Ancient Monuments

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Carreg Cennen Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Cyngor Bro Dyffryn Cennen (Dyffryn Cennen), Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin)

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Latitude: 51.8546 / 51°51'16"N

Longitude: -3.9352 / 3°56'6"W

OS Eastings: 266813

OS Northings: 219100

OS Grid: SN668191

Mapcode National: GBR DY.TBK9

Mapcode Global: VH4J4.QNY5

Entry Name: Carreg Cennen Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 3300

Cadw Legacy ID: CM001

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Castle

Period: Medieval

County: Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin)

Community: Cyngor Bro Dyffryn Cennen (Dyffryn Cennen)

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire


The monument consists of the remains of a castle, dating to the medieval period which stands on a spectacular limestone crag 90m above the valley of the River Cennen. The castle originated as a stronghold of the rulers of the kingdom of Deheubarth in the 12th century before it was taken by Edward 1 in 1277 during his Welsh campaigns. Although recovered briefly in 1282 by Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd during his struggle against the crown it was granted to the king’s supporter John Giffard owner of Llandovery Castle in 1283. Apart from two years following the 1287 rebellion of Rhys ap Mareddudd the castle remained in the possession Giffard and his son until 1321 and it is during this time nearly all the present stone structure was built, obliterating any traces of earlier works.

The castle consists of an outer ward built to defend the castle on its more level and vulnerable east and north approaches and which is composed of a curtain wall defended by small drum towers at the angles and gate; this will have enclosed buildings such as stables and the smithy, all that is visible today is the remains of a lime kin with the quarry ditch used to provide raw material, outside the curtain wall to the north east are the turf covered remains of a rectangular building of unknown purpose. An elaborate barbican defends the way from the outer into the inner ward by way of a narrow stepped ramp guarded by two gates each with a moveable bridge over deep pits, at the west corner of this is a tower containing a basement, referred to as a prison in 1369, from this a drawbridge gave access to the castle gatehouse and inner ward.

The inner ward has the gatehouse, hub of the castle’s defence, situated at the centre of the north side of an inner curtain wall flanked by strong circular north west and square north east corner towers reached by wall walks. In contrast the south west and south east corners of the curtain are lightly defended, by a curving projection and a corner turret respectively, as the castle here sits directly on the precipitous cliff. Ranged along the east wall are the castle’s main living quarters set at first floor level over a series of ground floor basements. The hall entered by an external stone stair is centrally placed; to the north is the kitchen with large stone fireplaces, to the south the owner’s private apartments which show evidence of alteration, possibly during the tenure of John of Gaunt in 1369. Two cisterns at the back of the gatehouse housed the castle’s water supply. A square tower projecting from the west wall accessed from the hall contained the chapel. At the south east corner of the ward steps lead down to a postern from which a narrow vaulted passage runs along the cliff edge to the walled up front of natural cave; a construction designed to prevent a vulnerable point from being used to undermine the castle. The blocking incorporates a dovecot.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval defensive and domestic practices. The monument is well-preserved and an important relic of the medieval landscape. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of both structural evidence and intact associated deposits.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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