. I believe by the 7th Earl. I just love your company thanks for inviting me over.

    • Lisa Luv profile image

      Lisa J Warner AKA Lisa Luv 

      6 years ago from Conneticut, USA

      Great work... Sharing!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love this new series, Eddy. History with a personal touch....this is the kind of writing I gravitate to....just unique enough to keep my attention and teach me something as a bargain. Well done my friend, a joy to read.



    • MSGolden51 profile image


      6 years ago

      Great hub I have never heard of this castle most exciting, very interesting.

    • Eiddwen profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Wales

      So glad you enjoyed this one Shauna and have a great day.


    • Eiddwen profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Wales

      Thank you so very much Janine and here's wishing you a great day too.


    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Eddy, I love the way you went back in time and relived the joyous day when both you and Val won first prizes. The rose-scented mist was a nice touch. Great story!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Eddy, absolutely beautiful walk back in time and thank you so much for sharing about this castle with us. Wishing you a wonderful day now Eddy. Have voted up and shared, too!


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