Ton Kenfig, Bridgend
Kenfig Castle is one of the best discoveries of all the hundreds of castles we have visited across the country. The castle is partially buried under the huge expanse of rolling sand dunes that stretch out in every direction, hidden beneath tangled undergrowth.
Finding this castle you will need a map of the Kenfig sands. You can park off the road opposite the public footpaths that cross the sands.
As you progress up and over the grassy sand dunes without any firm landmarks it can be easy to lose your way and the paths soon disappear underfoot. With the motorway far to the right of you, the sprawling Port Talbot steel works ahead, look out for the stub of the tower that sits upon a tangled grassy mound. If you come across the railway line as you head towards the steel works, work your way to your left, away from the motorway, and eventually you'll spot the stubby tower ruins.
After you have visited the tower and work away from the tangled ruins, you will spot other sections of castle walls that appear from under the undergrowth, indicating there is still much that is hidden from view that still awaits excavation to reveal its secrets.
On a hot day such as ours, make sure you take plenty of water for the walk. The Prince of Wales pub once back at the road provides a well earnt drink after a very long but enjoyable walk.
~ History ~
1100 ~ The Normans led by Robert Fitzhamon invade Glamorgan. He splits Glamorgan into knights fees amongst those who give him military service. He keeps Cardiff for himself, but also Kenfig.
1140's ~ A timber motte and bailey castle is built at Kenfig during the reign of King Stephen to reflect its importance as a maritime trading town. As a consequence the Welsh see Kenfig as a threat and so contantly attack the castle and harass the trade and people of the town.
1167 ~ The castle is attacked and burnt by the Welsh.
1183 ~ The castle is again attacked.
1184 ~ The Welsh return and again attack both castle and town.
The attack destroys part of the town's defences and the town mill. There is severe damage to the castle - timber for its repair is brought to Kenfig from Chepstow.
Hywel ap Maredudd of Miskin attacks and burns the town.
An attack by Morgan Gam of Avan takes the town and most of the castle, albeit he is thwarted when the garrison make a last ditch stand in the keep.
Hywel ap Maredudd attacks and burns down the town for the second time.
1185 ~ The wooden castle is replaced by a stone tower.
1243 ~ The castle is attacked by Hywel ap Meredith, Morgan Gam’s cousin.
1257 ~ The castle is attacked by Welsh forces led by Llywelyn the Last.
1294 ~A Welsh uprising across Glamorgan see's destruction in the town of Kenfig.
1314 ~ During the rebellion of Llywelyn Bren a large area of the town is destroyed. 42 burgages are left in ashes. There is also damage to the castle, which holds out.
A further rebellion against the crown devastates the town, and this time capturing and destroying the castle.
1321 ~ Kenfig is damaged when a group of powerful barons turn against the despised Hugh le Despenser and attacked his property.
1405 ~ A major Welsh uprising under Owain Glyndwr across all of Wales, see's forces attack Kenfig castle. With the constant attacks by the Welsh and the relentless encrouchment of the shifting sands over the castle, it is finally abandoned and later much of it dismantled.