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Dryslwyn Castle

Visited April 2017

Location Dryslwyn, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes 
Facilities None




In complete contrast to its near neighbour Dinefwr Castle, Dryslwyn Castle has none of the trappings of a tourist destination. No gift shop, no tea rooms, no admission fee even. It stands ruined and lonely on the top of a natural knoll above the small hamlet which shares its name. Even in today's more peaceful times you can't help but notice the strategic importance of the castle, and appreciate that despite its diminished state, there is still an air of menace about the ruins.






Like Dinefwr, it was built at a time when the Normans were advancing into Wales and asserting their authority over its people. The buildings which survive today are probably from the thirteenth century, the round keeps of both Dryslwyn & Dinefwr are typical features of castle building of that time. Unlike Dinefwr, once the need for a stronghold to repel invaders was over, Dryslwyn was abandoned and left to decay. 


It was laid to siege in 1287 by the forces of Edward I, when its owner Rhys ap Maredudd rebelled against the King. It took three weeks to capture, and involved undermining the structure by tunnelling underneath the curtain walls. One of these tunnels actually collapsed during construction, killing several of the engineers who were inside it. After this it was slighted so that it could not be used again by Welsh rebels.





Despite withstanding a fire and a lot of stone robbing over the years, there is still a substantial amount left to see at this castle. The first challenge is to get up to it, which involves a ten minute climb up the hillside. There is a path at the very bottom of the hill, but this soon gives way to grass and rocky steps. Because of this it would be difficult to get buggies or prams up to the top.


The castle surrounds are also used for grazing sheep, so care needs to be taken not to worry the livestock, especially the young lambs. Also, wear good shoes- ones that you don't mind getting covered in sheep droppings- it is literally impossible to avoid.


Once at the top the first thing to observe is the remains of the outer gatehouse, which is immediately to the left of a large tree. To the right of here is the main part of the ruins. Had you been visiting in the medieval times you would now be in the outer ward, protected with high walls all round. This is where visitors would be questioned as to their reasons for wanting to gain entry to the castle. Anyone not making the cut could be ejected from here.





The inner ward has the main bulk of the remaining stonework. There are the remains of the round tower, the great hall, remains of a chapel with some interesting windows, and the imposing wall of what was once the apartment block. Looking in a southerly direction you may be able to spot Paxton's Tower in the distance. This is a folly built as an eye catcher  to be seen from nearby Middleton Hall (now the Botanic Garden of Wales) Likewise a good view of Dryslwyn can be seen from Paxton's Tower. A good excuse to visit both sites as they are in such close proximity.





More info:  CADW Dryslwyn Castle

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