Caerphilly Castle: Near Cardiff
Caerphilly Castle is one of the greatest medieval castles of western Europe.
Several factors give it this pre-eminence: its immense size (1.2 hectares), makes this the largest Castle in Britain after Windsor. Also its large-scale use of water for defence - note the substantial moat all around it.
Caerphilly Castle is the first truly concentric castle in Britain. At the time it was built, in the late 13th century, it was a revolutionary masterpiece of military planning.
One of Henry III's most powerful and ambitious barons, Gilbert de Clare, the Lord of Glamorgan, built Caerphilly castle.
Gilbert de Clare's objective was to secure the area and prevent lowland south Wales from falling into the hands of the Welsh leader Llywelyn the Last. Llywelyn controlled most of mid and north Wales.
De Clare built other castles on the northern fringes of his territory for the same purpose. He had seized the upland district of Senghenydd, in which Caerphilly lies, from the Welsh in 1266 to act as a buffer against Llywelyn's southward ambitions.
Llywelyn tried but failed to prevent the castle from being built. Works commenced 11 April 1268, were delayed when attacked by Llywelyn in 1270, and resumed in 1271. Llywelyn subsequently retreated northwards.
Apart from the remodelling of the great hall and other domestic works in 1322-6 for Hugh le Despenser, no alterations were ever carried out, making Caerphilly Castle a very pure example of late 13th-century military architecture.
Caerphilly Castle: Built for defence
Caerphilly Castle is unusual in being a late castle built on a virgin site.
Caerphilly Castle is a double-skinned parallelogram surrounded by large-scale water defences.
The concentric arrangement gave rapid access to any part of the castle by mural passages and wall-walks. It meant towers and gatehouses could be independently held. Any attackers could be repelled and it's design prevented siege engines reaching the inner walls.
There are numerous portcullises to different self contained areas of the castle, each of which could be independently defended.
The south and north lakes around the castle formed an almost insuperable barrier to attackers. The dams themselves are a major achievement of medieval engineering.
Caerphilly Castle: What 'action' did it see?
The castle’s active history was limited. It had a relatively peaceful time of it. By 1283 Edward I had removed the threat of Welsh independence and the need for Caerphilly had gone.
Minor Welsh attacks in 1294-5 and 1316 failed to make any impact.
The last action that Caerphilly saw was in the war between Edward II and his queen, Isabella. Intent on destroying the power of her husband and his favourite Hugh le Despenser, Isabella besieged the castle from December 1326 to March 1327. But by this time Edward had fled and Hugh had been hanged.
Thereafter, with little requirement for such a defensive fortress, the castle was abandoned. It declined and fell into ruin.
In the late 16th century Thomas Lewis of The Van, just outside Caerphilly, was granted permission to use its stone to build his new house, thus accelerating its dilapidation. No sense of historic preservation of old buildings in those days!
In the Civil War it was unusable and an earthwork redoubt was built instead to the north-west, the remains of which are still visible in the trees beyond the north lake.
By the 18th century the lakes were dry and houses had been built against the foot of the south dam.
However thanks to the Bute family's restoration efforts and vision, Caerphilly Castle rose again. A huge amount of restoration work undertaken by the Bute family and the imaginative reflooding of the lakes by the state in the 1950s has restored Caerphilly Castle and made it into a major tourist centre. Many internal rooms are waterproofed and functional.
Caerphilly Castle (Welsh: Castell Caerffili) is a medieval castle that dominates the centre of the town of Caerphilly near Cardiff.
It is the largest castle in Wales and the second largest in Britain after Windsor Castle.
Built mainly between 1268 and 1271 to stop Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's southward ambitions, it is an early example of a concentric castle with extensive water defences.
The castle deteriorated during several centuries of disuse. Its owners since 1766, the Marquesses of Bute undertook extensive restoration.
During the 1930s, surrounding streets were levelled to restore the dominant view which had been obscured by town development. In 1950 the castle and grounds were handed over to the British government and today Cadw manage the site as a tourist attraction.
Located in the heart of Southern Wales and only 20 minutes drive from Wales' capital city - Cardiff. The stunning Brecon Beacons National Park is on the doorstep, along with many great attractions, walking and cycling routes.
As Caerphilly Castle is just off the A470, which you have to drive along anyway to get to and from Craig y Nos Castle from England. Caerphilly Castle is a good day out either for your return journey or the outward bound journey. You do need to allow a good half-day for it though. There is not so much to see within Caerphilly itself; the main attraction is the castle and the walk around it. If you have dogs you can give them a good run just walking around the perimiter of this very large castle and lake.
You can see from our own photos that we arrived early afternoon, spent some time with our dogs inside the castle, and stayed walking around the moated walls till after dark.
80% of the land is countryside, making the county borough of Caerphilly a playground for outdoor activities. Visitors can discover walking trails and paths that meander along the contours of the Welsh hills, offering breathtaking scenery. For the more adventurous there's abseiling, quad biking, horse riding, canoeing, orienteering, survival skills, archery and clay shooting.
The County Borough of Caerphilly has a strong and proud heritage, just like the magnificent Caerphilly Castle, Wales' largest castle with its very own Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Encircled by mountains Caerphilly is an area of outstanding natural beauty - a paradise for lovers of nature and the great outdoors.
Caerphilly Castle Opening Times and Charges
Current times and prices 1 November 2012 - 28 February
2015 prices etc: Times Monday to Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm, Sunday 11.00am - 4.00pm, Last admission 30 minutes before closing, Closed 24, 25, 26 December and 1 January, Prices Adult - £4.00, Family - £11.60, Senior citizens, students and children under 16 - £3.60, Disabled and companion - Free, Parking: Free on the green beside the Lake.
Caerphilly Castle: Merlin and Dr. Who
The castle has long been synonymous with Caerphilly. It dominates the town.
Caerphilly Castle is also a great backdrop for TV and film. It secured a starring role recently in the popular BBC TV series Merlin.
Dr. Who's Tardis seems to have been caught in a timewarp and was observed on top of one of the turrets at Caerphilly castle when I last visited.
Covering 30 acres, Caerphilly Castle is one of the greatest surviving castles in the medieval Western world.
It was a highpoint in medieval defensive architecture with its massive gatehouses and water features. It was built by Earl Gilbert de Clare, at beginning of 1268 to frighten off Llewelyn, the last native Prince of Wales from fighting the Normans in the southern part of Wales.
It was used as a model for Edward I's subsequent castles in North Wales. Llewelyn did actually manage to seize it briefly when it was half finished, but it was soon back in Norman hands.
After Llewelyn's defeat and death, the Welsh threat substantially ended, and the castle became the administrative centre for de Clare's estates. Edward II spent time here.
Caerphilly Castle became uncomfortable and unsuitable as a family residence and so began was abandoned and left to decay. Some stone was taken to build a nearby country house.
Fortunately the Victorian Bute family rescued and restored the castle.
An informative Castles of Wales exhibition is located in one tower and working replicas of siege engines are within the grounds. There is also an Audio Visual tour available.
Stretching over a thirty-acre site in the centre of Caerphilly, the imposing Caerphilly Castle is a striking testament to the turbulent times of medieval Wales.
Located close to the site of a former Roman fort, the building of Wales' largest castle began in 1268, under orders from the Anglo-Norman Lord Gilbert de Clare. Its construction acted as powerful symbol of Anglo-Norman rule and reinforced de Clare's control over the conquered lands of the 'Marchia Wallia'.
Its magnificence no doubt struck fear into the hearts of the local people. Its formidable stone and water 'concentric' defences provided protection from the Welsh and in particular against the threat of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn - the Prince of Wales.
The fortress also played an administrative role, replacing the local court of the 'commote' as the centre of administration and revenue collection.
Caerphilly Castle: Late 13th Century
Throughout the late thirteenth and early fourteenth Century, the Castle continued to be the focus of Welsh attacks. In 1316 Llywelyn Bren, a noble of Senghenydd, raised an army of ten thousand men and attacked the Castle. The attackers failed to breach its defences, although much of the town of Caerphilly was destroyed.
By the mid-fourteenth century relative calm had fallen upon Caerphilly and parts of the Castle were abandoned. However, its upkeep continued throughout the fifteenth century, when the Beauchamp family spent a considerable sum of money improving its domestic accommodation.
At the end of the century the Castle was leased to the Lewis family. They 'robbed' its stone to improve their own home at Van Mansion.
Caerphilly Castle: Rebuilding & Restoration by the Bute Family
In the late eighteenth Century the Marquess of Bute acquired Caerphilly Castle.
His descendants oversaw its 'great rebuilding'.
Restoration of the Castle began in the late nineteenth Century, under the direction of the immensely wealthy third Marquess of Bute.
This work continued throughout the last century under the fourth Marquess and later the State. The result of this extensive and painstaking restoration work is the Castle you see today.
So it is thanks to the Bute family that we can all now enjoy a great day out with our dogs in and around Caerphilly Castle.
Caerphilly Castle: Medieval Events
Saturday 10th December 10.00am - 4.00pm
Sunday 11th December 10.00am - 4.00pm
Children, over 60`s and students: £3.60
Heritage in Wales members: free
All entertainment in the grounds are free, a small charge will apply for some activities.Living History.
Step back in time within the castle walls to a medieval age brimming with living history encampments, combat sessions and traders from far and wide, offering a wide range of local produce and fayre. Join Lion Rampart, Medieval Scenes by the Freemen of Gwent and Sons of the Dragon displaying archery among other wonderful visual shows. There will also be plenty on offer for young and old alike in the castle with Fiery Jack and the spectacular Dragon Wye Ten.
Caerphilly Castle Traders at Chirstmas Fayre
We defy you to be stuck for Christmas ideas after stepping through the Castle gates at the December Fayre!
Browse amongst the wonderful stands for inspiration which include children's medieval costumes, mystical sculpture and jewellery, shields and swords, medieval leatherworks, basket weaving, a blacksmith, glass stalls and woodturning! Christmas shopping can also get the appetite racing and there's plenty of seasonal food to tempt the tastebuds, including the wonderful Great British Pie Award winners created by Newport-based Elm Tree Foods.
Other food stalls include Pigs in a Bun, Frantastic Crepes, Popty Cara and Martin's Jerked Meats. For the thirsty there'll be drink stalls including Medieval Themed Crimson Moon, where you'll taste the best meads from the Banquet to the Moniack, though this one is only for the brave hearted! Christmas just wouldn't be the same either without a visit to Father Christmas who'll be visiting the Castle over the weekend.
Caerphilly Castle Entertainers
Why not join Caerphilly Castle's jester who'll have many a joke and merry tale. He'll cheer you up while the children can practice their sword fighting skills with Sir Andrew, the Cadw Knight, in his 'knight school'.
Don't miss out either on the live performers, including music and dancing as The Hautbois wheel their cart around and the Mirage Mummers act out their unique plays throughout the weekend.
The early bird catches the worm! On Saturday and Sunday morning join Lord Gilbert De Clare, his knights and his folk, as they take to the streets of Caerphilly before making their way in a parade towards the castle.
Within the castle walls, make way for knights battling for the favour of fair ladies with musicians, jesters, mummers and craftsmen all around.
Caerphilly Castle: Fireworks Display
Every November. I went this year. It was on the 3rd November so they must have their fireworks on the nearest Saturday to 5th November. Crowds were substantial but manageable. Impressive 30 minute display. Not something most people can take their dogs to as fireworks will scare most dogs. Jack and Sheeba have experienced fireworks before, so they came along and were fine, but little Daniel (3.5 yrs old) was terrified and spent half an hour hiding behind me, peering out fearfully from behind my legs from time to time.
Fireworks Display at Caerphilly Castle, phone: 02920 880011 fax: Caerphilly, Crescent Road Caerphilly Caerphilly CF83 1AB Wales, Tel: 02920 880011
Jack the Dog surveys his kingdom from the ramparts.
Jack and Sheeba dog walking and inspecting the grounds of their new Castle, perhaps they are planning to trade up from Craig y Nos?
Sheeba noticed a fair amount of rebuilding work is needed before she can move in. Maybe we should go back home to Craig y Nos Castle, she informs Jack.
Caerphilly Castle Lit up at Night
The dogs enjoyed a lovely night walk all around the lake and ramparts of Caerphilly Castle.
All around the caslte there is green grass to walk around off the lead, with the town a little off to one side.
"We've just had news that BBC Wales are locating Doctor Who's Tardis in Caerphilly Castle… from 6th – 12th September 2011 visitors can see the Tardis up close within the Castle walls."
Hmm: looks as if this might have been for a BBC Proms event on this date range only, so maybe the Tardis has since moved on? I will check.
A BBC News Article reports Dr. Who's tardiis at Caerphilly Castle was not going to stay on top of Caerphilly Castle for very long,. So I must have visited when it was there.
The BBC article reports: "Caerphilly Castle is playing host to a futuristic visitor over the Christmas period. After travelling through time and space Doctor Who's Tardis has landed at Wales' largest moated medieval castle.
The blue police box which is located on top of the Inner East Gatehouse tower will be lit up during the night and will stay there until the New Year." So we presume it has now flown off again!
The castle was used to film scenes for the two part Christmas episode of Doctor Who, entitled 'The End of Time'. Tardis stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space - the machine has been the chosen mode of transport for all of the ten Doctors on their intergalactic adventures.
The End of Time is the final journey for the tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, as he prepares to do battle with his nemesis, the Master.
Caerphilly Castle floodlit at night