Crowning a remote crag about 100 meters above
the river Cennen in the Breacon Beacons National Park, Carreg
Cennen is unmatchable as a wildly romantic Welsh fortress
and the most dramatically sited. Sought out by generations
of artists and visitors in search of the picturesque, its
origin are lost in ancient obscurity. The naturally defensible
site may even have been a prehistoric hillfort, and was
certainly a stronghold of the Welsh princes.
The present stone castle, however, dates from
around 1300, when it was built as an English outpost by
one of Edward I's barons. Ingeniously adapted to its rocky
hilltop, its core is a high walled, strongly towered enclosure,
protected by a succession of pits,drawbridges and gatehouses.
Even the natural cave beneath the castle rock, perhaps a
prehistoric refuge, is incorporated into the defenses via
a gallery passage and can still be explored with torches
(you can ask for by the farm at the foot of the hill).
Despite its strength, Carreg Cennen fell to
Owain Glyndwr's Welsh insurgents, and during the War of
the Roses became a base for bandit Lancastrian, diehards
who terrorized the country around. The castle was taken
by the Yorkists in 1462, this "robbers den" was
laboriously dismantled by 500 men with picks and crowbars.
Yet much remains to be seen and the climb from the foot
of the rocky hill is rewarded by breathtaking views on the
spectacularly landscape of the Black Mountains and the chance
to penetrate the intriguing cave beneath made of the
visit at Carreg Cennen always an adventure!