Visiting Carreg Cennen Castle, near Llandeilo, Wales: remembering Medieval conflicts
English fighting Welsh; English marrying Welsh; English fighting English
This ruined castle situated near Llandeilo, in West Wales, seems the archetypical Medieval castle ruin on a craggy hilltop, as if it would evoke stories of Medieval princes and sanguinary battles, and as if its monumental walls would still seem fearsome and imposing during bad weather conditions.
Well, such stories are indeed accurate about Carreg Cennen Castle (Welsh: Castell Carreg Cennen ).
And I can testify to its imposing appearance under heavy skies and driving rain, made all the more stark by its situation atop a limestone precipice.
Anyway, it is thought that a fort was here in the Iron Age. Furthermore, Roman coins have been found at Carreg Cennen also.
But it is in the Medieval period that the history of Carreg Cennen gets really interesting. Built around 1197 by the Deheubarth dynasty, the castle kept changing hands between Welsh and English for the next century or so. Baron Giffard, victor over the last independent Welsh prince, Llewellyn II, was granted the castle by King Edward I in 1283, and he is thought to have been responsible for the substance of the ruined structure of the castle seen today.
But in 1403, the last Medieval Prince of Wales Owain Glyndŵr (who corresponds with the Shakespearean character Owen Glendower) attacked the castle with 800 men. However, he failed to take it: tribute at least in part to its advantageous, well-fortified hilltop situation. Here the story takes an amazingly romantic twist. The constable of the castle at the time of this siege was Sir John Scudamore, and, despite successfully resisting the forces of Owain Glyndŵr, he later married Alys, his daughter. Politics? Love? You decide.
Less romantic activities resumed in a thoroughgoing way in 1461 when during the Wars of the Roses, Carreg Cennen was taken by Lancastrian forces, and then later by Yorkists. Thus, in the Middle Ages, English fighting Welsh; English marrying Welsh; English fighting English: Carreg Cennen saw it all.
The castle is now under the care of Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Assembly Government, having passed at various junctures to the Vaughan and Cawdor families, and later to the British Ministry of Works.
Also worth seeing
Oystermouth Castle, Mumbles, Swansea (distance: 41 kilometres) is a Norman castle, now ruined.
How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport , from where car rental is available. London Heathrow is approximately 316 kilometres from Llandeilo. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
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- Visiting Hay-on-Wye, Wales: books galore and a ruined castle
- Visiting Wales's Llandaff, Cardiff, with its Cathedral and Close: architecture and history intensely