Castell Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen Castle) is an early twelfth century Norman castle overlooking the River Tywi. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the structure had been strengthened and has an impressive main gate. In 1405 it was sacked by Owain Glyndŵr. The site is on an outcrop giving a good defensive position and is located off the A40 in Carmarthen Town.
There is an information centre at the entrance to the castle. We were given really good information on the castle by the friendly lady at the centre. We were provided with an excellent booklet explaining the strategic importance and history of the site. Carmarthen has origins prior to the Middle Ages as the Roman Moridunum making it the oldest town in Wales.
The castle was built from 1106 by the Norman King Henry 1. His intention was to gain a foothold in hostile Welsh held territory. The original wooden structure was burnt down by the Welsh in 1116. The Welsh again took the castle in 1137 and held on to it until 1159 when it came back into Norman possession. In 1215 the Welsh once again razed it to the ground and then held on to Carmarthen until 1223. The Normans then re-took control of the castle from which time rebuilding in stone took place. For significant periods of time it was an isolated Norman outpost in Welsh controlled territory.
It then fell to the Welsh again in the Owain Glyndŵr period both in 1403 and 1405. Following the defeat of Glyndŵr the castle did not see action again until the Civil War. In 1645 after the king's defeat it was slighted on the orders of Oliver Cromwell.