Published Booklets on
Carmarthen Castles


Carreg Cennen Castle and the families of Deheubarth, Giffard and Lancaster 

Standing on top of a 200 feet high cliff Castell Carreg Cennen dominates the mountains and valleys of Deheubarth and controls the passage to the sea at Swansea.  The site was first used by prehistoric man and Roman coins have been found in the clearances of the castle.  The name is first mentioned before 1143 and there seems little doubt that a castle of some description stood here from that date onwards.  Unmentioned in the brutal wars that scarred Deheubarth in the twelfth century the castle first finds prominence in the Welsh Chronicles for 1246 where it was wrongly reported that the castle had been betrayed to the French.  In fact royal forces were holding the castle for the legitimate heir and his widowed mother.  In 1248 that heir, Rhys Fychan, came of age and inherited the castle with the consent of King Henry III.  In 1276 the castle was surrendered without a siege and was then burned and repeatedly rebuilt in the ensuing wars, changing hands twice in 1282 and once in 1287.
The new book, Castell Carreg Cennen and the Families of Deheubarth, Giffard, Talbot and Lancaster, details the history of the fortress and includes translations of original documents relating to the castle's repairs and rebuildings in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  The history of the site shows that the castle in its present form was most likely built by either Rhys Gryg (died 1234) or his son, Rhys Mechyll (d.1244).  To this end the castle can be seen as a Welsh princely answer to White Castle and Pembroke, built on either side of the much disputed territories of the princes of Deheubarth.  The princes of Gwynedd may have been the major power in Wales in the thirteenth century, but their rivals of the south undoubtedly built the better castles.  The grandeur and style of the Welsh-built Castell Carreg Cennen leaves Dolbadarn and Dolwyddelan almost in the Dark Ages.  The Welsh castle, surrendered to King Edward I in 1277, was devastated by Dafydd ap Gruffydd in 1282 during his final war and repaired and refortified many times after this, being heavily rebuilt after a particularly heavy slighting by Owain Glyndwr in 1403 or 1404.  In 1462 the castle was finally demolished.
 The history of the castle is followed by a detailed survey of the castle ruins and the investigation of the building phases which led to the construction of this truly great princely castle which remains an icon of Wales to this day.

The new book on the site detailing new translations from original documents and the architecutre of the fortress by Paul Remfry and Nigel Ruckley is now available for £39.95 via the PayPal link below.   Further details of the book can be found by clicking here.

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