Newcastle Emlyn Castle, Camarthenshire
~ History ~
1240 ~ Maredudd ap Rhys builds himself a stone castle, being one of very few built be the Welsh in stone, replacing an existing timber and earth castle. The expanding and thriving settlement takes the name of Trecastell.
Emlyn passes to Meredith's son, Rhys ap Maredudd, who successfully avoids becoming embroiled in the Wars of Welsh Independence. Accordingly he is rewarded by King Edward I but the English King's refusal to grant him wider estates prompts the relationship to break down.
1287 ~ Rhys rebels during which Newcastle Emlyn is attacked by Roger Mortimer, Earl of March. Rhys' men recaptured the castle.
1288 ~ The castle is again besieged and falls to Robert Tiptoft, Justiciar of South Wales after 23 days. Rhys ap Maredudd flees. Emlyn and all of Rhys's possessions are confiscated by the Crown.
1291 ~ Rhys is captured and executed the following year.
1300 ~ the Treasurer of South Wales is instructed to ensure the castles in his care, including Emlyn, are repaired and provisioned.
1312 ~ A new Great Hall is commissioned. The large increase in population of the adjacent civilian settlement prompts a re-configuration of the town which is now known as Newtown Emlyn and is granted the status of a Royal Borough.
The castle and town go into marked decline in the mid-fourteenth century when the area is ravaged by the Black Death.
1343 ~ A report commissioned for Edward, Prince of Wales - notes the castle is in a poor condition.
1347 ~ The castle is repaired including the building of new twin tower gatehouses by Richard de la Bere on behalf of the Prince.
1382 ~ The castle is granted to Simon Burley.
1400 ~ A new Welsh rebellion erupts in North Wales when Owain Glyndŵr is proclaimed Prince of Wales. Finding popular support, the uprising spreads and expands into South Wales.
1403 ~ Owain's forces arrive at Newcastle Emlyn where he captures the castle whilst the town, whose inhabitants are largely of English origin, is sacked. Within two weeks the area has been retaken by Sir Thomas
Carew although the damage by that time is considerable.
1428 ~ Newcastle Emlyn is described as being in ruins.
1500 ~ Sir Rhys ap Thomas acquires and repaires the castle. He inserts large windows to improve the comfort of the castle as a residence, at the expense of defence.
1644 ~ The Royalist Sir Charles Garard captures the castle from Parliamentary forces following several attempts which see's the castle change hands severals times.
1645 ~ Major-General Rowland Laugharne besieges the castle for Parliament but is routed by Gerard in a fierce engagement below the castle walls. After the general surrender to the Royalists, the castle is blown up with gunpoweder to make it indefensible. It is never again occupied and its stone is plundered and ever since neglected.
Castle St, Newcastle Emlyn
Newcastle Emlyn castle can be found in the market town that still bears its name. You can get to the castle quite easily with a short walk from the small road that leads to it.
The castle is surrounded by river on three sides, set high upon its hill, which makes this such an obvious place to build a castle which its natural defences and man made earth works on the forth side ahead of the gatehouse.
The castle is now very ruined with the gatehouse its main remaining feature, still showing the large window modifications that pre-date its last action during the civil war, as this fortress turned comfortable home, is for the last time placed on a war footing, leading to its destruction.