Dinefwr Castle Carmarthen

Introduction

Dinefwr Castle was built on a bold bluff projecting over the river Towy; precipitous on two sides it can only be reached by a stiff climb on the landward side. It was an important fortification in a sometimes volatile area. Whereas 40 stone castles were built by the Normans to keep out the Welsh, Dinefwr was built by the Welsh to keep out the Normans.

Dinefwr had been the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Deheubarth, ruled by Hywel ap Cadell from about 910AD to 950AD. He was famous as law-giver of Medieval Wales having been appointed justiciar by Henry 2nd. He became known, after his death as Hywel Dda, Hywel the Good. One of his descendents, Nest, famous for her beauty married the Norman, Gerald of Windsor. Their grandson Geraldus Cambrensis, Gerald of Wales is famous for an account he wrote of his journey through Wales in 1188, a book still well read today.

The initial refortification of Dinefwr Castle may have begun in the 1160’s by Rhys ap Griffudd who relinquished his regal status and took the title of Lord Rhys. In 1172 he enlarged the castle. Family struggles led to an attack being made on the castle in 1213 and the rebuilding may have taken place between 1220 and 1234.On the eastern side of the inner bailey and probably following the ancient lines, a masonry curtain wall was built; within which a round keep, typical of that period was erected. Two square towers were also built and seemed to be full of apartments.

In 1298 Edward 1st established a new settlement referred to for some time as Dinefwr but now called Newton House. In 1485 this was presented to Rhys ap Thomas as a reward for his support at the Battle of Bosworth. Improvements carried out then seemed to have been of poor standard. The mansion you see today has been refurbished, additions and improvements made to house and garden. In Victorian times the mansion acquired a Gothic front with capped turrets on each corner and a porte-cochere over the main entrance, now N.T. it is open to the public. The garden contains fallow deer and a priceless herd of white oxen reputed to be descendants of long extinct wild oxen. To visit the Castle, you walk across the extensive Parkland, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown.

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015