Cilgerran Castle - Sarah Woodbury

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran is a medieval castle located above the River Teifi. It was begun by Gerald of Windsor, originally as a motte and bailey castle, around 111o as part of the Norman conquest of South Wales.

Gerald of Windsor served the the Earl of Pembroke and thus the crown of England. As reward for that service, he was given a wife, Nest, who was the daughter of the King of Deheubarth. Nest had previously been a mistress of Henry I himself.

One story about Nest and Gerald is that, despite her marriage, her cousin fell in love with her and attacked Cilgerran Castle where she was living. As the story goes, when her cousin arrived with his army to take her away, Nest urged Gerald to escape down the latrine shaft. This same story is also told at Carew Castle, since the name of the castle where this event was supposed to have taken place is recorded as Cernarth Bychan. That name is no longer attached to a specific location.

Cilgerran went back and forth between Norman and Welsh hands throughout the subsequent century. The Lord Rhys, the ruler of Deheubarth at the time, took it in 1165. He rebuilt it later, but by 1205, it was back in Norman hands. Llywelyn Fawr took it back in 1215, after a single day’s battle, but the Normans had regained it again by 1223. By the 1400s, after the wars with the Welsh princes had ended, Cilgerran Castle had fallen into decay.

What can be seen today are the reconstructions dating to the 13th century. The fortifications consist of two drum towers, an outer bailey, the gatehouse, and a protective rock-cut ditch around the outside of the castle.

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