We all get our moments. But if you want a truly medieval moment, catch a glimpse of Kidwelly shrouded in early morning mist. Spine-tingling stuff. So complete and well-preserved it’s a match for any of the great castles of Wales.
The earliest castle on the site was Norman and made of earth and timber. The town itself is equally ancient, established around 1115 AD. By the time the 13th century had come along the castle had been rebuilt in stone, following the half-moon shape taken by the Normans. The Chaworth family built the compact but powerful inner ward and the castle was later modified by the earls (eventually dukes) of Lancaster.
Kidwelly benefited from the latest thinking in castle design. It had a concentric design with one circuit of defensive walls set within another to allow the castle to be held even if the outer wall should fall. The great gatehouse was begun late in the 14th century but it wasn’t completed until 1422, thanks in part to Owain Glyn Dŵr’s efforts to stop it going up in the first place.
Just outside the gatehouse stands a memorial to Princess Gwenllian who died in battle in 1136 not far from Kidwelly fighting the lord of the castle, Maurice de Londres, to save Deheubarth – south-west Wales - from Norman invaders. Find out more about Princess Gwenllian in our Heroes and Heroines of Wales collection of stories.
This site is included in one of our guidebooks. Visit our online shop to find out more.