Thursday, 12 April 2012

Kidwelly Castle and the Headless Princess

 A-Z Challenge 2012 - K
Kidwelly Castle

The Norman castle of Kidwelly overlooks the River Gwendraeth and the town of Kidwelly in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Developed over more than three centuries of warfare the castle’s outer half-moon, towered walls stand on the Norman earthwork. Inside is the first stone stronghold with four round towers at each corner with the great stone gatehouse in the south outer wall.

Kidwelly Castle - 2001
The original 12th century timber castle was defended on one side by the river and a deep crescent ditch to the landward. Its strategic position defended the road to west Wales. The castle fell to the Welsh several times during the 12th and 13th centuries. At the end of the 13th century Henry, Earl of Lancaster built the inner rectangular stronghold with its four round towers. The great gatehouse took over a century to complete and was unfinished when Owen Glyndwr’s Welsh troops attacked in 1403. King Henry V ensured that the damaged gatehouse was rebuilt. Its design is such that it could be defended even if the rest of the castle was taken.

The Great Gatehouse, Kidwelly Castle - 2008
The end of the 15th century saw the addition of a new great hall at the west of the outer ward and a connecting kitchen within the inner ward. Another building and a bakehouse were added, possibly by Rhys ap Thomas who had been granted the castle by King Henry VII. The castle played a minor role in the Civil War as it lay far way from the main areas of the struggle.

The formidable history of the castle and especially the gatehouse gives approaching visitors the feeling of being watched; they may even meet the glowering ghost of a medieval sentry its dark recesses.

It is even suggested that the headless spirit of brave Gwenllian, Wales' best-loved warrior princess, stalks the grounds of Kidwelly Castle and the bloody battlefield upon which she was killed in 1136.

Gwenllian is not the female to haunt the area. Spudder’s Bridge over the River Gwendraeth is known as the Bridge of the White Spirit. The Norman lover of Nest, the daughter of the castle’s owner, was killed and thrown into the river by an assassin. Nest jumped in as well and drowned. Her spirit is said to return to the scene of the tragedy.

Hilary Melton-Butcher's Castle yesterday was J - Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Eire

  • Image 1: Kidwelly Castle 2001; by John Atherton; Geograph Project Collection; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
  • Image 2: The Great Gatehouse, Kidwelly Castle 2008; by Rose and Trevor Clough; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.


David Robinson said...

Another ghoulish and gruesome post, Bob. Great reading.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. glad you unravelled the history .. It's an amazing site - and what a strong hold .. Owen Glendower I see makes an entrance here too - no wonder they revere him so much.

More ghosts and spectres ... I certainly wouldn't want to be thrown from the ramparts ... Lovely name "Spudder Bridge" ...

Another interesting post and amazingly we have not doubled up yet ...

Cheers Hilary

Bish Denham said...

I would love to visit all these castles you share with us. Such history!

LA Nickers said...

Cool castle photos!
Visiting as an A to Z blogger.

All on and all in the A to Z Challenge:

Heart of a Ready Writer – Bible & Devotional
Meme Express – Daily Blog Prompts (A to Z)
Nickers and Ink – Featuring favorite classic poems from A to Z
Practically at Home – See what fellow writers are cited – with article links!
The Mane Point –Profiling special horses from A to Z
Working in Words – Writing How-to’s

Click my name/icon for links to all these blogs! Happy A-to-Z!

Alfandi said...

haunted or is a beautiful castle.

Christine said...

Beautiful castle! Great theme for the challenge.

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