Drysllwyn Castle Llandeilo


This castle is a complete ruin but having been historically associated with Dynevor, Castle Cennan and rulers of Deheubarth, its importance provides a background for anyone interested in Welsh history in the 13th century. Just 9 miles along the B4300 upstream from the English built Carmarthen Castle, at a point where the valley of the river Towy narrows down, the fortress can be found on a well marked hill overlooking the valley.

The ruins show it to have been a castle of terraced wards; the lower ward running down the slope towards the river, the stronger inner ward higher up on top of the hill. On three sides this was decidedly steep, only on one side was it fairly accessible.

The castles’ last but one independent owner, Maredud ap Rhys generally sided with Edward 1st doing good service for him in driving out the incursion of the North Welsh into Dyfed. However, Rhys did not receive the promised Dynevor Castle reward, and so, when the King was in France, the aggrieved Rhys raised a powerful army and took several castles including Dinefwr and Castle Cennen. Although the King was absent he was kept informed and sent Roger Lestrange and the knights of Salop to repress the rebellion of Rhys and his fellow Welshmen.

The castles were retaken and in August 1287 Drysllwyn was besieged with an almost unprecedented 11,000 men and with the best engineering skills of the day. A great ‘engine’ probably a trbuchet, battered the chapel, which was reckoned to be the weakest part of the wall, while miners pushed forward trenches and filled up the ditch. The breach was enormous and about September 5th the castle was captured. Moredud ap Rhys was not discovered inside, he had apparently taken to the hills. After a long and miserable time lurking in the hills he was captured and sent to an obscure end.

Only once more did Drysllwyn face controversy when it was one of the castles betrayed to Owain Glyndwr during his first raid into South Wales. Either he refused to re-garrison it and dismantled it or his partisans made no resistance when Henry, Prince of Wales re-conquered South Wales in 1405-06 for there is no record of a siege and recapture of Drysllwyn, which disappears from history in 1403.

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015