Dryslwyn Castle, Dyfed
~ History ~
1197 - Death of the Lord Rhys, prince of South Wales. His sons contest the succession to his kingdom resulting in a prolonged conflict between the brothers in which castles are captured and recaptured.
1216 - Llywelyn the Great, prince of Gwynedd, emerges as the one true power in all Wales and summons the quarrelling princes to resolve the succession. Rhys Gryg (Rhys the Hoarse) accepts the south-east partition of his fathers kingdom and with it the castles of Dinefwr and Dryslwyn. Together with his kin, they rule South-Wales by the grace of Llywelyn.
1230's - The building of Dryslwyn Castle begins.
1233 - Rhys Gryg dies and his apportioned kingdom is again sub-divided between his elder son Rhys Mechyll who inherits Dinefwr castle and his younger son Maredudd who inherits Dryslwyn castle.
1240 - Both Rhys and Maredudd, relieved of their subordination to the house of Gwynedd, pay homage to the King Henry III.
1250's - Relations between Rhys and Maredudd become strained to braking point over continued disputes. Securing aid from the royal commander at Carmarthen, Rhys gets the better of Maredudd. In turn Maredudd sides with Llywelyn.
1256 - With Maredudd at his side, Llywelyn invades and ousts Rhys. Maredudd becomes ruler of both kingdoms.
1257 - In desperation, Rhys turns to the king's commander, Stephen Bauzon, who leads an army to restore Rhys's kingdom. At a critical point in approaching Dinefwr, Rhys deserts his English ally, and the royal army suffers a devastating defeat. By the summer almost the whole of south-west Wales is in Welsh hands.
1258 - Faced with continued divided loyalties amongst the princes, Llywelyn attempts to reconcile Rhys and Maredudd, restoring them to their former kingdoms. Disillusioned by the fact his loyalty to Llywelyn had not won him the benefits he sought, Maredudd turns to the King's fealty. Llywelyn responds by imprisoning him at Criccieth Castle.
1261 - Maredudd is released from imprisonment. However, relations with Llywelyn are soured forever.
1267 - King Henry III and Llywelyn sign the Treaty of Montgomery, in which Henry grants the allegiance of all the other Welsh princes to Llywelyn, except Maredudd.
1270 - Prince Edward, the future KIng Edward I, persuades his father Henry III to grant Maredudd's homage to Llywelyn for the huge sum of £3,300, so he can meet his expenses to the crusade he is about to embark upon.
1271 - Maredudd dies 'in his own castle at Dryslwyn'. Three weeks later his brother Rhys dies 'in his own castle at Dinefwr'. Dryslwyn passes to Maredudd's son Rhys ap Maredudd.
1272 - King Henry III dies. Prince Edward becomes King Edward I.
1277 - Frustrated by Llywelyn's repeated defiance, Edward assembles an army to invade Wales. Rhys ap Maredudd is the first to seek terms and is allowed to keep Dryslwyn.
1283 - Following the death of Llywelyn the Last and the imprisonment of Rhys's rival cousin to the Tower of London, Rhys ap Maredudd becomes the only remaining descendant of the Lord Rhys for both kingdoms.
1287 - Rhys attacks the castles of Dinefwr, Carreg Cennen and Llandovery, slaughtering the English defenders. The English response is swift, 11,000 men lay siege to Dryslwyn Castle. The castle falls after three weeks in which time Rhys flees.
1292 - With a price on his head, the outlaw Rhys is betrayed by his own men, captured and executed at York for treason. His son and heir arrested and imprisoned for the next 48 years in Norwich Castle.
1343 - Dryslwyn is reported to be in poor stae of repair, requiring £341 for essential restoration.
1403 - The Welsh rebel leader Owain Glyndwr sweeps across South Wales and lays siege to Carreg Cennen. It's constable meets with Owain at Dryslwyn to plead for safe conduct for the women folk, but Owain 'wolde none graunte me'. The welsh army has swollen from 300 to 8,000 men from across South Wales flock to his golden dragon banner.
The constable of Dryslwyn throws open the gates of the castle to Glyndwr's forces.
1409 - Following the Glyndwr revolt, repair work at Dryslwyn castle is not carried out and it is soon abandoned forever, later to be demolished.
5 miles West of Llaneilo
Dryslwyn stands prominently atop a small and steep sided hill at the centre of the broad Tywi valley. Barely four miles south-west of Dinefwr, and directly overlooking the river, for much of the Middle Ages the castle controlled one of the few crossing points on the meandering stretch of water above Carmarthen.
Access to the castle is from a car park across the road from the castle grounds just over the bridge.
As you make your way up to the castle you will be able to make out the foundations of the village that once surrounded the castle.
Terrific views from the castle walls.