Dinefwr Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameDinefwr Castle
Alternative NamesDynevor; Gueithtinevur; Dinefawr; Old Dynefwr; Dinevor; Dinewor
Historic CountryCarmarthenshire
Modern AuthorityCarmarthenshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunityLlandeilo

Dinefwr Castle is a ruined medieval castle in a dramatic and Romantic situation upon a high wooded ridge above the meandering Tywi. The castle is thought to have been founded in the later twelfth century by Rhys ap Gruffudd, the Lord Rhys, and became known as the traditional capital of Dyfed. The visible remains date from the thirteenth and earlier fourteenth century. It was still maintained in the earlier fifteenth century, but may have been replaced by Newton House (NPRN 17603), a little way to the north, as early as the later part of the century. By the later seventeenth century it had become a Picturesque attraction in Dinefwr Park (NPRN 266170) and the top of the great tower was taken down and replaced by a summerhouse. The castle ruins have now been consolidated for public view.

The castle consists of two enclosures defined by deep rock-hewn ditches cutting across the summit of the ridge. The inner enclosure has a high curtain wall and is approached by a lower walled barbican. The great round tower, some 12m across, is now a two storey stump crowned by the remains of the seventeenth century summerhouse. There are ruins of fine towered lodgings along the north-east curtain and there is a smaller round tower at the northern angle.

Two boroughs were associated with the castle. The upper town, thought to have been sited on the castle ridge, was first recorded in 1281. The lower town, Newton or Drenewydd, where Newton House now stands, is first mentioned in 1297. (Coflein–Rees & Caple CADW Guide to Dinefwr Castle & Dryslwyn Castle, revised edition (2007))

Set high on a rocky, wooded ridge above Afon Tywi with exceptional, picturesque views to the castle from S over the river and from the landscaped park to N. Extensive remains of a medieval castle first built by the Welsh princes in C13; partly remodelled by King Edward I with a gatehouse added on S and a rectanuglar tower on N. Late C15 additions by Sir Rhys ap Thomas

The masonry remains include an angular curtain wall, incorporating a circular tower to NW and a large round tower at SE angle, now surmounted by a C17(?)/C18 gazebo. Later additions include a rectangular hall facing N. Old Dynevor Castle became a major feature in the C18 landscaped park to Newton House (now Plas Dinefwr) situated approximately one kilometre to N. (Listed Building Report)

A motte and bailey castle may have been built prior to the construction of the stone castle of Dinefwr. (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER 881)

A castle is first mentioned at Dinefwr in 1151 when it is recorded as having been built by two brothers Maredudd and Rhys ap Gruffydd of the royal line of Deheubarth. Whether this refers to a wooden castle on a motte, PRN 881, or a stone castle is still not clear although the stone keep as we see it now may date from a rebuilding after Llywelyn forced Rhys Grug to dismantle the castle in the early 13th century. From 1276 onwards, the castle was largely kept in English hands. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the castle underwent several phases of repair. It resisted a siege by the forces of Owain Glyndwr in 1403. In Tudor times, it was modified by Sir Rhys ap Thomas, but he soon abandoned the castle in favour of a new mansion at Newton House. During the late 18th to early 19th century, the castle was deliberately converted in to a romantic ruin and a summerhouse was built on top of the keep, providing splendid views over the Dynevor estate lands. (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER 882)

Gatehouse Comments

This is not the same as Dinweiler mentioned several times in the chronicles.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSN611217
Latitude51.8768310546875
Longitude-4.01842021942139
Eastings261150
Northings221730
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Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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Books

  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 69-71
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 274
  • Butler, L., 2009, 'The Castles of the Princes of Gwynedd' in Willams, D. and Kenyon, J. (eds), The Impact of the Edwardian Castles in Wales (Oxbow) p. 27-36
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 86-8
  • Davis, Paul R., 2007, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Y Lolfa) p.71-76
  • Gravett, Christopher, 2007, The Castles of Edward I in Wales 1277-1307 (Osprey Fortress series 64)
  • McNeill, T., 2003, 'Squaring circles: flooring round towers in Wales and Ireland' in Kenyon, J.R. and O'Conor, K. (eds), The medieval castle in Ireland and Wales: essays in honour of Jeremy Knight (Dublin: Four Courts Press) p. 96-106
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 46-8
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 73-77 (plan and reconstruction)
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 79-, 81
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 24-5 (plan)
  • Davis, Paul R., 1988, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Swansea)
  • Rees, S.E., 1986, ‘Dinefwr Castle’, in D Moore and D Austin (eds), Welsh archaeological heritage: proceedings of a conference held by the Cambrian Archaeological Association in 1985 (Lampeter: CAA; St David’s University College) p. 159–60
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 55, 60
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 348
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 166
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 641-4
  • Richard, A.J., 1935, in Lloyd, J.E. (ed), History of Carmathenshire (Cardiff) Vol. 1 p. 279-81
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 190-1
  • RCAHMW, 1917, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Carmarthenshire (HMSO) p. 107-9 no. 317 online copy
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 287 online copy
  • Lloyd, J.E., 1912, History of Wales (London) Vol. 2 p. 724, 726 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 539-45 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathenial, 1774, Buck’s Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 361

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Wiles, John, 2013-14, '"Marshall towers" in South-West Wales: Innovation, Emulation and Mimicry' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 27 p. 181-202
  • Kenyon, John R., 1996, 'Fluctuating Frontiers: Normanno-Welsh Castle Warfare c. 1075 to 1240' Château Gaillard Vol. 17 p. 119-126
  • Moore, Donald, 1994, 'Dynevor Castle and Newton House: Some Seventeenth Century Pictures' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 143 p. 204-35
  • Avent, Richard, 1994, 'Castles of the Welsh Princes' Château Gaillard Vol. 16 p. 11-17
  • Rees, S. and Francis, M., 1985, ‘Dynevor Castle’ 132nd annual meeting, old Carmarthenshire, 1985, CAA p. 23
  • Austin, D., 1984, ‘The castle and the landscape: annual lecture to the Society for Landscape Studies, May 1984’ Landscape History Vol. 6 p. 69–81
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124
  • Renn, D.F., 1961, 'The round keeps of the Brecon region' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 110 p. 140 (plate)
  • Jones Pierce and others, 1948-9, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 100 p. 136-40
  • Fisher, 1925, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 80 p. 456-61
  • 1911-12,West Wales Historical Records Vol. 2 p. 105-33
  • Lewis, E.A., 1910-11, 'Dynevor: Materials Illustrating the History of Dynevor and Newton from the Earliest Times to the Close of the Reign of Henry VIII' West Wales Historical Records Vol. 1 p. 145-224

Guide Books

  • Rees, Sian E. and Caple, Chris, 2007 (rev edn), Dinefwr Castle, Dryslwyn Castle (Cardiff: CADW)
  • Rees, Sian E. and Caple, Chris, 1999, Dinefwr Castle, Dryslwyn Castle (Cardiff: CADW)
  • Apted, M.R., n.d., ‘Old Dynevor Castle’, in Dynevor Castle: Guide Book (privately published) p. 20-3
  • Gittins, R., 1984, Dinefwr Castle (Llandysul: Gomer Press)
  • Lord Dynevor, 1935, Short History of the old and more modern Castles of Dynevor (Carmarthen) (not important)

Primary Sources

  • Jones, T., 1952, Brut y Tywysogion (Peniarth MS 20 version) (University of Wales, History and Law series 11) 1163, 1195, 1198, 1204, 1208, 1213, 1216
  • Williams (ab Ithel), John, (ed), 1860, Annales Cambriae (444 – 1288) (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts)ca. 1190, 1287 online copy
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1188, Journey Through Wales view online transcription
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1183, Description of Wales view online transcription
  • Edwards, G.E. (ed), 1935, Calendar of Ancient Correspondence Concerning Wales (Cardiff) p. 24
  • Shirley, W.W., 1862, Royal and other historical letters illustrative of the reign of Henry III (Rolls Series 27) Vol. 1 p. 176-7 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1901, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1272-81) Vol. 1 p. 212 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1910, Cartae et alia munimenta quae ad dominium de Glamorgancia pertinent Vol. 3 p. 860 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Close Rolls Edward II (1318-1323) Vol. 3 p. 542 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Hingeston, F.C. (ed), 1860, Royal and Historical Letters Henry IV (Rolls Series 18) p. 138 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 127-9
  • 1911-12, 'Dynevor' West Wales Historical Records Vol. 2 p. 105-33