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Latitude: 51.7697 / 51°46'10"N
Longitude: -4.4621 / 4°27'43"W
OS Eastings: 230214
OS Northings: 210757
OS Grid: SN302107
Mapcode National: GBR D7.ZRW0
Mapcode Global: VH3LS.LSY7
Entry Name: Laugharne Castle
Source ID: 3078
Cadw Legacy ID: CM003
Schedule Class: Defence
County: Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin)
Community: Laugharne Township (Treflan Lacharn)
Built-Up Area: Laugharne
Traditional County: Carmarthenshire
The monument consists of the remains of a castle, dating to the medieval period which stands on a low cliff by the side of the Coran stream, overlooking the estuary of the Taf. The castle may be one at Abercorram mentioned in about 1116 as the castle of a Robert Courtemain, but the first definite reference to the Norman castle is in 1189 when, after the death of King Henry II, it was seized by the Lord Rhys, prince of Deheubarth. It was destroyed by Llywelyn the Great in 1215. This early 12th-century castle was probably a ringwork, with fortifications and buildings made of wood; traces of an important building of this time with a large hearth have been found by excavation. The castle was remodelled in the second half of the 12th century so that the interior of the ringwork was partially filled in and new defences were constructed with a large rectangular hall built on the north. By the time of a second Welsh attack in 1257 when it was again taken and burnt, the castle was in the ownership of the de Brian family and it was Guy de Brian IV who subsequently began the strong masonry castle present today later improved and repaired by his successors.
Two strong round towers, were built on the north side of a surrounding stone curtain wall. The north-western tower which has a fine medieval domed roof acted as a keep and protected a simple entrance through the curtain to its south. A new stone hall was built against the south curtain wall, and if not already in existence, an outer ward to the north was added although probably only with timber defences at this stage. The defences were further strengthened at the end of the 13th century 2when a forward-projecting gatehouse was built against the earlier entrance into the inner ward. Constructed over the earlier ditch, the opportunity was taken to incorporate a basement beneath the main entrance passage that has a postern at its front to give access to the edge of the inner ward ditch. In addition, a new round tower with deep spurs was built at the south-west corner of the inner ward and the defences of the outer ward, including the outer gatehouse, were rebuilt in stone. The castle had so far been constructed entirely in red sandstone, but Guy de Brian VII who inherited the lordship in 1349 set about improving the overall standard of accommodation using a distinctive green stone. The whole south-western corner of the inner ward, including the round tower and the inner gatehouse, was considerably heightened. The south-east corner was remodelled, and a postern door, giving access out to the estuary, was inserted. Finally, the outer gatehouse was also rebuilt.
Following Guy de Brian VII’s death in 1390 there followed a long period of decline until in 1575 the castle was granted by Elizabeth I to the dignitary Sir John Perrot who was to convert it into a comfortable Tudor Mansion, as he did also at his main residence at Carew. The old hall against the south curtain wall was completely remodelled and the curtain wall heightened with mock battlements. Ranges of new buildings extended around the south and east of the inner ward and, on the north, the curtain wall between the two round towers was demolished and replaced by a large rectangular accommodation block with the adjacent north east tower heightened. The upper floors of the accommodation block were reached by a projecting semi-circular stair tower. The Tudor ranges looked over a central cobbled courtyard, on which contemporary accounts record a fountain played. The inner gatehouse raised to its present height and gardens were laid out in the outer ward.
The castle was slighted in the Civil War and then left as a romantic ruin during the 18th century. At the turn of the 19th century, the outer ward was laid with formal gardens, a gazebo overlooking the estuary was used in the 1930s and 40s by the author Richard Hughes, who leased Castle House during at this time. Taken into state guardianship in the twentieth century the site was partially excavated and has been extensively reconsolidated.
The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval defensive 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.
Other nearby scheduled monuments