Castles, Churches and Chapels
Wales is renowned for the number, and excellence,...
Enjoy a fascinating day out on the Wales Coast Path with Cadw and find out about Wales' turbulent past
Cadw, which means 'to keep' or 'to protect' in Welsh, is the Welsh Government's historic environment service working for an accessible and well-protected historic environment. They conserve our heritage and help sustain the distinctive character of Wales. They also help to people understand and care about the history of Wales. There are a wide range of Cadw sites to be explored and enjoyed along the Wales Coast Path, so why not come for a wander and try some time travel.
Begun in 1277, Flint was one of the first castles to be built in Wales by King Edward I. Its most impressive feature is the Great Tower, isolated from the rest of the inner ward by a moat and drawbridge. It features in Shakespeare's Richard II.
Conwy Castle and the town’s walls are amongst the ﬁnest surviving medieval fortiﬁcations to be seen anywhere in Britain. No wonder they are a World Heritage site. It’s hard to believe that they were built together at breakneck speed in four short building seasons between 1283 and 1287. Climb the towers and turrets and follow the trail to find out how the Welsh captured the castle in the fifteenth century.
The Elizabethan era. A golden age? Think Renaissance and Shakespeare. Think Plas Mawr. This Elizabethan gem is the finest town house of its period in Britain.
One of Britain’s most evocative archaeological sites, Bryn Celli Ddu — the Mound of the Dark Grove — is a Neolithic passage grave built on the site of an earlier henge monument. The partially restored mound hints at the tomb’s impressive scale.
Standing on a spectacular cliffside location, this Neolithic passage grave contains several stones decorated by the prehistoric builders. Entry to the tomb by appointment from 12pm to 4pm every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday between 1 April until 31 October — call into the Wayside Stores in Llanfaelog, one mile north of the chamber, and a member of staff will accompany you to the site.
The well-preserved walls of this rectangular late Roman coastal fort stand up to 4m (13 ft) tall in places.
The holy well at Penmon bears the name of Saint Seiriol, who is said to have founded a monastery here in the sixth century. The existing priory buildings, however, date from the thirteenth century. The square dovecote nearby was built around 1600 and contains around 1,000 nest boxes.
Dare we say it, an absolute cracker of a castle with classic proportions and perfect symmetry. The last hurrah of Edward I’s massive building programme in north Wales… just a shame he never got round to finishing it!
Caernarfon Castle, with its banded stonework and angular towers, is one of the most striking medieval buildings in Britain. The castle and adjoining town walls were conceived as a single entity from the beginning of construction in 1283 and together they have been recognised as a World Heritage site.
What a picture, what a view! Perched on a headland with the sea as its constant bedfellow. Built originally by Llywelyn the Great, this very Welsh prince included a very English style of twin-towered gatehouse. Edward I’s forces took the castle some 50 years later, undertook their own improvements and remodelled a tower for stone-throwing engines.
‘Men of Harlech’ — the nation’s unofficial anthem, loved by rugby fans and regimental bands alike — is said to describe the longest siege in British history (1461–68), which took place here during the Wars of the Roses. Edward I’s tried and tested ‘walls within walls’ model was put together in super-fast time between 1283 and 1295 by an army of nearly a thousand skilled craftsmen and labourers.
This charcoal-burning blast furnace was built in the mid-eighteenth century for iron smelting. Its waterwheel originally drove a pair of bellows that provided the draught for the furnace.
A spiritual and cultural powerhouse on the banks of the river Teifi, St Dogmaels Abbey was once famed for its impressive library. One of its literary gems, a thirteenth-century manuscript of Eusebius’s Historia Ecclesiastica, survives to this day in St John’s College, Cambridge.
The large capstone of this Neolithic burial chamber rests on only two of the four surviving upright stones. The tomb was built was built around 3500 B.C.
This small chapel — dedicated to the Blessed Non, mother of St David — was the most important of the many pilgrimage chapels scattered around St Davids during the Middle Ages. According to tradition, it marks the birthplace of St David.
Built in the thirteenth century by the de Brian family and looking out over the estuary of the river Taf, like an eagle nesting on its eyrie, this impressive relic of ancient times demands you stand and stare. It will simply take your breath away.
Llansteffan Castle stands on a headland overlooking the sand-flats of the mouth of the river Tywi. The natural strength and strategic importance of this stunning location were recognised by the Norman invaders of Wales who established an earth-and-timber enclosure, or 'ringwork', within the ancient defences of an Iron Age fort.
Kidwelly is everything a castle should be — steep earthworks, high towers, tall walls and an imposing great gatehouse. Peel back the centuries to the earliest earth-and-timber castle built by the Normans. You can trace its distinctive half-moon shape by walking along the later stone walls of the outer ward. Don’t leave without exploring the great gatehouse or the beautiful little chapel overlooking the river.
This small castle overlooks a crossing of the river Llwchwr on the main east–west route across south Wales. A Norman earthwork castle was planted here, in the corner of a Roman fort, in the early twelfth century. The surviving stone tower dates from around 1300.
Weobley was the proud home of the de la Bere family until the fifteenth century. There aren’t many places left where you can stand at the same window as someone did half a millennium ago and look out on the same unspoilt view. Weobley is one such rare place, offering a vista of the north Gower marshlands and mudflats.
Gower is a marvel. Heritage buffs and beach bums alike love this beautiful peninsula. In years gone by, the wealthy built wherever the view suited. The Mansel family chose a lovely spot on a wooded headland above Oxwich Bay to build their dream home during the sixteenth century.
Step back in time to the Middle Ages, when the Normans ruled the land and built castles to ensure their command. Ogmore Castle was probably established by the Norman lord, William de Londres, soon after 1100 as an earth-and-timber fortress, but the first stone buildings soon followed. Built close to the river for easy access and safe supply routes, you can still hop and skip across the distinctive stepping stones leading to the castle.
This small double-banked promontory fort perched above the river Wye was built in the late Iron Age by the Silures, the tribe that controlled south-east Wales at the time of the arrival of the Romans.
The whole site is a lesson in longevity. From around 1067 through to 1690, the castle, almost chameleon-like, changed its appearance as fashions changed in military architecture. Century after century, the castle grew and grew along its narrow cliff-top ridge. The oldest building is the Norman great tower but building work continued well into the seventeenth century as medieval battlements were replaced by stronger musket-friendly parapets.
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