GRID REFERENCE: SN 554203
AREA IN HECTARES: 8.88
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.