Explore crumbling castle ruins dotted across the Carmarthenshire countryside in Wales.
Carreg Cennen Castle
Although in a state of ruin, the jagged remains of this castle still offer an imposing sight. The steep climb up to its hilltop position is rewarded with a jigsaw of small spaces to explore: window arches to shelter in, stairs that lead to empty sky and the outlines of rooms, their functions not always clear amid the jumble of stone walls that date back to King Edward I’s intensive period of castle-building in Wales.
This medieval fortress was abandoned in the 16th century but the remains of its keep and southern turret were later reimagined as a grand summerhouse for the Dynefwr estate, offering a particularly well protected picnic spot! Although this too fell into ruin by the late 18th century, a selection of walking routes now lead up to the castle which still offers a peaceful spot to unfurl a tartan rug and tuck into a hamper full of goodies.
At the height of 13th-century castle design when it was constructed, the fact that Kidwelly benefited from the latest thinking in fortifications may be the reason behind its remarkably well-preserved condition today. Visitors now need little imagination to picture what life at the castle would have been like as they make their way around the near-complete walls and towers of this striking medieval marvel.
Located in the town that was once home to Dylan Thomas, this castle inevitably featured in the writer’s work, including Poem in October. Medieval castle turned Tudor mansion, visitors today can wander through the site’s Victorian gardens and admire the inspiring scenery and setting as Dylan Thomas did.
Newcastle Emlyn Castle
Tucked away down the backstreets of the compact market town of Newcastle Emlyn, the castle sits out of sight and might easily be missed on a visit to the town. Having fallen victim to Oliver Cromwell’s forces in the 17th century, little but the twin towers of the gatehouse remain of the structure today. The castle’s serene setting offers visitors a place to stop and contemplate the role fortresses such as this once played across the country and the mark they have left on history and the landscape.
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