« PreviousContinue »
CASTLES OF CARDIGAN
Llanbadarn Tref Eglwys, is a small hill called Hero
placed between two streams.
*CAERWEDROS, or Castell Llwyndafydd, also burned by the Welsh in 1137, after which it is not mentioned again. "A very large moated tumulus, with foundations of walls on the top." Probably a Clare castle.
*HUMPHREY'S CASTLE, now Castle Howel, from one
of its Welsh conquerors. The original name shows that it was built by a Norman, and it was restored by Roger, Earl of Clare, in 1159. A moated tumulus near the river Clettwr marks the site of Humphrey's Castle.'
YSTRAD MEURUG, or Meyric, at the head of the valley of the Teifi, and commanding the pass leading over into Radnorshire.-Built by Gilbert de Clare when he reconquered Cardigan, and one of his most important castles. Its importance is shown by the fact that it had a small stone keep, the date of which cannot now be determined, as only the foundations remain, buried under sods. There is no motte, and the bailey can only be guessed at by a portion of the ditch which still remains on the N. side, and by two platforms which appear to be artificially levelled. The castle is about three miles from the Sarn Helen or Roman road through Cardigan.
*PONT Y STUFFAN, or Stephen's Bridge, near Lampeter.-Burnt by the Welsh in 1138, and not
1 Meyrick's Hist. of Cardigan, p. 293. Dinerth is not the same as Llanrhystyd, though Lewis (Top. Dict. Wales) says it is; the two places have separate mention in Brut, 1157. Mr Clark mentions the motte. M. M. A., i., 115.
2 Brut, 1135.
4 Brut, 1157.
• Brut, under 1113.
* Meyrick's Hist. of Cardigan, p. 232.
Beauties of England and Wales, Cardigan, p. 502.
again mentioned.' In the outskirts of the town of Lampeter is or was-a lofty moated tumulus (not shown on O.M.), and traces of a quadrangular court.2 As it is also called Castell Ystuffan, it was probably built by Stephen, the Norman constable of Cardigan. There appears to be another castle mound at Lampeter itself, near the church. Lampeter was an important post on the Roman road up the valley of the Teifi.
*NANT YR ARIAN.-This castle is only mentioned once, in the partition of Cardigan and Pembroke which took place in 1216, during the most disastrous part of John's reign. There are two "castellau" marked at Nant yr Arian in the N. of Cardiganshire in the O.M.; neither of them look like mottes. This castle, as well as that of Ystrad Peithyll, seems to have been placed to defend the road from Aberystwyth to Llanidloes, which would be the chief highway between Shropshire and Ceredigion.
CASTLES OF CARMARTHENSHIRE.
RHYD Y GORS, or Rhyd Cors.-We have no hesitation in adopting the opinion of the late Mr Floyd, that this is another name for the castle of Carmarthen. As it and Pembroke were the only castles which held out during the great Welsh revolt of 1096," it is evident that they were the two strongest and best defended places, therefore the most important. Carmarthen also was a Roman city, and its walls were still standing in Giraldus' time; it was therefore the place where one
1 In the Rolls edition of the Brut this castle is called Llanstephan, but the context makes it probable that Lampeter is meant; the Annales Cambria say "the castle of Stephen."
Brut, 1216. • Desc. Camb., i., 10.
2 Beauties of England and Wales, p. 492. 4 Arch. Journ., xxviii., 293.
CASTLES OF CARMARTHENSHIRE
would expect to find a Norman castle. Now Carmarthen, along with Cardiff and Pembroke, continued up till the final conquest of all Wales to be the most important seat of English power in South Wales. Moreover, Rhyd y Gors was a royal castle; we are expressly told that it was built by William Fitz Baldwin, by the command of the king of England.1 Carmarthen also was a royal castle, and the only one in South Wales at that date which belonged directly to the king. It was temporarily abandoned after William Fitz Baldwin's death in 1096, and afterwards Henry I. gave it into the custody of a Welshman, who also had charge of Strath Towy; a passage which proves that Rhyd y Gors was in that district. It was restored by Richard Fitz Baldwin in 1104, and is mentioned for the last time in 1105. After that the castle of Carmarthen, which has not been mentioned before, begins to appear, and its importance is clear from the continual references to it. Placed as it is on a navigable river, at the entrance of the narrower part of the vale of Towy, and on the Roman road from Brecon to St David's, its natural position must have marked it as a fit site for a royal castle. The castle is now converted into a gaol, and disfigured in the usual way; yet the ancient motte of William Fitz Baldwin still remains, partly inside and partly outside the walls. It is crowned with a stone revetment which Colonel Morgan believes to have been erected at the time of the Civil War, to form a platform
1 Brut, 1094.
2 lbid., p. 110. There is a farmhouse called Rhyd y Gors about a mile lower down than Carmarthen, and on the opposite side are some embankments; but I am assured by Mr Spurrell of Carmarthen that these are only river-embankments. Rhyd y Gors means the ford of the bog; there is no ford at this spot, but there was one at Carmarthen.