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Llawhaden Castle

Llawhaden was a fortified palace built by the bishops of St Davids. It was originally an earthwork enclosure of the twelfth century, about 150 feet in diameter and surrounded by a dry moat, 70 feet wide, and a bank. This palace was destroyed by the Welsh and later demolished. Soon afterwards, stonework was raised. By the 13th century Bishop Thmas Bek converted the castle into a palace. During the last quarter of the 14th century major rebuilding work was undertaken including a courtyard surrounded by strong walls, towers and an impressive gatehouse. Despite the fact that these new towers and gatehouse gave the castle a more formidable outward appearance, the work was intended for more show than any serious form of defence.

History of Llawhaden Castle


1115 - On the death of the last Welsh bishop, Wilfred, the new Norman incumbent, Bernard, erects a timber castle. The earth and timber stronghold being one of a line of castles on the frontier between Norman and Flemish settlers to the south and west, and the Welsh princely chieftains to the north and the east.

1175 - Gerald of Wales visits his uncle, Bishop David Fitz Gerald, at Llawhaden castle.

1192 - Gerald's cousin, the powerful Lord Rhys, captures the castle. The following year "the Welsh gathered together, and they razed the castle to the ground at their pleasure". It would be decades before Norman rule recovered. (more in the History section)

Text by Fred Vincent