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Llansteffan Castle

Llansteffan's ruins stand majestically on the west bank of the Tywi estuary, on a site of great antiquity. Long before the castle was built, the headland was site to an iron age hill fort dated back to the 6th century BC. It was refortified as an Anglo-Norman stronghold in the early 12th century, when the Iron Age ditches were recut and a 'ringwork' castle of earth and timber constructed within. With Llansteffan on the west and Kidwelly on the east, the important road to Carmarthen, which the Normans saw, as the Romans before them had seen, as the crucial centre point of south-west Wales, was well protected. Later in its history the gatehouse was converted into a comfortable residence before gradually sinking into obscurity, being occupied by farm buildings including a stone barn.

History of Llansteffan Castle

600 BC - An Iron Age hill fort is built on the rocky bluff overlooking the sandy Tywi estuary.

1112 - Gilbert de Clare, first Earl of Pembroke, builds a wooden castle at Llansteffan.

1137 - Welsh forces attack and burn the castle.

1146 - The Welsh, under the leadership of the forteen year old Lord Rhys and his brothers, young princes of the royal house of Deheubarth, return and this time capture the castle by scaling the walls. Shortly afterwards, prince Maredudd succeeds in repelling a much larger Norman force sent to recapture the castle, throwing them off their scaling ladders and into the ditches. (more in the History section)

Text by Fred Vincent