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Newcastle Emlyn Castle

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Map ReferenceSN34SW
Grid ReferenceSN3114940720
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCarmarthenshire
Old CountyCarmarthenshire
CommunityNewcastle Emlyn
Type Of SiteCASTLE
PeriodPost Medieval
Shattered ruins remain of Newcastle Emlyn Castle. Excavation through the 1980s have revealed some details, but the castle is best known from a collection of medieval accounts and surveys.

The new castle of Emlyn is first recorded in 1257 and was built by a local princeling as the centre for the commote of Emlyn Uwch Cych, later the lordship of Emlyn. Following a notable siege in the midwinter of 1287-8 the castle passed to the English Crown. Much work was carried out in the earlier fourteenth century, including the gatehouse that is now the main surviving feature. A borough was established without the castle gates (see NPRN 33072). The castle declined through the fifteenth century until in about 1500 it was restored as a grand mansion, associated with a great deer park. It was at this time that the large square windows were inserted into the gatehouse and there is notice of 'a little tower to view and see the country'. There were further alarms and excursions in the revolutionary wars of the mid seventeenth century, when the great earthwork ravelin bastion was raised before the great gate. The castle was thereafter neglected.

The castle occupies the tip of a steep sided spur set within a great bend of the Teifi. It consists of a roughly triangular walled inner court, some 45m east-west and 25m across at the western end. This is thought to be the original thirteenth century castle to which the gatehouse and other buildings were later added. An outer court on the west, towards the town, is defined by earthworks. It is roughly 50m east-west by 40m, its eastern part obscurred by the seventeenth century ravelin.

Sources: Evans in Y Cymmrodor 32 (1932), 58-170
History of the King's Works II (1963), 646-7
The History of Carmarthenshire I (1935), 285-6, 289ff
Parry in the Carmarthenshire Antiquary 23 (1987), 11-27 - survey & excavation
Walker in the Carmarthenshire Antiquary 28 (1992), 37-50 - documentary evidence

John Wiles, RCAHMW, 30 January 2008

Website feedback recieved November 2016 suggests that the outworks to the N & NE form an integral part of the 14th C. castle plan.