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256 CARREG CENNEN CASTLE

GRID REFERENCE: SN 668190
AREA IN HECTARES: 16.58

Historic Background
A very small character area comprising the rocky hill, and castle, of Carreg Cennen, in the foothills of the Black Mountain. The cave beneath the castle was occupied during the prehistoric period, but the history of the area is primarily Medieval. Much of this section has been taken from Lewis 1990, Carreg Cennen Castle. Carreg Cennen was, during the historic period, the administrative centre and llys of Iscennen commote, giving its name to Maenor Llys within which it lay; its maerdref lay in Area 198 now represented by the farm-names Ferdre Fawr and Fach (Rees 1924, 200). The llys had been established by at least the 13th century and appears to have been fortified prior to the construction of the present castle later in that century, possibly under the Prince of Deheubarth Rhys ap Gruffydd who built castles at Dinefwr (Area 195) and Cardigan in the late 12th century. Along with Cantref Bychan, Carreg Cennen fell to his son Rhys Gryg but was separated from the rest of Iscennen in 1233 when Rhys Mechyll succeeded. It was briefly captured by the English in 1248, was the scene of several changes of hands in the 1250s and finally, in 1277, surrendered to the English. The castle, along with Iscennen, was acquired by John Giffard in 1283, and in 1340 it became a member of the Duchy of Lancaster (Rees 1953, xv-xvi). The castle was rebuilt as a substantial masonry construction, the present Inner Ward being constructed in the late 13th century and the Outer Ward being added in the early 14th century. The castle was captured and damaged during the Glyndwr rebellion, but was finally destroyed during the Wars of the Roses in 1461. The later history of the castle is obscure until the late 18th century when its striking site came to the notice of Romantic painters and poets. It was acquired by the State in 1932 on whose behalf it is now managed by Cadw.

 

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 area consists of the Medieval castle of Carreg Cennen and the hill on which it is located. Carreg Cennen hill is composed of Carboniferous limestone and rises from the Cennen valley at approximately 150 m to a summit of over 260 m. The northern, eastern and western flanks of the hill are steep-sided, the southern and southwestern sides are vertical cliffs. The lower less precipitous but nevertheless craggy southern slopes are cloaked with deciduous woodland. The remainder of the hill is improved pasture. This has been divided into small irregular fields by earth, and earth and stony banks, both of which are topped with hedges. Carreg Cennen Castle is, however, the major historic element of this landscape. Substantial elements of this masonry castle on the summit survive, including most of the main curtain wall and associated towers. The outer ward is less well preserved. Included in the remains is a covered passageway which leads down the cliff-face to a cave. In the Outer Ward lie the remains of a stone-built limekiln.

Recorded archaeology is dominated by the substantial remains of the Medieval masonry castle with its twin-tower gatehouse, but there is also the prehistoric use of the cave, a Bronze Age findspot, a Roman coin hoard, and Post-Medieval limekilns.

There are no other buildings.

This is a well-defined area. The hill and the castle are distinctive elements of a landscape otherwise composed of farms and fields.

 

 

 

 

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