The Major Castles of Carmarthenshire

It is inevitable that a country often afflicted with warfare, then ruled by the Normans, and with a geography that favors the guerilla fighter, should be the site of many castles and so it is with Wales. Carmarthenshire has a number; the two most important are listed here.

The Normans had a castle here as early as 1094. The present castle sits high above the River Towy. It started life as a simple motte but was extended in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to provide even better fortifications and raise the accommodation to a level that, while it would be rejected by the most abject modern Welsh family, was nevertheless the height of luxury at the time.

Owen Glyndwr (Glendower) captured Carmarthen town in 1405 and sacked the castle. Edmund Tewdwr (Tudor), father of the man who was to become Henry VII, owned it at one time but died in prison – which, strangely enough, is what the castle became in the late eighteenth century. The castle is now a ruin, but still worth a visit.

Kidwelly Castle

Separation of Church and State was unknown in the early 12th century; Kidwelly Castle was built by Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, who was made Lord of the whole coastal plain of south west Wales by Henry I. He also established a Benedictine monastery there and a town grew up around it; the town is the one now known as Kidwelly.

One of the regular Welsh revolts against Norman rule occurred in 1136 and Gwenllian, wife of Gruffddd (Griffith) ap Rhys, the prince of Deheubarth, led a Welsh assault on Kidwelly Castle while her husband was seeking military aid from princes further north. The Welsh lost and Gwenllian was killed.

Kidwelly was not done with fighting, and it changed hands a number of times in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In 1403, it came under attack by Own Glyndwr’s supporter Henry Don; although the town fell to him, the castle held out. Kidwelly, though now much decayed, remains impressive and well worth visiting.

Rugby in Carmarthenshire

Although rugby football, along with soccer and cricket, is one of the three major sports given to the world by England, soccer is the national sport of the English while rugby dominates in Wales. It does not sit easily with Welsh rugby supporters that England are current Six Nations champions and Grand Slam winners after a 2016 season in which they beat France, Scotland, Ireland, Italy – and Wales.

Easily the largest club in Carmarthenshire is Llanelli RFC, commonly known as The Scarlets after the color of the jerseys the players wear. Llanelli has a long and proud history and has for a century conducted a strong rivalry with nearby Neath (the Welsh All Blacks) in the next-door county of Glamorgan, though Neath, along with Swansea, is now better known as a feeder club to the Ospreys. Inhabitants of Llanelli are often referred to as Turks, for reasons now buried in history’s mists, and Llanelli RFC is often referred to by other teams and especially by supporters of Neath RFC as “The Turks.”

Llanelli RFC has a development program known as Mini to Millennium, designed to find and nurture the next generation of Scarlets. The club works closely with clubs and schools to raise the level of both scouting and coaching, and has a number of competitions at Under 12, Under 14, Under 15, Under 16 and Under 19 levels as well as an Under 18 competition for female players. They also conduct “Little Stars” and “Junior Stars” rugby camps.

A day never to be forgotten is October 31st, 1971; Llanelli played a match against New Zealand’s all-conquering All Blacks – acknowledged by most honest rugby followers as the best team in the world and winners of the last two Rugby World Cups – and ran out 9-3 winners.

Anyone wishing to be assured of a hostile reception in Wales may simply mention that only one northern hemisphere side has ever appeared in a Rugby World Cup Final and it isn’t Wales, but England, who have been there three times and won it once.

Food In Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire is well known for the excellence of its food. Sewin is Welsh sea trout for which gourmands will travel considerable distances, but that is by no means the extent of the delicacies on offer.


Caws Cenarth Cheese is produced at Glyneithinog Farm near Castle Emlyn in the very north of the county. The business began in the 1980s when the introduction of milk quotas meant that dairy farmers had to find innovative ways of using their surplus. Perl Wen is a fine soft cheese that many connoisseurs, including the one writing this, believe is better than Normandy’s famed Camembert, while Perl Las is a more recently introduced soft blue cheese whose many admirers include Prince Charles.

Cothi Valley Produce operates from Cilwr Farm near Llandeilo, not far from Llanegwad, raising goats and making cheeses from the goats’ milk with names like Caws Talley, Caws Cynros and Talley Las.


The Dinefwr Estate, now owned by the National Trust, has raised fallow deer on its 800 acres for centuries and has won awards for its Dinefwr venison.

Ginhaus Deli

While in Llanegwad, make a point of visiting this wonderful delicatessen in nearby Llandeilo. There are lunches, tapas and excellent coffee from the kitchen, while the deli section offers:

  • local cheeses
  • charcuterie including Carmarthenshire ham and other locally sourced cold meats as well as cured meats and salamis from Spain and Italy and South African biltong

Rare Breed Pork

Also near Llanegwad is Cwmcrwth Farm where the lush grasslands of the Towy valley lend themselves to the raising of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. They have cottages for tourists, too!

Ham and Bacon

Albert Rees, who has a shop at the Carmarthen Indoor Market, is a noted curer of ham and bacon. As well as superb bacon, try the Carmarthen ham – just as it is, or lightly fried.


At Pentre Road in St Clears, The Butcher Shop can sell 7,000 pies in a week: minced beef and onion; chicken, asparagus and champagne; Welsh lamb and mint; and cheese and bacon. Yum yum, pig’s bum! (Quite literally).

The Rebecca Movement In Carmarthenshire

The Rebecca Riots from 1839 to 1843 got their name from the fact that many (male) rioters dressed as women. Carmarthenshire was at the center of the action. The riots were protests against tolls that seemed to penalize agriculture in favor of distant investors.

Tolls were levied throughout England and Wales – so why the uprising in normally law-abiding Carmarthenshire?

A Commission of Inquiry in 1844 heard that toll gates were not the real target of the rioters’ anger but simply easy to hit. A witness said, “If the gates were the cause of the trouble, those at Newcastle Emlyn would not have been attacked because toll gates are not a problem there; they have been broken by people who haven’t paid two shillings in two years by way of toll.”

The Inquiry found that, had the turnpike roads not been built, the farmers would have had to pay even more to get their produce to market to build and maintain roads belonging to the parish. Turnpikes were actually more equitable. So the real questions are: were the tolls too high; and were there too many gates?

There were twelve Turnpike Trusts in the county and, viewed dispassionately, the evidence suggests that the tolls were an irritant but not unreasonable in amount. Farmers, in fact, wanted those that had been pulled down to be rebuilt, so that strangers who used them paid their fair share towards keeping them maintained.

So what was really the problem? At the time of the riots, there had been a series of wet seasons and poor harvests. Farmers were feeling the pinch and they felt it even more because prices had fallen. More than one horse was needed to pull loads up the hills and more horses meant higher tolls. Finally, the number of different Trusts mean that, for example, five different turnpikes led into Carmarthen town and someone going through in one particular direction might have to pay at three different gates within three miles.

Whatever the reasons, the troubles died down as soon as people felt their grievances had been heard.

Why Creative Artists From Carmarthenshire Excel

Creative arts is a very broad field of expression that encompasses a wide array of options for talented individuals interested in pursuing art as a hobby or career. The field includes various genres of art including painting, theatre, photography, music, creative writing and graphic design. This gives students joining colleges and universities various options to choose from. A perfect example for such an institution is the Carmarthenshire School of Art. The school enables amateurs and experts alike to express their deepest imaginations through the right training. Unlike other institutions of higher learning, Carmarthenshire sets itself apart by being a premier innovative centre for all that pertains to creative arts.



The history of Carmarthenshire can be traced back to 1854 with a rich heritage in teaching different forms of art within a friendly atmosphere. Located on Jobs Well Road, Carmarthen, this amazing institution gives students a chance to visit other schools and gives them a first-hand experience of the application of art in real life situations. Creative artists from Carmarthenshire are enrolled in diverse categories of creative works. The Photography faculty, on the other hand, equips students with cutting edge skills to be competent experts in their fields. Creative writers studies at the school will enable you to achieve your dream of becoming an internationally recognised multidisciplinary artist.


The teachers at Carmarthenshire are very inspirational and offer that personal attention that somehow lacks in other traditional art schools. The alumni association is also active in guiding the current crop of students to excel in their vocations. You will surely be pleased with their unique approach to delivering skill-based training that is governed by a cultured academic framework. Creative artists from the institute are not your typical artists because they have gone through a well-balanced system that offers more than average training. Enrol now and supercharge your art career from the best in the field.

Culture and Art in Carmarthen, Much to Explore

With its long history and a strong claim to being the oldest town in Wales, Carmarthen has plenty of inspiration to offer to a budding artist. The beautiful scenery, links to the legend of King Arthur and a vibrant community with a University campus and a lot of regeneration taking place in the town centre. It is no wonder it inspires art and culture to this day. Throughout the year there are plenty of festivals and art events and exhibitions in Carmarthenshire from poetry to music to painting and sculpture.


ART AND CULTURE FOR ALL Check out for accessible art courses be it painting. sculpture, dance, acting or writing. The focus is on the joy of self expression whilst making art classes relaxing, whatever the skill level or previous experience of the student. Making art and culture accessible to all, is the key to making it relevant and popular and help culture thrive. Following a creative path is not only enjoyable, but the key to a satisfying happy life. The more you open up to your own creativity, the more creative you become and this in turn can improve your life in many unexpected ways.


The cultural life in the Carmarthenshire county town of Carmarthen is vibrant and active and there is much to explore both as an artist or as a spectator. The Lyric theatre for example, has an exciting programme of both locally produced shows and touring plays and musicals. And with the many important architecturally inspiring listed buildings in the town itself and breathtakingly beautiful countryside around it, inspiration is never hard to come by whether your are painting or writing. The local libraries and museums in Carmarthenshire take an active role in encouraging people to read and participate in the local cultural life with regular themed events and exhibitions.