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224 DRYSLWYN

GRID REFERENCE: SN 554203
AREA IN HECTARES: 8.88

Historic Background
A small area comprising the isolated hill on which stand the remains of Dryslwyn Castle and the deserted Medieval town, which together enclosed 1.7 ha. Most of this section, unless otherwise indicated, is taken from Rees and Caple, 1999, Dinefwr Castle: Dryslwyn Castle. Despite its obviously defensible nature, there is no evidence for any prehistoric occupation of the castle site, although Roman finds have apparently been recorded from the hilltop. Occupation appears to have begun during the Medieval period when the area lay within Cantref Mawr, which remained an independent Welsh lordship until 1284. A llys may have occupied the site under the Princes of Deheubarth during the 12th century and it has been suggested that, under Welsh tenure, Dryslwyn may have had a maerdref (Sambrook and Page 1995, 17), possibly at the nearby Cwm-agol in Area 191, to the east. The present remains of the round keep and inner ward date from the early 13th-century, and the middle ward to the mid 13th-century. Dryslwyn was the centre of Welsh rebellion against the reorganisation of Cantref Mawr under English rule, and was subject to an English siege in 1287, the successful conclusion of which brought the castle under the control of the English crown. The outer ward was subsequently added, the inner ward lodgings were partly rebuilt, and a borough was laid out on the surrounding hilltop, which was enclosed within masonry town walls. By the end of the 13th century the town comprised 43 burgages with a mill and annual fair, the burgesses holding their lands by royal charter (Soulsby 1983, 133). In 1360 there were 34 burgages within the castle defences and 14 on Bridge Street (ibid.). Bridge Street has probably been succeeded by the present road that runs around the western flank of the hill, leading to a bridge which had, by 1360 at least, succeeded a ford in Area 182. In 1403 Dryslwyn was captured by Owain Glyndwr and the town appears to have been completely destroyed; only the castle is marked on Saxton's map of Carmarthenshire of 1578 suggesting that the town never recovered. The castle soon also fell into disrepair but the remains appear never to have fully captured the imagination of the Romantic artists of the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries. The castle remains were acquired by the State (now under Cadw) in 1980, were subject to archaeological excavation and clearance, and are now open to the public.

Base map reproduced from the OS map with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Crown Copyright 2001.
All rights reserved. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Licence Number: GD272221

Description and essential historic landscape components
This very small character consists only of Dryslwyn Hill. The hill rises steeply from the flood plain of the Tywi at 20 m to a height of over 60 m. A Post-Medieval mortared wall runs around the foot of the hill. Land-use is rough pasture. The major landscape components of this area comprise the masonry and earthwork remains of the Medieval castle and town. The masonry remains were until recently quite insubstantial, but excavation and conservation over the past two decades has uncovered much of the building plan of the castle, but most of the castle and town are still represented by earthworks. These are massive, particularly the defensive circuits, and together with the upstanding remains form a significant component of the historic landscape.

The recorded archaeology is dominated by the masonry remains of the castle and town wall, and associated earthworks, house platforms etc. of Medieval date. A Roman findspot has also been recorded.

There are no further buildings.

Dryslwyn character area is very distinctive both historically and geographically. It contrasts with surrounding, lower-lying settled and enclosed farmland.

 

 

 

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