Laugharne Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameLaugharne Castle
Alternative NamesAbercorran; Abercorram; Talacharn; Talcharn; Talachar
Historic CountryCarmarthenshire
Modern AuthorityCarmarthenshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunityLaugharne Township

The castle of Laugharne was built by the Anglo-Normans in the early twelfth century and is probably mentioned in 1116. This early castle was a relatively small 'ringwork' enclosure resting on the river cliff above the estuary to the south. The castle was extensively rebuilt in the later twelfth century, but the existing ruins are thirteenth century and later, when a great towered masonry castle was built and remodelled, being recast as a magnificent renaissance mansion in the late sixteenth century. The thirteenth century castle consisted of a small inner court, ditched about and stoutly walled and with two great circular towers, great emblems of lordship. This court was set within a larger diamond plan outer court with a great gatehouse at its northern apex facing into the walled borough that had by now been established on the castle's landward side. The castle was beleaguered, battered, stormed and slighted, in the revolutionary wars of the mid seventeenth century, and was thereafter abandoned as a residence. In the early nineteenth century the castle grounds were landscaped as a picturesque garden attached to Castle House, an earlier eighteenth century mansion built on the site of the late sixteenth century castle gardens. The gazebo overlooking the estuary was a feature of this early nineteenth century garden. The castle has recently been excavated, consolidated and otherwise prepared for public view. There appears to have been an earlier settlement on the site as the excavations encountered gullies and postholes sealed by a ploughsoil containing abraded Romano-British pottery sherds. (Coflein–ref. Avent, 1995)

On an elevated coastal site near the town Hall, reached by path in front of Castle House. Late C18 Castle replaced probably C12 earthwork destroyed in 1215 by Llewelyn the Great; some late C15 reconstruction; referestration and reconstruction by Sir John Perrot 1587 to 1592

Partly destroyed in the Parliamentarian siege of 1644 under General Rowland Laugharne; subsequently pillaged for the building of town houses. 5-sided inner ward constructed of old red sandstone rubble with some freestone dressings; crenellated parapets (some ornamental), spur buttresses etc. Earliest part consists of 2 round towers to N, ruined to NE, former keep to NW with wide embrasures late C18 conversion of basement to wine cellar and 1920/30 repairs, retains original conical dome. Towers flank later C15 4-storey hall with late C16 Perrot alterations; main rooms to 2nd floor and stair tower to N. Forward projecting 4-storey gatehouse to W of medieval and late C16 builds; gable above fine 3-storey Tudor bay window over pointed entrance arch with hood mould. Curtain wall with massive fireplace at 1st floor level links gatehouse with 3-shoot garderobe at inner end, to SW 4-storey and basement, part vaulted tower. Stone pent garderobe to S wall; ruined oriel to former hall high end with medieval postern gate beyond. E wall demolished in C17 but C18 garden wall on top of late C13 curtain wall continues NE adjoining the Gazebo. Remains of Tudor cobbled courtyard, pitched stone kitchen floor and ground plans relating to all periods revealed through excavation. It is amongst the most substantial castle remain in Wales. (Listed Building Report)

A castle brown as owls. (Dylan Thomas)

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 ReferenceSN302107
Latitude51.769588470459
Longitude-4.4621901512146
Eastings230200
Northings210730
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Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Helen Lynn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 162, 455
  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 79-82
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 95-7
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 53-4
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 46, 84-6 (reconstructions)
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 97
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 34-5 (plan)
  • Avent, J.R., 1991, 'The Early Development of Three Coastal Castles' in James, H. (ed), Sir Gar: Studies in Carmarthenshire History (Carmarthen) p. 167-188
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 56
  • Arnold, C. et al, 1983' Interim reports on excavations at three castles in Wales 1981–1982 (Cardiff: Department of Extra-Mural Studies, University College)
  • Avent, J.R. and Webster, P., 1981, Interim Reports of Excavations at Laugharne Castle, Dyfed, 1976-1980, and Dryslwyn Castle, Dyfed, 1980 (privately published)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 361-2
  • Avent, J.R., 1977, ‘Laugharne Castle’, Archaeological Excavations 1976 (HMSO) p. 169
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 220
  • Richard, A.J., 1935, in Lloyd, J.E. (ed), History of Carmathenshire (Cardiff) Vol. 1 p. 286-7, 290
  • RCAHMW, 1917, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Carmarthenshire (HMSO) p. 62-3 no. 176 online copy
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 288 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • Grose, Francis, 1785, The Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 7 p. 20 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathenial, 1774, Buck’s Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 364

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
  • 2004-5, 'Laugharne Castle' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 18 p. 116-17 (news report)
  • Avent, J.R. and Jones, M., 1993, ‘Laugharne Castle’, Archaeology in Wales Vol. 33 p. 70-72
  • Avent, J.R., 1992, ‘The medieval development of Laugharne Castle, Dyfed, Wales’ Château Gaillard Vol. 15 p. 7-18
  • Avent, J.R., 1988, ‘Laugharne Castle Excavations, 1976-1988’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 28 p. 24-27
  • Murphy, K., 1987, Notes on the topography of Laugharne’ The Carmarthen Antiquary Vol. 23 p. 62–5
  • Avent, J.R., 1985, ‘Laugharne Castle, Dyfed’ 132nd annual meeting, old Carmarthenshire, 1985, CAA p. 17
  • Avent, J.R., 1979-80, 'Laugharne Castle’ CBA Newsletter and Calendar Vol. 3 p. 131
  • Avent, J.R., 1979, ‘Laugharne Castle, 1978: third interim report’ The Carmarthen Antiquary Vol. 15 p. 39-56
  • Avent, J.R., 1978, ‘Laugharne Castle’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 18 p. 55
  • Avent, J.R., 1978, ‘Laugharne Castle, 1977: second interim report’ The Carmarthen Antiquary Vol. 14 p. 21-36
  • Avent, J.R., 1977-8, ‘Laugharne, Dyfed’ CBA Newsletter and Calendar Vol. 1 p. 108
  • Avent, J.R. and Read, E., 1977. ‘Laugharne Castle, 19766: introduction, historical summary and excavations’ The Carmarthen Antiquary Vol. 13 p. 17-41
  • (Avent in) Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1977, ‘Medieval Britain in 1976’ Medieval Archaeology Vol. 21 p. 240 download copy
  • Avent, J.R., 1976, ‘Laugharne Castle’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 16 p. 38
  • Thomas, S., 1970, 'The Descent of the Lordships of Laugharne and Eglwyscummin: Norman Marcher Lordships in South-West Carmarthenshire' The Carmarthen Antiquary Vol. 6 p. 27-52
  • 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
  • Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)

Guide Books

  • Richard Avent, 1995, Laugharne Castle (Cardiff: CADW)

Primary Sources

  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1188, Journey Through Wales view online transcription
  • Brut y Tywysogion 1116? 1189 (Abercorram), 1215, 1257 (Talacharn) (Several transcriptions and translations exist the best being Jones, T., 1952, Brut Y Twysogion (University of Wales, History and Law series 11)–based on the Peniarth MS 20 version. There is a flawed translation Williams ab Ithel, John, 1860, Brut Y Twysogion or The Chronicle of the Princes (Rolls Series) 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. 130
  • Stamp, A.E. (ed), 1929, Calendar of Close Rolls Henry IV (1402-1405) Vol. 2 p. 111 view online copy (subscription required)
  • SP14/49/82 (Survey of 1609) The National Archives reference