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Introduction ~ General Castles ~ Castell-y-Bere ~ Castell-Carreg-Cennin ~ Castell-Dynefwr
Castell Carreg Cennen

Atop of a 100 mtr limestone crag near the head of the Cennen river in west Wales, stands Castell Carreg Cennen. The giant old sentinel is a timely reminder of those long gone medieval times, a period in my country's history of bloodshed, war, treachery and deceit. If it could talk, the castle would like me, tell you of the times when brother fought brother, father fought son and everyone fought the Norman/English invader.

This ancient fortress, still presenting an awesome military sight, awaits the return of its medieval occupants, so that it may once again guard the Cennen valley and give shelter to those who would dwell within it.

The castle however, although they may not be the ones it wants, still has occupants today,"albeit for a short time". During the summer months hundreds of friendly visitors make the trek up the steep incline to the entrance, indeed the very same incline that once was soaked in human blood. The only desire of today's visitor however, is to seek an insight into how those long gone medieval occupants lived.

Castle from the distant west Approaching Carreg Cennin Castle from West

The Carreg Cennen that one sees today is the remnant of a castle rebuilt by English occupants after its capture in 1277. It replaced the previously constructed one which was built by the great Lord Rhys of Deheubarth.

Other castles were built previous to that again, but they were constructed of wood, for the princes of Wales had no knowledge of building with stone until the coming of the Norman to our land.

It seems from records, stored by CADW Welsh Historic Monuments, that the builders of the very first castle were not newcomers to the site, for human remains have been found in a cave below the fortress which indicate that the very same site was occupied by prehistoric man. The Roman too, even if he did not dwell here in a hilltop fort, certainly visited the site, for Roman coins have been discovered in this remote place.

It is this very same remoteness and the seemingly impregnable position of the fortress which precluded it from ever playing a major role in the affairs of the English nation. However, with regard to those of my own, it certainly did.

In 1250 the castle fell to the forces of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd during his rebellion against the English crown. The struggle to secure it was both bloody and bitter, for many of his men were cut down by arrows fired from the ramparts. The castle was eventually taken after Llywelyn made a frontal attack against the main entrance on the eastern side.

During the rebellion of Owain Glyndwr the castle was once again in the forefront of national events. On the night of July 4th 1403 Owain, having crossed the watershed of the river Usk on his march west from the town of Brecon with 8,000 men, lay at rest in the castle of Dryslwyn prior to a planned attack on Carreg Cennen and the castle of Dinefwr. A one John Scudamore, the English Castellan of the castle, knowing that with Owain being in the vicinity he could expect an attack at anytime visited him that night under a flag of truce. The purpose of his visit was to seek safe passage away from the castle, for his wife, children and other members of his family before an attack began. However, having been awakened from his slumbers, when they met in the castle's great hall, Owain was in no mood to grant such an assurance. A few hours after Scudamore's visit a successful attack did take place; there were no survivors.
Gatehouse Complex River Cennin from south rampart wall

Prior to both the attentions of Llywelyn and Glyndwr, the castle was captured and for a short while garrisoned by the forces of the sons of Lord Rhys of Deheubarth, it was during the time of conflict with their father. Upon the death of Lord Rhys the castle was bestowed to his son Rhys Gryg, while in the Twyi valley itself the castle of Dryslwyn was bestowed to Maredudd ap Rhys another son.

The walls of the castle have also reverberated to sounds other than of war. I seem to recall great peals of laughter echoing out across the Cennen valley when wandering Jesters or musicians called. The entertainment being enjoyed by both the lord of the castle and his serfs, who lived on small tracts of land below the hilltop fortress.

The castle also served as a jail and court house, although as for being a jail: well no one survived for long when found guilty in those days. The south wall high above the valley was a well known place for dispensing justice. One push, it was a long long way down and the bed of the river was no cushion.

Ah well as to the days of the castle, of much more I could tell, but time is of an essence my friends as I have other pages upon which to dwell. So wherever in the world you may be, think of me and you will think of Wales; for it is a green and pleasant land.

Castell Carreg Cennen

Many have ventured away from this land of mine
Only to stand and remember with the passing of time
Those hardy men with picks who mined slate in the north
Also the rugged men of the south who brought coal forth

So it was too that in those long gone days of the past
That granite hard men struggled to build castles to last
Such as the sentinel that sits on the high outcrop of rock
Carreg Cennen your position gave many an invader a shock

Graphics by Ole R.D. Copyright © 1999-2005
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