Aberystwyth Castle, Ceredigion
New Promenade, Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth's ruined towers stand on a windy headland above Cardigan Bay. As one of King Edward I first castles in Wales it never reached quite the same level of grandeur as Caernarfon or Conwy, though it was well protected by the sea on one side and a marsh on the other. The castle has an unusual diamond layout.
Access to the castle is free and open to the public, but you'll need to park in the town and walk towards the shoreline where the castle is located.
For such a large important castle, there is little left of interest, which is a shame.
~ History ~
1277 - Mason, Carpenters, smiths, quarrymen and workmen are sent from Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Wiltshire, to commence the building of the castle for Edmund, brother of King Edward I.
1280 - The second keeper of the castle, Bogo de Knovil, already keeper of Cardigan, Carmarthen, Dinefwr and Carreg Cennen castles, reports to the King that the work carried out prior to his appointment is unsatisfactory; there is no army, garrison or provisions and no locks or bars on the town gates. He also criticizes the castle's construction; stating that the great tower was 'shaken day in day out by the great crash of waves' through to its foundations being placed too near the castle ditch. Furthermore there is no harbour to supply the castle.
1282 - The Welsh attack and easily burn down the castle. King Edward I sends his greatest castle builder, Master James of St. George, builder of Conway and Caernarfon, to take things in hand. Lime from Tenby, high quality stone is shipped all the way round the Pembrokeshire coast from Bristol, lead from the mines in Snowdonia, iron & steel from Staffordshire, ropes from Lincolnshire and vast amounts of additional men and money arrive.
1294 - Another Welsh uprising lays seige to the castle. This time
the castle withstands the assault as Master James has ensured the castle's faults and weaknesses have been remedied, especially the addition of a harbour which enables the castle to be supplied during the seige, with provisions sent by sea from Bristol.
1341 - By the time the Black Prince takes over the castle, it is in a poor state of disrepair. King Edward II has taken to granting the castle to Court favourites, who in turn fail to keep the castle up to scratch.
1403 - French and Breton ships appear off the coast of Kidwelly castle South Wales and later in site of Caernarfon castle in the North. Both castles are attacked in support of Owain Glyndwr's uprising. Huge reinforcements are sent from England to reinforce Beaumaris castle. Relief missions are sent from England to relieve Cardiff castle, but are driven off by the Welsh.
Aberystwyth castle is attacked, as well as Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Criccieth and Harlech. In the south Cardiff is sacked by the Welsh.
1404 ~ Following the fall of Harlech castle to the north, besieged Aberystwyth stands alone against the Welsh, but this too is eventually forced to surrender and becomes Glyndwr's administrative centre.
1408 - Prince Henry, later King Henry V, brings a huge force and an enormous cannon all the way from Pontefract. After months of bombardment, Rhys Ddu offers the English terms to surrender, but this is refused and the fighting grimly continues, with the Welsh running out of weaponry. William Gwyn ap Rhys Llwyd, who had served the English Crown at Kidwelly but had later joined Glyndwr, is killed by a cannonball. The Welsh are unable to respond to the continuous bombardment. During the few nights leading to the castles surrender, many men escape to the beach at night, heading north to join Glyndwr, who is thought to be under siege at Harlech castle.
1600's - Civil War destruction of the castle is particularly thorough.