Llansteffan Castle

Llansteffan is located on the south coast of Wales, It was built by the Normans as part of their conquest of South Wales. The site itself has been occupied since the Iron Age, since it provides commanding views of the Tywi estuary. Even today the original earthwork fortifications can still be seen, and they were incorporated into the defenses of the later Norman construction. As it exists today, the castle is very much a ruin, consisting of a curtain wall and towers, all dating to the 12th and 13th centuries. After the Normans completed their conquest of Wales, it fell into ruin and by 1367 was what Wikipedia describes as “a poor state”. I was excited to visit the castle because some of the people who fought over the castle, both Norman and Welsh, appear in my Gareth and Gwen Read more…

The Norman Conquest of Ireland (part 1)

The Normans were conquerors. Even more, they conquered. It was what they did. It was only natural, then, that eventually one of them would set his sights on Ireland.  That someone, in this case, was Richard de Clare, otherwise known as Strongbow. Now, Strongbow wasn’t entirely at fault for what came next. In fact, in 1169 he was invited into Ireland by the ousted king of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada. Murchada had been removed from power by the High King of Ireland, Rory O’Connor, and, naturally, he wanted his lands back. He knew about Norman military prowess and looked to south Wales, where Clare was the Earl of Pembroke, for assistance. And what did Clare get out of it? Murchada had no male heir, so he promised Clare his daughter and the kingship of Leinster if they succeeded. For Clare, that Read more…