Dryslwyn Castle is a 13th-century castle, thought to be built by one of the Welsh princes of Deheubarth. It sits upon a hill overlooking the Twi Valley and commands some stunning views, even on a cold and rainy day such as this one.
It is one of the most important structures built by a Welsh chieftain still remaining. It is an excellent defensive position and is thought perhaps to have been a fortification in prehistoric times, although no evidence of this remains.
On a hill above the estuary of the River Towy in Carmarthenshire sits the magnificent Llansteffan Castle. It was built on the site of an older Iron Age Promontory Fort and has been in use for millennia, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s not only a highly defensible location, but affords some stunning views over the River Towy, and the village of Llansteffan itself. If you go to the top of the tower at the right time, you might even get to see a train in the distance.
Today, it’s all about location, and Llansteffan has got one of the best views of the sea we’ve seen from a castle. It isn’t actually the sea, it’s the estuary of the River Towy with the sea in the distance. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful.
Llansteffan Castle- A Potted History
Today we are visiting Llansteffan Castle! The current castle, built sometime after 1100 by the invading Normans, sits on a much older iron age promontory fort. It looks out onto the estuary of the River Towy. In its day it was a formidable defensive position because the only approach possible was via the steep hillside that, at the time, was stripped of trees making the attacking soldiers vulnerable to archers.
Llansteffan Castle’s Exterior
As you can see just from this bit here it is really quite steep a hill to climb up. Especially if you’re wearing full armour. One of the nice things about castles- one of the things that I find interesting about them at any rate- is that you can see, sometimes quite clearly, how use of the building has changed over the years. Now, this is a prime example. This used to be the gatehouse but now there’s no gate in it, there’s no doorway, the doorway is now over there, but you can still see the old doorway because it was lined with a different type of stone. You can quite clearly see the arch up at the top. Maybe that’s just me, but I find that fascinating. Behind me, you can see the current entranceway and above you can see where the gate would have been. Of course, there’s no gate there now but there are all the holes and dinks and what have you to show where the gate once was.
Our luck with the weather seems to be improving, the sun’s coming out! Which is great, because this castle looks cracking in the sunshine so it does. At one point there would have been a lot of buildings in here, people would have been living in here, and it would have been quite a lot of people living in here. So, you need a lot of room for them all to live and work and you know do the things that they do. Whatever it is that they do.
The Upper Ward
I am currently standing in the upper ward and the upper ward is quite small from the inside it’s got this, the ground floor, and then it’s got two other levels. I would say a middle floor, or an upper floor, and perhaps a walkway along the top. So this is the west tower. It’s the first time I’ve been in the towers actually, last time I went straight up the stairs and got stuck with the views. So this time I’m exploring on the ground floor before I go all the way up to the top.
The North Tower
I am now heading over to the north tower. So there’s quite a lot left of the north tower in comparison to the west tower and that there is a doorway that you can no longer get up to they’ve got some stairs in it. I’m too short to go up there. I’m in the north tower, and it’s quite interesting to read the room. Where I saw the stairs from the outside that, goes up to there. And then above that you’ve got a doorway- just up there that’s obviously where they come out. This had three floors by the looks of it, and possibly, a walkway. Two of the floors have got fireplaces on. But there’s these things stuck to the side of the wall and they’re quite fancy and ornate. They look kind of like candle holders but they’re equidistant, and there are four of them. We’re wondering whether they were candleholders or maybe some more fancy arch supports- you know for decorative purposes. It can’t be anything for roof purposes because they’re just flimsy. I thought initially that the ruins with the round tower and the rectangular room was the east bastion. However, that there- possibly extending along this wall here- is the east bastion. The bastion is a fortification that is designed to be built at an angle from the main wall so that you can fire in any direction. Which seems about right here to me, because you can fire from this section, or from the top there, or you can fire from that way. So yes, this kind of makes sense. And in front of me now I am walking towards what is possibly the end of that wall. There’s all sorts of little snippets that are left.
I thought initially that the ruins with the round tower and the rectangular room was the east bastion. However, that there- possibly extending along this wall here- is the east bastion. The bastion is a fortification that is designed to be built at an angle from the main wall so that you can fire in any direction. Which seems about right here to me, because you can fire from this section, or from the top there, or you can fire from that way. So yes, this kind of makes sense. And in front of me now I am walking towards what is possibly the end of that wall. There’s all sorts of little snippets that are left.
This is part of the gatehouse, and behind these gates- just to make sure that nosy people like me don’t go in and hurt myself- is a spiral staircase and some of the steps have been stolen away. Somebody’s thought ‘You know what? That would make a nice lintel or door frame or something’. Doorstep perhaps! Who knows. Either way, because of the fact that somebody’s thought, ‘know what I’m, having that’it’s gone and so you can’t go up there anymore. And it’s probably a good thing too because the floors inside the gatehouse are no longer there and this would lead up to those. This gatehouse was, once upon a time, the main accommodation for the lord and lady. And it’s a peculiar arrangement because this floor here had the holes for the portcullis to drop down to shut the gates. Which means that anytime they wanted to open the gates you had portcullises sat in well… I could only assume it was your living room. Upstairs would probably have been bedrooms. I mean maybe that’s the way they did it. I would have thought so. I mean, it’s a bit odd isn’t it? Imagine sitting there in your living room and somebody wants to come in so therefore you have to draw up two whacking great portcullises. I can’t imagine it was ideal with keeping the cold out either. The other thing of course, that every living room couldn’t do without, is the occasional murder hole. These were holes that you could pour stuff down through, or maybe shoot through. What self-respecting living room doesn’t need that, eh?
Behind me now is the interior of the original gatehouse and you can see in the ceiling there are a series of murder holes, which is quite fascinating. And off to the side here- they are the guard’s rooms. In the 15th century apparently, it became more important to have more comfortable accommodation than it did to have more fighting accommodation. So this was all made a bit more lavish. Which could explain the nice cushy interior of the north tower there but that might not have anything to do with it. However, let’s go now a look inside. This is the second of two chambers on the original inside of the gate. This one actually has a fireplace in it, the other one doesn’t. Which suggests that people who weren’t liked very much were sent in that one. But the other one is a bit more spacious so swings of roundabouts I guess. A bit drippy but quite nice.
While the stairs on that side of the gatehouse have been robbed out the stairs on this side of the gatehouse have fared somewhat better. So much so in fact that you can go all the way to the top of the tower, and there are some stunning views up there.
A medieval fortification built by Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century in the town of Caerphilly in South Wales. Loads of moats and lakes, it is said to have the most elaborate water defences in Britain. Occupying around 30 acres (12 hectares) it is the second-largest castle in the United Kingdom. One of its defining features is its leaning tower. The south-east tower in the Inner Ward leans outwards at an angle of 10 degrees.
Introducing Caerphilly Castle
Today we are visiting Caerphilly Castle. This is the largest castle of Wales, covering an area of around 30 acres. It was built by Gilbert declare in the 13th century to conquer Glamorgan. It has the most elaborate water defences in Britain It’s famous for its large gatehouses and because it introduced concentric castle defences to Britain. Work on the castle began in 1268 following Gilbert’s occupation of the north of Glamorgan. The castle was largely built at an amazing rate over the next three years. Gilbert’s Welsh rival, Llewelyn app Grufudd burnt the castle in 1270, but Gilbert prevailed and managed to complete the castle and took control of the region. The center of the castle six on an island surrounded by a number of artificial lakes and contains luxurious accommodation.
Caerphilly Concentric Castle
As you enter Caerphilly, you get to see how the concentric thing works much more clearly. You come in through the east gatehouse; the East outer gate, to be precise. And then you’ve got an inner moat to go with your massive outer moat. Once you’ve come in through that you reach another gatehouse, and then another one. Here.
The Leaning Tower of Caerphilly Castle
This tower has, as you can tell, something of a lean on it. Apparently, the lean of this tower is greater than the lean of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I don’t really know quite why it’s still standing it doesn’t really look like it ought to be. But I’m taking a leap of faith and I’m standing basically, where it will I should imagine eventually, fall. I mean you can tell that it leans out a long way because, where I’m standing now, which is a good several feet from the wall, I’m getting dripped on by the top of the tower. It leans out far enough that it drips here. Standing behind the tower might give you some clue as to just how much it’s leaning. I don’t think that catching it on film really does it justice it’s really hanging out there.
Trebuchets and Perriers
Behind me is a trebuchet- the siege engine that is used to lob bits of rock and flaming things into the castle to either knock bits of the walls down or to cause as much carnage as possible. And if fire got into the castle then that was pretty catastrophic because there’s an awful lot of wood in it. This slightly more slender looking beast behind me here is what is called a Perrier and a Perrier is used for quick fire rounds. It’s got a slingshot on it that you can draw back and *whoosh ping* So you’ve got your rapid fire and you’ve got your big punch.
The Many Gatehouses of Caerphilly Castle
Gatehouses! Gatehouses everywhere! Caerphilly Castle is inundated with them. This is one behind me there are a load of them over there. In fact basically, if you approach the castle from any direction chances are you’re going to hit a gatehouse. And it’s not really surprising, although this was quite a defensible looking structure, and the moats and the lakes and what-have-you made it incredibly defensible it was also somewhere that was really quite luxurious and if you’re going to have somewhere that’s really quite luxurious. It would be a bit of a pain in the neck if anytime you wanted to go in and out of it you had to walk all the way around the thing. Much easier to have a gatehouse here in the gatehouse there and a gatehouse there so gatehouses! Gatehouses everywhere!
What’s up the East gatehouse spiral staircase?
I’m in one of the rooms of the east gatehouse. In this room they’ve got a flight of stairs that goes up quite a long way I would say. I’ll wonder where these lead. Before you reach the roof you come out on to this, which is a walkway that goes around to the inner ward. Now, I’m not going to go this way just yet I’m going to go up to the roof first, because this place is a maze, and if you go off on a tangent you end up missing parts, so I’m going to methodically go upstairs, and then come back down, and then do the walkway. I made it to the roof! Finally! The stairs are long. When you get up here the views aren’t as vast as most other castles you see. You can’t see that far over the landscape, but what you can see is quite a way over the castle, and that’s quite something because you get a bird’s-eye view of what’s going on down below.
Just over halfway up the steps- or a little way down, is this walkway and I am going to see what’s on the other side. There are some spectacular views over the walkway of the moats, and lakes, and ducks, and swans, and geese. The inner ward is really quite interesting because there’s this real mishmash of styles. We come in through the inner east gate and the inner east gate is really nicely finished off and it looks really well polished. In fact, it could almost look new. But on the other side, you’ve got the inner west gate and that’s all raggedy and falling apart, and then you go past the great hall and the great hall is a lovely building, it’s got these massive windows, it’s got lovely polished stone on the outside. And I suspect that they felt that they could have those big windows there because on the other side of that is South Tower so it’s protected from there as well. But next to the Great Hall you’ve got the apartments and again that’s all raggedy and tumble down. So yeah, in this very small area you’ve got lots of different building styles. And through the ruins now you can just see the towers over there- the one that’s leaning.
Caerphilly’s Lavish Living Side
This is a lot of the point of this place. It’s all about lavish living and entertainment. That’s one hell of a fireplace, isn’t it? I mean, it’s kind of artificial now. It is a projection. But in its day, I would have kicked out some heat. The wooden structure you see behind me that is a minstrels gallery, and the idea is you stick your musicians up there and they can play and entertain and take advantage of the fact that the acoustics in here are really quite something. Stick your musicians up there they can be heard down here throughout the hall without you and your chums sitting and chatting too loudly. It’s a great idea. I mean basically, it’s the forerunner of the modern day stage.
So, off the Great Hall you’ve got this. Basically a set of posh apartments. On the ground floor, this is where the servants would have been, and then upstairs, that is where Gilbert de Clare the posh folks, would enjoy the riches of life. It had glass in the windows, we’re talking end of the 13th century here, and glass was quite expensive. It’s got some really ornate stone work around it. So you can tell it’s very lavish. If you’ve got the money to do this sort of thing you are a very very very wealthy individual. Gilbert de Claire was obviously doing very well for himself thank you very much. I hope you don’t have a problem with stairs, and specifically spiral stairs. Because they are everywhere in this place, which isn’t a problem, I’m pretty sure is keeping me fit. But all the steps are worth it because you end up seeing rooms like this. This is part of that main gatehouse and it’s amazingly lavish, I mean it’s really nice in here. See what I mean? It’s vast! It’s worth bearing in mind and what we’re actually standing above now is the drawbridge room so up here you’re pretty safe. I mean you’re in a castle, that’s pretty much within a castle, that’s within a castle that’s… surrounded by moats and lakes. Other than the people who are already inside, you don’t have to worry too much. Oh, and did I mention the spiral staircases?
The Circular Room
You go just a little way up the stairs and you come into this quite interesting little circular room. There are little alcoves off the side in it they go into rooms with windows that you can shoot from because there are Archer slits in them. Apart from that window there they’re all archer’s slits. And this is just off the main inner ward, so you’ve got this separate tower that comes off here and it’s got a roof, so this is it. It sticks out it’s here for this room and then the stairs go further up, presumably, to the roof.
The West Tower
I’ve come to the highest point that I can reach in the west tower and as you can see it’s got a roof. Which is the roof of the circular room that Jo’s has been in. And, although you could go slightly higher, there’s a gate with a lock which means that I can’t go any higher. I’d like to go up there because I’m guessing that the views from there are fantastic. The views from here pretty good too
Raglan Castle is a late medieval castle north of the village of Raglan in the county of Monmouthshire in south-east Wales.
The current Raglan castle was built between the 15th and early 17th centuries by the Herberts and the Somersets. It boasts a sizeable hexagonal Keep called the Great Tower or the Yellow Tower of Gwent. The tower was surrounded by a moat and could therefore only be accessed via a drawbridge but to reach this point one must already have negotiated the gatehouse which was itself protected by a drawbridge and twin portcullises. Beyond the gatehouse, are what was once luxurious accommodations.
Today we’re visiting Raglan castle.
The current Raglan Castle is a late medieval affair dating from between the 15th and early 17th centuries. The ruling families of the Herbert’s and the Somerset’s built what was a luxurious fortified castle. It is a large hexagonal keep known as the Great Tower or the yellow tower of Gwent. It is a large hexagonal keep known as the Great Tower or the yellow tower of Gwent.
The castle was surrounded by parkland with water gardens and terraces.
During the English Civil War, the castle was held on behalf of Charles the first and was taken by parliamentary forces in 1646.
In the aftermath, the castle was slighted, or put deliberately out of military use. After the restoration of Charles II, the Somerset’s declined to restore the castle. Raglan Castle became first a source of local building materials, then a romantic ruin.
Introducing Raglan Castle
There are parts of it, if you get the angle just right, that look like they might be straight out of a brochure to promote Venice. There are really nice crumbly buildings overlooking this moat, and the moat is a really interesting shape. It goes around the base of the great tower and there’s a doorway but you can walk down to the moat side. It’s a pretty impressive place. Pretty and impressive.
So I’m now standing in the courtyard. It took me a little while to get here because the outside was so spectacular. There’s a lot to see. And it’s very very pretty and very very photogenic. The courtyard here, it’s quite unusual to see one that’s still cobbled, and not only that but you can see the drainage ditch that goes all the way around the outside and there’s still quite a lot of the foundations left of the buildings around the outside of it as well. Not only that, but it’s interesting to see the different styles from the windows and the doors because they all kind of look like they’ve been built at different times. They’ve got a lot of different styles in one very small area.
The Inside Walkway
Back in the 16th century, if you were of the noble variety of person, when you wanted to get a bit of exercise but, the weather was somewhat inclement, there weren’t that many options available to you. You couldn’t go outside with an umbrella because nobody invented one yet. And there wasn’t much in the way of waterproof clothing, so instead, if you were ridiculously wealthy, then what you could do is you could come along to Raglan Castle and you could walk up and down the long gallery. This is really what people used to do to get a bit of exercise. It was nice and long, so you would walk up and down, and you would have a little bit of polite conversation, look at the paintings hanging on the wall, or admire the mouldings around the fireplace, and then look out of the window. Above me, you can just see what remains of it. There’s an awful lot of it gone but that is where you would stand to look out at the beautiful countryside and down below you’ll be able to see the water gardens and the ornamental lake. So, you know, if you’re really posh, go for a walk inside.
The Domestic Side of Raglan Castle
This room is just chock-full of fireplaces and weirdly the ones further up there have still got their mouldings on, which is fascinating because you can actually see the work done on them. It might have been more ornate but you can see the gist of what was there and it is beautiful work. What castle wouldn’t be complete without somewhere to store your grub and this is, of course, that. This is the cellar. You can tell us the cellar because it’s got a good echo. See? So this is the kitchen. There’s a fireplace there, there a fishy cooky thing there. It’s a kitchen. They cook things here. Looks like I found the library. Not real books though.
Raglan Castle’s Defence
It’s a bit of an oddly arranged castle this because you’ve got the main living quarters over there and then here you’ve got the central defensive structure which would have been cut off by the drawbridge. So, the thing is, if you were wanting to attack the big cheese you’d have to come in through this really narrow entranceway. Clever design and apparently it’s quite rare in the UK. It’s quite a long trek up to the top of the tower and it means that from the very top of the thing you can see a really long way around in every direction meaning that you really can keep an eye on what your enemies are up to and who’s trying to creep up on you. But it also means that you’ve got several stories that you can live in while you’re under siege and it all looks rather luxurious as well. Lots and lots of fireplaces and plenty of room. Be a nice place to live I reckon.
Top of Raglan Castle’s Tower
As you can see, it’s quite some view up here and that’s great; if you don’t have a problem with Heights. Did I mention I’ve got a slight problem with Heights? Actually, it’s not the heights that’s the problem it’s the looking down and that thought going through your mind that ‘I might drop off here in a minute’. *Shudders* Besides that, if you don’t have a massive problem with Heights come up here if you’re gonna visit because I can see for miles and this is Wales so it’s all very pretty. I mean, it really is stunning.