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Carreg Cennen Castle

Visited April 2017

Location Trapp, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No 
Parking Yes 
Facilities Toilets, Cafe, Gift Shop


On arrival at Carreg Cennen Castle car park, you may have experienced some crazy narrow lanes and blind corners and may also have had some sheep randomly jump in front of your car from the hedgerow (Mum says- this did actually happen to us) However, once you have set eyes on the castle rising up above you on a grassy summit, all the stresses of the journey will fade away and you will just want to get up there and explore this amazing fortification.






The climb up to castle is actually not too bad. The paths are well marked and it is not as steep as it looks, although buggies would struggle. Just like Dryslwyn Castle the mound is used to graze sheep, but they seem used to visitors as they did not even look up as we passed them (except for the one posing for the photograph)


As you climb up towards the castle, you pass through the outer gateway, which defended the area known as the outer ward. In this area there would have been service buildings such as stables, a smithy, and lime kilns. The remains of one of these buildings - a lime kiln- can still be seen today. 


The entrance to the castle is via a barbican, which leads to the inner gatehouse, now accessed via a wooden bridge. This would previously have had two drawbridges for extra defence. Although this castle was originally a Welsh stronghold, the style of the buildings which survive today seem to suggest they were built around 1280- 1300 dating them to the time of Edward I and his conquest of Wales. Edward granted the castle to a loyal backer John Giffard, and it is thought that he updated the castle using the cutting edge of castle building techniques of the time. It was damaged during the Owain Glyndwr revolt and last saw any active service in the Wars of the Roses, when it was owned by a Lancastrian supporter. It fell to the Yorkist King Edward IV in 1462 and after that was partially demolished. It eventually became part of Carreg Cennen Farm, and is now a sleepy and picturesque ruin.






The remains today consist of the outer & inner wards. The inner ward has the remains of a good selection of domestic building, including the great hall, and two large chambers which were well appointed. One is known as the 'King's Chamber' as it had a large fireplace and windows making it the most luxurious of all the rooms at the castle. The nearby chapel tower has a latrine chute right down to the outer ward. There is also the remains of the kitchen, an oven and the north west tower which has an early gun loop, thought to have been added during the Wars of the Roses.


By far the most exciting and unique feature of this castle is the cave which lies deep below the castle itself. The cave is reached via a passage way and several flights of stairs which take you further and further down below the ground. The cave is very long, it covers the length of the outer ward. It is not known exactly why it was constructed, but it was used at one point as a dovecote, and also for storage. Although the cave is naturally occurring it was reinforced with stone at considerable effort, so whatever its purpose it was surely seen as important. It is very exciting to visit the cave, but there is restricted head height in some areas so take care. Once down inside the cave there is no natural light so remember to take a torch, or hire one from the reception.





Although cared for by CADW the castle belongs to the owners of the farm below. The farm has good facilities, there is a lovely restaurant which offers a varied menu, including beef dishes made from their own cattle. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and can not recommend it highly enough. There is also a gift shop and toilets on site. You can use your CADW or English Heritage membership to visit the castle.


We combined this castle with a visit to Garn Goch Hill Fort which is close by, but you will experience some precariously narrow lanes to get there from this direction. Have fun!





More info:  Carreg Cennen Castle

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